Chase Ultimate Rewards Adding Southwest as a Points Transfer Partner

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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Hi Gary,

    I do value your blog and that is why I used the link for the Chase sapphire. I got approved so you should ge the associated referal bonus. I was wondering if you can disclose the $ earned on such referal and does the monthly average earned through referal is “substential”?
    Thank you in advance for your disclore

  2. Gary, do you make anything of the fact that KE participates in UR, but their US credit card is issued by US Bank? And do you think KE miles can be useful?

  3. @Tony I don’t know what sorts of averages to expect since I’ve only been signed up to do referrals for about 6 weeks. I’m contractually precluded from disclosing the amount per application, which I think is because they may credit different amounts to different websites. I hope that it will be substantial, which is to say I hope to be able to travel a bit more from the extra income, though it’s never going to allow me to quit my day job…

  4. Gary,

    As a small business owner, what would you think of getting the Ink Bold and using it to pay estimated taxes to the $50k cap (thus getting 250k points on the 5pts/dollar spent)? Would these points likewise be transferable to UA/CO, Hyatt etc…?

  5. Edit post 4 to reflect that 5 points/dollar is only for spespending on wireless/telecommunications services (excluding equipment such as phones and fax machines), cable and satellite television and radio services, office supply stores and wholesale distributors of office supplies :)

  6. @Bob if you have an Ink Bold that still offers the threshold bonuses then it’s reasonable as a strategy — but as you observe taxes won’t net you the bonus points.

  7. Gary,

    As always, I appreciate the info and insight. However, given the title of the post, I was surprised to see so much focus (yet again) on the general merits of this card. (And relatively little on the details of the SW transfer relationship.) Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great card, and I signed up (though your link) and have encouraged family members to do the same (through your link). But it seems like the focus on credit cards here has been pretty heavy of late. I guess this is my (humble) vote for a bit less general discussion of these cards–and maybe more of the great trip reports or other travel-related opportunities.


  8. @FBKSan thanks for the feedback. My intention with this post was to point out (1) another option added, (2) that it’s an indication of Chase’s strategy to build up Ultimate Rewards, that they’re doing it primarily with their other co-branded partners which then makes the card better in most cases than the partner cards. I thought it was an interesting insight into their business strategy. I didn’t much focus on USE of Southwest transfers because while others may disagree, I don’t find that especially useful especially because the transfers will not count towards companion pass. Just another data point on Amex MR is down a bit, Chase up, especially since this news is with a partner that Amex just lost.

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