In an earlier post (you can read it here ), I went over the benefits of having the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) or the higher end Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) when paired with the Chase Freedom and/or Chase Freedom Unlimited. You are getting the same rewards currency (Ultimate Rewards Points) and you can combine the points into a single pot. When you combine them into the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve account, you now have the ability to transfer to airline and hotel partners. You can also use the points to book straight from Chase. In this post, I’ll demonstrate when you’re better off using the points to book straight from Chase and when you are better off using a transfer partner.
For this example, we’ll do a round trip from Chicago (ORD) to Honolulu (HNL) from October 2nd-October 9th. United is the only airline that flies this route non-stop from Chicago. If you’re sitting on 90,000 Ultimate Rewards points and assuming you have the CSR or CSP, these are your options:
- Book the trip with cash and avoid points altogether. This will cost you $913.40 per person
2. Book the trip straight from Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal.
If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, this will cost 60,893 points per person. (Your redemption is 1.5 cents of value per 1 point). If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, this will cost you ~73,000 points per person (Your redemption is 1.2 cents of value per 1 point).
3.Transfer Ultimate Rewards points to United’s MileagePlus frequent flier program on a 1:1 basis.
This redemption is only 45,000 United Miles per person. This is obviously the clear winner. By avoiding Chase and booking this trip via United MileagePlus, you saved yourself 15.9k -28k Ultimate Rewards points. The savings can now be used towards a future trip.
Here is an example when it is more advantageous to book from Chase’s portal rather than transferring the points into MileagePlus.
For this example, we’ll use a round trip itinerary from NYC (LGA) to Chicago (ORD) from October 17th-24th. Assuming we have sufficient Chase points, here are our options.
1.Book the trip with cash. This would cost $99 on American Airlines (that’s actually a really good deal paying with cash).
2. Use the Chase portal to book with Ultimate Rewards Points. Since we’re using Chase’s portal, we can use the points on any airline that’s listed. For this trip, American Airlines happens to be the cheapest redemption since they happen to have the cheapest airfare for this itinerary. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve (pictured below), 6,560 Ultimate Rewards points is all it takes for a round trip ticket. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you would still get an amazing round trip redemption of 7,872 points per person. Also keep in mind, when you use Ultimate Rewards points to make a redemption, these flights are eligible to earn miles. Just add in your American Advantage frequent flier number and you would earn miles for this trip. It’s free to sign up so you have nothing to lose.
3. Transfer the points into a Chase transfer partner such as United
For this itinerary, It would require us to transfer 25,000 points from Chase to United to book this trip via MileagePlus miles. Among the three options, this would be the worst. Booking with Chase we’re getting 1.5 cents of value per 1 point. With this redemption, you are only getting 0.4 cents per point. Unless you have elite status with United and you’re confident you’re going to get upgraded to first class, this is a redemption you should avoid. It will end up saving you ~18k+ UR points that you can use for something of greater value.
So, the take home message when redeeming UR points is check the redemption rates on Chase’s transfer partners as well as Chase’s portal itself. By doing so, you might save yourself hundreds of dollars in points.