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Let’s talk about transferring Ultimate Rewards to airline partners for redeeming on domestic awards. This is part one in a series that will allow you to master redeeming awards within the United States, no matter what kind of points or miles you might have.

For those of you that have already read the first post in this series, you will notice repeat information at points in this post (as well as the rest of them to follow) because some of the airline partners overlap between transferrable points programs. 

“How to Maximize Domestic Award Redemptions” Series Index

Chase Ultimate Rewards can transfer to multiple airline hotel partners.

All the airline programs and Hyatt have value. (The other three hotel programs you should avoid.)

Below are some of the higher value redemption options on awards within the United States when transferring your Ultimate Rewards to one of their seven partner airline programs.

British Airways

I love that British Airways Avios has a distance-based award chart. They also do not charge fuel surcharges on American Airlines nor Alaska Flights within the western hemisphere.

Here is the chart for award bookings of flights that touch the United States:


For perspective, American Airlines charges 7,500 American Airlines miles for direct flights of 500 miles or less, and United charges 10,000 United miles for flights of 700 miles or less. So you can see that the strength in British Airways chart lies in short distance redemptions.

I also love that for 25,000 Avios and $11, you can fly roundtrip on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines planes from the West Coast to Hawaii. Here are the possible routes.

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Flying Blue

Both Flying Blue (Air France/KLM) and Delta are part of the Skyteam Alliance. It costs 30,000 Flying Blue miles + standard taxes/fees (no fuel surcharges) to fly roundtrip in Delta economy between the mainland United States and Hawaii. You can also book one way Flying Blue Awards for half the price of a roundtrip (in this case, 15,000 Flying Blue miles).

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Delta charges 45,000 miles roundtrip between the mainland United States and Hawaii.

Stopovers are not allowed on one way Classic Flying Blue Awards. It is not clear how may stopovers you can have on a roundtrip, but definitely at least one. Travel is Free also reported that you have to call Flying Blue (1 800 375 8723) if you’d like to include stopovers as a part of your roundtrip award.


There is currently a glitch with Flying Blue’s award prices between the mainland United States and Kauai (LIH) specifically. While it should be priced at 15,000 Flying Blue miles, it’s actually priced at 12,500.


Read Flying Blue Glitch: 12,500 Miles to Kauai to learn more.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is the world’s biggest low-cost carrier. It is based in the United States with an extensive domestic network, so you can see how useful their reward points could be for domestic redemptions. Being a low-cost carrier however, there are no premium cabins, so if that is a requirement for you than look elsewhere.

Redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards is a whole different (and most probably consider much easier) ballgame than redeeming region-based or distance-based miles. Rapid Reward prices are based on the cash price of the ticket. Most Southwest flights have less Wanna Get Away fares left within one to three weeks of departure, and the other types of fares require more points per dollar. So really the main key to scoring cheap Rapid Rewards is booking when flights are cheap, either during a fare sale or ahead of time.

Take a look at this flight between Maryland and Florida in November:

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It costs only 3,341 Rapid Rewards. For comparison: that would cost 7,500 Avios, 7,500 Delta miles, and 12,500 American or United miles.

There are going to be many instances in which Rapid Rewards options will be cheaper than using any other type of mile for domestic redemptions, so if you have Ultimate Rewards you should always double check what the Rapid Reward price is to compare to your other options.

Another huge plus that can save you tons in the long run is that they do not charge checked baggage fees for up to two bags (50 lbs each). If you don’t have status or a co-branded credit card with any of the big American carriers, you’ll get slapped with baggage fees starting with the very first checked bag.


Here are United’s one way domestic award prices for flying…


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Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 3.10.47 PMBusiness/First:

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Add on cost for awards to Alaska/Canada:
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United has market standard prices for domestic awards, although 10,000 miles for a one way economy flight of 700 miles or less could be useful considering American charges 12,500 for any non-direct domestic flights and those that fly more than 500 miles (in economy).

If you’re working with a stack of Ultimate Rewards, I would definitely check out a redemption with British Airways Avios or Southwest before looking straight at United.

Singapore Krisflyer

Singapore Airlines and United are fellow members of Star Alliance. You can redeem Singapore Krisflyer miles between the continental United States and Hawaii on United flights for 17,500 miles each way in economy and 30,000 miles in First with no fuel surcharges. United charges 22,500 and 40,000 miles respectively for the same flights! (Get the flat bed in first!)

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You can also fly within the United States on United Business Class for 20,000 Krisflyer miles each way.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Virgin Atlantic doesn’t have flights within the United States, but they are partners with Delta.

For 45,000 Virgin Atlantic miles you can fly Delta One roundtrip within the United States, which is 5,000 miles less than what Delta charges for it. It must be booked as a roundtrip however, as Virgin Atlantic partner redemptions will cost the roundtrip price even if you book a one way.

You can redeem Virgin Atlantic miles on Hawaiian or Delta flights to Hawaii from the mainland as well, but remember if you have ThankYou Points that you can find better deals redeeming Krisflyer or Flying Blue miles between Hawaii and the mainland.

How to Get Ultimate Rewards

The easiest way to get a lot of Ultimate Rewards is by opening one of the Ultimate Rewards earning cards, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card.

Chase 5/24

As all of the cards that earn Ultimate Rewards are Chase products, before applying for either of these cards remember to consider the Chase 5/24 rule. In short, if you’ve opened any five credit cards in the last 24 months, an application for a new Chase card will be denied.

Bottom Line

Distance-based miles like Avios and revenue-based points like Rapid Rewards really help to fill in the gaps for short distance awards, where using a major airline’s region-based miles (like United) would cost thousands more. You also have access to all the major American carrier’s award space: American and Alaska’s via British Airways Avios, United’s via Singapore/United miles,  and Delta’s via Flying Blue and Virgin Atlantic.

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!

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