Three of the four major transferrable point currencies–American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Capital One Miles–periodically run transfer bonuses to airline mileage partners. Chase Ultimate Rewards offered their first transfer bonus in May to British Airways Avios.
Sometimes the transfer bonus is offered by the bank that issues the points, and sometimes the transfer bonus is offered by the mileage program you can transfer said points to. Both kinds are included in this list.
When Was the Last Transfer Bonus? Series Index
- When Was the Last Transfer Bonus? Membership Rewards
- When Was the Last Transfer Bonus? ThankYou Points (this post)
When Was the Last Transfer Bonus? SPG Points
- When Was the Last Transfer Bonus? Capital One Miles (coming soon)
- When Was the Last Transfer Bonus? Ultimate Rewards (coming soon)
This post is part two in a series sharing the histories of transfer bonuses from Membership Rewards, ThankYou Points, Capital One Miles, and Ultimate Rewards to airline mileage program partners. I originally wrote these posts in 2017 and update them (at least) annually.
Prior to the merger of Marriott and SPG, there were two separate reward currencies for each hotel chain. In August of 2018, all SPG points were converted to Marriott points. You can still transfer Marriott points to airline partners as you could before with SPG points, but Marriott has not offered any transfer bonuses on top of the consistently available 5k airline mile bonus you’ll receive for every 60k Marriott points transferred so I’ve left them out of this series.
Why Should You Care?
If you have the flexibility to wait to book your award, and you have an idea of when the next transfer bonus is, you could wait to save points.
Transfer bonus histories are especially useful if you want to transfer points to a partner that doesn’t normally have a favorable transfer rate, and a bonus would make the transfer feasible.
Transfer Bonus History of ThankYou Points
Information below only concerns transfer bonuses from the last ~five years. If a transfer partner isn’t mentioned, it’s because there have been no transfer bonuses offered in the last four years. For partners that don’t transfer 1:1, I’ve included a reminder of the rate.
- From early June through early July 2019: 25%
- From mid November through mid December 2018: 25%
Avianca transfer bonuses are a welcome recent addition for ThankYou Points. No pattern yet, but keep an eye out as these Star Alliance miles have fair award chart prices and that could prove extra useful when United switches from award charts to a more revenue-based award pricing system for their own flights in November.
- From early June through early July 2018: 15% transfer bonus
- From early August through early September 2017: 20% transfer bonus
Looks like an annual summer transfer bonus can be expected.
- From mid June through the beginning of July 2017: 10% transfer bonus
- In October 2016: 20% transfer bonus
- In July 2016: 25% transfer bonus (note this bonus was not Citibank specific, it applied to transfers in from a variety of hotel partners–excluding SPG–as well)
- From mid November through December 2015: same as above
There doesn’t really appear to be a pattern, although there has never been a transfer bonus in the first half of the year.
Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
- From late June through late July 2019: 25%
- From early July through August 2018: 30% transfer bonus
A yearly transfer bonus in the summer is the emerging pattern.
- In mid September 2018 Citi improved the transfer ratio from 1,000 ThankYou Points = 800 TrueBlue Points to 1:1 for the Citi Premier and Prestige cards.
- From mid March through late May 2018: 30% transfer bonus that made the rate 1,000 ThankYou Points : 1,040 TrueBlue Points
- From the second week of September through the third week of October 2017: 25% transfer bonus that made the rate 1:1
- In March and April 2017: 50% transfer bonus that made the rate 1,000 ThankYou Points: 1,200 TrueBlue Points.
Spring was the time to expect transfer bonuses between ThankYou Points and TrueBlue, but since they’ve increased the permanent transfer ratio we haven’t seen another transfer bonus.
- From early March through mid April 2019: 25% transfer bonus
- In June 2016: 15 to 30% tiered transfer bonus (the more you transferred, the bigger the bonus)
Only one bonus in recent history means no pattern yet.
- Late January through Late February 2019: 25% transfer bonus
Always happy to see transfer bonuses to new partners!
- From late May through late June 2019: 30% transfer bonus
- From September through mid October 2018: 30% transfer bonus
- From early January through early March 2017: 25% transfer bonus
- From early March through early April 2016: 25% transfer bonus
- From early June through late August 2015: 25% transfer bonus
Virgin Atlantic transfer bonuses tend to vary, but it’s safe to say there’s at least one per year. I recently redeemed just 45k Virgin Atlantic miles on Delta One to Argentina from Atlanta (and only $5.60 in taxes), which would have cost just 35k ThankYou Points with the standard 30% transfer bonus. That’s an unbeatable price to Southern South America in a flat bed. Membership Rewards also often offer transfer bonuses to Virgin Atlantic. The program is full of sweet spot awards that are made dirt cheap with these kind of transfer bonuses.
ThankYou Point Earning Cards
The Premier comes with 60,000 ThankYou Points after spending $4,000 within three months of opening the card. It has an annual fee of $95. You’ll earn 3 ThankYou points for every dollar spent on travel (including gas stations), 2 for every dollar spent on restaurants and entertainment, and 1 for everything else.
The Prestige is Citi’s premium travel rewards card, so it comes with an expensive annual fee of $495. However, as long you’d organically spend $250 a year on travel expenses, then the annual fee is negated by the $250 per calendar year travel credit that you can collect twice before the second annual fee is charged. That makes the 50,000 ThankYou Point sign up bonus (for spending $4,000 in three months), 5x Thank You Point category bonus on air travel, restaurants, and hotels, and the 4th hotel night free on paid stays benefits icing on the cake.
Having a historical reference of when the last transfer bonus occurred can be valuable information if you’re trying to plan an award. Time it right and you can pay even less points.
Bookmark this page for future reference! And let me know below if there was a past transfer bonus I missed.