This is post #6 of a series regarding the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
- Introduction to Chase Ultimate Rewards Program
- Maximizing Chase Ultimate Rewards with Chase Freedom
- Maximizing your Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire, Chase Ink Classic, and Chase Ink Cash Points
- Downgrading your Chase Ultimate Rewards Card to Avoid the Annual Fee
- Best Redemption for Chase Ultimate Reward Points – Hotel Stays
- Best Redemption for Chase Ultimate Reward Points – Air Travel
- Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire
- Chase Ultimate Rewards: Sapphire Preferred vs. Ink Bold
- Comparison of Four Chase Ink Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards
- Difference Between the Chase Ink Bold and Chase Ink Plus
- Top 10 Chase Ultimate Reward Questions
Throughout this Chase Ultimate Rewards series, I have made it pretty clear that transferring your points to a partner hotel or airline, if used strategically, will give you the the best value per point. A few weeks ago I highlighted that Hyatt is by far the best hotel option when transferring Chase Ultimate Reward points, and this post will take you through the participating airline options. These airline loyalty partner programs include:
- British Airways
- Korean Air
- Southwest Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
All programs transfer at a 1:1 ratio, but each airline values their points differently. Remember, only points in your Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, and Chase Ink Plus account can transfer to participating loyalty programs. Since you can earn well over 100,000 points by applying for both the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, and Chase Ink Plus credit cards, I’ll assume this number of points when evaluating the point value for each account.
- United – Here are some examples on how the sign on bonus Ultimate Reward points can be put to use:
- Southeast Asia: 1 round-trip economy class ticket will cost 65,000 points (this will save you about $1,5000 + give you 35,000 points left over). This is giving you a redemption value of 2.3 cents/point. Or, if you prefer business class, just a little more spend on your card can get you the 120,000 points needed. A paid ticket will cost about $4,500. This is giving you a redemption value of 3.75 cents/point (and this is being pretty conservative).
- Europe: 1 round-trip economy class ticket will cost you 60,000 points. Depending on where you are going and the time frame, this can save you anywhere between $700 and $1,300. I’ll average it out and put a redemption value of 1.6 cents per value – not a great redemption value, but still free. A business class ticket will give you a better redemption value, but requires 100,000 points for a round-trip ticket. Since paying for this ticket will cost about $4,000, the redemption value is 4 cents/point.
- Hawaii: 2 round-trip economy class tickets will cost you 80,000 points. I was once able to get a flight from JFK for $600 round-trip, but this is rare. Typical price is probably more around $900/person. This redemption value is about 2.25 cents/point.
- Domestic: 100,000 points can be used for 4 round-trip tickets from New York to California (or really from any two domestic cities). While this is the worst redemption value, it really depends on what works best for you and your family. If your goal is to travel around the US for free to visit friends and family members, then that’s great, and these points can save you about $1,400! Assuming a $350 ticket normally, this is giving you a 1.4 cent/point redemption value. *Just make sure the cost of each ticket is more than $315, or you might as well use the “pay for points option” instead of transferring to this partner airline.
Average redemption value: 2.55 cents per point
- Southwest – This program is pretty cut and dry, where each point is worth 1.67 cents when redeemed on a “Wanna Getaway” fare. This means that 100,000 Ultimate Reward points = 100,000 Southwest points = $1,666. If you only want to redeem for domestic travel and Southwest is your airline of choice, this is a great option. While this is not as great of a redemption option compared to redeeming for international flights, you really do not need to worry about award availability. Unfortunately, transferring points from your Ultimate Rewards account to Southwest will not count towards the Southwest companion pass. Read this prior blog post on a roundabout way to transfer from Ultimate Rewards to Southwest to count towards the companion pass. Warning though, this will devalue your points greatly – but, you do get the companion pass!
Average redemption value = 1.67 cents per point
- Korean Air – While this program isn’t mentioned often, there are some good redemption opportunities. While I know the least about Korean Air, I have read that they do a good job at keeping a decent number of redemption seats available for all fare classes. Also, Korean Air allows you to redeem for one-way awards at half the cost of a round-trip fare. Before you go ahead and redeem though, you’ll want to check on the extra fees/taxes – there could be some hefty fuel charges. Some examples on redeeming your points include:
- North America to Korea: 70,000 miles round-trip for economy class during off peak times (which is 90% of the time). You can check the number of miles needed to redeem plus their peak/off-peak time table here). The cheapest non-stop I found from JFK to Seoul costs about $1,700. This gives you a redemption of about 2.4 cents per point. If you were to fly business class (125,000 miles), you could get close to 5 cents per point!
- US to Hawaii: You can redeem your Korean Air miles on partner airlines. For example, it costs 30,000 miles on Alaska Airlines from the US to Hawaii round-trip. You are also allowed one stop-over which is great! The 30k points needed is less than most other airlines! With partner airlines, however, you are not able to redeem for one-way awards. You can see the rest of the partner charts here.
Average redemption value = 3 cents per point.
- British Airways – This program has been one of the biggest changes of the year. Your travel style will depend on whether or not this program works for you, most of the positives being for domestic travel and to South America. Typically, you will actually end up redeeming your points for a partner airline, i.e., American Airlines. You can look up the number of points needed for a free flight here – this is given as a one-way redemption and per segment. However, if you need to go to a city that does not have a direct route, you will need to essentially redeem two awards, one for each segment – this is when Avios points might not be worth it.
- Short haul flight: 4,500 points one-way. Many times these short haul flights can run about $200 each way. For only 4,500 points, this is an awesome redemption! A great example is between NYC and Toronto or Montreal. If used properly, this can give you about 4.5 cents per point.
- Medium haul flights: 7,500 points one-way.
- Long haul flights: 12,500 points one-way. This comes out to the same 25k points needed for a round-trip flight which is comparable to all other airlines.
- Europe: Redeeming BA points for flights via Europe typically will not be the best value. They tack on HUGE fees when redeeming awards to Europe, which can many times cost close to the same as just paying for the ticket outright. Additionally, with the new BA system, you redeem awards per segment. So if you want to go to Barcelona, for example, and the only flight is via London, you will need to book one award from the US to London, and then another from London to Barcelona.
- South America: For a direct flight, you can redeem only 50,000 points for a round-trip flight (or 100k in business class). Although BA has hefty fees for many international destinations, currently South America is free of the fuel charges. You will only pay taxes which is will be less than $100 per ticket. A round-trip flight can cost over $1,200. Redeeming your points will give you a decent value at 2.4 per point.
Average redemption value = 3 cents per point
Overall, transferring your points for free flights can provide great value! Depending on your needs and how you redeem (economy vs. business vs. first), 100,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points can net you at least $1,500 in flights (and that is being REALLY conservative). Others will be able to find a way for these points to be worth closer to $5,000!
- Chase Sapphire Preferred application - 40,000 bonus points with $3,000 spend in 3 months plus an additional 5,000 points when you add an authorized user and the user makes a purchase within the first 3 months; $95 annual fee waived the first year
- Chase Ink Bold card: 50,000 bonus points with $5,000 spend in 3 months; $95 annual fee waived for the first year.
- Chase Ink Plus card: 70,000 bonus points with $5,000 spend in 3 months; $95 annual fee.
- Chase Freedom Visa application – 20,000 bonus points with $500 spend in 3 months; no annual fee
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links where I get paid a small commission if you apply and get approved for a credit card. I will only list the best credit card offers as my goal is for you to travel for free!