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Transferable points are points you earn from a credit card that you can transfer to many different types of airline miles or other points. They are valuable because they give you so much flexibility. Each airline program has strengths and weaknesses in terms of the number of miles you need and the availability from point A to point B. Collecting transferable points ensures that no matter where you decide to go, you can always transfer your points to the type of airline miles that is best for the award you want.

Since award space can be a scarce resource, it is important to note that not all transferrable points transfer to their partners instantaneously.

This is the second post of a four part series going over how long it takes each type of transferrable point to transfer to its partners. Today’s post is about the transfer times between Ultimate Rewards and each of its seven airline partners and four hotel partners. 

Membership Rewards Transfer Times

Putting Awards on Hold

Of course, the transfer times above are what you will almost always see, but occasionally there may be a mishap with a transfer and you’re left waiting in limbo. These cases are not common, but if it happens to you, here are some tips about how to put Membership Rewards transfer partners’ awards on hold.


You can put awards flying Alitalia’s own planes on hold for as long as two weeks. Whether or not you can put partner awards on hold will depend on the agent.

Cathay Pacific

I see varied information about putting Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles) awards on hold flying their own flights (don’t see any info regarding partner awards). I think it depends on who you speak to.


You can put awards flying Etihad planes on hold for 24 hours. You cannot hold partner awards.

Virgin America

Virgin America’s terms & conditions state: “We are pleased to hold your itinerary for 24 hours when booking through our reservations Contact Center.”

I think this may just apply to cash tickets and not award tickets though.


Singapore doesn’t “officially” allow holds, but supposedly it is possible to put a Singapore award on hold for free. Some say you have to have 50% of the required mileage already in your account, others say 30%, and others have reported needing none. I think this is a case of YMMV. If you don’t get a good agent, call back until you find one that will hold your award.

Upon Arriving has a post with tips outlining how to put a Singapore award on hold.

Flying Blue

Flying Blue is known for holding awards for free for up to 48 hours, but this is also going to depend on the agent. If you don’t like what you hear, hang up and call again.

Virgin Atlantic

Award holds are allowed for free with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, no tricks or tips needed, up to 48 hours.

Bottom Line

More than half of Membership Reward to airline partner transfers occur instantaneously (or should). Planning to book an award with Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific) or Iberia Avios–the miles that reportedly take the longest time to transfer from Membership Rewards out of any of the airline partners–may be risky. It’s a good idea to first check how many award seats are available are on your desired flight to make sure you won’t be stuck with orphaned miles, and/or put your desired award on hold (if possible?).

If your miles don’t hit your airline loyalty account immediately, look into putting the award on hold so you don’t miss out on the award space you want. If anyone has had luck putting other awards on hold not mentioned in this post, please let us know in the comments.

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