Some of our most valuable redemptions are the result of transferring bank points such as Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards to airline partners. Those points become airline miles and then we use the airline miles to book otherwise expensive plane tickets.
If you use an airline co-branded credit card such as an American Airlines Aviator card from Barclay, you earn AAdvantage miles. Those AAdvantage miles can only be redeemed through the AAdvantage program. They are not transferable to other airlines or to bank programs such as Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards. But if you collect bank points (which I highly recommend), you can transfer to whichever airline partner makes the most sense when you are ready to redeem.
It is important to note that you cannot just transfer to any airline, though. Each rewards program has different airline (and possibly hotel) transfer partners.
It can be tough to keep up with which points transfer to which airlines. I made a table for 4 popular transferable bank currencies. I have included Marriott Rewards as well, since they have several airline partners.
Note that not all transfer partners have a 1:1 ratio.
Update June 2019: Qantas is now a transfer parter of Amex. Also, Lufthansa is no longer a Marriott transfer partner.
Keep in mind that just because you don’t see an airline as a transfer partner, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are out of luck. For example, Chase Ultimate Rewards points do not transfer to American Airlines. But they do transfer to British Airways. You cannot transfer British Airways avios (miles) to American Airlines, but you can use British Airways avios to book American Airlines flights. Sometimes, you may get an even better redemption price that what it would cost if booking through American Airlines! Click here for more information.