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Right now, there are great sign-up bonuses on the Chase Ink Plus and Chase Ink Cash cards. And you can use Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned with these cards to book discounted travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal.
Let’s see when it’s a better deal to use points to pay for airfare instead of transferring them to airlines!
What’s the Deal?
Link: Chase Ink Plus
Link: Chase Ink Cash
You’ll often get the best value from Chase Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to airline, hotel, and rail partners like British Airways, Hyatt, or United Airlines. Especially if you use your miles and points for otherwise expensive First Class tickets, last-minute flights, or luxury hotels.
But for cheaper, coach airfare, it can be better to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points towards paid tickets through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal.
That’s because your Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents each when used to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Normally, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for statement credits or cash back.
That’s like getting a 20% discount on paid tickets!
And you might pay fewer points than if you transferred points to an airline and booked an award ticket!
Remember, to book flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel portal, you can use ANY card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points. This includes the Chase Freedom, Chase Ink Bold (no longer available), Chase Ink Cash, Chase Ink Plus, Chase Sapphire (no longer available), and Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Note: You can only get the 1.25 cents per point rate if you have the Chase Ink Bold (no longer available), Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Sapphire Preferred cards. And you’ll have to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned from other cards into 1 of these accounts to get the better rate.
Let’s look at an example.
1. United Airlines: Chicago to Orlando Round-Trip
It costs 25,000 United Airlines miles for a low-level, round-trip award ticket between Chicago and Orlando. That’s true for any round-trip coach flight within the Mainland US, Canada, and Alaska.
Because United Airlines is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines at a 1:1 ratio. So 25,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points equals 25,000 United Airlines miles.
But you could save Chase Ultimate Rewards points by instead booking a paid ticket on United Airlines through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal!
For example, a round-trip ticket purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal costs ~$268. But if you use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to pay for the ticket, it only costs 21,456 points (~$268 airfare cost / 1.25 cents per point).
So instead of transferring 25,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines to book an award ticket, you’ll save 3,544 points by purchasing a ticket with points through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
There are other advantages to using points with the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal over transferring to an airline loyalty program:
- You can buy a ticket even if award seats aren’t available on the flights you want (no blackout dates)
- You’ll earn airline miles for the ticket
- If you don’t have enough points to pay for a ticket (either an award ticket or paid fare), you can combine your points with cash.
So it’s worth checking the price of a paid ticket on the Chase Ultimate Rewards site before you transfer points to United Airlines.
Note: You can NOT buy Southwest tickets through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal. That’s because Southwest doesn’t sell their tickets through 3rd-party sites. So their tickets aren’t on Orbitz or Expedia either!
Using your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to buy discounted tickets through the Chase Travel portal is also a good trick if you’re trying to book flights during busy travel times (like holidays) and there are no award seats available.
You may pay more points than you would if you transferred to airlines, but it could be worth it for you to get the flights you want.
However, folks who like to book expensive Business Class or First Class tickets will almost always do better by transferring their Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airline partners, then booking an award ticket.
But you’ll have to be more flexible with your travel dates!
Usually, you’ll get the most value from Chase Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to airline, hotel, and rail partners for Big Travel like international First Class flights and luxury hotels!
But sometimes you’ll save points (and money!) by using Chase Ultimate Rewards points to pay for airline tickets through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal. Especially for inexpensive coach tickets within the US. And you’ll earn airline miles!
A good strategy is to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airline loyalty programs for expensive trips (such as last-minute flights or Business and First Class overseas). Or to hotels for expensive rooms (luxury stays or during peak times like holidays).
But for regularly-priced coach tickets that you don’t want to buy with cash, consider the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
That said, some folks to prefer to save all their Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Big Travel! As always, do what makes sense for YOUR travel plans!
Have you used points to book flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal?