We’ve Ranked the Chase Ultimate Rewards Airlines: Here’s What to Know BEFORE You Transfer Points
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Chase Ultimate Rewards is the top flexible points program for many because you can transfer points (usually instantly) at a 1:1 ratio to Chase airline and hotel partners like United Airlines and JetBlue.
And it’s easy to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. Typically, you’ll get the most value from your Ultimate Rewards points when you transfer them to airline partners (with the exception of Hyatt hotels which is also a very good deal). But not all Chase airline partners are created equal.
So before you go moving your points, have a look at our rankings.
Of course the best partner for you depends on your travel goals, home airport, and airline preferences. Here’s our take on the best (and worst) Chase Ultimate Rewards airlines for points transfer.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Airlines
Currently, there are 9 Chase Ultimate Rewards airline transfer partners:
- Aer Lingus
- British Airways
- Flying Blue (Air France / KLM frequent flyer program)
- Singapore Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
It’s also important to remember that because of partnerships, you can book award seats on all 3 major airline alliances, which include:
- oneworld airlines (British Airways and Iberia)
- SkyTeam airlines (Flying Blue)
- Star Alliance airlines (Singapore Airlines and United Airlines)
For example, you can book Lufthansa flights with United Airlines miles because they are both Star Alliance partner airlines. This ability to book flights within the airline alliances means you can practically fly anywhere in the world using Chase Ultimate Rewards points!
Which Cards Let You Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Airlines?
The below 3 Chase cards let you transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly to airlines at a 1:1 ratio. With the exception of Singapore Airlines, transfers to these airlines are instantaneous, which means once you find a deal you want to take advantage of, you can quickly log into your Chase account, transfer points to your frequent flyer account, and book your trip!
|Credit card||Welcome bonus and minimum spending requirements||Our review|
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card||100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $15,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account||Ink Business Preferred review|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.||Chase Sapphire Preferred review|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account||Chase Sapphire Reserve review|
Right now you can earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you open the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card and spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This is a great choice for small business owners who are looking to build their Chase Ultimate Rewards balance.
However, you can only earn a sign-up bonus on a Sapphire card every 48 months and you can not have both cards at the same time. So my advice would be to read our Chase Sapphire Preferred review and Chase Sapphire Reserve review to see which one fits best with your particular situation before applying.–>
Ranking the Chase Ultimate Rewards Airlines
Not every airline is going to offer the same value for your Chase Ultimate Rewards points because not every airline mile is created equally. Some, like United Airlines, have a region-based award chart, which means the price of flying from one region to another is always the same. For example, flights from North America to Europe on United Airlines start at 60,000 miles round-trip, no matter the cash cost of the flight.
However, airlines like Southwest have a revenue-based model, which means the more expensive a particular flight is, the more miles you’ll need to redeem in order to get that particular flight. We’ll let you know below how each airline works so that you can make the right decision before transferring to a particular airline program.
1. United Airlines
United Airlines is a great rewards program whether you’re first starting out or a veteran traveler, due to the simplicity of the program and the sheer number of destinations you can travel to with the Star Alliance partnership. United Airlines has a great interactive award travel map that lets you enter your origin region and destination region and shows you how many miles it’ll cost to get there.
United Airlines Sweet Spot – My favorite part about booking flights using United Airlines miles is the Excursionist Perk, which allows you to book an extra stop for free! With the Excursionist Perk, you can add a free one-way flight to round-trip or multi-city award flights that include destinations outside the continental US, Canada, and Alaska. The price of your award won’t be any higher than if you didn’t book the free one-way.
So for example, you can fly from New York to Paris, Paris to Rome, and Rome back to New York for the same 60,000 miles you would normally need to get from the US to Europe, giving you a free flight in Europe. These flights can often cost hundreds of dollars, so it’s a great way to save and stretch your miles.
Here’s our ultimate guide to United Airlines miles.
Southwest is an excellent option when flying domestically, especially when you live near one of their hubs. They fly all over the US (which will soon include Hawaii), Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Even though Southwest is a revenue-based program, which means the number of points you’ll need for an award ticket depends on the cash price of the flight, you’ll usually get an average value of 1.5 cents per point.
I love flying Southwest domestically because everyone always gets 2 free checked bags on Southwest. And there are never any change or cancellation fees.
Southwest Sweet Spot – The famous Southwest Companion Pass. With the Southwest Companion Pass, you can add a friend or family member as your companion on ANY Southwest flight paid for with cash OR with points for free – just pay the cost of taxes and fees!
3. Flying Blue (Loyalty Program of Air France and KLM)
Flying Blue is an interesting award partner for a few reasons. First, it’s one of the only programs on this list that lets you accumulate and transfer points from a few different credit card programs. You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points, American Express Membership Rewards points, and Citi ThankYou points to the Flying Blue program. That is a great way to rack up the points and combine them from multiple banks to book award tickets. For example, if you have 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points and 10,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points, you can transfer from both programs to earn 50,000 Flying Blue miles.
Flying Blue is also unique because it doesn’t have a fixed award chart anymore, so award prices tend to fluctuate by season and flight price. This allows you to book some great discounted flights abroad, however, it can unfortunately go the other way as well. Typically, it costs ~30,000 miles on most airlines to fly one-way from the US to Europe. However, you can grab flights for as low as 22,000 miles one-way from New York to Europe with Flying Blue miles.
On the flip side, popular flights can go for upwards of 40,000+ miles one way for the same route. You’ll want to find the available flight you want and only THEN transfer points to your Flying Blue account.
Flying Blue Sweet Spot – One of the best ways to book flights on Flying Blue is the Promo Rewards flights they post monthly. You can book these flights for up to 50% fewer miles than usual.
These promotions change every month, so be sure to check at the beginning of the month for some last-minute travel steals.
4. British Airways
Next on our list is British Airways. While British Airways does charge high fuel surcharges on most of its own (and many partner) flights which can typically negate the benefits of using points in the first place, this program does have some nice sweet spots that move it up the list.
British Airways is part of the oneworld alliance which allows Chase Ultimate Rewards members to also book flights on American Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Folks who book American Airlines flights with British Airways points will avoid fuel surcharges when traveling in North and South America. American Airlines isn’t a transfer partner with Chase, AMEX, or Citi ThankYou, so this is a great way to book American Airlines flights using a transferable points currency.
Because British Airways is a distance-based award chart, the shorter the trip, the fewer points you’ll need to use. For example, you can fly from the West Coast to Hawaii for only 12,500 British Airways Avios points one-way. And team member Jasmin recently redeemed 26,000 British Airways Avios points per person for round-trip flights between the East Coast and Dublin, Ireland with her daughter.
British Airways Sweet Spot – There were a few options to choose from here, but for me the best value for my Avios points is flying one-way within a specific region on British Airways. For example, when flying between 2 European cities that are 650 miles or less apart, British Airways will only charge you 4,500 points with minimal taxes and fees. This lets you hop around Europe for nearly free using points.
Within the US, you can book flights 1,150 miles or less for only 7,500 British Airways Avios points one-way. With British Airways, you’ll really get the most value possible with short distance flights that can often get pretty expensive, maximizing the value of your points.
JetBlue, like Southwest, is another revenue-based program where the price of a flight in points is directly tied to its cost in cash. JetBlue is a great option for domestic travel if you live near one of its main hubs like New York – JFK, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Long Beach, and Washington Dulles.
Typically, JetBlue points are worth ~1.4 cents each, so 20,000 points will typically get you a flight in the ~$280 range.
JetBlue Sweet Spot – While you won’t find any traditional sweet spots due to JetBlue’s cost-based awards, you can still find some pretty great deals to and from Central and South America in the 10,000 to 14,000 point range. You’ll just want to be flexible when searching for these flights but once you find one, just transfer your Chase points over instantly and book!
6. Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines is interesting airline because, like United Airlines, it is also part of Star Alliance. It has a pretty typical region-based award chart that lets you book flights both on Singapore Airlines as well as Star Alliance partners, Alaska Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic.
Booking with Singapore Airlines miles sometimes costs less than what their partners charge! For example, it costs only 27,500 miles to fly one-way from North America to Europe with Singapore Airlines miles, while the same flight booked through United Airlines would cost 30,000 miles.
Singapore Airlines is most well-known for their Singapore Suites where you get your own room and bed to relax while flying to your destination in style!
Singapore Airlines Sweet Spot – One of my favorite sweet spots on Singapore Airlines is booking flights from anywhere in North America to Hawaii for only 17,500 miles one-way! While those on the West Coast can use British Airways points for less, those of us on the East Coast don’t have that option. Being able to book flights from New York or Washington, DC to Hawaii for 35,000 miles round-trip is a great way to fly to paradise for free!
Iberia is based in Spain and is owned by the same company as British Airways, so their award points are also called Avios. You can actually transfer Avios between British Airways and Iberia.
Iberia has an award calculator that lets you see how much flights will cost. Flight prices are distance-based like British Airways, but that lets us find some great deals, especially when flying from the East Coast to Europe!
Iberia Airlines Sweet Spot – The best redemption you can get on Iberia is flying from the East Cost to Europe. That’s because when you fly from New York or Boston to Madrid during off-peak travel, you can get there in coach for just 34,000 points, round-trip! Or, you can fly Business Class for just 34,000 points one-way. Flying from the East Coast to Europe on United Airlines, to compare, would cost 60,000 points round-trip in coach.
Read team member Joseph’s take on why Iberia is one of the best frequent flyer programs out there.
8. Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus is in the same family as British Airways and Iberia and it also earns its own version of Avios points. The best use of transferring points from Chase to Aer Lingus would be to take advantage of off-peak flights from the East Coast and Midwest to Dublin. That’s because you can fly from New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Chicago, and even Minneapolis to Dublin off-peak for just 13,000 points one way, or 26,000 points round-trip. That’s much less than the 60,000 miles it would typically cost you to fly across the Atlantic!
9. Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic is the lowest rated airline transfer partner on this list due to the incredibly high fuel surcharges they tack onto their award flights. They can charge over $500 in fees on transatlantic flights – you can usually find entire flights for less!
However, one thing to keep in mind is you can find some decent value when booking on some of Virgin Atlantic’s partners such as ANA, Delta, South African Airways and Virgin Australia. When booking within those countries, you can get some good value in Japan, the US, South Africa and Australia. However, each transfer partner has a different award chart. I don’t personally recommend ever transferring points from Chase to Virgin Atlantic. There’s almost always a better way to get where you are trying to go.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are our favorite transferable point currency here at Million Mile Secrets. You can get a ton of value by transferring points directly to Chase’s travel partners at a 1:1 ratio. And you’ll often get the most bang for your points by moving points to Chase Ultimate Rewards airlines:
- Aer Lingus
- British Airways
- Flying Blue (Air France / KLM frequent flyer program)
- Singapore Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Because of partnerships, you’ll have the ability to then book flights on dozens more airlines by taking advantage of the 3 major airline alliances. You can book flights all around the world for free using Chase Ultimate Rewards points – and they’re easy to earn from cards like the Ink Business Preferred, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Chase Sapphire Reserve.
We love the value you get from United Airlines, Southwest, Flying Blue, and British Airways (in certain cases) in particular. But we typically avoid transferring points to Virgin Atlantic because of high fuel surcharges.
What’s your favorite Chase Ultimate Rewards airline partner?
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! :)