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20 Best Ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards
Warning…some these redemptions are downright drool worthy – dress accordingly 🙂
Sometimes you just need a little “TRIPSPIRATION.” Something to look at and DREAM about experiencing. That’s the whole reason I started down this deep, deep, rabbit hole of points and miles. How can I take trips with points that I wouldn’t be able to otherwise afford? One of the keys to making those dreams a reality is earning and burning Chase Ultimate Rewards. These are the best ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards.
A quick intro into the Chase Ultimate Rewards program
The Chase eco-system is quite large offering credit cards that are branded ( think World of Hyatt or IHG Premier ) and those that earn the banks own cards. If you’re interested in a deep dive into their overall ecosytem – I’d highly recommend you read this article where we go into more detail. The Chase cards we value most are those that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards. The reason? They are a transferrable currency.
Chase Ultimate Rewards can be redeemed via Chase Travel, Pay Yourself Back, but also transferred into all of these various programs. That means you can take your Chase Ultimate Rewards and move them into any of the programs listed below.
It’s these programs that we find offer the greatest opportunity to achieve truly aspirational redemptions, and it’ll be what we focus on in this article
Chase cards we recommend
- Chase Sapphire Preferred is offering an incredible all time high time and is a great starter premium card, one that I actually carry, think this is a great card to view as your Chase cornerstone cad.
- Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited have amazing offers currently running and I would highly recommend both cards
- They were improved in September of 2020 and at least one should be in your wallet
- Chase Sapphire Reserve It’s also well worth your interest and includes many additional perks, but has a much higher annual fee of $550
- Chase Ink Business Preferred is one of the best business cards you can carry and I actually have two of them in my wallet ( different businesses )
- 3x on a litany of categories and earns transferrable points
- Chase Ink Business Cash
- rotating quartely 5x categories make this a great card to keep in your wallet to maximize spend
- Chase Ink Business Unlimited
- earn 1.5x on every dollar your business spends
1) Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic is one of the hippest airlines in the world. No other airline does cool quite like Virgin, but as much as I like cool, I like deals more. While Virgin Atlantic points are easily redeemed on their own airline…some of the best uses are on their partners. Let’s unpack a few of them that I Love.
Yep, you can use Virgin Atlantic miles to fly on Air France. The chart is based on peak/off peak and business class one way from the USA to Europe ranges from 48.500 miles to 97,500 miles. Clearly, you want to find options that are off peak otherwise you could always search on Air France since it’s a transfer partner of Chase as well.
You can use Virgin Atlantic miles to fly on Delta as well, and in particular, to fly business class between the US and Europe for just 50k miles one way. This is significantly cheaper than Delta would charge using their own points, but this rate only applies to flights that aren’t going in/out of the UK.
Virgin Atlantic flights
Don’t forget about using Virgin Atlantic miles on Virgin Atlantic itself…there are quite a few great ways to do this; however, be prepared to pay some taxes and fees.
Upgrading a qualifying fare
Virgin Atlantic runs promos all the time, and you’ll often find Economy Classic or Delight pricing at $500 to $600 roundtrip from select US airports to the UK. A great use of Virgin miles is to upgrade those tickets to Premium Economy or Upper Class. That is done so using the following table ( add on a few more miles if its peak season )
Watch out for those taxes and fees…but Virgin Atlantic releases a lot of award space on their own flights. Like..a lot. With rates starting around 47,500 miles for a one way upper class flight, it may be worth paying $600+ in taxes and fees to fly Upper.
2) United Airlines
Using your Chase Ultimate Rewards to transfer into United opens up vast opportunities to fly the premium cabins of Star Alliance. Star Alliance has some of the best airlines as members ( Lufthansa, Swiss
Business Class to Europe or South America for 60k
That’s right, for 60k Ultimate Rewards, transferred to United, you could fly from anywhere in the US to Europe on United’s own business class ( assuming there is award availability ).
Partner Business Class to Europe or Asia for 75k and 88k respectively
United’s partners are where the truly aspirational business class experiences lay. Whether you’re flying EVA to Taiwan, the Swiss Air Throne to Europe, or arguably the best business class in the world, ANA’s The Room, partner airlines have some truly exceptional business class experiences.
Lufthansa First Class
You can read about our experience on the A330 , the incredible 747-8i, or A380. Lufthansa First Class is one of the best ways to fly the high skies and will run you 110k whether you’re flying from the US to Europe ( it’s currently suspended ), Europe to Asia, or even Europe to South America. It’s truly an incredible experience.
3) Singapore Airlines
Crazy Rich Asians brought a new level of awareness to how truly incredible Singapore is – it’s one of my favorite cities/countries in the world. The national carrier of Singapore, Singapore Airlines, offers up some of the very best cabins in the world, but did you know that you don’t have to be traveling to Singapore to fly them, or use their points.
Fly from the US to Europe for 72k miles in business class
Whether you’re flying Swiss Air, Lufthansa, United, or on one of Singapore’s own 5th freedom routes ( IAH to MAN and JFK to FRA ) you’ll only shell out 72k miles to fly in business class
Fly coast to coast on United business class for just 25k miles
Yep, that’s right. You can fly United business class from SFO/LAX to EWR for just 25k miles. That is a downright steal and fewer points than you would spend if you transferred your Ultimate Rewards to United for the same redemption. Keep your eye out for routes that feature widebody aircraft – seen below
The best First Class in the world – Singapore Suites
For 87k Singapore miles you can fly from JFK to FRA or vice versa, and experience one of the most aspirational first class experiences in the sky, Singapore Suites. It’s truly incredible. You can read our review here
You can also fly Singapore Suites for just 53k miles within Asia.
It’s a roughly 7 hour flight from Beijing to Singapore and you get the full treatment. Not a bad way to follow up the Great Wall of China
One of the great spots on Iberia’s award chart is flying business class from Chicago/East Coast to Madrid on Iberia’s own lie-flat business class. I did flew Iberia business class a few years ago when the pricing was just 34k miles each way!
The price has snuck up a bit, but it’s still one of the absolute best ways to from the US to Europe at just 42.5k miles one way.
When it comes to hotel redemptions made by transferring points, there aren’t many that beat Hyatt. Hyatt not only has some of the best award rates across the hotel spectrum, they also have some truly jaw-dropping properties.
Booking rooms or suites
My advice on using points is to compare the rate the hotel would charge you vs the Hyatt redemption rate. If you’re carrying a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred you can redeem at 1.25c per point in Chase Travel, and 1.5c if you’re carrying a Chase Sapphire Reserve. For instance… let’s take a look at a family suite at the Hyatt Regency Orlando
The cash rate is over $500 a night ( that would equate to 41k per night using CSP and 34k per night with CSR )
That same suite can be booked using points transferred into Hyatt’s program for just 24k a night. A 3 night stay would set you back just 72k points vs 123k with CSP and 102k with CSR.
If you find a great cash rate at a hotel it may not be worth using points to book it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use points to upgrade! Did you know you can upgrade your room to club level or even a suite. The rates are incredibly attractive.
Aspirational Properties and SLH hotels
I’ve been able to stay at some insane places by transferring into Hyatt, one of which was the Alila Villas Uluwatu – a steal at 30k points per night ( all the rooms are villas and often are $1k+ per night ).
Hyatt is also partnered with Small luxury hotels of the world and can be used to stay at some truly extraordinary properties like Calala Island – a private all inclusive island in Nicaragua.
@zacharyburrabelPrivate island hack #travelhacks #travelhack #travel #islands #beach #traveltips #pointsandmiles #travelpro #nicaragua #calalaisland #hyatt♬ HAPPY SUMMER ADVENTURE – Sergey Wednesday
The biggest thing to watch out for when using British Airways Avios are the taxes and fees. So how do we get around them? Using them for flights on British Airways partners and upgrades on British Airways. Let’s take a look
Upgrading with British Airways Avios
BA makes it pretty simple to figure out whether or not you can use points to upgrade. If an award seat is available in the next cabin up, odds are, you can upgrade.
There are exceptions to these rules:
- Your ticket was issued by a partner airline American, Finnair, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, etc
- You booked a fare coded as Q, O or G.
How many points will you need? Whatever the difference in a award price from your cabin to the next cabin up. The easiest tool I’ve found is the avios calculator here.
I have done this many times – the best…using 25k points to upgrade from a cheap business class ticket into BA first class from LA to London. You can read the review here
Using British Airways Avios for short haul flights on partners
This is another great use of British Airways Avios. Since their program is distance based, and they don’t tack on fees for flights on AA, this is a great thing to keep an eye on. Especially for flights to places like Hawaii. For instance, AA charges, at its cheapest 22.5k miles from LA to Honolulu in economy. That same flight, if you used Amex to transfer to BA, would cost you just 13k points. That’s pretty incredible especially given the fact that Amex runs 30-50% transfer bonus promos annually on Amex to BA transfers.
Air France can be a very versatile transfer partner and opens up a wide range of redemption options via Air France, KLM, and other SkyTeam partners, but did you know that you can use Air France to fly on Virgin Atlantic and Air Tahiti Nui?
I redeemed 69,500 FlyingBlue miles to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class between the US and London later this year. It was more miles than it would cost me using Virgin, but cost me $225 in taxes and fees vs $700+
Air Tahiti Nui
This is little more complicated, but doable. The rate is 73,500 in business and 25,500 in economy; however, Air France doesn’t show Air Tahiti Nui award space so you need to search by other means. The easiest, if you don’t have an ExpertFlyer account, is via AA.com
The award space show below is bookable with Air France FlyingBlue miles, but you need to call in to book. Make sure you put those flights on hold before transferring the miles over.
While it isn’t the best way to fly to Tahiti ( I’d give Air France itself that crown ) it is a solid way to do it from the States.
Air France offers a great reverse herringbone business class that you can find on their 772, 773s, some A330s, and eventually on their A380s. You’ll be hard pressed for find a better way to fly across the pond.
8) Air Canada Aeroplan
The latest transfer partner added to the Chase Ultimate Reward program has incredible opportunities. It’s a wonderful program that is divides the world into 4 sections and bases award pricing within those sections on distance. You can read all about it here, but one of the best aspects is that Aeroplan permits stopovers, up to 30 days, for an extra 5k points. This really opens up the possibility to see multiple cities on a single trip, even multiple regions. They even allow you to mix and match partners – Let’s take a look at a few faves
Fly USA to South America for 60k in business class
We flew to from GRU to Chicago on United’s Polaris – no complaints here!
USA to Europe in business class for 70k
There are plenty of solid Star Alliance carriers to fly you flat on your back across the Atlantic. Personally, I’m a fan of Swiss, United, SAS, Austrian amongst others.
Fly to Europe in First Class for 100k miles
Basically, unless Swiss releases first class to partners, this means Lufthansa and it’s an amazing way to fly in style across the pond complete with Porsche transfer, fine champagne, and amazing lounges.
Fly to the Middles East for 85k in business and 120k in First Class
Etihad is one of the best carriers in the world and connects via its hub in Abu Dhabi which could be a perfect way to stopover en route to the Maldives or Africa. Both the Business Studio and Etihad’s First Class are incredible ways to fly and super cool access points via Aeroplan.
9) Chase Travel
There are times when it can make sense to redeem your points within Chase Travel vs transferring into a partner. Usually this situation arises when you wish to stay at a property that doesn’t accept points, or when flights are on sale. This happens most frequently for Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders since their Ultimate Rewards are valued at 1.5c per point within Chase Travel, but it can happen for Chase Sapphire Preferred + Chase Ink Business Preferred cardholders as well depending on pricing.
Here’s an example of a flight from JFK to Bogota in Delta business class. Using Chase Travel you can fly roundtrip for $668. That’s 54k Ultimate Rewards if you use a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred. The prices drops to just 45k Ultimate Rewards with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
The alternative way of booking this would be to book Delta via Air France or Virgin Atlantic. I can tell you right now…neither of them price lower than 54k miles roundtrip ( and you’d earn miles on this flight too ).
Chase Pay Yourself Back
Chase has continued a program that it started during the Pandemic that allows you to “Pay Yourself Back” by using points to erase certain charges from your bill. Chase Sapphire Preferred members can eliminate qualifying charges at 1.25c per point and Chase Sapphire Reserve members can erase qualifying charges at 1.5c.
There are a ton of ways to enjoy Chase Ultimate Rewards. Our favorite ways will put you in some truly exceptional ways to fly, but there are many options that fit the needy and flexible of use cases and hopefully this article provided you with some helpful tips and hints.
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