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What airlines should you transfer your Ultimate Rewards to?

I’ve written pretty extensively about Chase Ultimate Rewards, and more recently I’ve written about some of the options in transferring your Ultimate Rewards. Specifically, the ability to transfer points directly to one of the 13 Chase travel partners.

The reason I put such a high value on Ultimate Rewards is mostly because of the ability to do just that. While there is still a ton of value in redeeming through the Ultimate Rewards portal itself, I am of the stern belief that the most bang for your buck comes in transferring to one of these partners.

Of course, there are some travel partners that just aren’t worth your Ultimate Rewards. In this post I will go over the airline partners that are, and more importantly are not, worth transferring your Ultimate Rewards.

First let’s review the Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners:

AirlinesHotels
British Airways AviosWorld of Hyatt
Air France/KLM Flying BlueIHG Rewards Club
Singapore KrisFlyerMarriott Rewards
United MileagePlusRitz Carlton Rewards
Southwest Rapid Rewards
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
JetBlue TrueBlue
Iberia Plus
Aer Lingus AerClub

While Chase does not have the most extensive list of transfer partners, as compared to some of its counterparts, I find this list to do a good job of “covering the bases.” In other words, you can transfer to at least one airline within each major alliance. Not all of these partners offer a great value, though, so what I wanted to go over in this post is which partners offer the most value for your Ultimate Rewards.

Which airlines you should transfer to?

Korean Air SkyPass

While I haven’t personally taken advantage of the Korean Air SkyPass program yet, there is plenty of value to be had really all over the world. Korean Air is known to have one of the more generous award charts, and unlike many of its competitors they have yet to devalue those awards.

First, let’s look at the award chart.

It is first worth nothing that all of these awards are round trip prices. This is possibly the only downfall to the Korean Air SkyPass program — awards must be booked as round trip itineraries. But it’s hard to complain about those prices.

The award that really pops off the page for me is the ‘North America-North America’ award for 45,000 miles round-trip in first class. Unlike many other airlines, Korean considers Hawaii to be within the same region as North America. In other words, you can fly first class from the states to Hawaii.

How to book: this is where it gets a bit tricky — the best strategy to book such an award is by searching for awards on Alaska Air (can search without an account) or one of the SkyTeam partners and then call Korean Air to book. Flying Delta first is the most likely option for this kind of award.

United MileagePlus

United doesn’t offer the best Star Alliance prices across the board, but I would say that their prices are competitive and the entire search engine and booking tool is incredibly easy to use. While a large part of this game is going the extra mile to score that awesome award, and save a few thousand miles, for a majority of us it is nice to be able to do everything on the computer in the matter of a few minutes.

I just recently booked an award on United by transferring miles from Chase Ultimate Rewards account. I paid 70,000 United miles and ~$80 for a business class ticket from MXP-Milan to YYZ-Toronto, operated by Air Canada. For one, I could have gotten an award for 60,000 United miles flying on a different product, but I was excited to try the Air Canada business product and was willing to pay the extra miles.

How to book: As mentioned, United is one of the easiest awards to book. Simply log-in to the United web page and search for the awards. Saver level awards will show the best options.

Southwest Rapid Rewards

While the previous two options are the best options when you are trying to fly overseas, some people are looking for their Ultimate Rewards to stretch as far as possible. And for that, you can transfer your points to Southwest Rapid Rewards at a rate of 1:1.

southwest airlines 737-800 winglet

Some Southwest award flights can go for as low as 2,000 rapid rewards one-way. While some of us want to build up all of our points for some luxurious award in first class, others may find value in redeeming many smaller domestic awards. There is a ton of value in this, and can really take your points very far.

Honorable Mentions

While these are the 3 airlines that I would focus your points on, and I have focused my Ultimate Rewards on, there are still some other airline partners that I would consider if you find particularly good value.

  • Air France/KLM FlyingBlue
  • Singapore KrisFlyer

Which airlines you should be wary about?

British Airways Avios

You’ll notice that I did not say that you “should not” transfer your points to British Airways. This is because there is a ton of value in some areas, but in others you may be finding yourself paying a lot in fees and surcharges.

One of my favorite niche awards is by booking domestic flights through British Airways, operated by American Airlines. British has always had great availability last minute for only 7,500 miles if the flight is within the same region. I’ve taken advantage of this award and sometimes got a value of over 7 cents a mile!

On the other hand, British Airways passes along some absurd fuel surcharges when flying overseas. I would really advise against booking international award flights with Avios, especially when you have options as mentioned above.

Bottom Line

The single best use of Chase Ultimate Rewards is by transferring those points to one of their 13 travel partners, but unfortunately, not all those airlines offer the same amount of value. Before transferring your points to a specific airline, make sure that you are getting the best bang for your buck.

Tucker is an avid points and miles enthusiast. Being fully involved in the world of credit cards and frequent flying for only a few years now, he brings a very fresh and unique perspective to the world of travel.

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