One reason I increasingly value credit card rewards points is the “transferable” nature of these currencies. Unlike frequent flyer miles, card points (such as Citi Thank You) allow transfers to a variety of programs. This usually includes both hotel and airline programs, providing a buffer against devaluations. Perhaps the most flexible program for credit card transfers is Air France/KLM Flying Blue. Flying Blue allows transfers from all three major card currencies: Citi Thank You, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Amex Membership Rewards. And, transfers from all three programs post instantly.
“Instant” transfers apply in theory, at least. As I found out from a pair of recent transfers, things can occasionally go wrong. That could leave you holding the bag if you’re chasing a specific redemption. Note: I may make mention of various credit cards throughout this post. I mention these for informational purposes only. I receive no compensation from any of the cards mentioned in this post.
Transferring Credit Card Points to Air France Flying Blue – The Basics
All three card programs feature similar interfaces for transferring points to frequent flyer programs. I’ll provide a basic overview of transfers for each program below for the convenience of those new to or unfamiliar with points transfers. Skip this section if you’re already a pro at points transfers. For a more detailed overview of points and miles credit cards, please read James’ excellent beginner’s guide. Also, while this post focuses on Flying Blue, you can rinse and repeat the same steps for other programs.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Chase Ultimate Rewards (“UR”) can be transferred provided you have a “premium rewards” Chase card. These include the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Preferred, as well as business cards like the Ink Preferred. In other words, points from no-fee cards like Chase Freedom aren’t transferable. However, if you also carry a premium card, you CAN combine the balance with a no-fee card.
Anyway, my premium card is a business card, but the personal card interface works similarly. First, head to your UR dashboard. There, look for a link called “Transfer to Travel Partners”.
You’ll then see a list of various airline and hotel transfer partner options. Simply click “Transfer Points” on the Flying Blue bar.
Then, enter the number of points to transfer and hit “Continue” (minimum of 1,000 points). If this is your first time transferring to Flying Blue, you’ll also need to enter your Flying Blue account number.
Finally, hit “Confirm and Submit” on the next screen.
Flying Blue transfers generally post instantly. However, Chase’s terms and conditions state that transfers usually complete by “the next business day”, and can take up to 7 days to complete. This becomes important later.
Citi Thank You
Like Chase, you need a “premier rewards” card to transfer points to airline or hotel programs. The Thank You Premier and Citi Prestige cards are probably the best known. To transfer Thank You points (“TYP”), first go to your Thank You portal. Then, mouse over “Travel” and select “Points Transfer”.
Scroll though the list to find Flying Blue, then click “Transfer Now”.
Enter the number of points to transfer, and hit continue (minimum of 1,000 points). Like Chase, if this is your first time transferring points, enter your Flying Blue account number. Note that although Citi says transfers normally complete within 24 hours, they warn that transfers may take up to 14 days to complete.
Finally, review the details and hit “Confirm”.
American Express Membership Rewards
Transferring Membership Rewards (“MR”) involves the most work, but it’s still pretty easy. First, open your MR dashboard. Click on “Transfer Points”. Click on “View All” to see all programs open for transfers. Otherwise, Amex only displays programs with current promotional offers.
If this is your first time transferring points, you first need to link your Flying Blue account to MR. Under “Select a Loyalty Program to Link”, select Flying Blue.
Then, enter your card security numbers and your Flying Blue account number and hit “Link Account”.
After that, return to the transfer page. Assuming the accounts link properly, Flying Blue will now appear under “Your Loyalty Programs”. Finally, click “Transfer Points”.
Enter the number of points to transfer (minimum 1,000), then click “Confirm & Transfer Points”.
Amex’s T&Cs state that transfers are “normally immediate”, but that you should allow 48 hours.
Two Inconsistent Results Transferring to Flying Blue
I needed to top up my Flying Blue account for a redemption. Since my largest point stash sits with Citi, I initiated a transfer of 21,000 Thank You points. Once a transfer completes, your “Order Details” should change to “Fulfilled”.
But I quickly ran across a problem. I logged back in to Flying Blue about an hour later to book my award, and the points were AWOL. Ok, I thought, I’ll give it until morning for the “24 hours” to run their course. No dice. Ugh. Every day for the next few days, I found the same thing. No points in my Flying Blue account, and a status of “In Progress” on my Citi dashboard. Finally, after (I think) Day 5, I called Thank You customer service – and was promptly told there was nothing they could do until 14 days passed. Perhaps I just encountered bad customer service, as this Prestige user obtained a resolution after 6 days. Guess I should have pressed the issue harder.
So finally, after 14 days, I call back and a representative raises a ticket. To Citi’s credit, they resolved whatever happened the next day. According to the same Deals ATX post above, this appears to be a known issue with Flying Blue. But still, just beware that if something goes wrong with a Citi transfer, you might be left hanging for a full two weeks. Your sought after award booking probably won’t last that long. In my case, I had flexible dates, so moving my trip forward or back a little didn’t matter.
Comically, though, I realized after the points posted that I miscalculated. I actually needed 23,000 points for my award. Not wanting to take a chance on waiting another 14 days for a Citi transfer, I used Chase to transfer the rest. Talk about a polar opposite experience. The points posted in literally 30 seconds. And I finally had my award ticket.
Credit card points are a convenient way to top up frequent flyer accounts like Flying Blue. Plus, they provide a useful hedge against constant reward program devaluations, since they transfer to multiple programs. However, beware the fine print. Most of the time, points do transfer instantly. When there’s a problem, though, you might find yourself out of luck. My advice: if a transfer doesn’t post instantly, be prepared to push the issue hard with customer service after a couple of days. Just beware that you might run into brick walls until the full transfer period in the T&C’s passes. Amex might be your best bet if time is of the essence, since the max transfer time is 2 days.