Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots

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When I ask readers about their favorite award currency, Chase Ultimate Rewards is often a #1 pick. That’s true 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, but rather the ones where you’ll find easy value. See also our Complete Guide to Chase Ultimate Rewards for everything you need to know about earning and burning these valuable points.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots: Hotels
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, a Marriott property (which is a Chase transfer partner)
Note that this post has been updated significantly given the many award chart changes that have occurred since it was originally published and in light of the recently increased bonuses on many credit cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points in order to provide an up-to-date reference as to the best values you can chase with those points.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots: Hotels

The area in which Chase truly shines over others is its best hotel partner: Hyatt. Chase has three hotel program transfer partners, but Hyatt is widely considered to be the best hotel transfer program in existence 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 generally make more sense to cash out your Ultimate Rewards points for cash and buy the IHG or Marriott points you need.

To illustrate that point, consider that IHG is a 1:1 transfer partner. You could therefore transfer 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points to IHG and end up with 50,000 IHG points. Alternatively, you could redeem 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points for $500 in cash. IHG frequently sells points for 0.5c per point. When that happens, you could use your $500 in cash to buy 100,000 IHG points — ending up with twice as many IHG points by buying them on sale rather than transferring. This is why we generally don’t recommend transferring to IHG. Though less frequently than IHG, Marriott also often sells points for less than 1c per point.

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.

Hyatt
  • 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. Further, Hyatt partners with Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which offers even more high-end properties that can be booked for reasonable values using points.
  • Miles required: Hyatt’s award chart ranges from 3.5K points per night (off-peak Category 1) to 45K points per night (peak Category 8). Cash & points nights require half the points and approximately half the nightly room rate. Furthermore, points can be used to book club rooms and suites — even premium suites. The ability to book standard suites and premium suites using a set number of points is unique to Hyatt and can sometimes yield tremendous value. See the full award chart here.
  • How to find awards: Search for availability at Hyatt.com by checking the box that says “Use points”.
  • How to book awards: Book standard rooms, club rooms, and suites using points online at Hyatt.com. To apply upgrade instruments earned through Milestone Rewards (suite upgrades or club access awards), you will need to call or contact the Twitter team.
  • Key warnings: One great use of Hyatt points can be to first transfer Ultimate Rewards 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 Ultimate Rewards 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.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots: Domestic US flights

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

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.
United
  • The short story: United offers domestic one-way awards for as few as 5K miles each way (and has had occasional flash sales dip as low as 3K miles each way) and offers expanded availability to credit card holders and elite members.
  • Miles required: From 5K miles each way plus $5.60 for the cheapest saver-level domestic economy class awards.
  • 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.
British Airways Avios
  • The short story: British Airways offers a distance-based award chart that can be useful for short direct flights on American Airlines.
  • Miles required: 7.5K Avios each way plus $5.60 for economy-class segments covering up to 650 miles flown. Segments covering up to 1,151 miles flown cost 9K Avios each way or segments up to 2,000 miles flown cost 11,000 Avios each way.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at britishairways.com.
  • How to book awards: Book online at britishaiways.com
  • 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) and at other times they show no award space at all on American Airlines. You may want to double-check Qantas.com for availability before transferring to British Airways Executive Club.
Iberia Avios

Iberia used to offer some advantages over British Airways for booking short connecting itineraries on American Airlines. However, they changed their award chart during the pandemic to match the British Airways chart. Given that most partner awards booked through Iberia are completely nonrefundable, you’re better off booking via British Airways.

Southwest
  • The short story: Southwest points are typically only worth a bit less than 1.5c towards the cost of a flight, but award bookings are very flexible since they can be changed or canceled with no fee up until shortly before departure.
  • Miles required: Varies by route but can be as cheap as less than 2K miles each way.
  • 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.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots: Hawaii

While saver business class awards to Hawaii can be difficult to find (and even rarer in lie-flat seats), Chase has transfer partners that offer good value when these flights are available. Southwest is again an honorable mention since you might value the flexibility and/or find a good deal from the West Coast.

Singapore KrisFlyer
  • The short story: Singapore KrisFlyer partners with both United Airlines and Alaska Airlines and charges fewer miles for domestic flights to Hawaii than United or Alaska does for the same flights.
  • Miles required:
    • United
      • 17.5K miles each way in economy or 34.5K in business (as compared to 22.5K / 40K through United for “saver” awards at historical rates)
    • Alaska
      • 13K or 13.5K miles each way in economy from most western states to Hawaii in economy (business/first class pricing is not competitive)
  • How to find awards: Search for available space on United at at SingaporeAir.com (See: Book United flights online with Singapore miles – but note that business class prices have increased since that post was written). Search for Alaska space that is available at AA.com or BritishAirways.com and call Singapore to book it.
  • How to book awards: Book online at SingaporeAir.com or over the phone with Singapore KrisFlyer
  • 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 award. Be aware that United.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 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.
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 15K in economy or 52.5K in business.
  • 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.
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: 13K 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 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) or not show space that should be bookable. You may want to double-check Qantas.com for availability before transferring to British Airways Executive Club for American flights.
Southwest
  • The short story: Southwest points are typically only worth a bit less than 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.
  • 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.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots: Europe

Chase has Virgin for Delta and Air France which can be good for promo awards. United may also be a good choice for Star Alliance awards as noted below.

Virgin Atlantic

Often (though not always) one of the easier sweet spots to book, Virgin is a great option for nonstop Delta flights to Europe.

  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic often offers Delta flights for many fewer miles than Delta would charge for the same itineraries. This can be a particularly good value for Delta’s life-flat routes to Europe and availability is often surprisingly good. While Virgin Atlantic changed most Delta awards to a distance-based award chart in early 2021, they have maintained the old zone-based pricing for Delta flights to/from Europe.
  • Miles required: 50K miles each way in business class (for direct flights) between the US and Europe (excluding the UK, which as a separate chart).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at VirginAtlantic.com. See: Book Delta with Virgin Atlantic miles online! (again).
  • 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. Note that taxes on flights originating in Europe can be high, but are only $5.60 when originating in the US. Some major European airports are not loaded into Virgin Atlantic’s website, so you may have to call to check availability / book.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy

Iberia

Potentially the cheapest deal on miles, Iberia is one you shouldn’t ignore if you can fly direct from one of their Eastern US gateways to Spain.

  • 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.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership RewardsChase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy

Air Canada Aeroplan

Aeroplan has increased award rates but also increased the size of award regions and added the ability to add a stopover on a one-way award for 5,000 miles.

  • The short story: Aeroplan significantly changed its award chart for travel between North America and Europe in 2020. As a result, flights to Europe became more expensive, though the same "Atlantic" region now includes 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 now 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

Flying Blue doesn’t have a set award chart, but their monthly Promo Rewards often make it possible to fly to Europe in business class for 45K miles or less. It can also be a great program for those traveling with children given the 25% discount on long-haul awards.

  • 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 the "normal" price to Europe is around 60K one way in business class. 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 Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Brex Cash, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy

United

United doesn’t offer the most competitive mileage pricing to Europe, but they do have the most user-friendly website experience and they do not pass on fuel surcharges, which can make them an option to consider if you have a lot of United miles.

  • The short story: United charges a relatively large number of miles for business class flights between the US and Europe (~70K), but the lack of fuel surcharges can be a major advantage for booking partners like Lufthansa. 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: 70K 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 we may eventually see many different prices for award tickets.
  • Transfer from: Chase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy

Chase Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots: Asia

While Virgin Atlantic stands out as the hands-down best value here, United also has a lot of partners in the region and Singapore gets a nod because of its expanded availability for KrisFlyer members.

Air Canada Aeroplan

During our 3 Cards 3 Continents challenge, I showed just how far the Air Canada award chart can be stretched for awards between the US and Asia. See: Nick’s 6-country, 5-airline Air Canada Aeroplan award ticket.

  • The short story: Aeroplan offers decent pricing for awards to and from Asia, but the real value in the program is now the ability to add a stopover on a one-way award for 5,000 additional miles, making it possible to combine two destinations on one award. The Pacific Zone includes most of Eastern Asia and also Australia and New Zealand. 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).
  • 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.
  • No fuel surcharges on: Aeroplan no longer charges fuel surcharges.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Capital One, Marriott

Virgin Atlantic (for ANA)
  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic offers incredible value for ANA first class between the US and Japan (and decent value for business class).
  • Miles required: 110K / 120K round trip for first class between the US West Coast / US East Coast and Japan or 90K / 95K miles in business class
  • How to find awards: Search United.com to find ANA partner award space.
  • How to book awards: Call Virgin Atlantic Flying Club at 1 800 365 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, though total taxes and fees are still quite reasonable (about $270 round trip at the time of writing).
  • Transfer fromAmex, Chase, Citi, Marriott

Virgin Atlantic (for Delta)
  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic used to offer very competitive pricing for Delta business class between the US and Asia. Unfortunately, in early 2021 Virgin Atlantic moved to a distance-based award chart which has increased prices dramatically. They may still offer better pricing than Delta does and in some cases you may find six or more seats available in business class, so this can be a useful option for those looking to fly many 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 1 800 365 9500.
  • Key warnings: Virgin Atlantic charges each segment separately, so this award is best for direct flights.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Chase, Citi, Marriott

United
  • The short story: United business class for 70K each way and allows the mixing of partners and cabins, which adds more possible awards given its number of partners in Asia.
  • Miles required: 70K 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, so we may eventually see many different prices 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.
  • Transfer from: Chase, Marriott

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: 95K / 99K from the West Coast / East Coast to Singapore in business class or 130K / 132K 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 not instant. Transfers typically take 12-24 hours (from all major transferable currencies) and Singapore does not hold award tickets. Waitlisted itineraries that do not clear by 14 days prior to departure will get canceled.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Capital One, Chase, Citi, Marriott

Chase Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots: 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 from: Amex, Chase, Capital One, Marriott

Southwest
  • The short story: Southwest points are typically only worth about 1.5c towards the cost of a flight, but certain taxes aren’t charged on award tickets which can make for a redemption value as high as 1.9 cents per point to some Latin American destinations.
  • Miles required: Varies by route.
  • 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.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots: Africa

The only real Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spot in terms of flights from the US to Africa is United if you are able to take advantage of the Excursionist Perk (therefore picking up a free one-way within Africa). Speaking of one-ways in Africa, British Airways Avios can be useful for booking Comair to travel within southern Africa.

Air Canada Aeroplan
  • The short story: 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. See more chart information 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 adds fuel surcharges to awards.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Capital One, Marriott

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 thus far 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.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots: Australia / New Zealand / Oceania

Air Canada Aeroplan
  • The short story: Aeroplan significantly changed its award chart for travel between North America and Oceania in 2020. Oceania is now included in the same region as Eastern Asia. While awards to Oceania mostly increased in price, 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

British Airways Avios

In this case, British Airways Avios are better than Iberia or Aer Lingus 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 from: Amex, Chase, Capital One, Marriott

United

The keys here are lenient routing rules and more options via Star Alliance.

  • The short story: United gives you access to Star Alliance and has more lenient routing rules than others, meaning you could fly via Canada, China, or South Korea for instance, giving you access to more availability (albeit 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 may eventually see many highly variable prices for award tickets, though we are told that the variable award pricing will not apply to partner awards (only awards on United metal). 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 for Delta
  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic used to offer a decent sweet spot for Delta flights to Oceania. Unfortunately, they changed to a distance-based award chart in early 2021 and prices have since skyrocketed. This option is only worth considering if you need multiple seats as Virgin sometimes has access to multiple seats on Delta flights (though availability is often tough to find to/from Oceania)
  • Miles required: 165K miles each way in business class on routes of 6,000 miles or more (from the mainland US to Oceania), which makes this a relatively poor value.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at VirginAtlantic.com. See the distance bands here and use a tool like gcmap.com to calculate distance between airports.
  • 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.

Virgin Atlantic for Air New Zealand

Finding this award space in premium cabins is roughly as likely as being struck by lighting eight times in one day. And surviving. But the price is right if you find it.

  • The short story: Virgin Atlantic also 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 :ps 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 Portal

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 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 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 the Chase Travel portal 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, keep in mind that 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.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots: Bottom line

Chase Ultimate Rewards are a great currency to collect because they offer a nice range of partners and sweet spots. In my 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.

For sweet spots in other programs, see:

Amex Membership Rewards sweet spots

Citi ThankYou points sweet spots

Marriott Bonvoy airline partner sweet spots

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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.

pwd847

I think your BA miles required may be off for domestic flights. When I price out CMI-DFW it is 692 miles and costs 9000 Avios.

JamesD

Does anyone know if you use Virgin Atlantic miles on Delta what the seat selection process is? Can you pick a seat? Can you purchase an Economy+ type seat like you can on United? Don’t have any experience on either airline, thanks.

[…] previously published guides to American Express Membership Rewards sweet spots, Chase Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots, and Citi ThankYou points sweet spots to highlight the many great award options for travel between […]

[…] month, we published guides to both Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots and Citi ThankYou points sweet spots. Somehow, despite having previously published my arguments […]

[…] Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots […]

Andy

“The short story: United business class for 70K each way and allows the mixing of partners and cabins, which adds more possible awards given its number of partners in Asia.”

I know United doesn’t publish a chart any more, but the last iteration of their chart had 70k/75k (North/South Asia) for United flights only and 80k/90k for partners. I think the pricing is still the same. I checked SFO-HKG on a partner and saw 90k for business saver.

You also have United listed as 70k to Africa in business, probably because the old chart had 70k for United flights to Africa in business and 80k for partners. Only thing is, United operates exactly zero flights to Africa, so if you’re going there with their miles, you’re using a partner. So 80k is really the price you’ll pay for Africa in business.

[…] Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots:  I love learning about sweet spots, as they allow us to save points on travel awards.  There are a lot of options with these points, but here are some that are worthwhile. […]

Matt

Bookmarked, thanks

[…] your travel plans, this winter could be a great time to visit. In this morning’s post about Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots, I noted that Virgin Atlantic is a good sweet spot for travel to Asia. However, thanks to the […]

Renzhen

Nick, just yesterday I tried booking in Iberia for as awards, and none came out while British and qantas all showed availability all right. Iberia kept error for obvious as awards. Can you try it out? Hope I didn’t miss anything. Thanks

renzhen

Nick, thanks for the hint. Sorry my phone mistyped AA to as. I tried again. It did not even work for ORD to MIA some simply AA awards, but works for other BA awards or Iberia’s own award flight.

Kiwii

What about the middle east?

Nick

I believe you listed the Krisflyer miles required for premium economy/biz instead of biz/first. I think it should say “95K / 99K from the West Coast / East Coast to Singapore in business class or 130K / 132K in first class”

Jags

Just FYI Amex has 3 hotel partners: Hilton, Marriott, and Choice. I have found when you can nab a Hilton 30% to 50% transfer bonus which run pretty frequently you can do as well as you can with Hyatt points, especially considering you get 5th night free if you are silver (which is of course easily obtainable with a fee free AMEX Hilton card)

[…] Read full article: frequentmiler.com […]

Christian

If you decide you want to transfer to a hotel partner to book an award room at a specific hotel, I would recommend searching for that hotel via Chase Travel BEFORE you transfer the points to see what the points rates for the rooms are there. I have on more than one occasion planned to transfer to Hyatt for a redemption and found that via the travel booking I could use less points for the same room than if I transferred the points to Hyatt and booked an award via Word of Hyatt.

James

Just remember that Chase portal bookings don’t count for status. That means that if you have status:
– No globalist lounge/free breakfast
– No free parking
– No waived resort fees
– No quarterly bonus (like the 1,000/1,500 point bonus that just ended)
– Doesn’t count towards the nightly status

I find that any time there’s a good Chase portal rate, I can just pay cash and save more with the member rate / corporate rate. And if it’s a nicer hotel, consider using prive for additional benefits.

Christian

All true and should be considered however I would think that most people looking to transfer UR to Hyatt likely will not be a Hyatt elite or they would have enough points based on their stay activity.

Larry

My Hyatt elite status is primarily based on free nights and points earned from Chase UR and Hyatt cards. 47 nights so far this year which includes at least 10 from the Hyatt CC.

Frank

@James, do you get any Hyatt points if you use the Chase portal for the booking, even if you add your Hyatt number to the reservation?

Blue

Yes, but it also includes a ton of independent places.

Jacinto

Thank you for the very well organized layout of your article. I presume that you will also do a similar write up of Amex MRs. For those of us that have several points currencies, another way to organize the same information would be by destination. For example, an article about Europe, listing the airline sweet spots for URs, MRs, TYPs. An article about South America listing hotel sweet spots for URs, MRs, TYPs.