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Have you ever wondered when to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners? You should, as these points can be incredibly valuable and can be redeemed for award travel in two very different ways. First, you can redeem your points for travel reservations made directly with Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Travel Center. In addition, you can transfer your points to airlines and hotels, and then book your award travel through these third party loyalty programs. To stretch your points as far as possible, should always investigate both options before making the decisions.
Redeeming Points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Website
Chase allows cardholders to redeem their Ultimate Rewards points directly for travel reservations using their Ultimate Rewards travel portal. This is the only travel rewards option for holders of the Chase Freedom and regular Sapphire cards, and these points are only worth one cent each towards airfare, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and “activities.” However, holders of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Ink Plus cards receive 1.25 cents per point redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal. And you will get an even better rate with the Sapphire Reserve.
Tip: your Ultimate Rewards points won’t expire as long as you keep your Chase credit card active.
There are several advantages to using the Ultimate Rewards travel portal. First, you have a broad selection of travel providers to choose from including most (but not all) airlines, name-brand and independent hotels, and many different rental car providers. In addition, the “activities” option can include a variety of other awards such as tours, airport transfers, and admission to theme parks and other attractions. Furthermore, you can use Ultimate Rewards travel portal to redeem points to pay for your entire travel reservation, including any taxes and fees imposed at the time of purchase. Finally, you can use your points to pay for just part of an award, and charge the remainder to your credit card.
Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages to redeeming your Ultimate Rewards points this way. First, the value of your points will be fixed at 1.25 cents for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Ink Plus cardholders, so the number of points required will rise with the price of the reservations. So if you were to redeem points for a last minute airline ticket, a premium class seat, or a hotel during a peak travel period, your points won’t go very far. Another disadvantage is that their airline search engine cannot book tickets with some carriers, notably Southwest Airlines. And when booking rental cars, you are unable to book one-way rentals.
Transferring Ultimate Rewards Points to Airline & Hotel Travel Partners
While there are many credit cards that allow you to redeem your rewards for travel reservations, one of the most valuable features of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Sapphire Reserve, and Ink cards is the ability to transfer points to airline and hotel programs. The current airline partners include British Airways, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, Southwest, United, and Virgin Atlantic, while the hotel partners are Hyatt, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards.
There are several advantages to transferring your points to travel partners rather than redeeming awards directly with Chase. First, it’s possible to get more value from some awards than you could when booking travel directly through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Travel Center. So long as you are getting at least 1.25 cents in value per point redeemed, you are coming out ahead. For example, you can get several cents in value per point when you transfer your rewards to airline miles, and then redeem those miles for premium class international awards or last-minute flights with high walk up fares. Nevertheless, you will have to find award seats available at the lowest mileage levels in order to get the most value from your points and miles. Furthermore, Southwest Airlines is a transfer partner that’s not available when booking directly through Chase, and its Rapid Rewards frequent-flier program offers approximately 1.4 cents per point in value per point. This is about 12% more than the 1.25 cents in value that you will receive from award tickets on other airlines when redeeming points through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Center.
Of course, there are several disadvantages to transferring your points to travel partners. First, you will be at the mercy of these companies when you redeem your points or miles. In many cases, the airline loyalty programs will severely restrict the number of seats they offer at the lowest mileage levels, and redeeming the higher number of miles may offer less value than the 1.25 cents per point that you receive from the Ultimate Rewards Travel Center. Therefore, you have to be sure the award you want is available before you transfer your points since it cannot be reversed.
Another disadvantage to transferring points to travel partners is the sheer complexity of it. Each of these travel partners has their own loyalty program with their own detailed terms and conditions. These programs can vary from Southwest’s surprisingly simple Rapid Rewards program to the Korean Air SkyPass program which can be maddeningly difficult to use.
Finally, there are some instances where you just won’t be able to receive enough value from your points, so matter how savvy you are. For example, the Marriott Rewards program can be great when you earn huge amounts of points from staying at their hotels or by using their credit card. But it’s very rare that you will ever receive more than one cent per point in value, and just half a cent is more likely. Therefore, I would never consider transferring Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott Rewards, unless you are just a few points shy of an award that you need to book quickly. Transferring Ultimate Rewards points out to Hyatt is a better option.
When to Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Travel Partners?
Before redeeming your Ultimate Rewards points, you should take a moment to consider all of your options. Before transferring your points to miles, be sure to take a look at the options available at the Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal, even if the flights are with a different carrier. And before transferring your Ultimate Rewards points to hotel points, double check to see if a more attractive property is available for through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal for a comparable number of points, or less.
But likewise, you should check your award travel options through Chase’s transfer partners before booking airfare through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal. Be sure to visit Southwest.com to look up the number of Rapid Rewards points needed, as their fights won’t appear at any online travel agent’s site, including the Ultimate Rewards website. And when booking hotel reservations, be sure to check the award night options with Hyatt, which offers any unsold standard room as an award night.
By taking the time to compare the point transfer options to the Ultimate Rewards Travel Center, you can stretch your Ultimate Rewards points even further than you may have thought possible.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.