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INSIDER SECRET: Southwest flights don’t appear when you search on the Chase Travel Portal. But you can still book Southwest flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards points by calling Chase Travel at (866) 951-6592.
Let’s start with some basic travel truths:
- Southwest points are worth ~1.5 cents each toward travel on Southwest
- JetBlue points are worth ~1.4 cents each toward travel on JetBlue
Both of these airlines don’t have any kind of award chart. Instead, they base their award prices off the cash price of your ticket. So, for example, if you find a Southwest flight that costs $200, you can expect the ticket to cost ~13,333 Southwest points ($200 cash price / 1.5 cents per point).
Another helpful tidbit about these two airlines is that they’re both Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer partners. Great news, yeah?For most people. But I’ll show you why if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you should never ever transfer your points to these airlines.
Why Chase Sapphire Reserve Cardholders Lose by Transferring Points to Southwest or JetBlue
Here’s something you should know if you’re a collector of Chase Ultimate Rewards points (like nearly every miles and points enthusiast on earth). You can cash in those points through the Chase Travel Portal for travel. Here are the rates:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – 1.25 cents per point toward travel
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card – 1.25 cents per point toward travel
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – 1.5 cents per point toward travel
The information for the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
That’s right, the value of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points depends on which cards you have.
EXAMPLE: If you want to purchase a $300 flight through the Chase Portal, it’ll cost Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders 24,000 points ($300 flight/1.25 cents per point). But the same flight will cost Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders just 20,000 points ($300 flight/1.5 cents per point).
Because the Chase Sapphire Reserve increases the value of all your Chase points to 1.5 cents, it’s easy to see why it’s a bad idea to transfer points to Southwest and JetBlue.
- JetBlue points are worth up to 1.4 cents each (though they can be worth less). So by using Chase Ultimate Rewards points to buy JetBlue flights, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders will get at least 0.1 cents more value
- Southwest points value varies a little, but you’ll receive ~1.5 cents on average, so you’ll get about the same value through the Chase Portal as if you had transferred points to Southwest (though it’s possible to receive a higher value).
Another Important Factor: Earning Points for Your Flight
Here’s how it is possible to receive a value even higher than 1.5 cents per point with Southwest points.
EXAMPLE:I can book a flight from Cincinnati to LaGuardia for $122 in cash. I can either:
- Transfer Chase points to Southwest and book the same flight for 7,184 Southwest points + $5.60 in taxes (a value of ~1.6 cents per point)
- Book through Chase and pay 8,134 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (a value of 1.5 cents per point)
Receiving 1.6 cents per Southwest point is better than receiving 1.5 cents per Chase point, so you may think transferring miles is a no-brainer. But don’t forget that when you use your Chase points to buy flights, you’ll earn points for your flights. Plus, you still have to pay taxes and fees for your award flight.
For this particular flight, you’ll earn 553 Southwest points when you redeem your points through Chase. That gives booking through Chase a slight advantage. Plus, when you purchase airfare, it’ll help you qualify for elite status.
If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’re better off using your points to book Southwest and JetBlue flights through the Chase Travel Portal. You’ll almost always get more value for your points this way. Plus, you’ll earn points for your flight. That’s not the case when you book an award flight.
One minor exception would be if you have nearly the amount of Southwest or JetBlue points needed for a free flight, and you’re using your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to top off your account.
Let me know if you’re a Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder who transfers points to Southwest or JetBlue, and if you think I’m wrong. And subscribe to our newsletter for more travel advice like this in the future.
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