Best Ways To Use Chase Ultimate Rewards Points By Region: Introduction [2018]

In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Please check out my advertiser policy for further details about our partners, including American Express, Capital One, Chase, and Citi, and thanks for your support!

We’ve received a ton of positive feedback on our Best Ways To Use Membership Rewards series so I’ve decided to dive into the Chase Ultimate Rewards program as well. As with the American Express series, I’ll be breaking this up into regions.

Introduction
Domestic (Including Hawaii)
Europe
Asia
Australia & New Zealand
Middle East & India
Africa
South America
Caribbean, Central America, & Mexico


How much are Ultimate Rewards points worth?

Our current points valuation considers Chase Ultimate Rewards points to be worth 1.7 cents each. Now, the value of your points will very much be determined by how you choose to redeem them so they could easily be worth more.

However, Chase makes it easy to determine the lowest value you should get from your bookings.

If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can use your points in the Ultimate Rewards travel portal at 1.5 cents each — often a solid way to book international economy flights. If you have either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, your points are worth 1.25 cents each in the Chase travel portal.

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners

Something I like about the Chase Ultimate Rewards program is that points transfer to all airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio. This is a solid transfer rate and the consistency prevents any confusion.

Chase currently has nine(ish) airline partners which can help you reach almost anywhere in the world. When the partnership with Korean Air ends later this week, there will technically be eight, but as you can freely move points between Aer Lingus AerClub, British Airways Executive Club, and Iberia Plus, there are effectively six.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Partners

Unlike Amex Membership Rewards, you might actually want to take advantage of one of Chase’s 4 hotel partners.

Specifically, the World of Hyatt program can provide some great redemption options. The other hotel programs have redemption rates that rarely make it worth transferring points. Often, you’ll be better off using the Chase travel portal if you want to use Ultimate Rewards points to book.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotel Partners

Ultimate Rewards points often transfer to its partners instantly, but that’s not always the case. If the transfers aren’t instant, just keep in mind that award space could be scooped up by someone else while you wait.

Ultimate Rewards Transfer PartnerTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aer Lingus Aer Club1000 : 1000Instant
Air France KLM FlyingBlue1000 : 1000Instant
British Airways Executive Club1000 : 1000Instant
Iberia Plus1000 : 1000Instant
JetBlue TrueBlue1000 : 1000Instant
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1000 : 1000~ 12 to 24 hours
Southwest Rapid Rewards1000 : 1000Instant
United MileagePlus1000 : 1000Instant
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1000 : 1000Instant
IHG Rewards Club1000 : 1000~ 1 to 2 days
Marriott Rewards1000 : 1000~ 1 to 2 days
Ritz-Carlton Rewards1000 : 1000~ 1 to 2 days
World Of Hyatt1000 : 1000Instant

Know before you transfer

When transferring points to airline partners, make sure you know if they will require you to foot the bill for fuel (re. carrier-imposed) surcharges and, if so, how much they will be. If you book international flights with British Airways Executive Club, Korean Air SkyPass, Singapore KrisFlyer or Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, there’s a decent chance you’ll see some steep surcharges.

While Singapore Airlines won’t impose surcharges on its own flights, it will on partners flights if the partner airline includes them. British Airways is notorious for imposing surcharges on its own flights as well as partners. With Korean Air, it varies a bit but you can expect steep surcharges on partner awards to regions such as Europe and Africa.

Virgin Atlantic is an interesting case as it’s not part of a major airline alliance. You’ll see steep surcharges on its own flights and some partners such as Air China but not on others — Air New Zealand.

While this is just a quick snapshot of the surcharge situation, I’ll dive into some of the details you need to know in each part of this series.

Please don’t throw away your points

With so many great ways to use Ultimate Rewards points just waiting for you, I hate seeing them go to waste. While I know Chase likes to offer you the amazing opportunity to redeem your points for cash or gift cards, just trash those email offers without a thought.

Cashing your points in like this will mean each point is worth 1 cent. Even if you just redeemed your points through the Chase travel portal at 1.25 or 1.5 cents per point, you’d be getting a much better value for them.

If you’re not into travel, maybe that makes sense for you but, let’s be honest, you wouldn’t be here if travel weren’t a priority for you.

I mentioned this earlier, but it’s important. Transferring Ultimate Rewards points to hotel partners other than World of Hyatt is generally a poor decision. The number of points required by Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and IHG requires per night is generally going to make these transfers a poor use of points — there are of course exceptions for specific circumstances — but as a general rule the value just isn’t comparable.

If you want a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points

I don’t want to overstate this but, if you’re new to the world of miles and points, Chase Ultimate Rewards should be your starting point. Not only are the points valuable because of airline partners and hotel partners (re. World of Hyatt), but even the Chase travel portal can provide some good value.

Of course, Chase also has the 5/24 rule which would prevent you from getting cards that Ultimate Rewards points later. I see no reason to skip Chase and miss out on tons of Ultimate Rewards points.

Whether you’re looking for a personal card or business card, I’d give Chase a look and start earning Ultimate Rewards first. Starting with either the Chase Sapphire Reserve®Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card gives you the most flexibility in your redemptions, and you can always add a no annual fee card in later.

Bottom line

The Chase Ultimate Rewards program provides one my favorite card lineups with cards that have great bonus categories to help you earn plenty of points — on top of the welcome bonuses. When you pair that with the ability to transfer points to airlines and hotels, it really is a well-rounded program and a great way to start your points journey.

In the following series, I’ll go through some great ways to use Ultimate Rewards points to book award flights to Hawaii (and within the contiguous U.S.), Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, India, Mexico, the Middle East, Africa and South America.

Thanks for joining for this journey into the Ultimate Rewards program. Please let me know what questions you have as we go!

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. Been waiting for my points to transfer to BA since last Friday. Chase has not been on my good side lately…

  2. I agree with a lot of your points but I earn my majority of UR points by getting 3x on travel or 5x at office supply stores so if I choose to redeem some for giftcards or cash back it’s still a great deal! For example I stay at Ritz Carlton on points then cash in 100k points for a thousand in giftcards at ritz Carlton ! That truly is a free stay since all incidentals are paid for ..

  3. Not sure if this would increase the scope of each section too much, but I’d love to hear about ways to not only fly to each region, but the best uses of points to fly/stay within each region. For example, instead of just displaying the best use of points to get to New Zealand, I’d love to be able to see any possible sweet spots for hopping around Oceania.

  4. After Domestic –> Hawaii, can we do Asia first and then Europe? Cause Asia is on the way after Hawaii …….. 🙂

  5. Lucky published an article in April that Korean transfers are no longer instant, as you’ve listed in your chart. He mentioned it could be 2-7 business days. I transferred some points to Korean on Sunday and they have yet to post.

  6. Hello! Would love a few articles from the point of view of maximizing award charts when based places other than the US! I’m moving to London next month and would love a couple pieces on “sweet spots” from there

  7. @Frank: while that’s fine, you’re missing the point on…points. There are two sides to every points equation: earning and redeeming. You are indeed getting a great earning rate at 3x and 5x. But you are getting the lowest possible value by just buying gift cards at a penny a point. For an easy example, let’s say your Ritz stay costs you $500/nt:

    100K points @ $.01/each for gift cards = 2 night stay
    100K points @ $.015/each through Chase Portal = 3 nights stay

    Don’t miss the second half of point value by focusing too hard on the first half. Be as studious with redemption as you are with earning.

  8. Yeah I was also going to point out that KE transfers are not instant. I dumped all of my UR points into my Skypass account last night. I would guess that there might be a bit of a backlog

  9. I don’t think that you are getting his point. By using points for his Ritz stay instead of his card, he misses out on getting the 3x/5x points for the stay. By spending cash ($500) he gets 1500/2500 points which he doesn’t get if he uses points. The value of that in gift cards is $15-$25. When figuring out whether or not spending your points on travel is a great value don’t forget about the opportunity cost.

    Or maybe he wasn’t meaning that, and I am reading into it…

  10. @[email protected],

    Excellent explanation!

    I can feel that you really want to help.

    Hopefully people will read your comment and learn from it how we can create a great community here at OMAAT!

  11. I understand @Vet&Banker’s point but that’s presuming we always want to get that first class flight or making the most of our miles (which makes sense.) The longer I’ve done this hobby, however, the more I focus on the earning part of the hobby. The redemption part really depends on my goals at the time and what I want to do. If I want a completely free vacation (meaning I won’t spend any cash) at the Ritz, I would have done the same thing Frank did.
    I also transferred the majority of my UR points to KE skypass a few days ago because I know I can earn UR points easily compared to the other transferable currencies SPG/Amex/Citi. I know some people warned me about a possible devaluation etc. but to me, the fact that KE skypass expires in 10 years was enough for me to know I’ll be good for the next 3 years redeeming KE skypass miles on skyteam first class flights.

  12. @Robert: if that $15 – $25 of points is outweighing the $500 of better redemption I don’t consider that a good value. If he needs the 2 nights for a stay to reach a valuable elite status then that might change the math, but that would be a relatively limited occurrence.

    @David: thanks. I want everyone to get as much from their points, however they choose to spend them, as possible.

    @Joey: I merely pointed out that he would also spend $0 using his Chase points, and get more value. There’s no cost for using the Chase value, and his points are worth maybe 50% more (with a premium card) through the portal than just gift cards. Focusing on earn is great, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get great value on each end. 🙂

  13. …unless he’s using some of his GCs for incidentals. At which point: buy small GCs for that, and redeem the lion’s share through the portal for more nights. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *