Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Capital One, Chase, Citibank and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.
Update: The Chase Ink Plus 70,000 point offer is no longer available, but check Hot Deals for the latest offers!
You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Air for some great deals to destinations like Hawaii, Tahiti, Hong Kong, Singapore, and of course Korea.
Now that the Chase Ink Plus sign-up bonus has increased to 70,000 points after meeting minimum spending requirement of $5,000 within 3 months, you could get a lot of travel by transferring the bonus to Korean Air.
Note: The Chase Ink Plus 70,000 point bonus offer ends on October 19, 2014.
Let’s see where you could go with 70,000 Korean Air miles!
Use Korean Air Miles for Korean Air Flights
Link: Korean Air Award Charts
Until very recently, you couldn’t search for available award seats on the Korean Air website unless you had the number of miles in your account needed for an award ticket!
But they’ve just redesigned their site, and now you can see if award seats on Korean Air (not partners) are available.
Note: Their award booking process is more complicated than other airlines, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider them.
Note: The site is currently only showing available award seats for non-stop flights. Flights with connections show no award seats available at all! But if you search segment-by-segment (i.e.: Chicago to Seoul, then Seoul to Hong Kong) you’ll see award seats available on each leg.
This could be because the redesigned site is still very new.
1. Example: New York to Seoul, Korea, Round-Trip in Coach Class
It costs 70,000 miles for an off-peak, round-trip, coach class ticket between North America and Korea, Japan, China, or Northeast Asia. Between New York (JFK) and Seoul, for example, you’ll pay 70,000 miles plus ~$387 in fees.
If you paid full price for the same ticket, it would cost $1,293.
So you’re actually getting a value of ~$906 (~$1,293 cost of paid ticket – ~$387 fees on award ticket).
That’s not the greatest value for 70,000 miles. But take a look at what you can get in Business Class.
2. Example: Washington, DC, to Tokyo 1-Way in Business Class
For 62,500 miles you could get a 1-way Business Class ticket between North America and Korea, Japan, China, or Northeast Asia. A flight from Washington, DC, to Tokyo (via Seoul) would cost 62,500 miles and ~$324 in taxes and fees. Plus, you’re allowed a stopover in Seoul if you wish!
To compare, the paid fare for the same Business Class ticket is ~$4,160!
That’s a great value, and you’d have Chase Ultimate Rewards points left over from the Chase Ink Plus sign-up bonus!
3. Example: Los Angeles to Singapore 1-Way in Business Class
Korean Air charges 75,000 miles for a 1-way Business Class award ticket between North America and Southeast Asia. So you could transfer the Chase Ink Plus 70,000 point sign-up bonus plus another 5,000 points from meeting minimum spending requirements, and have enough for this ticket.
A 1-way Business Class flight from Los Angeles to Singapore costs 75,000 miles and ~$321 in taxes and fees.
If you paid for the same ticket, it would cost ~$3,664!
So you’re getting over $3,600 worth of travel from just 1 credit card sign-up bonus!
Use Korean Air Miles for Partner Flights
You can only use Korean Air miles on SkyTeam and other partners for round-trip tickets. These award tickets can NOT be booked online. You’ll have to call Korean Air at 800-438-5000 or 213-484-1900 to make the booking.
And it’s a bit of a process! When you call to give them the flights or dates you want, you’ll have to wait for a call back from a Skypass agent, who will search for award seats. Then, when it’s time to book, you’ll need to fax in a form and photocopy of your ID.
On September 21, 2014, Korean Air made changes to their SkyTeam award charts, and some award tickets are now more expensive. And they’ve changed some of their routing and stopover rules.
However, they’re allowing a grace period of 1 year during which you can choose to book your award ticket either under the old system or the new system (but no mixing and matching of prices and rules between the two!).
Here’s the old SkyTeam award chart for flights departing the US and Canada.
And here’s the new award chart which took effect on September 21, 2014. Again, there’s a 1-year grace period where you can choose to use mileage (and rules) from either chart, but you can’t mix mileage from 1 chart with booking rules from the other.
But I’ll show you a very good reason to use the new award chart!
1. Example: Round-Trip to Hawaii on Delta for 25,000 Miles in Coach or 45,000 Miles in Business / First!
You can now book a round-trip flight from North America to Hawaii using Korean Air miles on Delta for only 25,000 miles round-trip in coach class, or 45,000 miles round-trip in Business Class! Delta is a SkyTeam alliance partner.
Low-level award seats on Delta can be hard to find, so do NOT transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Air until you’ve confirmed award seats are available!
This is an AMAZING deal! But only if you can find award seats!
Normally, Delta charges 45,000 miles round-trip in coach class for their cheapest saver award tickets. And their cheapest Business Class tickets cost 80,000 miles.
So you could get 3 round-trip coach class tickets to Hawaii using the Chase Ink Plus sign-up bonus (plus another 5,000 points from meeting minimum spending). Or, you could get 1 round-trip Business Class ticket, and still have 25,000 points left over for another award flight or hotel stay!
2. Example: Round-Trip From Los Angeles to Tahiti on Air France for 60,000 Miles in Coach Class
Most folks don’t think of Air France when they’re planning a South Pacific vacation, but did you know Air France flies from Los Angeles to Tahiti? You can book a coach class ticket using Korean Air miles for 60,000 miles round-trip.
I checked the Air France website for the cheapest fares in November, and a round-trip coach class ticket costs ~$1,853.
So you could transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points from the Chase Ink sign-up bonus for this $1,800+ ticket and still have 10,000 miles left over!
3. Example: Hawaii to Australia or Asia (Korea, Japan, Philippines) on Hawaiian Airlines for 70,000 Miles in Coach
Hawaiian Airlines flies from Hawaii to Australia and Asia. You could fly non-stop from Honolulu to Sydney, Australia, for 70,000 miles in coach class using Korean Air miles.
If you flew this trip using Hawaiian Airlines miles, it would cost 80,000 miles.
I checked the price of a round-trip coach class ticket on the Hawaiian Airlines website, and you’d pay ~$1,615.
That’s a pretty good deal for 70,000 points, and a better deal than using Hawaiian Airlines miles for the same ticket.
Transferring the 70,000 point Chase Ink Plus sign-up bonus to Korean Air could be a good deal for some folks, especially if you want to fly to Asia or to use points on SkyTeam alliance airlines.
But remember, for partner airline flights, you have to call to book (and it can be complicated).
And if you can find available award seats on Delta, the number of miles
to fly from North America to Hawaii using Korean Air miles is cheaper than most other frequent flyer programs.
No matter how you use them, 70,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Korean Air could be worth thousands of dollars in flights. And that’s Big Travel with Small Money!
Have you considered transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Air?