One of the most valuable benefits on the Sapphire Preferred also tends to be the most underutilized – the ability to convert earned Ultimate Rewards points to real frequent flyer miles on partner airlines.
Doing this is a much more efficient way to extract value from your Ultimate Rewards points compared to redeeming them for straight cash back. When you go that route, 1 point = $0.01. That’s all well and good since that’s par value for any kind of earned credit card points, but if you convert your Ultimate Rewards points to airline miles you can potentially realize as much as 2 cents value or more per point (of course the exact value will depend on the airline and the flight you use your miles for).
Over the past several years Chase has continued to grow the list. As of the second quarter of 2016, below are the Ultimate Rewards participating airlines and hotels, as well as their conversion ratios.
1. Southwest Airlines: 1,000 points = 1,000 Rapid Rewards Points
2. United Airlines: 1,000 points = 1,000 MileagePlus Award Miles
3. British Airways: 1,000 points = 1,000 Avios points
4. Korean Air: 1,000 points = 1,000 Skypass miles
5. Hyatt: 1,000 points = Gold Passport points
6. Marriott: 1,000 points = Marriott Rewards points
7. Flying Blue: 1,000 points = 1,000 Priority Club Rewards points
8. Ritz-Carlton: 1,000 points = 1,000 Ritz-Carlton Rewards Points
9. Virgin Atlantic: 1,000 points = 1,000 Flying Club Miles
10. Singapore Airlines: 1,000 points = 1,000 KrisFlyer points
11. IHG: 1,000 points = 1,000 IHG Rewards Points
Regardless of who you transfer to, here are some things to keep in mind.
- 1,000 point increments: You can transfer in increments of 1,000 points.
- Transfer time: Ultimate Rewards will send you an email confirmation once orders are successfully placed. Most transfers occur within 24 hours, but in some rare cases it may take up to a week based on travel volume.
- Subject to program’s T&C: As soon as the transfer is completed, Chase has nothing to do with them. Your new miles/points are now subject to the airline/hotel program terms and conditions. Since most frequent travel programs will expire points after a set duration of time (usually 2 or 3 years), I would advise on transferring your Ultimate Rewards points over only when are ready to use them.
- All transfers are final.
Which partners are the best deal?
Generally speaking, frequent flyer miles are usually worth more than hotel reward points. So if you want the most bang for your buck, go for airfare. And among the carriers, my favorite is United. Why United? Because you get excellent value on reward flights, much better than some of the other major domestic carriers. Also, this is an exclusive transfer partner of Chase. Back in 2011, United severed ties with the AmEx Membership Rewards program. So right now, Ultimate Rewards is the only credit card partner.
Which are the best cards for Ultimate Rewards?
First of all it’s important to point out that there are several Chase credit cards which participate in the Ultimate Rewards program, but only some of them allow you to transfer points.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
I am a huge fan of this card. Not only does it have the best signup offer on the market right now, but the rewards are quite generous:
- 2 points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants
- 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
The benefits are impressive as well:
- No foreign transaction fees
- Various insurance benefits included on eligible purchases
- Direct access to a live rep when you call them, there’s no need to press numbers
Please realize this is different than the regular Chase Sapphire (no longer available), which has no annual fee but you can’t use is to convert points to miles. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the premium version. The card does have an annual fee of $95, but if you apply using this link you can get a $0 intro fee for the first year + earn a very nice signup bonus.
Ink Plus Business Credit Card
(Currently unavailable on CreditCardForum.com)
This is a business card. I recently opened one of these because of the unusually large bonus offer they’re running at the moment for it. Here is the card in a nutshell:
- 5X points per dollar on eligible business purchases and 1x points on all other purchases. Points don’t expire.
- $95 annual fee
And there’s also an excellent signup deal going on right now for this card.
And don’t forget this trick…
The Chase Freedom card does NOT let you transfer points to airlines/hotels. But guess what? Chase allows you to move and combine Ultimate Rewards points within your account. So if you already have a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold, you can earn points on your Freedom and then transfer them to your CSP/Bold account. By doing this your Freedom card is much more valuable. Why? Because you earn the 5% on categories, but rather than redeeming for cash back, you can move those points over to your Sapphire Preferred and turn them into miles, which can be worth even more. So if you don’t have the Freedom card already, then I would highly recommend getting it with this promotion and using it in conjunction with your other Chase card. That strategy is what I use and it helps me rake up those miles fast.
Last edited on May 18, 2016