Chase’s 30% transfer bonus to Aeroplan is awesome, but I’m not buying [On my mind]

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On a recent Frequent Miler on the Air podcast, Nick and I discussed whether it made sense to speculatively transfer points from Chase to Air Canada’s Aeroplan.  After all, the current 30% (or up to 40% with the Aeroplan card) transfer bonus is terrific.  Plus, if I was going to prospectively transfer points into any airline program it would be Aeroplan.  You can use Aeroplan miles to book far more partners than any other mileage program; you can mix and match partners on a single award; you can add a stopover to a one-way award for only 5,000 additional miles; and you won’t pay carrier imposed surcharges.  True, Aeroplan doesn’t have the cheapest award chart on the planet, but they still have an award chart, and a big transfer bonus is a great equalizer.  On the show I said that I was seriously considering prospectively transferring a bunch of miles.  I’ve since reconsidered…

I usually advise against prospectively transferring points to any program.  If you don’t have a concrete plan for how you’ll use the points after the transfer, then don’t do it.  Once you transfer from a transferable points program, you’re stuck.  You can’t transfer back.  The power of transferable points programs is with the ability to pick and choose where to use your points at the time that you’re ready to book.  Maybe you just found great award availability and pricing through Air France KLM Flying Blue, for example.  Great, transfer your points to Flying Blue and book the award.  Maybe you want to fly Emirates first class from New York to Milan.  Cool, transfer points to Emirates and do it.  Or maybe you want to book and incredible international trip that spans 3 continents with stops in many incredible destinations, then follow Nick’s footsteps and transfer points to Aeroplan.

There are two exceptions in which I do think it’s appropriate to prospectively transfer points:

  1. If there’s a transfer bonus to a rewards program that you use regularly, it makes sense to transfer prospectively even without a near term plan.  For example, if Chase were to offer a transfer bonus to Hyatt (this is extremely unlikely by the way), I would hop on that in a second even without knowing how I’d use the points.  I find that I book Hyatt awards so often that it would be crazy not to take advantage of a bonus.
  2. If there’s a trustworthy program that allows for a wide range of award bookings, then hopping on a transfer bonus may make sense.  A transfer bonus can indirectly make awards cheaper.  For example, Aeroplan charges 115,000 points for a one-way business class award to Australia or New Zealand or 120,000 points if you throw in a stop-over along the way.  With the Chase 30% transfer bonus, you could “pre-purchase” that one-way award with a stop-over for only 93,000 Chase points (or 86,000 Chase points if you have the Aeroplan card which gives you an extra 10% transfer bonus from Chase through the end of 2022).  I think that both Aeroplan and Avios programs are sensible targets for this type of prospective transfer.  I’d recommend against programs like Singapore or ANA where points expire after 3 years with no way to renew them.

For me, Aeroplan doesn’t fall under exception 1 above, but it does fall under exception 2.  And that’s why I was seriously considering it.  It’s like pre-buying Aeroplan awards in advance at a very good discount.

The Amex Alternative

I’ve been redeeming Chase points at a far faster clip than I’ve been earning them.  I’ve used my Chase points almost exclusively for Hyatt stays since Chase transfers 1 to 1 to Hyatt.  And I stay in Hyatt hotels (and Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which can be booked with Hyatt points) often.  The only other program that transfers to Hyatt is Bilt and I don’t yet have a Bilt card.  If I were to transfer points from Chase to Aeroplan, I’d risk running out of Chase points needed for future Hyatt stays.  That’s not a situation I want to be in.

Fortunately, Chase isn’t the only transferable points program that supports Aeroplan. In fact, Citi is the only major transferable points program that doesn’t:

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Air Canada Aeroplan1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (~1 Minute)

Amex is a particularly attractive option for me.  Over the past couple of years I’ve been earning Amex points at a far faster clip than I’ve been using them.  I’m in the happy position of having more Membership Rewards points than I know what to do with.  As a result, when it comes time to book an Aeroplan award, I’d much rather spend Amex points than Chase points even if it means missing out on a valuable transfer bonus.

Plus, with the Amex route, I could take advantage of a transfer bonus when it comes along.  In the past two years Amex has offered transfer bonuses to Aeroplan twice: once at 20% and then 15%.  These obviously fall short of Chase’s current transfer bonus, but they’re much better than no bonus at all.  When the next transfer bonus from Amex comes around, I might just pounce on it.

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Katie

Situation: my husband has the Aeroplan card, we have family sharing accounts with Aeroplan. I have chase UR in MY chase accounts (CSP, CIBP). I made my husband an AU on my CSP so that I can transfer my points into his Aeroplan account. Will he still get the 10% bonus as an Aeroplan cardholder if the points transferred in are from MY chase account? Just want to make sure bc it becomes worth it for me to use UR (over Amex MR) if so.
Would love to know if anyone has experience or can find this out.

Katie

Reporting back… my husband did get the 10% bonus miles, even though the points were transferred from my CSP (with him as an AU). This did take a few days, so I didn’t get to use them for this award but will have some for next time!

farnorthtrader

Inspired by this post, I finally pulled the trigger on transferring a quarter million UR to 350,000 Aeroplan. Perhaps an odd reaction, but reading through it, my situation is virtually the exact opposite. I was sitting on 1.1 million UR points and most of my recent uses have been to cash them out on travel for 1.25 cents apiece. I have relatively few MR points and have used them for multiple transfers.
The only other uses I have for UR points are United and Hyatt. United is pretty much a lesser version of Aeroplan and 850K still gets me a lot of nights at Hyatt (and my travels don’t seem to align very well with Hyatt’s footprint).
Finally, I fly out of YEG, so if I want to go pretty much anywhere on miles, my first step is onto an Air Canada plane almost always.
It wasn’t easy breaking out of my long-held mindset that my UR points are the most valuable ones I have and I have to guard them and dispense them sparingly and only in the most dire of circumstances, but it was time.

BonvoyedAgain

“…most of my recent uses have been to cash them out on travel for 1.25 cents apiece…” Wait, what? You are on a blog about maximizing points and miles and you are doing that?

farnorthtrader

I know, I am an embarrassment to my community. Nearly 1.7 million UR points cashed out (most at 1.5 cents) over the last 5 years since I have been based out of YEG (100K transferred to Hyatt). Lots of transfers to United before that when based out of MCO, but almost no good UR options out of YEG without Air Canada (One route on KLM, one route on United to Denver, sometimes) and have been transferring from other programs to Aeroplan. On the other hand, have managed to visit Italy (twice), Austria, Morocco, Iceland, Ireland, New York, Peru, Dubai, Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, all on points and all in business class, most with at least 6 people (plus various parts of Canada and the US), so I am still going to count myself one of the lucky ones!

Lukas

Ha, I’m in the same position. I can get a 40% transfer bonus but when I really thought about it, generating 40,000 MR points is wayyyyyy easier (and much quicker) than Chase UR points, so I passed because to me Chase UR points = Hyatt points.

Biggie F

You got that right. On the sad day that that equality goes away, this game will be half over for me.

Lantean

Interesting… to me it’s the opposite, generating UR is a piece of cake (I have 2 Ink cash) but generating MR takes time (mostly SUB).

T. Jones

This got me to thinking about the 40% Chase to Marriott transfer bonus. Initially a hard pass, but now I’m not so sure. I’m curious to see if there’s a way to make it worthwhile.