The Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months. The Chase Ink Business Preferred offers 80,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 on the card in the first three months.
Getting both cards and meeting their combined minimum spending requirement of $9,000 will earn you 189,000+ Ultimate Rewards, which you can use for tons of trips domestically or internationally.
- How to Get the Cards (and Who Is Eligible)
- Meeting the Minimum Spending Requirements
- Redeeming the Miles for Family Vacations, Luxurious First Class, and More
How to Get the Cards
Right now the Sapphire Reserve and the Ink Business Preferred have huge sign up bonuses: the Sapphire Reserve is offering 100,000 Ultimate Rewards after $4,000 in purchases are made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open, and the Ink Business Preferred is offering 80,000 Ultimate Rewards after $5,000 in purchases.
The Sapphire Reserve has a $450 annual fee, but don’t let that scare you–you’ll get up to $700 in statement credits in the first year of card membership:
- There’s a $300 per calendar year to offset your first $300 in “travel” purchases. This broad category includes airfare, flight award taxes and fees, airline fees, hotels, Airbnb, car rentals, cruises, tolls/E-Z Pass, parking, Uber/Lyft, and taxis. Everyone reading this blog must rack up well over $300 in such charges per year, so that’s basically free money, and since the credit resets after your December statement, you can get two $300 credits before your second annual fee is due. That’s $600 in statement credits in the first 12 months you have the card.
- And there’s a $100 Global Entry credit.
The Business Preferred has a $95 annual fee.
Who Is Eligible for the Bonuses
What’s still undefined however is whether or not Chase business cards actually count towards 5/24. There are data points pointing in both direction–in some people’s experiences they do count (and Flyertalk seems to think they do), in others they haven’t–so it probably depends on your history with Chase and general credit profile. Moral of that story: If you’re right on verge, apply for the Ink Business Preferred first as opposed to the Sapphire Reserve to improve your chances of approval for both.
Another point to consider for eligibility of approval for Chase cards is that you can only get the bonus on the same Chase card once every 24 months. This 24 month clock starts when you got the last bonus (which may be several months after you got the card). The original card must also be closed if you’re opening a repeat.
Anyways, let’s talk about the fun part–once you’re flush with all the Ultimate Rewards from the those sign up bonuses, what can you do with them?
What Can You Do With 189,000 Ultimate Rewards?
1. Roundtrip Business Class to Europe (115,000 United Miles)
United charges 57,500 miles each way to Europe in flat bed Business class on its own flights. (It charges 70,000 to fly its partners.)
For that price, you can get from anywhere in the continental United States to anywhere in Europe in a flat bed like this now…
…or the improved “Polaris” product starting next year.
A lot of this award space we wrote about in mid September (in United Business Class to Brussels and Amsterdam) is still available with connections throughout Europe from Brussels.
2. First Class Between Southeast Asia & Australia or New Zealand (40,000 United Miles)
Thai Airways First Class on its 747 operates daily between Bangkok and Sydney. Thai Airways First Class is luxurious with renowned Thai service, awesome Thai food, and free hourlong Thai massages for First Class passengers departing Bangkok.
With the bonuses from the Sapphire Reserve + Ink Business Preferred, you could fly four people for 9+ hours in Thai First Class. Between Southeast Asia and Australia/New Zealand the cost is only 40,000 United miles per person!
For whatever reason, when United jacked up the prices of flying Business and First Class on partners in February 2014, it dropped the premium-cabin prices between Southeast Asia and Australia/New Zealand.
Scott flew First Class on the Thai A380 in September 2013–unfortunately he lost his camera, so he never wrote a trip report–and he was impressed by the bed, food, massage, and service. On that trip, he even got an hour in First Class on a Thai 747 from Phuket to Bangkok, which he found to be a very comfortable seat/bed combo.
Read more about using 40,000 United Miles to Book Thai First and the fantastic experience Scott had with Thai First Class’ on the ground experience.
3. Roundtrip to Hawaii (25,000 Korean miles, 45,000 in First Class)
Korean charges 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy and 45,000 miles roundtrip in First Class or Delta One between the mainland and Hawaii. With 189,000 Ultimate Rewards, you could fly seven roundtrips in economy or four in First Class.
Korean has access to all the same Level 1 award space Delta releases to people with Delta miles, but no other Delta award space.
What’s the catch? For bookings to Hawaii, there are two:
- You can only book Korean awards for yourself or immediate family members, with proof of relationships.
- Korean awards are the same price roundtrip or one way, so you have to book roundtrip (although an open jaw is allowed.)
However there are a number of benefits to booking Korean awards to Hawaii:
- Korean awards have no change or cancellation fees if your plans change
- Korean awards of Delta flights to Hawaii do not have fuel surcharges, so both types of awards will just have identical taxes of $11 roundtrip.
- Korean offers a stopover on roundtrip awards to Hawaii.
4. Korean First Class (45,000+ Korean Miles)
Korean First Class is the most available international First Class award space I’ve ever seen.
Korean flies to Seoul from 11 American cities.
It features a First Class cabin on all 11 routes, including Honolulu.
Last year, Scott searched award availability for one week for each route on Expert Flyer. He spread the searches throughout the calendar. In total, there were 87 flights searched because because the cities ranged from 3 to 17 flights per week. On 84 of those 87 flights, there was at least one award seat in First Class.
5. 42 Award Flights (189,000 Avios Exactly)
British Airways Avios are very often the best miles to book short, direct, economy flights.
We like international First Class as much as the next guy, but sometimes you just want to fly from Los Angeles to Hawaii, Hong Kong to Tokyo, or Chicago to Dallas–short flights on planes without a great First Class cabin anyway.
While most major airline miles are region-based, Avios are distance-based. British Airways charges a price for each segment of your award. The number of Avios is determined by only two things: the distance of the segment and the cabin of the segment.
Here is the award chart:
…except that any flight that touches the United States costs at least 7,500 Avios, so this is the award chart for flights to/from/within the United States:
You can get 42 4,500-Avios flights like Lima to Cuzco or Sydney to Australia after meeting the minimum spending requirement on the Sapphire Reserve + the Ink Business Preferred.
Or you can get 15 flights to Hawaii (12,500 Avios each) on the following routes:
6. Five Roundtrips to London (105,000 Virgin Atlantic Miles)
Here are some Virgin Atlantic deals we particularly like:
- Economy from Atlanta, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, or Detroit to London: 17,500 miles + $134.60
- Premium Economy from Atlanta, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, or Detroit to London: 27,500 miles + $234.60
- Economy Class from Hong Kong to London: 25,000 miles + $22
- Upper Class from Shanghai to London: 50,000 miles + $277
For more information, see this post. The basic idea is that the fuel surcharges are annoying but bearable because of how few miles you need. Limit the taxes by only booking awards to London and not home from London. (Use United miles or another type of miles for the return from Europe.)
7. Two Roundtrips to London and Two Roundtrips to Buenos Aires (170,000 Virgin Atlantic Miles)
Virgin Atlantic offers some great deals on awards on partners like Delta and Air New Zealand.
- Atlanta to Buenos Aires roundtrip in Economy Class on Delta: 45,000 miles + $99
- Los Angeles to Auckland roundtrip in Business Class on Air New Zealand: 125,000 miles + $69
- London to New York roundtrip in Economy Class on Delta: 40,000 miles + $186
For more information on partner sweetspots with Virgin Atlantic miles, see this post.
8. Seven Roundtrips to Europe, Israel, or North Africa (175,000 Flying Blue Miles)
Every month, Flying Blue releases a new list of Promo Awards, which allow travel from specified cities in the USA to anywhere in Europe, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, or Algeria for 25% or 50% off the normal miles price.
Usually you have one month to book awards that must be flown 1-4 months in the future.
So what does 25% and 50% off an award to between the United States and Europe look like?
- 25% off an Economy roundtrip ticket: 37,500 miles + taxes + $112 in surcharges
- 50% off an Economy roundtrip ticket: 25,000 miles + taxes + $112 in surcharges
Business Class Promo Awards can be reduced to reasonably competitive mile prices, but the excessive fuel surcharges tacked on negate their value. But as you can see, the Economy prices are absolute steals.
An important point to keep in mind with Promo Awards is that they cannot be changed, cancelled or refunded, so speculative bookings are not an option.
9. Roundtrip Singapore Suites to Europe (115,000 Singapore Miles)
Singapore’s A380s feature one of the world’s best First Class products that it calls Suites Class, and it is only bookable with Singapore miles. Singapore releases no First or Suites Class space to partners. Here is a list of routes that feature Singapore A380s (and thus Suites Class.)
Singapore awards include fuel surcharges when an identical cash ticket would have fuel surcharges, but sometimes the mileage price is low enough that it’s worth paying fuel surcharges to treat yourself.
Here are some deals I particularly like:
- Los Angeles to Tokyo: 74,375 miles in Suites Class + $113
- Los Angeles to Tokyo to Singapore: 91,375 miles in Suites Class + $276
- New York-JFK to Frankfurt: 57,375 miles in Suites Class + $203
- New York-JFK to Frankfurt to Singapore: 93,500 miles in Suites Class + $286
- Singapore to Hong Kong: 31,875 miles in Suites Class + $30
- Singapore to Mumbai: 42,500 miles in Suites Class + $160
- Singapore to Beijing: 42,500 miles in Suites Class + $160
- Mumbai to Beijing: 61,625 miles in Suites Class + $322
- Hong Kong to Sydney: 63,750 miles in Suites Class + $188
For more information on booking Singapore Suites, see this post.
10. Five Roundtrips to Hawaii (175,000 Singapore Miles)
It is cheaper to book the exact same United flights to Hawaii with Singapore KrisFlyer miles than with United miles.
- United charges 22,500 miles each way in economy and 40,000 miles in First Class between the mainland and Hawaii
- Singapore charges 17,500 miles each way in economy and 30,000 miles each way in First Class between the mainland and Hawaii
That’s a humongous difference. Instead of costing 135,000 United miles to get two people from your home airport to Hawaii and back, you could pay 105,000 Singapore miles. Instead of paying 160,000 United miles for two roundtrip First Class tickets, you could pay 120,000 Singapore miles–even occasionally for flat beds!
To reiterate, these are the exact same flights with vastly different prices depending on which miles you use. Singapore has access to all the same Saver award space United releases to people with United miles (except for some space set aside only for United elites and credit card holders.)
And although using Singapore miles to fly United to Hawaii costs more Ultimate Rewards than using Korean miles to fly Delta (#3 on this list), United releases a lot more award space than Delta does, so you are much more likely to be able to use the Singapore/United deal.
What’s the catch? For Singapore bookings to Hawaii, there really isn’t one.
- Singapore awards cost fewer miles than United awards
- Singapore awards are way cheaper to change or cancel than United awards if your plans change
- Singapore awards do not have a fee for booking within three weeks of departure like United awards do (though here is how to get out of that fee on United awards)
- Singapore awards of United flights do not have fuel surcharges, so both types of awards will just have identical taxes of around $11 roundtrip.
- Singapore miles are easier to get than United miles because you can also transfer Amex, Citi, and SPG points to Singapore
For more info on using Singapore miles to fly United to Hawaii, see Guide to Booking United Flights to Hawaii with Singapore KrisFlyer Miles.
$1,560 in Flights on Any Airline with No Blackouts
This is not one of the best uses.
Yes, Ultimate Rewards earned by the Sapphire Reserve can be used like cash toward the purchase of any flight at a rate of 1.5 cents per point, so 104,000 points would be $1,560 in flights.
And yes, you’ll earn miles for all $2,160 of flights because the airlines just see that you’re flying a “cash” ticket.
But I think the uses above–which involve transferring Ultimate Rewards to United, Korean, British Airways, Flying Blue, or Virgin Atlantic miles–are even better!
All of the top ten deals require you to transfer Ultimate Rewards from your chase.com account to a specific partner airline’s miles and then use those miles. That process is very easy and laid out in the linked posts in each section of the top ten.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months. The brand new Chase Ink Business Preferred offers 80,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 on the card in the first three months. Those points are insanely valuable when transferred to United, British Airways, Korean, Singapore, and Virgin Atlantic miles and used to book First Class, trips to Hawaii, short hops, and a lot more.