5 ways to trade Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for airline miles and get incredible value
- Chase Ultimate Rewards points are one of the best types of points to earn if you want both value and flexibility.
- Because of their flexibility, you can get great deals on airfare by transferring the points to partner airlines like Southwest, JetBlue, United, or Iberia.
- Using the Expedia-powered Ultimate Rewards travel portal, you can book essentially any flight that is available for sale, along with everything else Expedia sells, such as hotels and rental cars. This can be one of the best ways to redeem for US domestic travel in economy class.
- Read more personal finance coverage.
Chase Ultimate Rewards are widely viewed as the most valuable bank-issued loyalty points. This is primarily because of their flexibility, not because of their transfer partners. In fact, Chase has fewer transfer partners than most other flexible points currencies.
The high degree of flexibility comes from the transfer partners Chase works with, and from the ability to redeem points like cash. With Chase cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can receive 1.25 cents per point or 1.5 cents per point, respectively, in value when redeeming your points on its Expedia-powered travel portal.This is on the low end of value per point where airline programs are concerned (it's comparable with Delta SkyMiles), but the flexibility is unbeatable: You can book essentially any flight that is available for sale, along with everything else Expedia sells (such as hotels and rental cars). This can be one of the best ways to redeem for US domestic travel in economy class.
Tip: Be sure to comparison shop. Prices for hotels, rental cars, and international airfare on the Chase portal are often higher than available elsewhere online. However, prices for domestic US airfare are usually the same.
In addition to offering opportunities to redeem your points for cash, or a cash equivalent, Chase allows you to transfer them to airline programs. Along with three different flavors of Avios (which can be freely transferred between the different Avios programs), Chase offers six transfer partners.
Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It's important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.
Transfer points to Southwest or JetBlue for greater value and flexibility
Fly: US domestic flights (and the Caribbean) on Southwest or JetBlue at 1.25 cents per Ultimate Rewards point
With most Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, you can book any Southwest or JetBlue fare on the Chase portal at 1.25 cents per Ultimate Rewards point. However, the Southwest and JetBlue loyalty programs both offer "last seat" availability to their loyalty program members, and price seats based on the revenue fare. You will typically get better (sometimes much better) than 1.25 cents per point in value through the airline loyalty programs, so be sure to compare.What's even better? Southwest allows cancellation of Rapid Rewards bookings up until 10 minutes prior to departure with a full refund. This offers greater flexibility than you'll receive when paying cash (where refunds are in the form of an airline voucher that must be used within one year).
Use Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to get from the US to Europe
Fly: North America to Europe for 50,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points in business class, one-way, with no fuel surcharges
Virgin Atlantic partners with Delta, and you can redeem just 50,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points for flights in Delta One between North America and Europe. For one way or round-trip flights between North America and Europe (except London) there are no fuel surcharges, either.
Availability is limited, but Virgin Atlantic has a friendly call center with excellent agents to help you find it.
United Mileage Plus points are great for short-haul trips
Fly: Short-haul Star Alliance one-way economy class flights under 800 miles for 8,000 United Mileage Plus points
It may not feel all that exciting to be able to redeem 8,000 Mileage Plus points for short-haul flights on United within the US, and it usually isn't.
However, flights of this distance can be incredibly expensive when you're traveling within Africa, some parts of Asia (such as between South Korea and Japan, South Korea and China, or within Japan), Central America, and South America. If you're planning a trip to any of these regions, the short-haul sweet spot offers incredible value.
Singapore Airlines can take you from the west coast to Hawaii or Mexico
Fly: West Coast to Hawaii or Mexico in Alaska Airlines economy class for 12,000 Singapore KrisFlyer Miles one wayNeed some sun? You can fly Alaska Airlines' excellent nonstop service in economy class from any West Coast gateway to either Hawaii or Mexico for just 12,000 KrisFlyer miles.
Note that Singapore Airlines charges per flight, so you will need to book nonstop flights to redeem at these award levels. Additionally, you'll need to redeem over the phone, and the Singapore Airlines call center isn't the best.
Finally, points transfers to KrisFlyer aren't immediate, and Singapore Airlines won't put awards on hold. But who says that the best deals are easy? If you're patient and have flexibility, this is an unbeatable value. Alaska Airlines offers free WiFi-based in-flight entertainment and has power at every seat.
Iberia Avios connect the East Coast to Europe at a low price
Fly: East Coast (including Chicago) to Europe off-peak in business class one way for 34,000 Iberia Avios
Iberia offers incredible value for redemptions on Iberia flights, especially between the East Coast and Europe during dates it considers "off-peak."
Eligible flights at these award levels include those between Madrid and Chicago, JFK, and Boston. Iberia's definition of "off-peak" is generous; it excludes the summer and major US and Spanish holidays, but pretty much every other time qualifies. While Iberia does pass along fuel surcharges, they are low (under $100) on these routes.
What's the catch? There isn't one! Iberia offers a standard, European business class cabin with lie-flat seats.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.
Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.
Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.