Step-by-Step: How to Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner for North American Flights

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, Chase, 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.

Chase Ultimate Rewards is my favorite points program.  And depending on which Chase cards you choose, you can get free nights at luxury hotels, award flights, or lots of flexibility.

But because there are so many great Ultimate Rewards airline transfer partners, it can be hard to figure out which airline partner to use when you’re searching for award tickets.

So I put together a step-by-step guide to help!

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

Wondering Which Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner Is the Best for Your North American Flight? I’ll Help You Figure It Out!

I’ll show you how to choose the best transfer partner when you’re booking award flights within North America using Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Use These 3 Steps When You’re Booking an Award Flight Within North America With Ultimate Rewards Points

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to travel partners like United Airlines or Southwest for Big Travel with Small Money.

But how do you know which airline transfer partner to use when you’re booking an award ticket?

Here’s a guide to figuring out whether you should transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest, United Airlines, or British Airways, when you’re booking an award ticket within North America.

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

Emily Transferred 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to United Airlines for a One-Way Ticket to Kauai!

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to all 3 of these airlines at a 1:1 ratio.

This is a simple recipe, and there are other options too.  But these 3 steps will get you started!

Besides determining which transfer partner will charge the fewest miles, you should also consider each airlines’ perks, like comfort of the plane, free checked bags, etc.  And if the flights are non-stop versus having connections.

I’ve written before about the best ways to use airline miles for domestic award tickets.

Sometimes it’s worth paying a few more miles if you’ll save on baggage fees and get to your destination faster! 😉

Step #1

Do you have the Southwest Companion Pass?  Does Southwest serve your destination?  AND are you traveling with your designated companion?

If you answer “yes” to all 3 of these questions, flying Southwest and using your Companion Pass might be your best deal.  But do the math!

Because the cost of Southwest award tickets is NOT static, but tied to the dollar price of the ticket.  Unlike other airlines that use award charts.

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

If You Have the Southwest Companion Pass and You’re Flying With Your Designated Companion, It’s Hard to Beat the Deal You’ll Get Flying With Southwest. Because You’re Essentially Getting 2 Tickets for the Price of One!

It’s also worth checking Southwest’s award ticket prices when you’re traveling solo, because of Southwest’s perks like 2 free checked bags and generous refund policy.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Southwest points at a 1:1 ratio.  So once you’ve determined how many Southwest points you’d need for your flight, write down this number.

Step #2

Go to Wandering Aramean’s Avios map that shows how many British Airways Avios points you’ll need for short non-stop flights on partners American Airlines and Alaska Airlines between different locations.

I’ve written about how to use this great tool.

If you can NOT find your departure and destination cities on the map, skip this step and move to Step #3.  

If you DO find your departure and destination locations on the map, check how many British Airways Avios points you’ll need for the flight.  And write this number down.

The number of British Airways Avios points required is the SAME as the number of Chase Ultimate Rewards points you’ll need.  Because Ultimate Rewards points transfer to British Airways Avios points at a 1:1 ratio.

Step #2B

To make sure the flights between these two cities are actually available to book, you can check on the British Airways site (sign-in required).   Or use the American Airlines site to check for award seats.

Note:  If your departure flight is within 21 days, you won’t pay extra if you’re using British Airways Avios points.  But you WILL with United Airlines miles, unless you use this trick!

Step #3

Go to Wandering Aramean’s United Airlines 700 Mile Radius map.  If you do NOT see your departure location on the map, skip to Step #3B.

If your departure city IS listed, click on it and the map will display the cities and their airports within a 700 mile radius.

This is important, because you’ll save 2,500 United Airlines miles one-way (5,000 United Airlines miles round-trip) versus regular United Airlines award prices for flights of 700 miles or less — when there are saver awards open.

Are your departure and destination cities further than 700 miles apart?  Go to Step #3B.

Step #3B

Look at the United Airlines award flight map or plug-in your trip details on United Airlines’ award booking page to figure out how many United Airlines miles you’ll need for a ticket.

The number of United Airlines miles required is equal to the amount of Chase Ultimate Rewards points you’ll need, because Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to United Airlines miles at a 1:1 ratio.

After you’ve worked through Steps 1 to 3, you’ll be able to decide where to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points!

Here are 3 examples of award ticket searches I did to compare round-trip domestic coach award ticket prices between Southwest, British Airways, and United Airlines.

Example 1:   Dayton to New York in October 2016

Step #1

Go to Southwest and enter your trip details, including your departure and arrival cities, dates, and number of passengers.  Make sure to click the “Points” button so your search results will show the number of Southwest points needed for the ticket.

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

On Southwest.com, Be Sure to Check the “Points” Button

After clicking the “Search” button, you’ll see your departure and return flight options.

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

You Can See the Departure and Return Flights Between Dayton and New York (LaGuardia) Will Cost 8,598 Southwest Points Each

Select which flights you want, click “Continue”, and you’ll see the final price.

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

A Round-Trip Flight Between Dayton and New York (LaGuardia) Is Fewer Than 20,000 Southwest Points, Which Is a Good Deal! Because Airlines Like Delta and United Airlines Often Charge 25,000 Miles for Round-Trip Coach Tickets, Depending on Your Departure and Arrival Cities

I found a round-trip coach ticket between Dayton and New York (LaGuardia) in October 2016, for 17,196 Southwest points and ~$11.

Write these numbers down and work through Step #2 to see how many British Airways Avios points you’ll need for the same itinerary.

Step #2

From Wandering Aramean’s Avios map, you can see that you’ll need 7,500 British Airways Avios points to fly between Dayton and New York (LaGuardia).

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

Enter Any City in Wandering Aramean’s “Avios Destinations by Price” Map and You’ll See Where You Can Fly on Short-Haul Flights With British Airways

Step #2B

Go to American Airlines to see if a saver award flight between these 2 cities is actually available to book.

Just remember, you’ll need to find non-stop flights, because British Airways charges per flight segment.

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

If There Are Saver Award Flights Available on the American Airlines Website, You Can Book the Same Tickets for Fewer Miles Through British Airways

Because here are saver award seats between Dayton and New York (LaGuardia) in October 2016, you CAN book these tickets for only 7,500 British Airways Avios points each-way (15,000 British Airways Avios points round-trip).

Don’t forget, you could also use the British Airways site (sign-in required) to make sure the tickets are bookable!

Step #3

Using Wandering Aramean’s United Airlines map, you’ll find that New York (LaGuardia) IS within 700 miles of Dayton.

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

Dayton and New York (LaGuardia) Are Fewer Than 700 Miles Apart

So you know it will cost 10,000 United Airlines miles each way in coach for an award flight between these 2 cities.

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

Flights That Are 700 Miles or Less Cost 10,000 United Airlines Miles Each Way or 20,000 United Airlines Miles Round-Trip

That’s 5,000 fewer United Airlines miles than the regular cost of a round-trip domestic coach ticket (25,000 United Airlines miles).

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

British Airways Charges the Fewest Points for a Round-Trip Coach Flight Between Dayton and New York (LaGuardia). But If You’re Using the Companion Pass, You’ll Save More Flying With Southwest!

But it looks like the best deal is using British Airways Avios points!  Unless you’re using Southwest’s Companion Pass.

Because 2 tickets between Dayton and New York (LaGuardia) will cost 30,000 British Airways Avios points (15,000 points X 2).  But using the Companion Pass, you’ll only pay 17,196 Southwest points and ~$22 in fees.

Southwest also gives everyone 2 free checked bags, but you’ll pay to check luggage on other airlines (usually $25 per bag!).  So for folks with a lot of luggage, it could be cheaper to fly on Southwest!

Example 2:   Dayton to Jacksonville in October 2016

Step #1

I found a round-trip coach flight between Dayton and Jacksonville in October 2016, for 17,330 Southwest points per person.

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

Both the Outbound and Return Flights Between Dayton and Jacksonville Cost 8,665 Southwest Points

Again, if you have Southwest’s Companion Pass and are flying with your designated companion, using Southwest points is a no-brainer.

Because you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio.  And essentially get 2 tickets for the price of one.

If you’re traveling alone, figure out if British Airways or United Airlines is a better deal.

Step #2

When you search for Dayton using Wandering Aramean’s Avios tool, Jacksonville’s airport is NOT shown on the map.  So you can NOT use British Airways Avios points for a discounted award flight between the 2 cities.

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

Jacksonville Does NOT Show Up When You Use Wandering Aramean’s Map to Search for Flights From Dayton Using British Airways Avios Points

So go on to Step #3 to determine if using United Airlines miles is a good option.

Step #3

Using Wandering Aramean’s United Airlines map, you can see that Jacksonville IS within 700 miles from Dayton.

So it will cost 10,000 United Airlines miles each-way in coach (20,000 United Airlines miles round-trip) for an award ticket between these 2 cities.

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

Jacksonville, Florida, Is Within a 700 Mile Radius of Dayton, Ohio

I found a number of flights from Dayton to Jacksonville in October 2016.

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

For Flights 700 Miles or Less, United Airlines Charges Just 10,000 Miles Each-Way

And lots of low-level award seats for the return flight from Jacksonville to Dayton too.

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

Dayton and Jacksonville Are Only ~658 Miles Apart

So which Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner is best in this particular example?

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

Taking Notes When You’re Searching for Award Tickets Is Important! Because There’s a Lot of Information to Track!

Because you can’t use British Airways Avios points for a short-haul flight between Dayton and Jacksonville, it’s best to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest for an award ticket!

Example 3:   Wichita to Minneapolis in October 2016

Step #1

Searching on Southwest, I found a round-trip ticket between Wichita and Minneapolis in October 2016 for 14,183 Southwest points and ~$11 in taxes and fees.

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

A Round-Trip Ticket in October 2016 Between Wichita and Minneapolis Costs Less Than 15,000 Southwest Points. That’s a Great Deal!

Step #2

When you search for Wichita using Wandering Aramean’s Avios map, you’ll see you can NOT use British Airways Avios points for award flights between Wichita and Minneapolis.

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

Minneapolis Is NOT Listed as an Airport Where You Can Use British Airways Avios Points to Fly From Wichita, Kansas

So the next step is to check if it makes sense to use United Airlines miles.

Step #3

Using Wandering Aramean’s United Airlines map, you’ll see that Wichita and Minneapolis ARE within 700 miles of each other.   So you’ll be able to use fewer United Airlines miles for an award ticket!

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

The Flight Distance Between Wichita and Minneapolis Is 546 Miles

I found award flights between these 2 cities in October 2016, for 10,000 United Airlines miles each way.

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

Flights of 700 Miles or Fewer Are the Least Expensive Award Flights on United Airlines

Or 20,000 United Airlines miles round-trip.

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

One-Way Flights Between Minneapolis and Wichita Cost 10,000 United Airlines Miles and ~$6 in Taxes and Fees

And looking at my notes, transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest would be the best deal for an award ticket between Wichita and Minneapolis!

Step By Step How To Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner For North American Flights

After Writing Down How Many Miles or Points It Will Cost for a Round-Trip Flight Between Wichita and Minneapolis on Different Airlines, You Can See Your Best Best Is to Fly With Southwest!

NOTE:  If you’re flying to Hawaii, there are exceptions to these 3 steps.  Because you can fly round-trip from the West Coast to Hawaii for 25,000 British Airways Avios points.  Or use Singapore Airlines miles to fly round-trip on United Airlines to Hawaii for less.

Earn More Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Chase Ink Plus

Link:   Chase Freedom

Link:   Chase Freedom Unlimited

You can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points from cards like the Ink Plus, Chase Ink Bold (no longer available), or Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  And transfer them directly to airlines and hotels.

You can also earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you use your Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, or Ink Cash card.  But you can’t transfer them to airlines and hotels directly.  You need to have one of the 3 cards mentioned above, and transfer the points to one of those accounts first.

Here’s my post about how to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points between accounts and to travel partners.

Bottom Line

A big reason that Chase Ultimate Rewards is my favorite program is because of the terrific airline partners.  Having options makes it easier to get great deals!

You can transfer to whichever airline program you like best.  Or compare prices to save points!

Using the 3 steps I outlined above, it’s simple to figure out whether you should use Southwest points, British Airways Avios points, or United Airlines miles, for a round-trip coach ticket within North America.

If you have the Southwest Companion Pass and you’re traveling with your designated companion, it’s usually hard to beat 2 tickets for the price of one.

But sometimes it makes sense to use British Airways Avios points for short-haul flights!  And United Airlines charges 5,000 fewer United Airlines miles for flights under 700 miles!

* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

4 responses to “Step-by-Step: How to Choose Best Chase Transfer Partner for North American Flights

  1. Love the post! Chase Ultimate Rewards are a favorite reward currency of mine so nice to see all the options mapped out! You might also consider adding in the Air France Flying Blue transfer partner for Delta domestic redemption. The round-trip cost for the Dayton New York (LGA) is 25k, so while not the best option in your example, it may be the superior option on routes that Delta is the sole carrier that provides a non-stop service… Just a thought!

  2. Don’t’ forget BA transfers to Iberia for even better domestic redemption rates.

  3. @DEREK – Glad you liked it! And it’s certainly worth comparing routes when you’re deciding which airline to fly. Thanks for the idea!

    @joE – Another great tip! Folks can read my post about how to save British Airways Avios points with Iberia here: http://millionmilesecrets.com/2015/11/24/save-4000-british-airways-avios-points-for-short-flights-with-this-trick/

  4. Great Article -so helpful for this novice.
    My question I don’t have answered yet is how do you use BA Avios pts with AA flight? Or how do you use/book a Delta flight using Flying blue pts? I am such a novice I don’t know how to do this. I have read that using Korea pts on a Delta flight requires calling Korean air help. Also can you use your Delta # on KLM flights to get the Delta pts? Or use my BA # to get pts on an AA flight.? If so how?
    Thank you for the help, I am learning and this article really helped me.