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If You Have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, There’s No Reason to EVER Transfer Your Points to These Airlines

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If You Have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, There’s No Reason to EVER Transfer Your Points to These Airlines

Joseph HostetlerIf You Have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, There’s No Reason to EVER Transfer Your Points to These AirlinesMillion Mile Secrets Team

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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.

Southwest is one of my favorite Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer partners. But anyone with a Chase Sapphire Reserve should stay away. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

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:

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.

Bottom Line

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.

For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, please subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • One Year Complimentary Lyft Pink ($199 minimum value). Complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash after activating by 12/31/21.

More Info

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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One of the big benefits of booking with Southwest points is that you can cancel at any time and get a full refund of points (vs a cash purchase, where you’ll get a credit to be used for a flight for the same person within a year). This makes it so much easier to book anticipatory flights, or even several different options, knowing I can cancel with ease and no consequences- and don’t need to keep track of a bunch of different flight credit. That alone is worth losing out on the point earning ability.

the ability to cancel the flight on SW and get points back is really important to me….I always want my SW flight on points. Agree with you 100%

Last time I tried to book it through Chase travel agent, they told me they couldn’t book Southwest anymore.

You do not mention if booking through Chase allows you to use companion pass. Does it??

I have a couple of questions about SW. If you book through the Chase Portal can you still cancel the flight without penalty? One thing I enjoy about booking with SW is being able to cancel and rebook when fares drop.

Also, how does booking through the Portal affect using the Companion Pass?

It works fine if you don’t mind keeping track of credit vouchers, and using them up within a year of the date that the original ticket was bought. Otherwise, if you expect to possibly cancel, or think you will be better off re-booking at a lower price, transferring points is the better way to go.

Booking WN on the phone with Chase is a pain. I’d much rather transfer the points – so much simpler. And I found, if I included my middle name when booking on the phone with Chase, I couldn’t reuse the funds online, cuz the names didn’t match – I had to call WN res to get things sorted out.

The best way to de facto book WN revenue fares with credit card points is to use US Bank Real Time Rewards (with Altitude or Flexperks cards). Just book the revenue fare online. You’ll receive a text from US Bank asking you whether you want to redeem points for an offsetting statement credit.

How does booking thru Chase affect the ability to change/cancel your flight on SW? I’m always watching for fares to go down or booking speculative trips.

You have to call Chase to cancel it. Its sort of a pain. You won’t be able to make changes through SW system for your reservation.

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