Welcome! Today we continue our series on the types of credit card reward programs frequented by travelers. Here we’ll dive into the world of Chase.

In case you’re joining us for the first time, or missed a prior post in this series, please check out the index below:

Like American Express, Chase has a plethora of cards on offer. There are both business and personal cards. There are cards which earn transferable points, cash back cards, and cards which are airline- and hotel-affiliated. This article will shed light onto the Chase transferrable points program, which is called Ultimate Rewards (UR for short).

K2 Top Tip: Some of the Chase cash back cards are able to convert cash back points into Ultimate Rewards transferable points. If you have a cash back card, such as the Chase Freedom, as well as an Ultimate Rewards earning card, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred, you will be able to send your Freedom points to the other card in your account. Thus, you’ll have transferable points and be able to transfer those points to airlines and hotels. Read the specifics in How & Why to Combine Ultimate Rewards Between Accounts.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline and Hotel Partners

Chase has 13 total transfer partners: ten airline partners and three hotel partners. All Chase partner transfers are at a ratio of 1:1. Thus 1,000 Chase UR points will always convert to 1,000 airline miles or hotel points. Chase historically has not offered many transfer bonuses, nonetheless it is certainly something to keep an eye on.

The airline partners span all three major alliances – Star Alliance (United, Singapore Airlines, etc.), oneworld (American Airlines, British Airways, etc.), and SkyTeam (Delta, KLM/Air France, etc.) – as well as airlines with their own custom lineup of partners, such as Virgin Atlantic.

Good news, transfer times are immediate for almost all airline partners, with one exception. Transferring Chase UR to Singapore Airlines takes approximately one to two days. Transfers to Hyatt are almost immediate, while transfers to IHG and Marriott take approximately one to two days. There are lots of data points on transfer times, such as from Award Wallet and One Mile at a Time.

Do remember that transfers to airline and hotel partners are final! It will not be possible to transfer points back into your Chase UR account. This is true even in the event of a cancellation. It is generally recommended to only transfer when you have an imminent plan in mind to use the points.

Airline Partners

Chase UR points can be transferred to 10 different airline partners. These partners are as follows.

Remember – When you transfer your points to an airline or hotel, the points then become subject to that program’s terms and expiration. UR points in your UR account do not expire as long as your Chase card is open and in good standing; however, once transferred to many airline and hotel programs your airline miles or hotel points will have an expiration date. 

K2 Top Tip: Get a visualization of Chase UR airline partners by using this Award Map. We discussed this tool and others in our article, “Four Invaluable Tools for Booking Flights With Miles & Cash.”

Hotel Partners

Chase UR points can also be transferred to three hotel partners:

Usually you get a better redemption value by transferring to airlines; however, Hyatt is a notable exception. There is a huge fan base of Chase UR users who love to redeem with Hyatt. Award nights start as low as 5,000 points. Richard Kerr from The Points Guy is an avid fan of Hyatt and has written many articles on the subject.

Tremendous Value Via Transfer Partners

There are always lots of opportunities to find incredible value through transfer partners. Kyle Potter at Thrifty Traveler recently found wide open availability from the East Coast or Chicago O’Hare to Madrid, on Iberia, a transfer partner of Chase UR. This costs just 34,000 points each way, for lie-flat business class seat!

In our in the intro article to this series, we noted Delta One business class suites for just 45,000 points each way between the U.S. and South America. It also costs as little as 90,000 Virgin Atlantic miles to fly ANA business class, or 110,000 for first class (!) between the US and Japan. Transferring your points to Virgin Atlantic is the key to unlocking those incredible values.

IMG_4393
Use Chase UR airline partners to fly to Lisbon, Portugal and beyond. Photo by K2.

Transfer Chase UR to Singapore Airlines to Fly First Class

The only way to book Singapore Airlines first class suites with points is to use Singapore’s own mileage program. Singapore KrisFlyer (the name of their mileage program) is a transfer partner of Chase UR.

At the time of writing, we found wide open space for two travelers in first class from Singapore to Sydney, Australia in 2021. This included many different departure times as well as availability on the incredible Airbus A380 aircraft.

Thus the total for two travelers for the treat of a lifetime:

Approx. $125 USD

If you were to pay cash for said flight? Any date, any departure time is currently:

Approx. $3,852 USD per person.

So you can spend nearly $4,000 in cash per person, or 85,000 points and ~$62 in taxes.

If at all possible, book Singapore first class on the Airbus A380 aircraft for a palatial suite with a separate bed. You can reveal aircraft information at the top of the itinerary information on the search results page.

K2 Insider Info: Due to COVID-19, many airlines have moved up the retirement dates for their Airbus A380 aircraft. Tom Boon at Simple Flying recently reported Air France is immediately retiring all of their A380s. Do keep an eye on this if you are considering booking solely for the A380 experience. Singapore Airlines has not yet shared their A380 plans. That being said, there is no problem at all with Singapore first class on their Boeing 777 aircraft. And they are rolling out a new first class suite on said aircraft to boot.

Great Value on Economy Flights, Too!

It is not just business class and first class flights which unlock great value. The same can be found for economy flights.

Take another example with Singapore Airlines: Singapore classifies Hawaii, Central America, the entire Caribbean, and Bermuda as being in the same region. This means each way between such destinations costs only 17,500 points in economy or 30,000 points in business class.

Puerto Rico Sunrise. Self-portrait by K2
Honolulu to San Juan, Puerto Rico costs just 17,500 Singapore miles in economy or 30,000 in business class!

Hop between Hawaii and K2’s beloved “Isla del Encanto” (The Island of Enchantment aka Puerto Rico), in economy for just:

That is even with just a one-stop itinerary:

Transferable points, such as Chase UR, really puts the power in your hands to uncover great value and unique trips. You just have to do a little digging.

If you would like a guiding hand or prefer to leave all the complexities to an expert, we are here to help at MileValue’s Award Booking Service. We know the routes, transfers, and all the little details to help you extract maximum value for your trip. We’ve booked Singapore first class and business class for countless clients and look forward to serving you!

Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal

The Chase travel portal is actually powered by Expedia, so the process is fairly straightforward.

Log into your Chase credit card account or navigate directly to the Ultimate Rewards site. While logged in, from the top dropdown menu, click on “Travel.”

This will bring you to the search page. With the travel portal, you are able to book a myriad of options from airfare to excursions to cruises.

The search results page is quite busy. Be sure to watch for all the areas to reveal more information, such as baggage details. You can further filter the options and see the price in both cash and points cost.

Which Chase card you have will determine the monetary value of each point when redeeming for travel via the travel portal.

Chase credit cardMonetary value per UR point
Chase Sapphire Reserve1.5 cents
Chase Sapphire Preferred1.25 cents
Chase Ink Business Preferred1.25 cents
Chase Ink Business Cash1 cent
Chase Ink Business Unlimited1 cent
Chase Freedom1 cent
Chase Freedom Unlimited1 cent

Do keep in mind, you can transfer between cards. So if you have, say, both the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can transfer from the former to the latter in order to take advantage of the Preferred’s higher 1.25 cents per point value. 

K2 Top Tip: Chase allows one to transfer points between your own cards, as well as to/from a member of your household and to/from a business owner. To do so, navigate to the Ultimate Rewards site and in the top dropdown menu select “Combine Points.”

When Should I Use The Portal?

In our article on Amex MR, we noted several reasons why you should compare with the travel portal. The same thoughts apply to any travel portal. To summarize a couple main ideas briefly:

  • If award space is not available on viable transfer partners or for your specific dates.
  • If there is a sale price. This often translates to a lower points cost when booking through the travel portal.
  • Side note from Sarah Page : Since cash fares are cheaper in general right now due to COVID-19, it’s that much more important to remember to check and compare the price in points booking through the travel portal versus transferring to airline miles. You can’t assume one will be automatically be cheaper than the other ever, but especially not now when the flight market has gone haywire. For more specifics, check out Reader Question: Chase Travel Portal or Transfer to Airline Miles?

The always fantastic Spencer Howard, from Straight to the Points and 10xTravel and more, shrewdly notes that checking the Chase travel portal has become even more important in light of recent events. United (a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards) recently raised award prices on partner airlines by 10%. This is across the board in all cabins – economy, business, and first – and all destinations around the world.

That means a business class seat between the U.S. and Europe is now 77,000 points each way, or 154,000 points round trip.  Using 154k points via the Chase travel portal would mean you could get:

  • A ticket worth $2,310 if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve (1.5 cents per point when redeemed through the travel portal).
  • A ticket worth $1,925 if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred (1.25 cents per point).

When booking via the Chase travel portal, even though you are using UR points to pay, the ticket is seen as a revenue (e.g. cash) fare; therefore, you will be able to earn miles for the flights. Just remember to include your appropriate frequent flyer number on the reservation. This can always be added after completing the reservation as well.

K2 Top Tip: Just because you fly United doesn’t mean your only option to earn miles is in United’s MileagePlus program. You can credit miles to any airline in the alliance of the airline you fly. We like to use WhereToCredit to see the best options. Importantly, do confirm your booking class is eligible to earn miles in the program you want to credit to. For example, if you booked a ticket on Air France in cash or via the portal and you want to earn miles via their partner Virgin Atlantic, check that partner’s website to ensure your booking class is eligible. The amount of miles you’ll earn depends on the price of the ticket/distance flown/booking class or some combination of those variables. And travelers with any sort of airline status with that airline usually will earn bonus miles as well.

As Sarah Page noted in the previous article, always compare the points cost to the cash cost to ensure you are getting value. Generally speaking, if cash prices are high, your best bet will be to book by transferring your points to an airline. If the award prices on your given route are high, your best bet may be to book with cash or use the portal. Bottom line – always compare award prices vs. cash prices vs. portal prices.

If you made a booking via the Chase travel portal and need to cancel, Mikhala Stutzman at Thrifty Traveler has an excellent guide on this process.

Spend Categories

As with any credit card strategy, it is prudent to pair the areas where you commonly spend money with a credit card that earns bonus points in those areas. Common categories for transferable points-earning credit cards include travel, dining, and groceries.

For example, Chase’s premier travel card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, earns three points per dollar on travel spend. Anything which codes as travel qualifies for the bonus. This ranges from Uber and Lyft to airline tickets, Airbnbs, tolls, and even parking. The card also earns three points per dollar on dining.

If you are a fan of Hyatt, a Chase UR hotel transfer partner, pick up the Chase World of Hyatt card. It offers nine points per dollar on Hyatt stays and two points per dollar on restaurants, airfares, gym memberships, and more. And if you book 5 qualifying nights per year, you automatically get Discoverist status. Do keep in mind, as this is a hotel-branded card, the points earned when using this card are purely Hyatt points and not transferable Chase UR points.

The Chase Ink Business Preferred card earns three points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping, online advertising, and telecom services each account anniversary. The card is currently offering a massive sign-up bonus up to 100,000 Chase UR points.

Pandemic Bonuses

As a result of COVID-19, Chase has recently added a grocery bonus for more than 20 of their credit cards. Now through June 30, each dollar spent on groceries will earn between three and five bonus points, depending on the card. Premium cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and United Club Infinite earn 5x, and those with annual fees around $100/year earn 3x (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, British Airways Visa Signature, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card).

And folks who opened a new Chase card between January 1 and March 31, 2020 now have an additional three months to earn the sign-up bonus.

K2 Top Tip: It is often advisable to apply for Chase cards first or early in one’s credit card strategy. This is because Chase has one of the most restrictive application rules – the 5/24 rule. In a nutshell, you will not be approved for a Chase card if you’ve opened five or more credit cards in the past 24 months. There is plenty of fine print and a couple exceptions with this rule. For example, most business cards do not count against this total, as Sarah Page has explained.

Sarah Page, the owner of MileValue, is an expert in the credit card arena. Her free credit card consultation service will look at multiple areas, including spend categories and future trip desires, in order to plan out the best credit card strategy for you. She will also help you navigate the credit card application rules, such as the aforementioned bugger that is Chase’s 5/24 rule.

Final Approach

Chase is certainly right there alongside American Express with a competitive offering of travel benefit-oriented credit cards, lucrative travel transfer partners, and tremendous over value for travelers. The ten airline transfer partners allows one to book any alliance they please and then some. And the three hotel partners offer great options and value as well.

We hardly scratched the surface with the credit cards on offer from Chase, so be sure to check out the full slate of cards.

Have you made an airline or hotel or travel portal redemption using Chase UR? Please share in the comments below!

Cheers and Chase on.