Best uses of Chase Ultimate Rewards

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Chase Ultimate Rewards is often a #1 pick when points and miles enthusiasts talk about their favorite award currency, and that’s primarily due to an abundance of excellent transfer partners.

This post examines easy ways to get good value out of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Note that this post does not cover all of Chase’s transfer partners; just the ones where you’ll find easy value.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots: Hotels
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, a Marriott property and Chase transfer partner

Best Uses for Chase Ultimate Rewards

Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spot: Hyatt

There’s one area where Chase shines above others transferable currencies (except for Bilt): 1-1 transfers to Hyatt. Chase has three hotel partners, but Hyatt is widely considered to be the best of them, thanks to the fact that they still maintain an award chart and many of their properties are reasonably-priced in terms of points. There are times when you may get good value from Marriott and IHG points, but since you can frequently buy Marriott and IHG points for less than 1 cent per point, it would often make more sense to cash out your Ultimate Rewards points for cash and buy the IHG or Marriott points you need rather than transfer them 1:1.

On the other hand, Hyatt does not sell its points cheaply and the program does offer outsized value in many instances. This makes it arguably the best hotel sweet spot in the game.

  • The short story: Hyatt generally has nice hotels in most major cities and awards are very reasonable compared to the cash cost of most properties. Hyatt also has great benefits for top-tier elites.
  • Miles required: Hyatt's award chart has properties for 5K, 8K, 12K, 15K, 20K, 25K, 30K, or 40K points per night (prices are slightly lower or higher when off-peak or peak priced). Cash & points nights require half the points and approximately half the nightly room rate.
  • How to find awards: Search for availability at Hyatt.com by checking the box that says "Use points".
  • How to book awards: Book online at Hyatt.com. To add elite upgrades like Globalist suite night upgrades or Explorist Club Access Awards, you will need to call or contact the Twitter team (which can also help book award rooms -- see: New Hyatt properties: reminder of an old trick.)
  • Key warnings: One great use of Hyatt points can be to first transfer Chase or Bilt points to your Hyatt account and then transfer those Hyatt points from your Hyatt account to the account of a Hyatt Globalist so that he or she can book a Guest of Honor stay for you. Just keep in mind that although you can transfer from points to Hyatt as many times as you wish, your Hyatt account can only be involved in one Hyatt-to-Hyatt transfer (in or out) every 30 days.

Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots: North America

Chase partners with three US-based carriers (United, Southwest, and JetBlue), but you can often get even better value for domestic flights from its foreign transfer partner programs.

Air France / KLM Flying Blue

  • The short story: Air France sometimes charges far fewer miles for Delta flights than Delta charges its own members.
  • Miles required: Variable, but starting around 10.5K one-way in economy, or 28K one-way in business class.
  • How to find awards: Use the Virgin Atlantic 5 week award search to find availability (see this post for details). Next, confirm your findings at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone or app when the website returns errors.
  • Key warnings: Air France's website is buggy and will often return errors when trying to complete a booking. If that happens, try calling. Note also that for very short-distance flights, you may be able to save some miles by booking via Virgin Atlantic.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy, Wells Fargo.

British Airways Avios

  • The short story: British Airways offers a distance-based award chart, so short direct flights on partners American Airlines or Alaska Airlines can sometimes be a great value. Also note that British Airways allows cancellation up to 24 hours in advance for no fee but forfeiting the taxes ($5.60 each way within the US), though they've been known to refund those with some cancellations.
  • Miles required: Varies based on distance. From 9K one-way in economy class / 16.5K in business class.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at britishairways.com. Note that British Airways inexplicably periodically stops displaying AA availability. It's always best to search before transferring.
  • How to book awards: Book online at britishaiways.com.
  • Change and cancellation fees: Officially $55, but when the taxes and fees are less British Airways gives the option of forfeiting the taxes instead ($5.60 each way in the US), which makes awards almost freely cancellable (some sometimes they refund the taxes anyway).
  • Key warnings: British Airways charges for each segment separately, so multi-segment trips can get expensive quickly. Furthermore, the British Airways site sometimes shows phantom award space for AA (see: Phantom menace: an award search time suck). You may want to double-check Qantas.com for availability before transferring to British Aiways Executive Club.
  • Transfer fromAmex, BiltCapital One, ChaseWells Fargo. Also transfer to Qatar and then to BA with: Citi.

Iberia Avios

  • The short story: Iberia Plus offers a distance-based award chart. Unfortunately, their chart for American Airlines flights changed for the worse during 2021. It now matches the British Airways system both in terms of price and pricing by segment. However, Iberia does not allow any chances / cancellations / redeposits in American Airlines awards. You can't even pay a fee to get your Avios back. You're better off booking through British Airways.
  • Miles required: From 9K Avios each way.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space on American at iberia.com. Use the Advanced Avios Search tool. Search Alaska award space via AA.com.
  • How to book awards: Book online at iberia.com for American or over the phone for Alaska. Use the Advanced Avios Search tool for American.
  • Change and cancellation fees: Awards can not be changed or cancelled. There is no way to get your Avios back on partner bookings with American Airlines or Alaska Airlines.
  • Key warnings: Most Iberia partner bookings, including those on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines, are completely nonrefundable and can not be changed. Only book AA flights with Iberia if plans are certain. Iberia used to require round trip booking for partner flights, but you can now book American Airlines flights one-way.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Chase, Wells Fargo. Also transfer to BA and then to Iberia with: Capital One, Citi

Southwest

  • The short story: Southwest points are typically only worth about 1.5c towards the cost of a flight, but award bookings are totally flexible since they can be changed or canceled with no fee up until about 10 minutes before departure.
  • Miles required: Varies by route but can be less than other options when cash prices are low and can be a standout value for Companion Pass holders.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Southwest.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at Southwest.com
  • Change / cancellation fees: None. Note that Wanna Get Away Plus fares or higher are also eligible for a free same-day change.
  • Key warnings: Keep in mind that if you pay for Early Bird Check In and then later cancel or change your flight, you will lose the benefit without a refund.
  • Transfer fromChase

United

  • The short story: United now offers variable award pricing. That makes for some opportunities to pick up flights from as few as 5,000 miles one way. This can be useful if looking to leverage the Excursionist Perk.
  • Miles required: Varies by route but some itineraries can be just 5,000 miles one way. See: Finding United MileagePlus 5K awards.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at United.com.
  • Change and cancellation fees: There are no fees to change or cancel award tickets
  • Key warnings: When one-way prices are higher than 7,500 miles in economy class or 12,500 miles in business class, you may be better off booking with Turkish if you have Citi points and can stomach the challenges that Turkish presents.
  • Transfer from: Bilt, Chase, Marriott

Virgin Atlantic

  • The short story: In some instances, Virgin Atlantic offers Delta flights for fewer miles than Delta would charge for the same itineraries.
  • Miles required: Virgin has a distance-based award chart for domestic US travel on Delta that ranges from 7,500 miles (for flights up to 500 miles in distance flown) to 27,500 miles (up to 5,000 miles flown, which would cover New York to Honolulu). Taxes & fees are just $5.60 on domestic flights. See the full award chart here.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at VirginAtlantic.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at VirginAtlantic.com.  See: How to book Delta flights with Virgin Atlantic miles.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately, so they are not a good choice for connecting itineraries.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Capital One, CitiChaseMarriott, Bilt

Chase Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots: Hawaii

While saver business class awards to Hawaii can be tough to find (and lie-flat seats are like spotting a unicorn), Chase has transfer partners that can offer very good value when flights are available.

British Airways Avios

  • The short story: British Airways offers a distance-based award chart, so flights from the West Coast of the USA on Alaska Airlines or American Airlines can be a great value with Avios.
  • Miles required: 16K miles each way plus $5.60 for economy-class segments between west coast cities and Hawaii.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at britishairways.com for AA or aa.com for Alaska flights.
  • How to book awards: Book American flights online at britishaiways.com or Alaska flights over the phone at 800-452-1201.
  • Key warnings: British Airways charges for each segment separately, so multi-segment trips can get expensive quickly. Furthermore, the British Airways site sometimes shows phantom award space for AA (see: Phantom menace: an award search time suck). You may want to double-check Qantas.com for availability before transferring to British Aiways Executive Club for American flights.
  • Transfer fromAmexBiltCapital OneChaseWells Fargo. Also transfer to Qatar and then to BA with: Citi.

Singapore KrisFlyer

  • The short story: Singapore KrisFlyer charges fewer miles for domestic flights to Hawaii than United does for the same flights. Additionally, they have a great chart for Alaska Airlines for those originating in parts of the US other than the East Coast.
  • Miles required: For United flights: 19,500 miles each way in economy or 39,000 in business (as compared to 22.5K / 40K through United). For Alaska Airlines flights: award prices range from 13.5K to 14K one-way in economy class.
  • How to find awards: Search for available United Airlines space at United.com (Note: Do not log in — logging in may show you expanded availability based on your credit card or elite status that is not available for partner bookings) or SingaporeAir.com (See: Book United flights online with Singapore miles– but note that business class prices have increased since that post was written). For Alaska Airlines award space, search at AA.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at SingaporeAir.com or over the phone with Singapore KrisFlyer. Alaska awards must be booked over the phone.
  • Key warnings: Singapore allows a maximum connection time of 4 hours on a domestic itinerary and will not allow a stopover on a one-way domestic award. Be aware that United.com and AA.com will show availability for flights with longer/overnight connections that are not available with Singapore KrisFlyer miles, so be sure to double check availability at SingaporeAir.com or with a phone agent before booking. Also note that transfers to Singapore KrisFlyer are not instant. Transfers typically take 12-24 hours (from all major transferable currencies) and Singapore does not hold award tickets.

Southwest

  • The short story: Southwest points are typically only worth about 1.5c towards the cost of a flight, but award bookings are totally flexible since they can be changed or canceled with no fee up until shortly before departure. Also keep in mind that Wanna Get Away Plus fares get a free same-day confirmed change.
  • Miles required: Varies by route but can be less than other options when cash prices are low.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Southwest.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at Southwest.com
  • Key warnings: Keep in mind that if you pay for Early Bird Check In and then later cancel or change your flight, you will lose the benefit without a refund.

Virgin Atlantic

  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic often offers Delta flights to Hawaii for many fewer miles than Delta would charge for the same itineraries.
  • Miles required: Varies by distance. See the full award chart here. Nonstop routes from the west coast of the US should run 22K in economy or 70K in business (business class is not a good deal).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at VirginAtlantic.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at VirginAtlantic.com.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately, so they are not a good choice for connecting itineraries.

Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots: Europe

Chase has many different options for getting good value on flights to Europe, with Aeroplan and Air France/KLM Flying Blue probably leading the pack.

Air Canada Aeroplan

  • The short story: Aeroplan uses the same "Atlantic" region for Africa, The Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent. They also offer a stopovers on on a one-way award for 5,000 miles, which can present particular value. Lap infants are just $25 CAD or 2,500 miles per direction (far cheaper than what most programs charge).
  • Miles required: 60K-110K each way in business class or 90K-140K each way in first class based on distance (See our complete guide to Aeroplan for more detail). Partner awards no longer incur fuel surcharges.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Aeroplan.com (you’ll need to create a free Aeroplan frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Aeroplan.com. Can also book via phone. Lap infants must be added to your reservation over the phone.
  • Key warnings: You'll pay more miles based on distance, but keep in mind that you can add a stopover on a one-way for 5,000 miles, which makes Aeroplan a better deal if you're looking to visit two countries in one trip (like Spain & India or Germany & South Africa or Portugal & Morocco as examples).
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One, Marriott

Air France / KLM Flying Blue

  • The short story: Monthly Flying Blue Promo Awards can sometimes offer excellent value between the US and Europe
  • Miles required: Varies. Air France no longer has an award chart, but business class awards between North America and Europe start at 50K one way. Promo awards often offer better value, with business class awards often available in the 40K’s. On rare occasion, we have seen some destinations price in the 20K's one-way in business class.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone.
  • Key warnings: Air France / KLM do add fuel surcharges, though they are often reasonable (about $150-$250 in taxes and fees each way)
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy, Wells Fargo.

Iberia

  • The short story: Iberia charges as few as 34K miles one-way in business class on its own flights from New York, Boston, Chicago, or DC to Madrid during off-peak season. Sometimes they run a winter travel promotion for even less.
  • Miles required: Varies by distance. Best deal are the cities above to Madrid: 34K during off-peak dates or 50K during peak dates on Iberia metal. Fuel surcharges are very mild (Around $175 in total taxes & fees round trip. If booking one-way, surcharges are higher leaving Europe than flying to Europe.)
  • How to find awards: Search Iberia.com using the Advanced Avios Search Tool
  • How to book awards: Book at Iberia.com after using the Advanced Avios Search Tool.
  • Key warnings: Iberia's website can be challenging to navigate and availability can be challenging to find. There are some surcharges, but at under a hundred bucks from the US to Europe, they are much milder than when using British Airways Avios. Note that Iberia's award chart is distance-based, so itineraries with connections will require more miles. Note also that sometimes connecting itineraries will have availability even when the nonstop legs between the US and Spain are not available on their own.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Chase, Wells Fargo. Also transfer to BA and then to Iberia with: Capital One, Citi

United

  • The short story: United charges a relatively hefty sum of miles for business class flights between the US and Europe (~88K on partner airlines), but the lack of fuel surcharges can be a major advantage for booking partners like Lufthansa...and free changes / cancellation are appealing. Also note that the excursionist perk could get you a free flight within Europe if your travel begins and ends in the US.
  • Miles required: 88K one-way in business class between the US and Europe on partner airlines and potentially less on United.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at United.com
  • Key warnings: United has eliminated its award chart, so you may see many different prices for award tickets.
  • Transfer from: Chase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy, Bilt Rewards

Virgin Atlantic


Chase Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spot: Asia

While Virgin Atlantic stands out as probably the best value for using Chase points to get to Asia, Aeroplan and United both have a ton of partners in the region and Singapore gets a nod because of its expanded availability for KrisFlyer members.

Air Canada Aeroplan

  • The short story: Aeroplan charges a relatively high price for many awards to/from Asia, but they offer the most partner airlines of any program, thereby increasing the chances that you'll be able to put together an award that works for your trip. The real value in the program is the ability to add a stopover for only 5,000 additional miles, making it possible to combine two destinations on a one-way award. The Pacific Zone includes most of Eastern Asia and also Australia and New Zealand. By contrast, India and Central Asia are in the Atlantic Zone. Lap infants are only 2,500 miles.
  • Miles required: The Pacific Zone ranges from 55K-115K one-way in business class (plus 5K miles for a stopover), which can be a particularly good value for awards combining Asia and the South Pacific in one itinerary. The Atlantic Zone ranges from 60K-110K (though getting to destinations classified as Asia likely requires 85K or 110K miles each way before stopover whether your Asian destination is classified in the Atlantic or Pacific zone).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Aeroplan.com (you’ll need to create a free Aeroplan frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Aeroplan.com. Can also book via phone. Lap infants must be added to your reservation over the phone. A stopover can be booked online provided your itinerary has no more than 4 segments. More complex awards must be booked via phone (see Nick's 6-country 5-airline 5-day Aeroplan award and Aeroplan plans for future dream trips for more).
  • No fuel surcharges on: Aeroplan no longer charges fuel surcharges.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase, Marriott

British Airways Avios

  • The short story: British Airways normally offers a distance-based award chart, in what is an exception they charge 70K Avios each way for business class between the US and Doha on Qatar Airways (these flights do not follow the distance band).
  • Miles required: 70K miles each way in business class between the US and Doha. Taxes and fees add around $250 round trip.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at britishairways.com. It's always best to search before transferring.
  • How to book awards: Book American flights online at britishaiways.com or over the phone at 1 800 452 1201.
  • Change and cancellation fees: $55
  • Key warnings: British Airways charges for each segment separately, so multi-segment trips can get expensive quickly. Taxes & fees also increase substantially with further segments on Qatar.
  • Transfer fromAmex, BiltCapital One, ChaseWells Fargo. Also transfer to Qatar and then to BA with: Citi.

Singapore KrisFlyer

  • The short story: While award prices are high, Singapore KrisFlyer has much better availability in premium cabins for their own members. They also offer a stopover on a one-way award.
  • Miles required: 107K / 111.5K from the West Coast / East Coast to Singapore in business class or 146.5K / 148.5K in first class (see the full award chart here).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com (Note: Do not log in — logging in may show you expanded availability based on your credit card or elite status that is not available for partner bookings) or SingaporeAir.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at SingaporeAir.com or over the phone with Singapore KrisFlyer. Can waitlist as many options as you’d like as long as you have enough miles to book the award being waitlisted.
  • Key warnings: Note that transfers to Singapore KrisFlyer are now instant from Amex Membership Rewards and typically take around 7 hours from Capital One and Chase (slightly longer from Citi). Waitlisted itineraries that do not clear by 14 days prior to departure will get canceled.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Capital One, Chase, Citi, Marriott

United

  • The short story: United charges al little as 72.6K miles for business class on its own metal or 88K to 92K miles on partners. They allow the mixing of partners and cabins, which adds more possible awards given its number of partners in Asia.
  • Miles required: 72.6K miles each way in business class on United metal.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at United.com
  • Key warnings: United has eliminated its award chart, so we see do variance in award prices between United and Star Alliance flights as well as a difference between close-in booking and farther than 30 days in advance.

Virgin Atlantic (ANA)

  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic devalued ANA first class awards in March 2023 and then followed up by doing the same got business class awards in 2024. However, both are still very good redemptions between the US and Japan.
  • Miles required: 72.5K / 85K one-way for first class between the US West Coast / US East Coast and Japan or 52.5K / 60K miles in business class
  • How to find awards: Search United.com to find ANA partner award space. An easier option is to use Seats.Aero. Use the tool's Explore United MileagePlus feature to find ANA flights.
  • How to book awards: Call Virgin Atlantic Flying Club at 800-365-9500.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately, so this award is best for direct flights. They also add fuel surcharges for ANA flights, which as of 2024 are about $360 from the US to Japan or $450 from Japan to the US (or around $730 if booked as a round trip).
  • Transfer fromAmex, Chase, Capital One, CitiBiltMarriott

Virgin Atlantic (Delta)

  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic used to offer very competitive pricing for Delta business class between the US and Asia. Unfortunately, Virgin now uses a distance-based award chart which has dramatically increased prices. They may still offer better pricing than Delta does and in some cases you may find multiple seats available, so this can be a useful option for those looking to fly several passengers (though it is pricey and availability is inconsistent and unpredictable). Taxes leaving the US are just $5.60 one way.
  • Miles required: From 105K miles each way in business class from the mainland US. 80K each way in business class from Hawaii to Northern Asia (Honolulu to Tokyo, Nagoya, or Osaka). See the distance bands here and use a tool like gcmap.com to calculate distance between airports.
  • How to find awards: Search VirginAtlantic.com to find Delta award space.
  • How to book awards: Book online at VirginAtlantic.com or call Virgin Atlantic Flying Club at 800-365-9500.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately, so this award is best for direct flights.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Chase, Citi, Marriott

Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spot: Caribbean / Latin America

Similar to domestic US flights, Avios can offer good value for American Airlines flights. British Airways is better for direct flights and when you need flexibility; Iberia is better for connecting itineraries and when plans are locked in (since you can not change or cancel).

British Airways Avios

  • The short story: British Airways offers a distance-based award chart, so flights from the southern part of the US to the Caribbean and Latin America can be a solid value.
  • Miles required: Varies based on distance. From 7.5K one-way in economy class.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at britishairways.com for AA or aa.com for Alaska flights.
  • How to book awards: Book American flights online at britishaiways.com or Alaska flights over the phone at 1 800 452 1201.
  • Key warnings: British Airways charges for each segment separately, so multi-segment trips can get expensive quickly. Furthermore, the British Airways site sometimes shows phantom award space for AA (see: Phantom menace: an award search time suck). You may want to double-check Qantas.com for availability before transferring to British Aiways Executive Club for American flights.
  • Transfer fromAmex, BiltCapital One, ChaseWells Fargo. Also transfer to Qatar and then to BA with: Citi.

Iberia Avios

Southwest

Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spot: South America

Air France / KLM Flying Blue

  • The short story: Air France has variable pricing that isn't great but could be attractive if you hit a transfer bonus and/or need to combine points from different programs to book an award.
  • Miles required: Varies, but starts in the 40K's one-way to Northern South America in business class or the 70K's to Southern South America in business class. These prices become more attractive when a transferable currency offers a 25% transfer bonus. Keep in mind that in addition to Delta, Air France partners with Copa.
  • How to find awards: Use the Virgin Atlantic 5 week award search to find availability on Delta (see this post for details). Next, confirm your findings at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search). For flights on Copa, check United.com.
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone or app when the website returns errors.
  • Key warnings: Air France's website is buggy and will often return errors when trying to complete a booking. If that happens, try calling.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy, Wells Fargo.

British Airways Avios

  • The short story: British Airways has excellent award pricing for shorter distance American Airlines award flights, whereas you're better off booking with another program for longer flights or if you need connections (since British Airways prices each segment separately). Keep in mind that while LATAM has left oneworld, their flights should still be bookable with Avios.
  • Miles required: From 22K miles (Miami to Bogota falls in this distance band) to 92,750 miles (Los Angeles to Buenos Aires is in this distance band) each way in business class. The best deals will be from Miami to Northern South America for 22K or 38,750 miles one way depending on distance (and assuming direct flights). See the full award chart here at One Mile at a Time. No fuel surcharges on American Airlines.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at BritishAirways.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at BritishAirways.com
  • Key warnings: Note that British Airways periodically stops showing American Airlines award availability. When this happens, phone agents are generally unable to book the space either and your best bet is to keep searching or book through another partner.
  • Transfer fromAmex, BiltCapital One, ChaseWells Fargo. Also transfer to Qatar and then to BA with: Citi.

Iberia Avios

  • The short story: Iberia Plus offers a distance-based award chart that matches British Airways. However, since they don't allow changes or cancellations on American Airlines awards, you're probably better off booking via British Airways
  • Miles required: From 11K miles each way depending on distance. No fuel surcharges on American Airlines. See our Avios Complete Guide for a full award chart.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at iberia.com. Use the Advanced Avios Search tool.
  • How to book awards: Book online at iberia.com. Use the Advanced Avios Search tool.
  • Key warnings: Most Iberia partner bookings, including those on American Airlines, are completely nonrefundable and can not be changed. Because of that policy and the fact that Iberia's chart for American Airlines flights now matches the British Airways chart for the same flights, you're probably better off booking via BA. Only book AA flights with Iberia if plans are certain.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Chase, Wells Fargo. Also transfer to BA and then to Iberia with: Capital One, Citi

Virgin Atlantic

  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic offers distance-based pricing for award flights on Delta flights, which can be beneficial in some situations (particularly very short itineraries). Since Virgin Atlantic partners with most major transferable currencies, it is very easy to put together the miles for an award.
  • Miles required: From 45K each way in business class on the shortest Delta flights to South America (e.g. Atlanta to Cartagena). See the distance bands here and use a tool like gcmap.com to calculate distance between airports.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at VirginAtlantic.com. Keep in mind that it may not always correlate to the lowest pricing on Delta.com.
  • How to book awards: Book online at VirginAtlantic.com.
  • Key warnings: The Virgin Atlantic website can be a bit finicky to deal with. See How to book Delta flights with Virgin Atlantic miles for more info.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Chase, Citi, Marriott

Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spot: Africa

Probably the best use for Chase Ultimate Rewards in terms of flights from the US to Africa is using the Excursionist Perk on United (in order to pick up a free one-way within Africa).

Air Canada Aeroplan

  • The short story: Air Canada Aeroplan includes Africa in its "Atlantic" zone, meaning that the award pricing range matches that to Europe and you could even add a stopover in Europe en route to Africa for 5K additional miles one-way. Lap infants are just 2,500 miles.
  • Miles required: Ranges from 60K to 110K in business class based on distance (add 5K miles for a stopover). First class ranges from 90K-140K one way. Add 5,000 miles for a stopover on a one-way. See more chart information here.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AirCanada.com (you’ll need to create a free Aeroplan frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirCanada.com. Can also book via phone. Lap infants must be added to your reservation over the phone.
  • Fuel surcharges: Aeroplan no longer adds fuel surcharges to awards.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Chase, Bilt Rewards, Capital One, Marriott

Air France/KLM Flying Blue

  • The short story: Monthly Flying Blue Promo Awards can sometimes offer excellent value between the US and Europe and Flying Blue considers several countries located in North Africa to be part of its "Europe" pricing model (including Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, and the Canary Islands). Once in Africa, keep Flying Blue in mind for intra-Africa awards on Kenya Airways.
  • Miles required: Varies. Economy class awards to Europe (including those North African countries listed above) are often available from as low as 10K-15K one way during Promo Rewards sales from select airports.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone or app.
  • Key warnings: Flying Blue does add fuel surcharges, though they are often reasonable.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy, Wells Fargo.

United

  • The short story: United offers a benefit called the “Excursionist Perk”, which gives you a free one-way within a single region when your travel begins and ends in the same region. See: Leveraging the United Excursionist Perk to save miles for some ideas and Maximizing (and understanding) United Excursionist perks. United partners with Egypt Air, South African, and Ethiopian, as well as a number of European partners that serve Africa, which should give you ample opportunity to take advantage of the Excursionist perk.
  • Miles required: 80K miles each way in business class.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at United.com
  • Key warnings: United has eliminated its award chart, but partner flights have mostly remained at previous levels. One exception is that flights within 21 days of departure now cost 3K extra miles for a total of 83K each way in business class in this case.

Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots: Australia / New Zealand / Oceania

Air Canada Aeroplan

  • The short story: Aeroplan's Oceania region includes Australia, New Zealand and Eastern Asia. While award pricing to Oceania is on the high side, members can now book a stopover in eastern Asia en route to Australia or New Zealand for 5K additional miles one-way. Lap infants are now just $25 CAD or 2,500 miles per direction (far cheaper than what most programs charge).
  • Miles required: 55K-115K each way in business class or 90K-140K each way in fist class from North America to the Pacific zone, though practically for most North America-based flyers, distance bands start at 75K / 115K each way. See more detail here.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Aeroplan.com (you’ll need to create a free Aeroplan frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Aeroplan.com. Can also book via phone. Lap infants must be added to your reservation over the phone.
  • Fuel Surcharges: Aeroplan no longer charges fuel surcharges on partner award tickets.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards (coming in 2021), Capital One, Marriott

Air France/KLM Flying Blue

  • The short story: Air France has one of the few ways to get to Tahiti nonstop from the US with its nonstop flight from Los Angeles to Papeete, Tahiti. Variable pricing means that it isn't always a great deal, but if you hit a transfer bonus and/or need to combine points from different programs to book an award (or just find it offered at a good price), this can be a great option.
  • Miles required: Varies, but starts in the 60Ks one way in business class. Keep in mind that connecting on Delta to get to/from Los Angeles can increase the price substantially, so you may be better off booking a separate positioning flight to Los Angeles.
  • How to find awards: Use AirFrance.us to search and book (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search).
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone or app when the website returns errors.
  • Key warnings: Air France's website is buggy and will often return errors when trying to complete a booking. If that happens, try calling. Note that Air France does pass along surcharges which come to a couple hundred bucks each way on this route.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy, Wells Fargo.

British Airways Avios

  • The short story: British Airways offers an award chart for travel on a single partner and a lesser-known chart for travel on two partners. That second chart could save you some Avios if you were to mix AA and Qantas for example.
  • Miles required: From around 200K "round trip" in business class from most US cities (can vary based on distance). See the mixed partner chart along with an excellent explanation for how to leverage it here. In short, you could turn this into a multi-stop, multi-carrier journey and the number of miles required will vary some but be less than booking separately via British Airways
  • How to find awards: Search for available space on each segment separately at britishairways.com.
  • How to book awards: Book over the phone at 1 800 452 1201. According to Head for Points, there isn’t a clear methodology for pricing mixed-cabin awards. I suspect some agents may be less well versed in this mixed chart.
  • Key warnings: This secondary chart would save miles over the single-carrier chart, which would price a one-way to Australia at 154K one-way assuming a single carrier and single segment (add more for additional segments). However, as this is a lesser-known chart, some agents may not be well versed in using it. Be prepared to hang up and call again. Furthermore, the British Airways site sometimes shows phantom award space for AA (see: Phantom menace: an award search time suck). You may want to double-check Qantas.com for availability before transferring to British Airways Executive Club for American flights.
  • Transfer fromAmex, BiltCapital One, ChaseWells Fargo. Also transfer to Qatar and then to BA with: Citi.

United

  • The short story: United gives you access to Star Alliance and has more lenient routing rules than many other programs. For instance, you could fly via Canada, China, or South Korea, giving you access to more availability (although still somewhat limited).
  • Miles required: From 80K miles each way in business class on United; 90K each way in business class on partners
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at United.com
  • Key warnings: United has eliminated its award chart, so we see highly variable pricing for award tickets. The $75 close-in booking fee for flights departing within the next 21 days reduces the value of United miles for bookings near departure, though beginning November 15, 2019 some elite members will no longer be charged that fee.

Virgin Atlantic (Air New Zealand)

  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic offers good deals for Air New Zealand premium cabin flights if you can actually find availability.
  • Miles required: 45K each way for business class to/from Hawaii, 45K each way in business class from the "South Pacific" to Los Angeles, 62.5K each way in business class from New Zealand to North or South America
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com (I believe that Air New Zealand space does not show up at VirginAtlantic.com)
  • How to book awards: Book over the phone with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately (i.e. an itinerary with a single connection will cost 25K miles), so they are not a good choice for connecting itineraries. Furthermore, Air New Zealand business class award space is extremely rare.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots: Chase Travel

One final way to get decent value out of Chase points is to use them to book travel through the Chase Travel Portal, at least if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) card. That’s because the CSR offers you 1.5 cents per point when using your points to book travel. Advantages here include ease and selection (since you aren’t limited by award availability). The key disadvantage is that you won’t get beyond the 1.5cpp mark…but if it saves you points and works that looks like a win.

Keep in mind though that when booking travel through Chase Travel there are some potential pitfalls. When booking hotels, you won’t have access to some discount rates you may otherwise be able to utilize (like AAA rates, special member rates, etc) and you potentially miss out on shopping portal rewards. When booking flights, irregular operations (flight cancellations or significant delays) can be complicated since you’ll need to work through Chase to resolve issues and use future flight credits.

Bottom line

Chase Ultimate Rewards are a great currency to collect because they offer a nice range of partners and sweet spots. In our opinion, the factor that makes their value stand out is the ability to get a good return for your points whether booking flights or hotels, which gives you the opportunity to cherry-pick the best values. Again, check out our Chase Ultimate Rewards Complete Guide for more detail on earning and burning Chase Ultimate Rewards.

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[…] NEW: Best Uses of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. […]

Josh

The UR saver points for Asia has significantly changed so I think you guys need to update them.

Last edited 1 day ago by Josh
Tim Steinke

Sorry, which UR? Do you mean United?

Josh

Sorry my bad.I meant United.

chris

UR points is a great ecosystem, I use them to top things off when I am booking award flights. The Points + cash rates I have found to be very low value, so I use UR points to transfer to book all points for a good value

Art_Czar

Like most folks, the majority of my UR points transfer to Hyatt. On occasion I’ve transferred to Virgin, when I’d rather use my MR points for Avianca or ANA & C1 for Turkish (atleast until a few months ago) prior to their major devaluation.
M&P enthusiasts constantly reevaluate their transfer options depending on perceived value and award availability in various transfer partners. Diversification and flexibility are key to playing this game.

Troy

please update to include 70EUR change/cxl fee for Air France (it’s listed as free in the first mention and not mentioned elsewhere).

Tim Steinke

Thanks, that shouldn’t be in there. Fixed.

Mantis

Top 3 best uses for UR:
1. Hyatt
2. Hyatt
3. Hyatt

Use your MR, TYP, and C1 points for airlines, UR are for Hyatt.

Lee

Let’s be honest about Chase.

1. Hyatt is the only *unique* transfer partner of substantial value that Chase has. Based on “of substantial value,” for most, it makes no sense to transfer UR points to SW or United. If Hyatt goes to system-wide dynamic pricing, which it might, Chase becomes undifferentiated as to transfer partners.

2. As a points ecosystem, earn rates are inferior to others. The only meaningful *ongoing* source of points is Ink SUBs. To be fair, that is Chase’s saving grace and perhaps that’s enough.

3. Regarding the travel protections on the CSR, I’d rather buy an independent annual travel insurance policy with the same coverage(s) and have the ability to use a superior earn-rate card.

(I have a substantial business relationship with Chase, which works absolutely fine. Just trying to offer an honest assessment. So, I’m not a Chase troll.)

GemGal

Fully agree. Particularly point #2. The Chase and Hyatt fan club has dominated the P&M community…I don’t mind as that leaves the other options (which are better IMO) less in-demand. Seems that the tides are shifting now though…

Lee

For me, Hyatt’s geographic footprint has not been a fit. It has properties in London but not Mayfair. It has properties in LA but not West LA or Beverly Hills. Etc., etc. Hyatt has always been a compromise in location. For others, Hyatt is absolutely fine. “London” works. “LA” works.

GemGal

Same, and in contrast I always find a Hilton, usually several options, wherever I travel

Snake River

To your three assertions:

1. No question that a Chase/Hyatt breakup or a serious devaluation by Hyatt would have a huge impact on the value of UR points. That said, I can play that game with any transferable points systems. If you’re a Globalist and can generate substantial UR points, the value is unmatched when applying a TSU to a points reservation. I’m well aware that Hyatt could get nerfed, as I lived through the collapse in value of Marriott’s program. It could all change tomorrow, but I’ve stayed in suites in Tokyo, Bali, Park City and San Diego in the last year.

2. I guess, but I just signed up for a Freedom Flex card that offers 10x UR points on $12K of grocery spend. I’m also working on a Freedom Unlimited that offers 6x on restaurants and drugstores for the first year. I’m very familiar with the Inks via Ink Plus and Ink Cash and they are also valuable for sure. My point is that there are a great many ways to earn UR.

3. I will probably dump CSR this year and sign up for CSP. Unless it’s an unusually expensive trip, I don’t use travel insurance. If I really need it from a card, I have the Chase RC. (As an aside, the RC is the only card I know where the value proposition has improved or at least not declined as rapidly as other cards.)

Your point about inferior spending multiples on CSR is well taken.

P F

KLM apps/websites have been unusable with little help. I suppose one has to resort to calling for reservations? Anyone have any luck with their app or website?

Greg The Frequent Miler

Try AirFrance.us instead

Samuel L Bronkowitz

Business class is domestic first class in the article? ….Si or No….I am so confused..

Pam

I have burned thru a ton of URs over the last 2 yrs on CSR Pay Yourself Back for dining. No other program or bank offers that kind of discount on a pricey category for many. AND still earn 3x on the original purchase, a better redemption than the travel portal where not the case.

Lee

There is a practical challenge when trying to use BA Avios for a redemption on AA. Either AA does not release award inventory to partners or BA simply can’t see AA award inventory that has been released. Workaround?

Mantis

I haven’t transfered my UR to any partner except Hyatt since they lost Korean air as a partner. UR go to Hyatt, MR for F/J intl, and travel credits/GC’s/skymiles for domestic.

Seth

One small correction for the Singapore Krisflyer sweet spots: Transfers to Singapore KrisFlyer from Amex are now instant.

[…] adding Australia / New Zealand / Oceania sweet spots to our Amex Membership Rewards sweet spots and Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots posts today as […]

Blue

Expedia portal for hotels is SO much better than the old one. My main use of UR now.