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As you’re collecting points it’s easy to build up balances in several programs — substantial amounts of points, but maybe not enough for two or four people to fly roundtrip in business class to the other side of the world.
- You might sign up for a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card when you’re first getting started (great move) and an Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. Earn the full bonuses on both and you’ll have a minimum 144,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points that transfer to airlines including United, Singapore, Air France KLM, Southwest, Korean Air, and more.
- You might sign up for a Platinum Card from American Express. Earn the bonus and you’ll have a minimum 65,000 Membership Rewards points.
If you and a spouse or partner do that, you’ve got over 400,000 points to work with but they’re in different accounts.
Etihad First Apartment
I’ve long said it’s a great idea to build up points in a single program until you have enough points for the award you want, and then diversify into another program. That gives you a better chance of finding awards when the time comes because you have more airlines to try, and it serves as a hedge against devaluation because you won’t have all of your points affected by a single program change.
What I like the best is to earn points in transferable bank currencies — Chase, American Express, Citibank — where you can move points to your choice of frequent flyer programs. You get to decide where to put those points later.
- Based on which airline has availability for the award you want
- To top off an account that’s short of the number of miles you need for an award
- To keep your miles from expiring (except for programs where all points expire after a given period of time, or like Air France KLM Flying Blue where only crediting a flight extends your points)
Transferable bank points are also a great hedge against devaluation not only because you have more options for where to move your points but historically they haven’t devalued as much as airline miles (they may add or lose transfer partners, but it’s only rare cases like Amex to British Airways where the transfer ratio changes).
Nonetheless, I like to diversify even across transferable bank points as a further hedge. I have lots of points in Chase and American Express since they have some partners that differ and because I don’t put all my trust in one bank.
Following this strategy you may wind up with six figure amounts across different programs. So what do you do when it comes time to redeem?
The great news is you’re actually in a good position to put your family on the same flights even with points in different accounts.
- You can book one way awards through many programs. So book one way outbound with one kind of points, one way return with a different points account.
United’s New Polaris Bedding
- Transferable points programs share partners such as Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance), Air France KLM (SkyTeam) and British Airways (oneworld) so you can even transfer points from different currencies to the same account. Or you and a spouse can transfer points to the same program.
Singapore Airlines Business Class
- Each of the transferable points currencies have partners in each of the large airline alliances. So you can transfer Chase points to United, Amex points to Aeroplan, and Citi points to Singapore and use those points to redeem for saver awards on the same Star Alliance airlines and flights.
Cathay Pacific Business Class
The analysis, outside of ‘transferring to the same mileage program’ is the same if you’re working with airline miles rather than transferable bank points.