Middle Age Miles

International Airline Baseline Mile Values & Transfer Partners

Although we haven’t actually used Avios from British Airways or Aer Lingus to fly to Dublin to visit the Guinness Brewery, we could certainly do it if the price was right!

Discussion of International Airline Mile Values

At Middle Age Miles, we take a simplified approach to valuing international airline miles.  For most international airlines, it is difficult (or at least unusual) for a US-based traveler to earn significant numbers of miles on international airlines.  There are a few international airlines with US-based credit cards – British Airways, Lufthansa, Asiana, and Cathay Pacific come to mind, and more recently, Avianca, Iberia, and Air Lingus – but even for those programs, earning is limited beyond the initial sign-up bonus.  Thus, for most US-based travelers, the primary method to obtain miles in international airline loyalty programs is to transfer points from flexible points currencies such as Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Points, and SPG Starpoints.

Given this situation, we have three primary takeaways:

(1)  Do not transfer your flexible points to an international airline program unless and until you have a specific redemption in mind.

(2)  Do not transfer your flexible points to an international airline program unless your redemption value exceeds our baseline value for the flexible points.  A rough median/approximation for this is 1.5 cents per point.

(3)  Thus, in general, you should only consider a redemption using an international airline program if the value you receive is greater than 1.5 cents per mile.  For example, if a redemption costs 60,000 miles, you should be receiving value of greater than $900 for the redeption (and perhaps more).

Finally, given that mileage earning in international airline programs is limited for US-based travelers, we have not focused on assigning a precise value to the miles in those programs.  We have enough experience with the Avios program (British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus) to assign Avios a reasonable baseline value of 1.2 cents per mile.  Otherwise, values reflected in our table below are courtesy of The Points Guy, using his May 2018 valuations (all Points Guy values are shown in parentheses in our chart).

International Airline Baseline Mile Values & Transfer Partners

International Airline Mileage ProgramBaseline Value
(Cents Per Mile)
Transfer Partners
(All 1:1 unless otherwise shown)
(SPG 20k:25k bonus)
AegeanMarriott (3:1)
Aer Lingus (Avios)1.2Chase UR
AeroflotMarriott (3:1)
AeroMexicoAmex MR (1,000:1,600); Marriott (3:1); Barclays Premier (1.4:1)
Air Canada (Aeroplan)(1.5)Amex MR; SPG; Barclays Premier (1.7:1)
Air ChinaMarriott (3:1)
AlitaliaAmex MR; Marriott (3:1)
ANA(1.6)Amex MR; Marriott (3:1)
AsianaMarriott (3:1)
Avianca (LifeMiles)(1.7)Amex MR; Citi TYP; Marriott (3:1)
British Airways (Avios)1.2
Amex MR; Chase UR; Marriott (3:1)
Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles)(1.4)Amex MR; Citi TYP; Marriott (3:1)
China EasternMarriott (3:1); Barclays Premier (1.4:1)
China SouthernMarriott (3:1)
CopaMarriott (3:1)
Emirates(1.2)Amex MR; Marriott (3:1)
Etihad(1.4)Amex MR; Citi TYP; Marriott (3:1); Barclays Premier (1.4:1)
EVA AirCiti TYP; Barclays Premier (1.4:1)
Flying Blue (KLM/Air France)(1.3)Amex MR; Chase UR; Citi TYP; Marriott (3:1); Barclays Premier (1.4:1)
Garuda IndonesiaCiti TYP
HainanMarriott (3:1)
Iberia (Avios)1.2Amex MR; Chase UR; Marriott (3:1)
JAL (Mileage Bank)Marriott (3:1); Barclays Premier (1.7:1)
Jet (JetPrivilege)Citi TYP; Marriott (3:1); Barclays Premier (1.4:1)
Korean Air(1.7)Marriott (3:1)
LATAMMarriott (3:1)
Lufthansa (Miles & More)(1.4)Marriott (3:1)
Malaysia (Enrich)Citi TYP; Barclays Premier (1.4:1)
QantasCiti TYP; Marriott (3:1); Barclays Premier (1.4:1)
Qatar (Qmiles)(1.1)Citi TYP; Marriott (3:1)
SaudiaMarriott (3:1)
Singapore (Krisflyer)(1.4)Amex MR; Chase UR; Citi TYP; Marriott (3:1)
South AfricanMarriott (3:1)
TAP Air PortugalMarriott (3:1)
Thai (Royal Orchid Plus)Citi TYP; Marriott (3:1)
Turkish (Miles & Smiles)(1.3)Citi TYP; Marriott (3:1)
Virgin Atlantic(1.5)Amex MR; Chase UR; Citi TYP; Marriott (3:1)
Virgin AustraliaMarriott (3:1)

 

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