Updated on April 6, 2015
Chase Ultimate Rewards: How to spend them with Chase and Transfer Partners
If you missed the first post introducing Chase Ultimate Rewards points, the corresponding credit cards, and how to earn UR points, click here.
In this post we get to the good stuff; how to redeem all those beautiful points (that never expire)! There are four ways to use your UR points. I’ll go through them.
(Click images to enlarge/enhance)
- Cash Back
- This method is fairly straightforward. You get $1 back per 100 points you have in your account, and you can choose the increment to redeem.
- For instance you may have 50k points ($500 CB) in your account, but can ask for $200 CB and keep 30k points in your account, and so on.
- This isn’t a good option. There are better cards to use in different programs if you want to do cash back, so don’t do this. Not Recommended.
- Gift Cards
- Chase allows you to redeem your points for gift cards at many different retailers.
- They will give you $10 in gift cards for 1,000 points. This equals 1 gift card dollar per 100 points, same as the above.
- This is another terrible option. Probably even worse than the cash back. They give you the same points/$ ratio, except now you’re limited to spend it all at that place.
This sucks! Not Recommended.
- Explore and Book Travel
- This is a unique redemption opportunity, and it’s a better option than the first two. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Ink Plus Business Card, Chase will sell you airline tickets with a redemption of $12.50 per 1,000 points, instead of the $10 per 1,000 points as above.
- Take the below as an example. A one-way flight from Wilmington, NC (my home airport) to Charlotte, NC, the flight is $328.10. Keep in mind, this is the same price (for the most part) as you’ll find everywhere else online (Kayak, Orbitz, AA.com, etc.)
You can either pay for it straight up.
Or you can use a partial (or full) payment of points with your money. It has a nice sliding bar and box for you to slide/type in the amount of points to want to use.
All of the redemptions so far have presented some
mediocre different options to redeem your points. However this redemption can be an interesting option if you are going for status on an airline and are getting close but don’t want to pay for a flight. By booking through Chase the ticket will appear as a regularly purchased ticket that you will get miles for.
Obviously, I saved the best for last.
- Transfer to Travel Partners
- This is where the money is made! Utilizing Chase’s travel partners is the absolute best option.
- First, you need to go to the page and link your accounts.
British Airways Account Linking Form!
Now you don’t need to link them all once you get the points. It’s your prerogative, but I simply link the accounts when I know I want to transfer points to them. For instance, I won’t be transferring any points to the IHG program, because I’m partial to Hyatt and you don’t get as good of a value out of the IHG program.
After you’ve linked your program of choice, transferring points is easy. All of the transfer partners have a 1:1 rate to UR points. It’s important to note that these transfers go through immediately, so only transfer them when you need them! I strongly encourage you to keep the points in the Ultimate Rewards program until you find the exact rewards flights you want with the transfer partner. The last thing you want is to transfer points to an airline and then your plans change and you’re out of luck!
Airline Transfers part 1
Airline Transfers part 2
Now, the logical question. What are the best transfer partners? For me, that’s pretty easy. I’ll tell you the four best transfer partners, by far!
- At a 1:1 transfer, Hyatt presents the best bang for the buck in this program. Not only that, but they have some spectacular redemptions. Both Kevin and I are utilizing this for our honeymoons. You’ll probably start to see a trend with which hotels/airlines we like…follow it
- As you probably remember from our introductory hotel post, the most expensive Hyatt property (category 7) is 30,000 points per night.
Hyatt Award Chart
That means after signing up for both the CSP and the Ink Plus and meeting the minimum spend, you can stay 3 nights at any category 7 hotel! Below are pictures from both of our honeymoon hotel (we’re going to the same place)!
Park Hyatt Maldives
Park Hyatt Maldives
Park Hyatt Maldives
This is hands down the best transfer partner for Ultimate Rewards!
- Singapore Airlines
- Singapore offers one of the best first class products in the world. And by booking on their site, you get a 15% discount on your points.
- For example: A first class flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Seoul, South Korea (ICN) is under 75k miles. Now, Singapore does charge a fuel surcharge, so it will cost you 74,375 miles plus $239.30.
Price before the 15% discount
Price after the discount
But Joe, that’s a lot! Stop it. Stop it right there and look at the pictures below.
Mine (or Jaime’s) seat to Frankfurt for our honeymoon!
Our seats in bed mode! Yes, it’s like a double bed in the sky!
Mine and Kevin’s seat from ICN-SFO coming up next month!
I don’t think I need to talk them up much more. It’s an amazing experience and the second best way to redeem UR points.
- Korean Air
- Their website is a little wonky, but their value is huge. Korean Air is a Sky-Team alliance member; Delta is the US member (you know all this from the airline introduction post!). Since Delta doesn’t have an international first class, they don’t allow you to redeem their points for a partners first class cabin. What does that mean for you? Korean Air has GREAT award availability to its own members! This, along with their great product, make it a great transfer partner. Third best!
The one that got away…
The seat we almost got for our flight back from ICN. Had to settle for Singapore!
- British Airways
- Finally we get to British Airways. There are different reasons to transfer points to BA.
- The first is to redeem for their international premium cabin.
- This isn’t a great option. While BA has tons of flights and a great route network in Europe, their first class is more like a business class, and their awards come with HUGE fuel surcharges. I’m talking $1,000 or more for premium award tickets. That’s absurd and will keep me from this redemption.
- The second, however, is awesome. BA uses a distance based award chart. That means for their partners in the US (AA and US Air), you can fly anywhere under 650 miles for only 4,500 points! So, flying roundtrip from Charlotte (CLT) to Washington DC Reagan (DCA) is only 9,000 points instead of the 25,000 points those airlines would charge!
- Short-to-medium distance non-stop flights are the sweet spot!
British Airways A380 First Class!
- Transferring UR points to Southwest isn’t a bad option either, especially if you live in a Southwest hub city like Baltimore (B-more!) or Nashville.
You can’t argue, it’s on a bench!
Southwest points are redeem base on a fix-price system. Points are essentially worth 1.43 cents each, although they can be as valuable at 1.70 cents each with certain taxes.
Best Livery…Crab cakes and Football…
It’s not always the best deal, but it gives you another option and can be great for some redemptions, especially if you have a Companion Pass!
Not a great value to Seattle!
- Last, and pretty much least (as far as the best transfers go), is United.
- Just like Southwest, it gives you good flexibility and occasionally some good value (only 10K for SPI-ORD-DCA) if you live near/in a hub city like Houston, Newark, Chicago or San Francisco, among others.
- United award prices on their own metal (ie. flights with the United logo on the side) haven’t been devalued too badly. However, if you want to use your points to fly on one of United’s Star Alliance partners, you’re not going to get good value.
That’s all she wrote, folks. That should give you enough motivation to go out and get some Ultimate Rewards points!
What’s your favorite UR redemption? Any questions?