The complete history of credit card transfer bonuses to airline programs

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.

Part of what makes transferable points programs like American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards so great is the ability to convert points into miles with dozens of airline partners. What makes them even more attractive is that some issuers offer occasional transfer bonuses for doing so.

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However, in order to know whether a transfer bonus is a good deal, it helps to have some context. For instance, a 20% transfer bonus to JetBlue TrueBlue might seem like a decent perk, until you learn that another credit card issuer was offering a 25% bonus just a few months ago and will likely do so again.

© The Points Guy A transfer bonus might be just the ticket for scoring great awards and a great price. (Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)

For that reason, we thought it would be useful to compile a list of all the airline transfer bonuses that the following programs have offered since 2013.

American Express has the most extensive history of offering bonuses for transferring points to partners like British Airways and JetBlue. However, Capital One and Chase have beefed up their transfer bonus opportunities over the last year.

Let’s dive in.

In This Post

American Express Membership Rewards

© The Points Guy Take advantage of Amex’s frequent transfer bonuses to Virgin Atlantic. (Photo by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy)

American Express Membership Rewards currently transfer to 18 airline partners, such as Delta and Singapore Airlines. At the time of writing, there is a record number of transfer bonuses available on-site — amounting to tremendous value if you have a strategy in place to maximize them.

Aer Lingus Aer Club

  • September 2021: 40%
  • October 2019: 40%

Aeromexico Club Premier

  • September 2021: 25%
  • February 2019: 25%
  • November 2018: 25%
  • March 2015: 20%

Air Canada Aeroplan

  • September 2021: 20%
  • December 2019: 10-20% (targeted)
  • May 2019: 10-20% (targeted)
  • November 2018: 20% (targeted)
  • December 2017: 10-20% (targeted)

Air France/KLM Flying Blue

  • September 2021: 25%
  • December 2020: 30%
  • April 2019: 25%
  • June 2018: 25%

Avianca LifeMiles

  • September 2021: 15%
  • April 2019: 15%

British Airways Executive Club

  • September 2021: 40%
  • October 2019: 40%
  • November 2018: 40%
  • September 2017: 40%
  • October 2016: 50%
  • January 2015: 40%

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

  • December 2020: 25% (targeted)
  • January 2020: 10%
  • March 2019: 10-30% (targeted)
  • September 2018: 10-30% (targeted)

Emirates Skywards

  • November 2018: 25%

Etihad Guest

  • June 2016: 20%

Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles

  • September 2021: 25%
  • June 2021: 25%
  • June 2018: 25%
  • June 2017: 25%
  • June 2016: 25%
  • December 2015: 25%
  • June 2014: 20%

Hilton Honors

  • October 2021: 30%
  • June 2021: 40%
  • January 2021: 40%
  • October 2020: 40%
  • December 2019: 50% (targeted)

Iberia Plus

  • September 2021: 40%
  • October 2019: 40%
  • November 2018: 40%
  • December 2016: 50%
  • December 2015: 25%

JetBlue TrueBlue

  • December 2019: 25%
  • June 2019: 40% (targeted)
  • October 2018: 25%
  • March 2018: 10-30%
  • November 2017: 25%
  • May 2017: 25%
  • September 2014: 25%

Marriott Bonvoy

  • October 2021: 30%
  • June 2021: 40%
  • December 2020: 30%
  • February 2020: 30% (targeted)
  • June 2019: 40-50% (targeted)

Qantas Frequent Flyer

  • September 2021: 20%
  • February 2020: 20%
  • June 5 – June 30, 2019: 20%

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

  • September 2021: 30%
  • December 2019: 30%
  • July 2019: 30%
  • December 2018: 30%
  • November 2018: 10-30% (targeted)
  • September 2018: 30%
  • November 2017: 30%
  • May 2017: 30%
  • May 2016: 30%
  • April 2015: 25%
  • November 2014: 35%
  • May 2014: 30%
  • November 2013: 30%

Capital One

© The Points Guy Fancy a flight in Cathay Pacific first class? A transfer bonus might be able to help. (Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Capital One has improved its rewards program vastly over the past few years, adding new airline and hotel transfer partners, including Turkish Miles & Smiles and Choice Privileges Hotels.

Aeromexico Club Premier

  • August 2021: 25%

Air France/KLM Flying Blue

  • September 2021: 30%
  • June 2019: 20%

Avianca LifeMiles

  • July 2021: 25%
  • December 2020: 15%
  • July 2019: 25%
  • June 2019: 15%

British Airways Executive Club

  • August 2021: 33%

Emirates Skywards

  • March 2019: 100%

JetBlue TrueBlue

  • May 2019: 50%

Chase Ultimate Rewards

© The Points Guy We’ve seen an IHG transfer bonus as high as 60% in the past. (Photo courtesy of IHG)

Although the Ultimate Rewards program launched more than a decade ago, transfer bonuses have been few and far between. However, Chase has launched a record number of transfer bonuses in 2021 alone.

Aer Lingus AirClub

  • September 2021: 30%

British Airways Executive Club

  • September 2021: 30%
  • December 2020: 30%
  • June 2019: 30%

Iberia Plus

  • September 2021: 30%

IHG Rewards

  • December 2020: 30%
  • August 2020: 60%

Marriott Bonvoy

  • August 2021: 50%

Citi ThankYou Rewards

© The Points Guy Save up for a flight to Australia with your Citi ThankYou points. (Photo by Nicholas Ellis/The Points Guy)

Citi has more than a dozen airline partners, including Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Etihad Guest, and Qantas Frequent Flyer. Although there’s no transfer bonus, Citi cardholders can even transfer to American Airlines AAdvantage until Nov. 13, 2021.

Air France/KLM Flying Blue

  • July 2019: 25%
  • August 2018: 30%

Avianca LifeMiles

  • February 2021: 25%
  • July 2019: 25% (offered by Avianca)
  • December 2018: 25%

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

  • January 2020: 15%
  • July 2018: 15%
  • September 2017: 20%

Etihad Guest

  • July 2017: 10%
  • July 2016: 25%
  • December 2015: 25%
  • May 2015: 25%

JetBlue TrueBlue

  • May 2018: 30%
  • October 2017: 25%
  • April 2017: 50%

Qantas Frequent Flyer

  • February 2020: 25%
  • April 2019: 25%
  • June 2016: 15 – 30%

Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles

  • February 2019: 25%

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

  • June 2019: 30%
  • October 2018: 30%
  • March 2017: 25%
  • April 2016: 25%
  • August 2015: 25%

Bottom line

Transfer bonuses can make already useful points that much more valuable. Before you take advantage of one, though, it is important to know whether it is a good deal, an unusually high bonus or something likely to be beneficial to you for an imminent redemption. If a transfer bonus that appeals to you comes around, bookmark this page and our current transfer bonus page to see how it compares to past and current offers. Be sure to research ideas about how to maximize your points with the best strategy possible.

Additional reporting by Stella Shon.

Featured photo by Ryan Patterson for The Points Guy.

SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.

And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free. 

These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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