Experiment: Do Ultimate Rewards Points Transfer Instantly to Airlines & Hotels?

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I don’t see why Frequent Miler should have all the fun in his Frequent Miler Laboratory, so I’ve been performing a few experiments as well!

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfers

A reader tipped me off that Chase Ultimate Rewards points do NOT always transfer instantly to airline and hotel partners.  I checked for myself and not all transfers were instant.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfers

My experience with Ultimate Rewards transfers

It took ~19 hours to transfer to Priority Club points, ~41 hours to transfer to Marriott points.

I wasn’t able to transfer points to Korean Air for 3 days (I kept getting error messages), but the points posted instantly to my Korean Air account when I was able to make the transfer.

This is my personal experience, so your experience could very well be different.

What is Ultimate Rewards?

You earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points  by using a Chase card which earns Ultimate Rewards points (see this post for a complete list) or by shopping via the Ultimate Rewards portal.

If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Chase Ink Bold, and the JP Morgan Select card, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to:

  • United
  • British Airways
  • Korean Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Hyatt hotels
  • Marriott hotels
  • Ritz Carlton hotels
  • Priority Club hotels

As I shared before, you can even transfer those points to someone else’s hotel or airline mileage account.  The terms and conditions say that you should transfer points only to your spouse or domestic partner’s account, but it is currently possible to transfer them to other accounts.

So why earn United miles or Hyatt hotel points when you can earn Ultimate Rewards points and transfer them to many different airlines or hotels?  You’ll get a lot more options when it comes time to redeem your miles and points.

And you often earn more for regular spending on the Ultimate Rewards cards than on the airline or hotel co-branded card!

For example, you can earn 5x points in office supply stores with the Chase Ink Bold, or double points on travel and dining with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and then transfer those points to an airline or hotel.

The Experiment

On Sunday, at 4:00 pm CST, I transferred 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points from my Chase Ink Bold account to each of the Ultimate Rewards partners.  You can transfer in multiples of 1,000 points and the minimum transfer amount is 1,000 points.

I finished all the transfers at 4:09 pm CST and checked my account balances to see if the transfer had taken place.

I was NOT able to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Air until 3 days later, but the transferred points posted to my Korean Air account immediately.

Immediate Transfers

Transfers to United, British Airways, Southwest, Hyatt and Amtrak posted immediately.

Within 24 hours

The Priority Club points posted to my account by 11:00 am the next morning, so it took ~19 hours for the points to transfer to my account.

But the transfer screen indicated that the transfer would be complete the same day!

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfers

My transfer to Priority Club took 19 hours

This isn’t great news because you may need the points immediately if you’re getting ready to book a great deal on the PointsBreak list.

Within 48 hours

I kept checking my account balances every 4 hours (except when I went to bed), but the Marriott points didn’t show up until 9:00 am on May 22, 2012 or about 41 hours after I made the transfer.

But the transfer screen indicated that the transfer would be complete the same day!

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfers

My transfer to Priority Club took 41 hours

Korean Air

I kept getting a message indicating that my Korean Air account number was invalid.

The Chase telephone agents were very helpful, but were not able to help me make the transfer.  One agent suggested that the link between Chase and Korean Air was temporarily not working.

After calling Chase, I sent them a secure message and I was extremely surprised when a  Chase rep called me within 24 hours.

We even attempted a conference call to Korean Air, but gave up after 15 minutes on hold when I had to go to a meeting.

But 3 days later (after trying every 4 hours to make the transfer), I was able to make the transfer and the points posted immediately.

Bottom Line Ultimate Rewards points are very versatile because they can be transferred to different airline and hotel partners.  But Priority Club and Marriott points don’t transfer instantly, and sometimes the link between Chase and the hotel or airline can go down and delay the transfer.

Now I just have to find the best use for 1,000 Amtrak and 1,000 Korean Air miles since you can’t transfer your miles back to Ultimate Rewards points after making the transfer.

So don’t transfer your Ultimate Rewards points until you really need to use them!

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75 responses to “Experiment: Do Ultimate Rewards Points Transfer Instantly to Airlines & Hotels?

  1. Secure message your disappointment that Chase failed to deliver on its promised transfer time to Marriott, since points didn’t show up when the website said they would. I bet you get more than your 1000 points back. 😛

  2. Great post! Ever since FrugalTravelGuy mentioned that not all transfers were instant (sadly I can’t find the reference) I’ve had this as a to-do. Thanks for saving me the trouble!

    I wonder if you’re the first person ever to transfer to Korean Air 🙂

  3. Anyone done a similar experiment for AMEX MR points?
    A table like this for AMEX would also be a great resource.
    Thanks D!

  4. I was just frustrated a few days ago when trying to transfer some UR into my Mom’s United account. Previous transfers had always been instant, but this one took 3 days. It was annoying because I was trying to get the improved Explorer card app to pop up in her account, but she didn’t have any miles. She was trying to do a same-day AOR (though, is it really an AOR with only 3 apps?) and we had to keep waiting around on the United miles to post.

  5. Very helpful! I can confirm the United transfer is instant too which is fantastic! Especially since Starwood’s transfers to airlines take so long.

    • @Gary Leff – Good idea. I’ll do it for Marriott, Priority Club and Korean Air! The points posted to Marriott about 2 days later, but the entry was backdated to when I made the transfer.

      @FrequentMiler – Ha! It sure felt like I was the 1st person, because none of the reps knew why the transfer wasn’t going through.

      @Steve – I’m actually waiting fora good sign-up bonus on a MR card, but will do a similar post then.

      @TL – Nice to know that all United transfer’s aren’t instant.

      @Lauren – Thanks for sharing! Starwood transfers do take time to appear.

      @Shami – That’s very strange! Here’s a post by Dan’s Deals on using Korean Air miles —> http://www.dansdeals.com/archives/21319

      @

  6. For me the experience to transfer to United was a little bit weird. The points were transferred immediately and on my united account it showed the miles added but for some reason the total was not showing up with the added miles (this was confirmed by the CSR who was trying to book an award travel for me). It took a couple of hours (I think around 3-4) before I was finally able to book.

  7. Can anyone comment on Korean Air. What are the pros and cons with them and how generous they are with the awards. I do not recall reading anything about them

  8. Is it possible to transfer miles back to Reward Points? Recently, I found that it takes less Chase reward points to get an AA ticket (more miles and higher fee). Thanks!

  9. My Priority Club Transfer took <16 hrs today. Not sure how long exactly because I was in the air.

  10. You must have better than luck than me with transferring Chase UR points to United. The first time I did it, back about a week after the merger, it took over a week! I had to keep trying to call them, staying on hold for an hour, and then hanging up. When I finally did get a hold of someone from United, they said they didn’t know why it was taking so long.

    The second time I did it, just two weeks ago, it took about 4 hours. Much better than before, but certainly not instant. Let’s hope that it was just a hiccup with the merger and that they are back to instant transfers.

    Thanks for all the data points!

  11. can’t believe you only have 2,589 points left on your UR account darius. was expecting a few hundred thousand. 😉 guess we didn’t see the amount BEFORE you made the transfers. 😉

  12. Tried transfering marriott points yesterday morning and still don’t see them in my account! Very frustrtating!

    • @Dan Ng – Unfortunately, you can’t transfer back to Ultimate Rewards points if you’ve transferred them to airline or hotel partners.

      @MileValue – Nice to get another data point that your transfer wasn’t instant either.

      @Extra Pack of Peanuts
      – Very interesting and I hope it was an issue with the merger which won’t happen again.

      @webazoid – This was Chase Ink Bold card which I get got…though I have transferred out hundreds of thousands of points for trips which you’ll be reading about soon! 🙂

      @Lauren – It is very frustrating when the points don’t show up immediately.

      @Kevin – Thanks for sharing and safe travels!

  13. Transferring points to Hyatt worked like a charm. They showed up instantly allowing me to finish booking a room in Paris for a couple nights.

    • @Dan Ng – Unfortunately, you can’t transfer back to Ultimate Rewards points if you’ve transferred them to airline or hotel partners.

      @MileValue – Nice to get another data point that your transfer wasn’t instant either.

      @Extra Pack of Peanuts
      – Very interesting and I hope it was an issue with the merger which won’t happen again.

      @webazoid – This was Chase Ink Bold card which I get got…though I have transferred out hundreds of thousands of points for trips which you’ll be reading about soon! 🙂

      @Lauren – It is very frustrating when the points don’t show up immediately.

      @Kevin – Thanks for sharing and safe travels to Paris!

  14. Add me to those whose UA transfers do not show up instantly. The first time I did it a month ago, the points took an overnight for the points to show up. Subsequently 2 more transfers yielded 2 different experiences – first one it was instant like it should have been, second one the total of UA balance on the front page reflected the points coming in, but the activity details did not show it and the detailed account page total did NOT include the points coming in. It took a few hours for the activity page to update and the total on the detailed page changed to match the total on the front page.
    Tonight I did a 1K to test and it was instant. Then I thought it was good to go to transfer a 12K amount and it hit the glitch like before – the front page total reflected the 12K coming in, but the activity page as well as the detailed page did not show the 12K. Hopefully it would be like last time that it would self-correct itself in a few hours time. Why it would behave in such peculiar way, especially after a successful test? This is truly frustrating.

  15. When transferring UR points to British Airways, will there be any additional fees on British Airways’ side, as outlined in this chart? https://www.britishairways.com/travel/transfermilesinfo/public/en_gb

  16. thanks for all this-i know this is aimed at us based people,but i think it would be very helpful if you could outline a way that people outside us could get in on the UR points or other crdit card deals(using prepaid cards maybe?)
    thanks

    • @Steve – There are no fees for transferring the points from Ultimate Rewards to British Airways, but you will have to pay taxes and fees for many award flights through British Airways.

      @adamu – Unfortunately, most folks without US social security numbers will not be able to get approved for US credit cards.

  17. Dear D,
    Re: “@adamu – Unfortunately, most folks without US social security numbers will not be able to get approved for US credit cards.”

    My wife actually is canadian and she managed to get those credit cards using her Canadian SIN(aka SSN). I will post a blog very soon on how to get it working for Canadians. (YMMV)

  18. You covered this for a few of the hotel pts transfer but wouldn’t transferring from UR to any of the airline programs be one of the worst 1:1 transfer? If you had the Sapphire Preferred you get a 20% off the pts you trade in. I could be wrong since I never dealt with miles programs.

  19. This is a great post first reader! Anyways I have about 60,000 points and I need to book a flight to India for a project. Iam leaving from OMA (Omaha, NE Eppley Airfield) and need to land in either HYD( Hyderbad, India) or BAN(Bangalore, India). Now I think there are 2 different airports in India and some of my group members are going to Hakimpet and others are going to Bangalore and some are going to Delhi but we are all meeting up at the Taj Mahal.

    Anyways I tried to calculate how many Avios, but uh, it said like there was more than one connection, so I decided to go from ORD(Chicago, O’Hare International Airport) and straight to HYD. It comes up with the following chart:

    45000 Avios = $0.00
    40500 Avios = $60
    36000 Avios = $120
    31500 Avios = $175
    27000 Avios = $230
    22500 Avios = $290

    Now that is just from ORD to HYD. I need to get to ORD… That is another 4500 Avios… So I think I will do the $290 deal so its going to be

    27000 Avios & $300 for a $2000 plane ticket seems like a good deal right? Or am I missing something here?

    • @Ben – Looking forward to that.

      @Grant– Transferring UR points to Southwest, BA or United at a 1:1 ratio could be a great deal since you could book flights higher than the 1 cent per point value of the UR point if you redeem for cash back. With the Sapphire Preferred you get a 1.25 cent value when redeeming for flights through the Ultimate Rewards portal which is different from transferring to an airline partner.

      @Mo Karney – You also have to factor in a $250 fuel surcharge per leg so ~$1,000 for a coach redemption to India if you use Avios points which doesn’t make this such a good deal in coach. I suggest using United.com to see if there are any flights to India for 80K miles roundtrip in coach.

  20. @Mo Karney- Not sure if you figured out Bangalore is BLR not BAL. I’d hate for you to miss out on redemption opportunities because of that. The reason Darius (and most everyone) does not recommend booking British Airways metal in coach is you end up spending a lot of your points plus fuel surcharges for not much less cost than a discounted economy fare.

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  22. Darius, could you please discuss churning B of A credit cards both the Hawaiian Air & Bank of Hawaii cards. Do you need to cancel cards if you currently have them both before applying? If so, how far in advance should you close them before reapplying? Or can you keep both open? Thanks

  23. Darius, could you please discuss churning B of A credit cards both the Hawaiian Air & Bank of Hawaii cards. Do you need to cancel cards if you currently have them both before applying? If so, how far in advance should you close them before reapplying? Or can you keep both open? Thanks

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  25. Hi, I am accessing my Ultimate Rewards logon, and I don’t see the tab “Transfer Points” you show in your pasted screen. Did they disable transfer of points to United and other airlines? I am so disappointed with these credit card mileage programs which do not transfer to United!

    • @Nilson – You can only transfer points from Ultimate Rewards points to airlines or hotels if you have the Chase Ink Bold, Chase Sapphire Preferred, JP Morgan Select or the Chase Ink Plus. The option is still available to transfer points to United.

  26. Hi,

    I was inspired by your Paris trip for almost free and trying to get atleast local trip 🙂

    Today I have applied for Chase sapphire credit card which will give 40K points after $3K. It was declined and after calling to re consideration line, it got approved (Got the numbers from your site).

    The only way to express my gratitude is to use the referral link from you and I did the same while applying. And another is to refer to my all friends about this site. So that they can get benefit like me.

    I just cant say THANKS but yes. Thank you very much.

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  28. Hi everyone – I am trying to supplement my UR Points. I need 120k to get the reward I am looking for, so since they transfer accounts… can I buy points at above their value from people? If so, how would I find people who are interested in this?

  29. Does anyone know if we need to have a certain minimum ultimate rewards points to do the transfer? I only have 4000 UR points now, and I don’t see the transfer points tab in my account. I should have 5000 points when my statements closes this month, and I wish to transfer my points to Hyatt and then to Southwest.

  30. @MMS: Thank you very much for your quick answer. Now I know why I don’t see the transfer points option. I only have the regular Chase Sapphire card. Maybe I’ll sign up for the Preferred version the 50k points bonus is back.

  31. If I have a Sapphire and an Ink Bold and I transfer miles from one UR account to another, can I transfer them back to the other account later? Since Award Wallet can only see my Sapphire UR points, I’m thinking of transfering my
    Ink UR points to the Sapphire account for easier tracking. However, the annual fee is coming up sooner on the Sapphire account, so I may have to transfer them back to Ink later to keep them from going away. Anyone know of a problem with this?

  32. Hi Darius,

    I know one can transfer the UR points to his/her spouse’s UR account but, say, I have INK plus but my wife only has the Freedom, how can I transfer the UR points to her Marriott account? Can I transfer the points directly to her account or we gotta do this in an indirect way? Thanks.

  33. so if i get a chase ink card can I transfer my points to united mileage without paying a transfer fee?

  34. @ryan – If you have an Ink Bold or Ink Plus, yes. If you have an Ink Classic, no.

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  37. Howdy MMS gang!

    I’ve been winged by a wild pitch and need an assist.

    Amtrak Guest Rewards, which always seems a bit on the not-well-strung side to me, sent out a correction to a recent e-mail pushing a promotion.

    The original message, which looks like it was the shell for a mass mail that someone never coded properly, called me (and, in a separate e-mail, my wife too) by the wrong name, gave an inaccurate point balance and claimed we’d better use our points for the promotion – or they would expire on the same date as the promotion ends!

    Since a chunk of our points were just earned in February, we assumed they’d be good for 36 months from the time they were earned.

    The CSR we talked to said that all points expire 36 months after the last paid train travel. We tried to explain that many of our points had been earned -after- the last time we’d traveled and must have some separate expiration date, but she couldn’t quite grasp that. She said any points earned from hotel stays or web shopping would expire instantly – because we were more than 36 months out from out last train trip.

    That sounded flaky, so I tracked down the pertinent part of the rules… and it’s pretty unclear (to me anyway). Here’s the bit in question:

    D. Point Expiration

    Subject to the terms of this TOC, points earned under the Program will not expire as long as the Program continues and the Member travels on Amtrak using their Membership Number within a 36-month period.

    If no paid Amtrak travel is recorded or reported within 36 months, your points will expire. You can view all point and travel activity in the “My Account Activity” section of My Account on this site. Redemption travel reserved with points does not constitute paid travel.

    Points earned under the Program will not expire if the Member is an Amtrak Guest Rewards® MasterCard® from Chase® cardholder who has an open account.”

    But, the CSR went on to say, when you cancel the card all the points expire at the same time.

    I think this CSR was… uhm… let’s put it kindly and say, “a little confused” but the rules I found didn’t help either. So… anyone who knows the deal here, or would like to make a call and check on their own expiry, I’d appreciate any insight.

    To nutshell it:

    I have not traveled by train in more than 36 months. I earned the last 6000 points on February 5th. I cancelled the Chase card 22 days later. How long before those points expire?

    Quoting their rules (along with the URL) would be GREATLY appreciated.

  38. Thanks!

    Should any of you end up with a couple of young boys around the house, you WILL have an interest in trains thrust upon you.

    So just to slip the info in here (as my search came up dry and I posted here for lack of a better spot) there are two potentials that seem reasonable:

    1. If it’s true that point-purchased tickets can be rescheduled (destination and/or dates changed) without fee or other penalty, then one could purchase a ticket using every last point possible for some date in the distant future. If you then continue to earn points without having the credit card or any paid train trips, you can add a room to that reservation and continue to push it out as far as you need to… until you need to use it.

    I have an e-mail in to them to ask if buying a ticket now for a Christmas would successfully hold the points… and if there’d be any charge to change it Thanksgiving, if I change my mind in July. The rules seem to say this would work, but having it writing would be better.

    2. Get and hold the Chase AGR card. It’s not a very good deal points-wise right now but there is no annual fee. Once I have it again, I’ll ask for a very low credit limit so that holding this card won’t interfere other Chase deals I might want to get in on.

    My plan, since I’ve been off the Chase AGR card for only one billing cycle, is to hold on for the two months until the promotion/expiration date I’ve been given nearly arrives… hopefully finding something better than the 12,000 / after $500 spend in 3 mos. they’re presently offering… and then do #2 above.

    As always, I’m happy to hear any thoughts on this; have no problem with the posts being moved or deleted as management may see fit; remain deeply grateful for such a great place to examine such things ~ and a moderator with a good memory and mad keyword searching skills willing to plow through other sites for info.

  39. I am hoping you can help me here. My husband had a Sapphire preferred that he downgraded to a freedom (to avoid paying an annual fee ). He also has chase ink. I have the Sapphire and Ink cards so I don’t think that we need to pay the annual fee on all of these cards. If he cancels the chase ink will he be able to transfer his freedom points to my UR account since he will no longer have a Sapphire or Ink account. Thanks for your input on this.

    • @Kathy – He can transfer the points from the Ink to the Freedom before cancelling to avoid losing the points. He can always transfer points from his Freedom to your Sapphire and Ink cards if needed.

  40. D,
    I just tried to transfer UR to united and both united and Chase indicated it would be anywhere between 24-48 hrs before they post. It’s a little over 24 hrs now and still no points!

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  48. Hello Darius,
    I have 60K Ultimate Rewards and would like to transfer to AA Advantage account. What is the best route to go about this? Please help.
    Thanks.

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  59. – Hi !
    My miles is expire by this August but my mother is not until the end of this year ( 2015) and she is the card holder or primary account – If she transfers Chase Points award to her account – is it extended on my account too or only effecting her ? In the other words – transfers to the account going to expire or the primary account then it will be renew for all ? how is the limit ? must be 1000 points or could be less ?
    Thanks
    Justin .

  60. I tend to do a lot with Hyatt so I would pick them as my favorite trading partner. I do love the chase program.

  61. Just booked flight to Hanoi using points from Chase Bold, can’t wait.