Chase Ultimate Rewards Points: Our Best 10 Award Flight Secrets

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INSIDER SECRET: Chase Ultimate Rewards points are incredibly flexible because you can redeem them for travel directly or transfer them to airline and hotel partners for potentially even more value.

I’ll say it again and again; I love Chase Ultimate Rewards points for how easy they are to earn and how valuable they are to redeem. I’ve been earning and redeeming Chase points for the last five years at least, and I always keep a sizeable balance on hand that I can redeem for 1.5 cents per point towards travel with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

I also plan my spending around the Chase Freedom‘s 5x rotating quarterly categories and I use my Ink Business Preferred Credit Card for business purchases for 3x points per dollar spent. These are just a few of the best credit cards for travel.

That said, earning is great … but redeeming is the real fun! And although I certainly transfer points to Hyatt for luxurious hotel award stays, my favorite uses all include airline sweet spots.

We’ve shared the best ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards, but now we’ll show you ten award flight secrets that you can access by using Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Here are ten of our best award flight secrets with Chase Ultimate Rewards points, including first class in Lufthansa complete with a visit to the first class lounge! (Photo courtesy of Lufthansa)

Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are easily attainable because several cards offer spending bonuses for your everyday purchases in addition to lucrative sign-up bonuses. For example, I currently hold four Chase credit cards that help me earn huge amounts of Chase Ultimate Rewards points:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – I use this card to earn 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel and dining purchases worldwide – it’s our favorite card for frequent travelers
  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card – This is our top small business card pick – I earn 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar (on up to $150,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year) on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites, and search engines
  • Chase Freedom – Each quarter, I earn 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar (5% cash back) in categories that rotate, like drug stores, gas stations, and supermarkets, on up to $1,500 in combined spending after activating the bonus
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited – All other purchases go on this card, because it earns 1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar (1.5% cash back) on purchases with no limits

Top Ten Award Flight Secrets With Chase Ultimate Rewards

I’ve written about some of these before, but I wanted to detail out ten of my favorite award flight sweet spots that you can book with Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

I have personally redeemed Chase Ultimate Rewards using most of the below strategies, and the rest are on my points and miles bucket list. I hope you find them compelling and interesting and possibly learn something new.

Short Flights on Oneworld Airlines Using British Airways Avios Points

If you’re flying a short distance, nothing beats British Airways Avios points for nonstop flights. If your flight is in North America, you’ll pay 7,500 Avios points for any flight under 1,151 miles. But if you’re outside of North America, you’ll pay even less if your flight is under 651 miles.

Use British Airways Avios points to book short flights on Qantas — a great deal. (Photo courtesy of Qantas)

This means that domestic flights within Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, or other locations with nonstop oneworld flights can be a fantastic deal. Even better, British Airways doesn’t charge a close-in booking fee, so you can book at the last minute.

Singapore Airlines First Class (or Suites!) With Singapore Airlines Miles

Singapore Airlines first debuted its Suites class (a luxurious first-class suite!) in 2007, but it’s still a world-class offering over 12 years later. You can only book Singapore Suites with Singapore Airlines miles, and some routes are easier to find award space on than others.
Singapore Suites is in a league of its own. Fly this amazing product with Singapore Airlines miles. (Photo courtesy of Singapore Airlines)

For example, you could book Singapore Airlines’ old or new suites class for just 85,000 Singapore miles between Singapore and Sydney. That’s an eight-hour flight in one of the world’s best first class services — for a pretty reasonable price! Although I’m partial to Singapore Suites, you will receive absolutely phenomenal service and food on a traditional Singapore first-class flight as well — so that’s a great option too.

Short Flights During Southwest Sales

Although it’s relatively boring, I often transfer my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest to redeem for strategic points flights booked during their fare sales. Southwest is known for having consistent, generous flight sales, and the amount of points required for a flight is directly correlated to the amount of a cash booking on the same flight.

Redeeming 2,500 Southwest points for a one-way flight is a simple, excellent value.

Right now, for example, you could fly from San Diego to Sacramento for just ~2,500 Southwest points per person each way. That’s a killer deal! And remember that Southwest gives you two free checked bags and doesn’t add change fees. This is even more useful when booking with points as you can get a full points refund for your trip up to 10 minutes before departure!

West Coast to Hawaii in Coach Using British Airways Avios Points

My second favorite use of Avios points involves booking award flights on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines from the West Coast to Hawaii. In fact, I’m currently writing this article from the gorgeous Ka’anapali shores of Maui and we flew here nonstop on Alaska Airlines!

I’m writing this from Maui, and grateful to have flown here nonstop on Alaska Airlines. (Photo by Maui Topical Images/Shutterstock)

Because British Airways uses a distance-based award chart, you’ll pay a fewer Avios points on shorter flights, like to Hawaii from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, and other West Coast destinations. These flights can be had for just 12,500 Avios points one-way. For my wife and me, flying round-trip to Maui on nonstop flights from San Diego for just 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points is a killer deal.

Lufthansa First Class Using United Miles (or Singapore Airlines Miles)

When I got the chance to fly Lufthansa first class in 2016, it was truly a bucket-list item. I studied German in college and it was my first real visit to Germany, so getting to chat with professional flight attendants, spending a few hours in the First Class Terminal, and sharing the luxurious experience with my wife to celebrate our anniversary was truly something special (so forgive me if I’m biased).

There are several ways to book Lufthansa first class, but using United miles is probably my favorite due to the lack of fuel and carrier surcharges. When other airlines might charge you ~$500 per person, each way in fees, United charges you a more reasonable ~$40 per person. You could fly to Paris next week in Lufthansa first class for 110,000 United Miles plus ~$115 (because of United’s $75 close-in booking fee). That’s a great deal.

Book Lufthansa first class with United miles and almost zero taxes and fees.

If you’d rather book the same flight with Singapore miles, you can do so for just ~95,000 miles. But you’ll also pay almost $500 per person in taxes and fees. Ouch!

First Class or Business Class to Tokyo on ANA With Virgin Atlantic Miles

The points and miles world has fallen in love with this method over the past year as more publicity has gotten out about booking nonstop ANA awards in premium cabins with Virgin Atlantic miles. Yes, it’s that good of a deal.

For just 110,000 Virgin Atlantic miles, you can fly round-trip first class to Tokyo from the West Coast of the US (Los Angeles or San Francisco). That’s a shockingly good value, and award availability is pretty decent. For midwestern or East Coast folks, you can book this same award for 120,000 Virgin Atlantic miles — still a great value and one worth saving up for.

I love Japan, and traveling on ANA with Virgin Atlantic miles in premium cabins is a phenomenal value. (Photo by CGN089/Shutterstock)

The business-class award rates are pretty killer too at 90,000 (West Coast) and 95,000 (Houston, Chicago, and East Coast cities) Virgin Atlantic miles respectively.

One-Way Award Flights to London in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy With Virgin Atlantic Miles

Flying out of London is tough when it comes to redeeming miles because of outrageous taxes and fees. But if you’re traveling to Europe, redeeming Virgin Atlantic miles for premium economy flights into London can be a great value with reasonable taxes and fees.

Virgin Atlantic premium economy offers a comfortable seat at a great value for flights to London.

For example, an East Coast based-flyer could fly from Washington, DC to London for just 17,500 Virgin Atlantic miles plus ~$250 in a very comfortable premium economy seat. Virgin Atlantic premium economy would make sleeping much easier, and the low mileage cost makes this award very accessible.

Business Class Award Flights to Europe Using United Miles

The Star Alliance has a ton of global airlines and numerous options daily for traveling between North America and Europe. Especially for US-based travelers (who love to adventure in and throughout Europe), being able to fly in business class for just 60,000 United miles with no fuel surcharges is a great deal.

Fly to Dublin or another European city with United miles on one of many Star Alliance partner airlines. (Photo by Leonid Andronov/Shutterstock)

If you’d rather travel with one of United’s partner airlines, you’ll typically spend 70,000 United miles — but still very little in taxes and fees. This isn’t always the most glamorous redemption, but I love the amount of Star Alliance airlines that offer award flights to and from Europe each day, including SWISS, Lufthansa, LOT and more.

Nonstop International Award Flights on Delta with Virgin Atlantic Miles

In case you hadn’t heard, Delta is less-than-reliable when it comes to award flight prices when using Delta miles on Delta flights. Surprisingly, Virgin Atlantic miles can be particularly valuable for redeeming on nonstop Delta award flights–particularly in international premium cabins.

You’ll pay just 60,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for nonstop business class to Beijing on Delta.

For example, nonstop flights on Delta from Seattle to Beijing can range from ~80,000 to ~200,000 Delta Miles. On September 16, the nonstop flight in Delta One costs 180,000 Delta miles plus ~$6. But if you instead redeem Virgin Atlantic miles, you’ll pay just 60,000 miles to fly in the same Delta One seat! That’s a significant savings and a great transfer option for your Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Using Delta miles for the same flight would require 180,000 miles. Ouch!

Iberia Business Class From the East Coast to Madrid Using Iberia Avios Points

I’ll be honest, I don’t get much use out of Iberia Avios points. But if you happen to be wanting nonstop business-class flights between the US and Europe, you’re in luck if you can find award flights on Iberia. That’s because Iberia has off-peak pricing and charges a very reasonable 34,000 Iberia Avios points on nonstop business-class flights from Chicago, New York and Boston to Madrid.

Photo courtesy of Caroline Lupini
Iberia business class is a great transatlantic option for just 34,000 Iberia Avios points off peak. (Photo by Caroline Lupini/Million Mile Secrets)

Taxes and fees are very reasonable (often less than~$100 per person from the US to Spain) and award availability is decent. If you’d rather fly out of Miami, you can do that as well for just 42,500 avios points per person in business class. Keep in mind that this is only for nonstop flights to Madrid and you’ll pay extra for any connecting itineraries.

Bottom Line

Some of these award flights are fairly niche options (like flying Singapore Suites from Sydney to Singapore), but I hope they at least sparked your imagination. And some are less sexy (such as a quick nonstop home to Sacramento to visit family), but the value is tough to beat.

Whether you prefer to save your Chase Ultimate Rewards for out-of-the-park extravagant award flights or just redeem them for practical, necessary travel, you’ve got plenty of options for great award flight redemptions.

Check out these posts to learn more about Chase Ultimate Rewards points:

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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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