Who Is Diners Club International Good For?
While some point transfer programs have been on the scene for years, 2014 has seen a sudden uptick in credit card programs that allow members to transfer their reward points to mileage programs. Diners Club International is the latest to hop on the bandwagon, with its transfer program starting last month.
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Though the airline transfer option is extremely new, Diners Club is a widely recognized brand with decades of history, so the program has already amassed 14 airline partners, seven hotel partners and one train partner (Amtrak Guest Rewards).
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One of the major perks of the Diners Club program, even the base-level card, is that it offers lounge access at a $100-per-year price point, while co-branded airline credit cards or high-level American Express cards typically carry a $400 or $500 annual fee for the privilege.
The only caveat is that Diners Club is truly an international program, and their domestic lounges are quite limited. But given the high-value international partners, chip technology and lack of foreign transaction fees, this program is great for travelers with international itineraries.
How Can You Use Club Rewards Points?
As part of its rebranding, Diners Club now allows direct transfers to airline programs, though it is one of the slowest of any transfer program, taking two to four weeks. There is an option to pay extra to expedite the transfer, though it will still take three to five days.
In addition to moving your Diners Club points to airlines, you also have the option to pay for flights with Diners Club points directly through its self-booking tool, essentially a third-party booking service like Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, though without the discount. These flights book directly against your point balance and will not appear on your statement.
You can also take advantage of the Tailored Travel program, which lets you book your travel through the provider of your choice and then credit your Diners Club points against the charge on your account, similar to how Barclays Arrival or Capital One Venture miles rewards work.
While Diners Club points transfer to many hotel programs, most notably Starwood Preferred Guest”itself a valuable transfer program that opens the door to many other airlines”there is a penalty for transfer to the high-value programs. When you move Diners Club points to SPG you must transfer in increments of 1,250 Diners Club points, and you lose 40 percent of your points each time, so you receive only 750 Starpoints for every 1,250 Diners Club points.
- Periodic transfer bonuses of around 30 percent available
- Transfers to most hotel programs carry a higher than 1:1 ratio
- Option to design your own reward if you have more than 50,000 points
- Points never expire
- Option to purchase additional points
- Can transfer between personal, professional and corporate accounts under the same name
- After account closure, you have 60 days to finish using or transferring your points
- Points take two to four weeks to transfer to airline frequent flyer accounts, though an expediting fee can speed it up to three to five days
- Transfers to Southwest, Starwood Preferred Guest, Hyatt and El Al all transact at a less than 1:1 ratio
- When Diners Club points transfer to Southwest, 1,500 points become 1,200 Southwest Rapid Rewards points
- Travel bookings through the self-booking tool can not be changed five days or less before travel
Best Value Awards:
If you restrict your earning to triple-point opportunities, for which Diners Club does not have any quarterly or annual earning limit, and then transfer to Starpoints, you’re getting 1.8 Starpoints per dollar spent, which is nearly twice the available earning with the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express, which only allows you to earn double points on Starwood purchases.
Starpoints carry around a 1.8-4.3 cents per Starpoint value when used for airlines (the higher value is on upper-class cabins) and receive a 25 percent bonus when transferred in increments of 20,000.
Worst Value Awards:
Purchasing travel directly with your Diners Club points, without transferring them to an airline, gives you the lowest value for your points as these purchases always incur a value of 1 cent per point.
Associated Credit Cards
For U.S. residents, there are two current Diners Club credit cards tied to this program, the Diners Club Premier and the Diners Club Elite.
Both cards include:
- Diners Club airport lounge access
- Primary rental car collision damage insurance
- Lost or damaged luggage coverage
- Delayed baggage insurance
- Travel accident insurance
- No foreign transaction fees on international purchases
- Chip technology
The key difference in the two cards is earning power. The $95-annual-fee Premier card earns one point per dollar on all purchases, while the $300-annual-fee Elite card also earns three points at grocery stores, drugstores and gas stations (though only at the pump, interestingly). The Elite card also comes with personal assistant service.
Neither card currently carries a transfer bonus, and they are easier to get as a corporate account than a personal account. Additional card and benefits options are available in international markets.