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How to fly on American Airlines with Chase Ultimate Rewards points, even though they’re not partners

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How to fly on American Airlines with Chase Ultimate Rewards points, even though they’re not partners

Joseph HostetlerHow to fly on American Airlines with Chase Ultimate Rewards points, even though they’re not partnersMillion Mile Secrets Team

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You might have noticed that American Airlines isn’t a Chase transfer partner.

Still, that doesn’t mean Chase Ultimate Rewards points aren’t useful for award flights on American Airlines. There are several ways you can fly on American Airlines with points you earn from:

As a matter of fact, using Chase points for American Airlines flights can be a better deal than using American Airlines miles. Because of this, you could argue that these cards are some of best airline credit cards for American Airlines flights. I’ll show you the loopholes you need to know.

The information for the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

American Airlines flights are often cheaper with Chase Ultimate Rewards points than American Airlines miles. (Photo by Brendan Dorsey/Million Mile Secrets)

Fly American Airlines with Chase Ultimate Rewards points

It’s true that you can’t transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to American Airlines. But you can transfer your points to two airlines that partner with American Airlines: British Airways and Iberia. When you transfer your points to either of these airlines, you can use their respective websites to book flights on American Airlines. In other words, you’ll book American Airlines flights without ever visiting the American Airlines website and without ever needing to earn AA miles.

This is particularly valuable information now that American Airlines intends to completely abolish their award chart. No longer will there be fixed award prices based on origin and destination. American is moving to “dynamic pricing,” which is just a fancy way of saying they reserve the right to charge whatever they want, whenever they want. This is a two-edged sword, as prices will likely be higher during the busy season and lower during the off-season.

When you use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to fly American Airlines, you won’t have to deal with American Airlines’ dynamic award prices. You can always know exactly how many points it’ll take to fly your desired route at any time of year.

If you put in a bit of extra effort and study the American Airlines schedule, you could turn your points into a luxurious lie-flat experience, even on domestic flights. American Airlines has quite a few aircraft with top-notch business-class seats and not all of them are transcontinental routes. The Points Guy has a comprehensive post about how to find these coveted seats.

You can quite often find these particular seats when flying between Miami and Dallas. (Photo by JT Genter)

Onto the instruction. As an example, let’s look at how to book a flight from Columbus to Dallas.

Example 1. Book American Airlines flights through British Airways

Log into the British Airways website and click “Spending Avios” from the “Discover” drop-down menu.

Click “Spending Avios”

Scroll down the next page until you see “Book a Reward Flight“. Click it.

Then, you can fill out the search form and click “Get flights.”

You’ll then see search results of all available flights. If you’re flying a domestic route, you should see plenty of American Airlines flights available.

 

Example 2. Book American Airlines flights through Iberia

Log into the Iberia website before you begin your search.

Enter your travel information. You must book a round-trip flight with Iberia Avios points or the website will tell you there are no seats available.

Again, you’ll see plenty of American Airlines award flights available to book with Iberia Avios points. If you find award seats on British Airways, they should also be available on Iberia.

 

Example 3. Book American Airlines flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal

This method is pretty simple, as it’s similar to booking with any online travel agency, like Orbitz or Expedia. Log into the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal and click “Travel” from the drop-down menu at the top of the page.

Enter your travel information.

You’ll then have your pick of flights from multiple airlines, including American Airlines. If you have an Chase Ink Business Preferred or a Chase Sapphire Preferred (my example below), your points will be worth 1.25 cents each. If you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, your points will be worth 1.5 cents each.

 

Always do the math

Let’s break down the information we’ve just covered.

Chase points value depends on how you redeem them. As you can see through the Chase Portal screenshot, the going rate for a round-trip flight between Chicago and Dallas is typically around $326 (although with the current pandemic prices have dropped significantly). For that same flight, you’ll pay:

  • 26,128 Chase Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase Portal (if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred)
  • 21,774 Chase Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase Portal (if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve)
  • 17,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you transfer them to Iberia (Iberia charges 17,000 points round-trip for this route)
  • 18,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you transfer them to British Airways (British Airways charges 9,000 points each way for this route)

British Airways and Iberia have different award charts, so these prices will vary depending on your route. But quite often the best way to use Chase points is by using Chase transfer partners instead of booking through the Chase Portal. As I said earlier, using these partners can a better deal than using American Airlines miles. For example, I flew to Oklahoma round-trip in coach over the holidays for 17,000 Iberia Avios points. At the time, that same flight would have cost 25,000 American Airlines miles (that’s a difference of 8,000 miles).

But because of dynamic pricing and American Airlines Web Specials, sometimes it’ll take fewer AA miles to book the same flights. For example, at the time of writing I could book the exact same flights from Chicago to Dallas for only 12,000 American Airlines miles round-trip. However, that price was a Web Special which means it can’t be changed and because you’d have to book it through American Airlines it would cost $150 to cancel the award flight and redeposit your miles.

Bottom line

Chase Ultimate Rewards points don’t transfer to American Airlines – but collecting Chase Ultimate Rewards points is still one of the best ways to get American Airlines flights for free. You can transfer your points to British Airways or Iberia and book American Airlines flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal.

And you can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points in a hurry by opening the best Chase credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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AA has flights from Houston (IAH) to St. Thomas VI (STT) however, neither BA or Iberia bring them up so I don’t seem to be able to use my points. Any suggestions?

I am retired so my wife and I have a ton more flexibility than most people. I consider myself an expert of sorts on the topic of using British Air points for AA flights as well as Japan Airlines.

First, my wife and I accumulate at least a couple of hundred thousand Ultimate Rewards points per year. I won’t go into that here….referrals, old Ink Bold 5 times card at office supply and manufactured spending, etc. Right now we have over 400,000 points in our account and about a year and a half ago I was down to maybe 50,000. My brother carries 800,000 to 1 million at any given time. And we use them, we just don’t save them.

When Ultimate Rewards had a special to transfer points with a bonus to BA I jumped all over it. Short haul one way coach awards using BA avios were 7000 points from Sarasota to DCA at the time. Now they are 9000. We use this route often to see grand kids in MD. Great deal. And you can cancel for free with BA as well and put the points back in your account.

Here is a trick……….you go to the Finnair website after you make your reservation and enter your BA confirmation number and your reservation will pop up in “manage reservation”. Then put in your AA frequent flyer number and you will get your AA reservation number and your reservation will be on the AA website after that and your Global Entry number will all linked. This is a big time saver and you can then pick out your seats as well.

Anyhow, the BA website does not always show flights (and they have to be saver) for AA or Japan as they have to be for coach or business or first. They is because they do not have the inventory at saver value. But, if you are flexible, like we are, you can often find something to use.

We have found using Avios BA on points transferred from Ultimate Rewards to be very useful. A few days ago I grabbed a last minute ticket for my wife to fly from DCA to Tampa for 9000 points.

One other comment………we always keep an AA credit card with free baggage benefit even though we a liable for the fee (but I call up and usually get it waived, even thought Barclays now says waiver is one time only). The AA system will recognize that you have the credit card once you link the reservation to your account with your frequent flyer number (you can do this by phone as well, but the Finnair route is quicker for me than waiting on the phone). So, you will get your free bag benefit of the credit card. If you don’t do the linking of the BA reservation with your AA frequent flyer number, you will not get the free baggage benefit of our credit card.

Hope this information is helpful to you guys out there.

Is there a way to do Delta with Chase UR’s

The Iberia site never works for me for US flights no matter what I choose. It always says no flights available even for round trip. I have been a member for at least 20 years and only flights to/from Spain ever seem to work.

Thanks for the article. Useful, especially for those DisAAdvantage-d due to recent crackdown by AA.

If you have status with AA you will miss out when you book AA flights through BA or Iberia. Isn’t it true?

I have tried and tried to use my stranded BA points for domestic AA flights to no avail. Several times over many years. Called BA just the other day when 4 AA flights were wide open but BA’s site did not show availability. The rep indicated AA only released so many seats to them. Well based upon the open seating they must not have released ANY. BA is not good for AA in my opinion.

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