Via the Points Guy, starting January 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards will be adding Southwest Rapid Rewards as a transfer partner.
Those are the points you earn with Chase Sapphire Preferred and the small business equivalent, Ink Bold Charge Card with Ultimate Rewards.
This isn’t a surprise, Chase has basically set up Ultimate Rewards as their go-to program, with the ability to transfer points to all of the programs that the bank issues co-branded rewards cards with.
Their points transfer to United, Continental, Korean, British Airways, and in a few weeks Southwest for airline programs.
They transfer to Hyatt, Marriott, and Priority Club for hotels. And they also transfer to Amtrak.
Which means that Ultimate Rewards-earning cards are generally speaking better than the individual airline or hotel co-branded cards. There are a handful of benefits which will distinguish the particular co-branded card, such as free checked bags with United’s Explorer card. But on the whole the flexibility of Ultimate Rewards points can’t be beat.
Take the Hyatt Visa. I use that card at Hyatt properties for 3 points per dollar. But Chase Sapphire Preferred offers two points per dollar on all travel spend. I’d use Chase Sapphire Preferred at a Priority Club hotel even over the Priority Club Visa. And since Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Hyatt or to United, etc. one Ultimate Reward point is worth more than one Hyatt point. After all, it can be transferred to Hyatt if you wish, or you have the flexibility to do something else with it.
And I especially like to see Chase adding partners to Ultimate Rewards, because it’s a sign of the investment they’re making in the program. They’ve leveraged their myriad of airline and hotel program partnership to build the first real rival to American Express Membership Rewards (and to some extent Starwood Preferred Guest, which partners with American Express for its credit card) in terms of flexibility.
What’s more, Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to anyone you wish, you enter the name and account number at checkout. (This feature is similar to American Express Membership Rewards, though Amex offers this only informally, it works on their website but if you were to call they would tell you that points transfer only to other cardholders on the account, another win for Chase). And points trnasfer instantly, too.
Notably, the Points Guy observes that points transferred to Southwest will not count towards the airline’s “companion pass” benefit, a possible signal that Southwest plans to clamp down on earning companion passes via credit card bonuses going forward. (Some folks will want to jump on their Southwest credit card signup bonuses sooner rather than later as a result.)
Now, if you do decide to get one of these cards and you are kind enough to use one of my links, Chase will provide me a referral credit. You don’t have to use my links of course, but they’re for the best offers I’m aware of and I do appreciate it.