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When it comes to getting Big Travel with Small Money, we’re not shy about sharing our appreciation for Chase Ultimate Rewards points!
But it’s not always clear why (or when) one Chase transfer partner is more valuable than another. So I’ll show you a few examples where Chase Ultimate Rewards points can really hit it out of the park!
Million Mile Secret Agent Katrina asked:
Starwood gives you 5,000 bonus airline miles for every 20,000 Starwood points transferred to an airline and has more airline partners. Plus, Starwood seems to have better hotel options and bang for the buck for their points.
This is an excellent question, Katrina!
Why Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Indirectly to Starwood Usually Isn’t the Best Idea
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are extra valuable in 2 ways:
- The value you get per point
- The flexibility you have when booking award travel (i.e. more options for award flights or nights, and the ability to use points towards paid travel through the Chase Travel Portal)
Starwood points are also worth collecting. They transfer at a 1:1 ratio to 30+ airlines. And for every 20,000 Starwood points you transfer to an airline with a 1:1 transfer ratio, you’ll get 5,000 bonus miles! Not only that, but Starwood has a reasonably priced award chart for their hotels. So you can get some great deals when using Starwood points for award nights!
If you want to convert Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Starwood points, you can NOT do it directly! You’ll have to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott first and then to Starwood at a 3:1 ratio. So you’re losing a lot when you make this transfer.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Marriott. And 3 Marriott points convert into only 1 Starwood point. 🙁 So to get the 20,000 Starwood points you’ll need in order to earn the 25% airline transfer bonus, you’ll have to transfer 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Starwood!
Here are a few examples of why transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Starwood through Marriott is typically not the best deal.
Valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotel Redemptions
Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer a 1:1 ratio directly to these hotel programs:
1. Get the Most Value per Point From Your Hotel Award Stays
Not all Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel transfer partners are created equal!
For example, Hyatt has a very generous award chart. Top-tier Hyatt hotels only cost 30,000 Hyatt points per night!
So it’s often easier to get more value per point when you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt compared to transfer partners like IHG, which now charges 70,000 IHG points per night at its best hotels.
Also a transfer partner, Marriott’s highest category hotels are 45,000 Marriott points a night (Ritz-Carlton hotels top out at 70,000 Marriott points per night). But they could be a good deal if you’re booking a 5-night stay because you’ll get every 5th night free on award bookings!
For 30,000 Hyatt points, you could book a free night at the Park Hyatt New York, which can easily cost $900+ a night. That’s a value of 3 cents per point ($900 room rate / 30,000 Hyatt points)! To get the same value for a top-tier IHG or Ritz-Carlton award, the hotel would have to cost $2,100 per night (70,000 points per night X 3 cents per point)!
You can get similar value per point when you book free nights with Starwood points. The St. Regis New York can cost $900+ a night, or 30,000 to 35,000 Starwood points
. But to book the award, you’d need to transfer a minimum of 90,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Starwood because of the 3:1 Marriott to Starwood transfer ratio.
2. Earn More Free Stays With Your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Here is how many points Category 1 hotel reward nights cost with the following chains:
- Hyatt – 5,000 Hyatt points
- IHG – 10,000 IHG points (Can be as low as 5,000 IHG points a night with the PointBreaks promotion)
- Marriott – 7,500 Marriott points
- Ritz-Carlton – 30,000 Marriott points
Category 1 Starwood hotels are competitively priced at 3,000 Starwood points per weeknight and 2,000 Starwood points per weekend night. But because of the poor 3:1 transfer ratio from Marriott to Starwood, you’ll need to transfer 3 times as many Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott and then to Starwood to book those awards (6,000 to 9,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points)! But you only need to transfer 5,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt to book a Category 1 award night.
Great Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Awards
Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio directly to the following airlines:
- Aer Lingus
- British Airways
- Flying Blue (KLM & Air France)
- Korean Air
- Singapore Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
1. High Value Chase Ultimate Rewards Award Flights
Typically, you’ll get the most value per point when you book Business or First Class award flights with your Chase Ultimate Rewards points. For lots of folks, miles & points are the only way they would be able to afford this type of luxury, because these tickets cost $1,000s!
For example, you could transfer 65,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Singapore Airlines and book a one-way Business Class saver award from New York to Frankfurt. This flight can cost $3,000+, so you’d be getting ~4.61 cents per point ($3,000 flight / 65,000 Singapore Airlines miles)!
Or you can splurge and book a partner one-way First Class Lufthansa award from the US to Germany with 110,000 United Airlines miles. These seats can cost $10,000+, so you’d get ~9 cents per point in value ($10,000 flight / 110,000 United Airlines miles)! But you’ll have to be flexible with your travel plans because you can only book them 14 days in advance.
You can use Starwood points to book different awards with similar values. But again, transferring lots of Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Starwood to book Business or First Class award flights just isn’t a good deal.
For example, to book the same Singapore Airlines Business Class award from New York to Frankfurt you would need only 55,000 Starwood points. Because Starwood points convert at a 1:1 ratio to Singapore Airlines and you’ll get 10,000 bonus miles on the transfer (5,000 bonus miles per 20,000 Starwood points transferred X 2). But you’d need to transfer 165,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott, then at a 3:1 ratio to Starwood to end up with enough Starwood points for the award (55,000 Starwood points X 3).
2. Stretch Your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for Short Coach Flights
If you’re looking to get as many flights as possible with your Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you have no shortage of options.
Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways is a terrific way to save if you want to book short-haul partner award flights. Their award chart is distance based.
So you can book direct domestic one-way partner award flights that are shorter than 1,151 miles for only 7,500 British Airways Avios points! And if your flight is outside of North America, you can book direct one-way reward flights shorter than 651 miles for only 4,500 British Airways Avios points!
Looking to travel to Hawaii? Your cheapest option is transferring 24,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Singapore Airlines to book a round-trip partner award on Alaska Airlines from the West Coast to Hawaii.
And partner award flights on Alaska Airlines or American Airlines are only 25,000 British Airways Avios points round-trip from the West Coast to Hawaii. Or you can book partner award seats on Delta to Hawaii for only 25,000 Korean Air miles.
Or if you have the Southwest Companion Pass, you’ll be able to bring your companion along on all Southwest paid or award flights for just the taxes & fees. So every Chase Ultimate Rewards point transferred to Southwest becomes almost twice as valuable as normal!
Starwood points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Singapore Airlines, British Airways, and Korean Air. And because of the 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 Starwood points transferred to an airline, you would only need 20,000 Starwood points to book these awards to Hawaii. But to get just 20,000 Starwood points, you would have to transfer 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott and then to Starwood at a 3:1 ratio.
A Better Way to Earn Starwood Points
Starwood points are valuable. But it is much better to earn them directly with Starwood, rather than transfer them from Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express – 35,000 Starwood points after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account (offer ends March 28, 2018)
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express – 25,000 Starwood points after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account
You can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Starwood, but is it at the same poor 3:1 ratio. So I don’t recommend this option.
Because of the Marriott-Starwood merger, you can indirectly transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Starwood through Marriott.
But Chase Ultimate Rewards points only transfer (indirectly through Marriott) at a 3:1 ratio to Starwood. So unless you’re topping up your account for an award, this is not a good deal!
You’ll typically be able to get MUCH more value when you transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airline partners to book valuable Business or First Class awards. Hotel partners, like Hyatt, are great for luxury hotel redemptions. And low-level award stays with IHG, Marriott or Hyatt can get you lots of free nights!
Thanks for the question, Katrina!