How to Fly (Including Business Class!) to South America With Chase Sapphire Preferred

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Because of the increased bonus for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, I’ve been showing y’all different ways to get Big Travel with Small Money using the card.

Here I’ll show you how to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airline partners like United Airlines for award flights to South America.

The current sign-up bonus is more than enough to fly yourself and a partner to countries like Ecuador and Peru in coach for nearly free!

How To Fly Including Business Class To South America With Chase Sapphire Preferred
Use Your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for a Trip to South America, Like Argentina, Chile, or Peru! Here’s What to Look For!

I’ll show you how to use your points for award flights.  And how to earn more points on everyday purchases for more Big Travel!

How To Fly With Chase Sapphire Preferred Series Index

Why Chase Ultimate Rewards Points?

Link:   Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are flexible points that transfer 1:1 to certain airlines and hotels.  There are never any transfer fees and most transfers are instant.

I also like that Chase Ultimate Rewards points do NOT expire.

By transferring to airlines and hotels, you’ll often get much better value from your points than if you redeemed them for travel bookings, merchandise, or cash back.

Note:   Once you transfer your Chase Ultimate rewards points to a travel partner, you can NOT transfer them back.  And they become subject to the airline or hotel’s expiration rules.

Using United Airlines Miles to South America

Link:   United Airlines Award Chart

Link:   United Airlines Partners

Link:   United Airlines Partner Award Chart

Link:   The Ultimate Guide to United Airlines Miles

United Airlines breaks up South America into 2 zones, Northern South America, and Southern South America.

Northern South America includes:

  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • French Guiana
  • Guyana
  • Peru
  • Suriname
  • Venezuela

To fly from the mainland US, Alaska, or Canada, you’ll need:

  • 40,000 United Airlines miles for a round-trip coach award ticket
  • 70,000 United Airlines miles for a round-trip Business Class award ticket
  • 90,000 United Airlines miles for a round-trip First Class award ticket

And Southern South America includes:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Paraguay
  • Uruguay

To fly from the mainland US, Alaska, or Canada, you’ll need:

  • 60,000 United Airlines miles for a round-trip coach award ticket
  • 110,000 United Airlines miles for a round-trip Business Class award ticket
  • 140,000 United Airlines miles for a round-trip First Class award ticket
How To Fly Including Business Class To South America With Chase Sapphire Preferred
United Airlines Has Great Prices on Award Flights to South America. But Note They Don’t Have Many Planes With First Class on These Routes

Note that United Airlines doesn’t have many planes that have First Class to these destinations.  So your options are mainly coach or Business Class.

You can use United Airlines miles to fly on:

  • United Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Avianca
  • Avianca in Brazil
  • Copa Airlines

You do NOT have to memorize which airlines fly to the places you want to visit.  They’ll show up automatically in the award search!

Are British Airways Avios Points an Option?

Link:   British Airways Award Flight Calculator

Link:   Wandering Aramean’s Avios Map

Depending on where you start, you might prefer to use British Airways Avios points to fly on their partner American Airlines.  Prices vary based on the route because British Airways has a distance-based award program.  So folks in the South who are already closer to South America can get a better deal than with other mileage programs.

For example, it costs 25,000 British Airways Avios points each way to fly coach non-stop from Dallas to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which is 5,000 fewer miles than United Airlines charges each way.

But this only works for a limited set of routes because British Airways charges per flight segment.  So if you have to connect, you’ll have to pay for each flight, which will cost more.

It’s always worth checking if you can get a better deal, or a more convenient flight, with British Airways Avios points.

Note:   British Airways is changing the price of the shortest (under 650 miles) partner flights in North America starting February 2, 2016Flights which currently cost 4,500 British Airways Avios points 1-way in coach will cost 7,500 British Airways Avios points after that date.

Why Fly on an Airline Partner?

You might decide to fly on a partner airline if:

  • Their flight times are more convenient for you
  • There’s nothing available on United Airlines
  • You prefer to fly out of a certain airport
  • You want to try a new airline

And keep in mind, you can use United Airlines miles or British Airways Avios points to book award flights on partner airlines, but you can NOT transfer them to the other airline directly.

What’s Your Best Option?

Let’s look at a few examples!

1.   Houston

a.   Santiago, Chile

Folks in Houston will have an easy time finding award flights to Santiago this Spring and Summer.  And award seats are available well into the fall, even on non-stop routes!

How To Fly Including Business Class To South America With Chase Sapphire Preferred
There Are Lots of Coach Award Seats to Santiago, but You’ll Have to Be a Little Flexible to Fly in Business Class

There are Business Class seats available each week, but you’ll need to plan your trip a bit more carefully.  That said, it’s still possible to easily find seats!

How To Fly Including Business Class To South America With Chase Sapphire Preferred
Be Sure to Always Select “Saver” Award Seats, and If You See “Mixed Cabin” for Business Class Awards, Always Make Sure the Longer Flight Is in Business Class!

Note that United Airlines sometimes mixes their cabins.  In this example, the Business Class award with the mixed cabins has the shorter flight from Houston to Toronto on Air Canada in coach, but the longer flight from Toronto to Santiago is in Business Class.  But always check by clicking “Details.”

And, if you have the choice between a “Saver” award or a “Standard” award for the same class of service, always choose the Saver level.  In this example, you’ll pay over double the miles for the same flights if you select “Standard”!

b.   Lima, Peru

For the route from Houston to Lima, I found low-level award seats available every day, especially on airline partners Avianca and Copa Airlines!

How To Fly Including Business Class To South America With Chase Sapphire Preferred
Lima is Near Cuzco and Machu Picchu So It Makes a Great Base for Exploring South America. Don’t Forget to Try the Delicious Local Dishes While You’re There!

And each day, I found ~20 to ~40 flights to choose from in both coach and Business Class, and you have your pick of flight times!

How To Fly Including Business Class To South America With Chase Sapphire Preferred
Green Means Go! Award Seats Are Available Every Single Day This Summer in Every Class of Service!

Use Lima as a starting point for other South American countries.  You can use your British Airways Avios points for short-haul flights within South America on partner airlines like LAN or TAM.

Lima is near Cuzco and Machu Picchu.  From Lima, you can take a train or fly to either city to keep exploring.

And I’ve heard Peruvian food is some of the best in the world!

c.   Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

There aren’t as many seats from Houston to Rio de Janeiro, but I was able to find a couple of award seats on non-stop flights in both coach and Business Class.  Taxes are reasonable for this route, only ~$60 to ~$70 round-trip, depending on which airline you fly and where (and if) you connect.

You’ll need to be a little flexible with your schedule for this route.  That said, it’s possible to find low-level award seats at all times of the day.

How To Fly Including Business Class To South America With Chase Sapphire Preferred
Dance the Samba! Rio Is Known for Its Late-Night Parties

Emily loves dancing, especially the traditional dances of other countries, like the samba from Brazil!

2.   Los Angeles

a.   Santiago, Chile

Folks in Los Angeles have their pick of seats, routes, and airlines to Santiago!

How To Fly Including Business Class To South America With Chase Sapphire Preferred
World-Famous Steaks and Wine Await on the Other Side of Your Trip!

When I searched, I found an award seat available every day this Spring.  And I found nearly 90 flights available each day I looked, mostly on United Airlines and Copa Airlines.  Taxes and fees are ~$53, so this route is reasonably priced.

If you want to try Chilean wine in Santiago, go hiking in the Andes, or take a bus to the coastal town of Valparaiso, you’ll have an easy time getting there!

b.   Lima, Peru

You’ll have no trouble finding award seats between Los Angeles and Lima.

I found over 70 flights for each day I searched this summer.  Most flights are on partners Avianca and Copa Airlines, but I found many flights on United Airlines, too.

You have your pick of airlines, flight times, and connections.

How To Fly Including Business Class To South America With Chase Sapphire Preferred
Take Someone With You to See Lima (and Beyond)! The Sign-Up Bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Is Enough for 2 One-Way Coach Award Flights

The current sign-up bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred is more than enough for 2 one-way coach award flights to Peru, so you can take a friend or partner with you.  This is an excellent way to redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points, and you have lots of options to choose from!

c.   Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

There are lots of award seats to Rio de Janeiro from Los Angeles available in Business Class (nearly every day!), but fewer are available in coach.

So depending on which level of service you prefer, and which months you want to visit, you might need to be more flexible.

How To Fly Including Business Class To South America With Chase Sapphire Preferred
Visit Beautiful Rio and Its Nearby Beaches, but You’ll Need to Be Flexible Unless You Want to Fly Business Class

2.   New York

a.   Santiago, Chile

Again, you’ll have an easy time planning your trip to Santiago from New York.

How To Fly Including Business Class To South America With Chase Sapphire Preferred
If You’ve Dreamed of Visiting Patagonia, Plan Your Trip With the Chase Ultimate Rewards Points You’ll Earn With the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. And Keep Earning Them Through Your Everyday Spending

Santiago is also a hub city for LAN, so this is a great base to use your British Airways Avios points for short-haul flights for more South American adventures!

b.   Lima, Peru
Lima is also wide open for folks in New York.  There are even some non-stop low-level award seats in coach that are only 20,000 United Airlines miles each way!

These flights can cost as much as $600, so redeeming your Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be a terrific deal!

c.   Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

From New York to Rio de Janeiro, there are a decent amount of seats available.  You can check the United Airlines website for award seats for the dates you need.  I found lots of routes and seats when I checked for Spring and Summer 2016!

How To Fly Including Business Class To South America With Chase Sapphire Preferred
Sun-Seekers Could Fly in Style to Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro Round-Trip in Business Class

I couldn’t find many non-stop routes.  But, I was able to find departures from all 3 New York-area airports, so you can fly out of whichever 1 you prefer!

How to Earn More Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for Award Flights

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Chase Ink Plus

Link:   Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card

Link:   Chase Freedom

You can currently earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you sign-up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred and spend $4,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account.  And the $95 annual fee is waived for the 1st year!

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card you get 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel and dining.  And 1 Chase Ultimate Rewards point per $1 spent on other purchases.

Because this card has NO foreign transaction fees, it’s a great card to travel with abroad.  And to use when you book airfare or hotels in South America.  If you love to try new foods like I do, it’s easy to build up your Chase Ultimate Rewards points balance for an award flight or a stay at a Hyatt hotel.

How To Fly Including Business Class To South America With Chase Sapphire Preferred
Like to Eat Out? Each $1 Spent on Airfare, Restaurants, Hotels, Public Transportation, and Taxis Earns 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Toward Award Flights!

Combine Ink Plus, Ink Cash, & Freedom With Sapphire Preferred To Get an Award Flight Faster

If you have the Chase Ink Cash, Ink Bold, or Chase Ink Plus small business cards, you’ll earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 you spend (5% cash back) at office supply stores and on cell phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services.

And remember you get 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points using your Ink Cash or Ink Plus at gas stations.

Use the Freedom 5X (or 10X!) Categories

The Chase Freedom card has rotating quarterly categories that earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  And you can earn 10X points (10% cash back) at Amazon from November 23, 2015, through December 31, 2015, on up to $1,500 in spending.

So you can earn up to 15,000 extra Chase Ultimate Rewards points this quarter by taking advantage of the 10X bonus!

The Ink Plus, Ink Bold (not open to new applicants), Ink Cash, and Freedom cards are all fantastic options for earning more points on your daily purchases.  And all of them work well together with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Note:  The Ink Plus has an annual fee of $95.  The Ink Cash and Freedom have NO annual fees.

If you also have a Chase Ink Plus, Chase Ink Bold, or Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned from the Chase Ink Cash and Freedom cards to airline and hotel partners like British Airways, Hyatt, and United Airlines!

Where to Stay

Link:   Hot Deals – Hotel Credit Cards

Remember there are lots of ways to get cheap or free hotel rooms with points from credit card bonuses and spending!

Folks with Citi Prestige can enjoy their 4th night for free at many hotels!

To find hotels that can be booked with points, I use Hotel Hustle (which even shows you if rooms are actually available!) or AwardMapper.

Remember, you can transfer flexible points like Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards to different hotel programs.

How To Fly Including Business Class To South America With Chase Sapphire Preferred
Redeem Hilton Points to Book an Award Stay in South America

Read my posts on all the ways to earn Hilton and Hyatt points!

And here are 5 fantastic Starwood hotels in Central and South America you can book with Starwood points.

Note:  Folks who want to book paid stays could check out discount sites like Orbitz, Expedia, or TravelPony for deals.  But remember you won’t get stay credits or points (and might not have your elite status recognized!).

And don’t forget Airbnb is a great way to save money on accommodations, especially for longer stays.

Here are some tips on how to negotiate a better Airbnb price, and how to find a safe Airbnb where you’ll feel comfortable!

Bottom Line

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is fantastic for earning valuable and flexible Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which you can transfer at a 1:1 ratio to United Airlines for travel to South America.

Use your Chase Sapphire Preferred to earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining.  And take it with you to overseas because it doesn’t have foreign transaction fees!

Pair it with other cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, like the Chase Ink CashChase Ink Plus, or Chase Freedom, to earn even more points on your everyday spending for Big Travel with Small Money!

That’s because when you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred (or Ink Bold or Ink Plus) you can combine all your Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  And then transfer them to travel partners like United Airlines or Hyatt to explore South America!

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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