UPATE: This post includes offers that are no longer available.
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
- Southwest Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
- Singapore Airlines
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. Let’s assume you are able to accrue 100,000 points from the welcome offer and regular spend on the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card.
- United – Not nearly as good as it used to be due to United’s devaluation last year, but there are still some good opportunities.
- Southeast Asia: 1 round-trip economy class ticket will cost 80,000 points. This is giving you a redemption value of 1.8 cents/point. Unfortunately, this isn’t nearly as good as it used to be prior to United’s devaluation. Or, if you prefer business class, just a little more spend on your card can get you the 140,000 points needed. A paid ticket will cost about $5,000. This is giving you a redemption value of 3.5 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 115,000 points for a round-trip ticket (and this is for United metal, partner flights are even more). Since paying for this ticket will cost about $4,000, the redemption value is 3.5 cents/point.
- Hawaii: 2 round-trip economy class tickets will cost you 90,000 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 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: 2.25 cents per point
- Southwest – This program is pretty cut and dry, where each point is worth 1.43 cents when redeemed on a “Wanna Getaway” fare. This means that 100,000 Ultimate Reward points = 100,000 Southwest points = $1,428. If you only want to redeem for domestic travel and Southwest is your airline of choice, this is an 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.
Average redemption value = 1.43 cents per point
- British Airways – 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 and 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!
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!