How Likely Are Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfers to Delta or American?

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@SpencerForMiles started a rumor Friday that Chase would be adding either American or Delta as a points-to-miles transfer partner.

Points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card currently transfer to:

  • Airlines: United, British Airways, Korean, Singapore, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Air France KLM
  • Hotels: Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, IHG Rewards Club

The most recent program that they added was Air France KLM Flying Blue back in May. It took a full year, I’m told, from the time the agreement was signed for the program to come online as a transfer partner because of the insistence that transfers happen instantly. The IT work took time.

I’m highly skeptical that Chase will be able to bring on American AAdvantage or Delta SkyMiles as transfer partners. It seems impossible with respect to Delta and merely extremely unlikely with respect to American.

American Express has exclusivity with Delta. I don’t see how Delta could become a Chase transfer partner during the current Amex-Delta contract that was re-upped at the end of 2014. That contract set a new bar for co-brand agreements at $2 billion a year.

American AAdvantage sure seems unlikely, but without having seen the new co-brand agreements let me describe a path.

Citibank and Barclaycard will become joint issuers of new Aemrican AAdvantage credit cards. Citibank wouldn’t pay enough for total exclusivity, and I’m told they wouldn’t pay what American demanded for ThankYou points transfers. Citi certainly did want transfers.

I’d expect that the deals they signed with Citi and Barclaycard precluded American from doing card-related deals with any other US banks.

However since neither bank bought AAdvantage points transfers, it’s at least imaginable that those remain a product on the table for American to sell. It’s a very long shot that they could sell that to a bank that isn’t one of their two US co-brand partners, but since I haven’t seen the contracts I cannot rule out the possibility with certainty.

I’m skeptical, though I’d love to be wrong on both counts of course.

Even without American, Chase has British Airways as a transfer partner and BA can redeem for travel on American and other oneowrld airlines. And without Delta, Chase has both Korean and Air France as transfer partners which are great for SkyTeam redemptions. In many ways, Korean Air SkyPass is one of the most useful programs in the world already so I’m not dying for SkyMiles transfers and Delta partner Air France is strategically useful with access to far more award space on Air France than Delta offers its own members.

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. As you pointed out, given how tightly Delta and AmEx are knitted to one another, it seems implausible to think they would be a transfer partner for Chase. This makes no sense to me. O_o

  2. AF is not too bad a transfer partner and one that I will look at. especially with AS rewards option on international flights slim to none other than coach.

  3. It amazes me that Citi didn’t negotiate for TY to transfer to AA miles. It’s just another illustration of why I have only 2 Citi cards and barely use them…while I have tons of Chase cards and use them all the time, and many Amex cards and use them frequently.

    Not to mention that it’s just another illustration of how bad Citi customer service is on every level.

  4. I wouldn’t be surprised if the added SPG as a hotel partner due to the Marriott merger. Adding American would be nice but Citi would be very unhappy.

  5. I’d be shocked if United, in an intense campaign to turn things around, would lie dead and watch another major US airline steal away their thunder.

  6. @DCS you do not understand how these things work. United does not even have exclusivity with Chase for issuing US airline co-brand cards, and they aren’t the only US airline transfer partner as it is. The ability to transfer Chase points to United is not an advantage TO UNITED in any case (other than the incremental points purchased by Chase as a result).

  7. @Gary — Perhaps, but you are not addressing anything I claimed. The fact that Chase already has partners from other alliances means that there is no claim of exclusivity. However, it is not unreasonable to speculate that prior relationships and how those would be impacted do come into play when considering other partnerships, especially those that relate to airlines like the US Big Three that are in direct competition with each other. To claim special insights in how such decisions are made stretches credulity just a bit…

  8. You’re thinking about this all wrong. There is only one transfer partner which allows redemption on BOTH DL *and* AA: AS!

    … I am not serious though. But a little wishful thinking never hurt anyone 🙂

  9. Of course DCS (unsurprisingly) fails to realize that Gary has a lot of contacts in the industry and is privy to insider discussions his readers aren’t…re-read the “it took a year I’m told…” section and get your own “special insights” learn on for a change.

  10. It is simply silly to dispute the near certainty that after years of UA being Chase’s lone partner among the US Big Three airlines, any attempt by DL or AA to infiltrate that relationship would not be intensely scrutinized, not only by UA but also by Chase…

  11. I’m not familiar with @spencerformiles… does he have a track record of pulling from reliable sources for similar information? I’d love for either to be added, because hey more options never hurts, but if I had $1 for every rumor that pops up…

  12. I’m new to the points/miles game and am looking for help. We already have both AA and UAL accounts(we fly out of ORD) with points and want to go to Australia in about a year. Thoughts on which alliance would be best and, if I get another card or two, which would be best – already have Citi AA and Chase UAL. BTW, I’m in 5/24 hell for a while.

  13. @Richard Pomerantz – Australia is in general tough, unless connecting in Asia, consider an Amex Business Platinum 100k offer IMHO and be prepared to connect in Asia and potentially pay fuel surcharges

  14. Sorry, Gary, but I just don’t think you can call yourself a “thought leader” when almost every post I read has glaringly obvious spelling errors.

    How can you possibly be a thought leader when you haven’t even mastered English proofreading?! So, so unprofessional.

  15. I wonder why people who are always negative and critical waste their time reading Gary’s posts much less actually responding. Is its because they have nothing better to do? I give Gary credit for humoring them but if it were me I would just ignore them.

  16. Go away DCS. I agree with Les – why read if you disagree with everything Gary says. And, no, it isn’t because you’re trying to prove how brilliant you are just because you disagree. Go start your own blog and see how many people read it if you’re so darn smart.

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