Reader Question: Can I Get My Transferred Points Back From Frequent Flyer Programs After Award Devaluation?

Reader Question: Can I Get My Transferred Points Back From Frequent Flyer Programs After Award Devaluation?

Today we have received a Reader Question that comes up every now and then, namely, if it’s possible to claim back points that were transferred to a frequent flyer program after a devaluation.

Readers are encouraged to send us questions, comments, or opinions by email, FacebookTwitter, or Instagram. We’ll try to cover them here several times a week.

Almost all frequent flyer programs participate in partnerships with various hotel chains and credit cards, allowing for points transfers from one loyalty currency to the other.

Normally programs warn the members that transfers are final and irrevocable, and that’s a reasonable approach if you consider the mechanisms involved in the transfer process.

It becomes less reasonable if shortly after the transfer, the program you moved points to is running a devaluation that basically renders your miles worthless unless you purchase or transfer even more.

Our reader Olivia asked me what she should do in the case of Alaska Airlines as Mileage Plan just decimated the Japan Airlines awards without advance notice and she transferred 150,000 Miles to her account, originating from Marriott Rewards (360,000 points total).

The direct answer to this is no. Neither Marriott Rewards or Alaska Airlines offer a reversal of the transaction, and that is literally listed in the terms&conditions of the program.

One can contact Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and request it to be sent back and see what they reply. You could also complain to the Attorney General Consumer Division about the devaluation without notice and refusal to refund the points. The same goes for those customers who purchased miles for cash through one of the sales.

The same happened when United Mileage Plus suddenly started to charge dynamic rates for their awards but at least there was adequate notice.

Members with different loyalty currencies should carefully consider this before transferring a flexible currency to a single program.

These programs don’t do themselves any favor by implementing such changes without notice. I don’t see what difference it would have made if Alaska Mileage Plan had given four weeks advance notice considering the availability for JAL awards is so miserable that you can’t find tickets either way. At least it would be fairer to members, and the argument that Alaska engages in foul play would have been moot.


A reader contacted us and asked if it’s possible to reverse a points transfer from Marriott to Alaska Airlines. Unfortunately, I had to answer that this is technically not possible and that, based on the current T&C, either program would most likely refuse such a refund.

It got me curious, though. I myself transferred 60k Marriott points to 25k Alaska Miles a month ago and was so far unable to use it. I decided to send an email to the program requesting my points to be refunded as well. Not that I expect anything to come of it, but just to kick the dirt a little bit and get a data point for readers.

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