How to transfer flexible points and book United flights for less

Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full advertising policy: How we make money.

Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.

We’re fans of United Airlines miles at MMS because you can redeem them for award flights to pretty much anywhere. United is part of Star Alliance, the largest network of airlines in the world. We especially love that you can book the same United award flights for fewer miles on certain routes using Star Alliance partner Singapore Airlines miles instead. That’s right — you can book many of the same exact award flights that United Airlines offers with Singapore Airlines miles for a lot less – including sweet spot routes like Mainland U.S. to Hawaii or Europe.

And unlike United Airlines, Singapore Airlines is a direct transfer partner of the five major transferable point programs: Chase Ultimate RewardsAmex Membership RewardsCiti ThankYouCapital One and Marriott. So you can transfer points earned from the best travel credit cards like the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card to Singapore Airlines and spend less.

I’ll show you when it makes sense to book United Airlines award flights using Singapore Airlines miles instead of United Airlines miles.

You’re overpaying miles on United Airlines on certain routes, like the Mainland U.S. to Hawaii. Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Singapore Airlines for great savings on the same flights! (Photo by Bridget Moyer/Shutterstock)

How to transfer flexible points to Singapore Airlines

If you choose to redeem your flexible points with Singapore Airlines, remember one golden rule: transfers are not reversible. Additionally, Singapore Airlines miles expire 36 months from the date you earn or transfer them, so make you’re able to use any points transferred within that time frame. It shouldn’t be too hard with all the great sweet spots below 🙂

If you’re new to miles and points, we recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for beginners. It’s the most versatile and useful card, and the best first credit card for those with intent to travel. Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred review for more details.

Sweet spots by booking with Singapore Airlines instead of United Airlines

Singapore Airlines has a zone-based award chart, meaning the miles required for an award flight depend on the regions you’re flying between (or within). True, the United Airlines award chart has been abolished, so it’s possible to find very cheap flights between select routes (though it’s also easy to find astronomical rates), but you’ll still find that in many cases it’s cheaper to book an award flight from the mainland U.S. to Hawaii, South America, or Europe with Singapore Airlines.

Within North America in business class

Round-trip domestic flights will only cost you 40,000 Singapore Airlines miles in business class. You’ll generally find United will charge 50,000 miles for the exact same flights. The Singapore website will likely not show all available seats, so you may want to call the airline if you see saver availability on United but not Singapore Airlines. The representative will ask for origin, destination, date of travel, number of passengers and one-way or round-trip, and will check availability and help you book if the flight is available.

As with most phone bookings, if the representative tacks on a booking fee, ask them nicely to remove it because this redemption is not available to book online.

U.S. to Europe in coach (plus save even more flying New York to Germany and Houston to the UK)

For United Airlines coach flights from the U.S. to Europe, you’ll only pay 55,000 Singapore Airlines miles compared to 60,000 United Airlines miles. But if you’re flying certain routes, you can save even more by redeeming Singapore Airlines miles on Singapore Airlines’ own flights between New York (JFK) and Frankfurt, or Houston and Manchester, UK.

For example, booking this Singapore Airlines flight between New York and Frankfurt one-way costs 22,500 Singapore Airlines miles in coach. But the same flight will set you back 30,000 United Airlines miles!

Here’s a calendar view of the United Airlines prices for that same route:

Mainland U.S. to Hawaii

It wouldn’t be a post about Singapore Airlines without mentioning the steal of a deal you can get by booking United Airlines award flights to Hawaii. This is one of our favorite ways to save with Singapore Airlines miles.

You’ll only pay 35,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach between the mainland and Hawaii. But the same itinerary from United Airlines will set you back 45,000 miles! This is one of the best ways to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a trip to Hawaii, especially now that Korean Air is no longer a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards. Several of us on the team have used this technique to save 10,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per person on round-trip flights to Hawaii.

Joseph has saved thousands of Chase points during his Hawaii trips. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

This can translate to significant savings when you’re traveling as a family or group.

Bottom line

You can often save by booking United Airlines award flights with Singapore Airlines miles instead of United Airlines miles. Singapore Airlines is a direct transfer partner of the five major transferable point programs, including our favorite, Chase Ultimate Rewards points. That makes Singapore Airlines miles exponentially easier to earn than United Airlines miles.

Our favorite sweet spots include United Airlines flights between the mainland U.S. and Hawaii and Europe, though there are plenty more. Let us know if you have any other favorite ways to save by booking United Airlines flights with Singapore Airlines miles. And subscribe to our newsletter for more tips and tricks like this.

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

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! :)

Join the Discussion!

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments