I receive compensation for many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. American Express, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).
There are three Chase cards you can apply for whose points transfer to airline miles and hotel points.
- Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card has the best signup bonus — 80,000 point signup bonus after $5000 spend within 3 months. That can even be enough for a roundtrip business class award ticket between the US and Europe.
It earns 3 points per dollar on travel — that’s airlines, hotels, rental cars, tolls, even Uber — and 3 points per dollar on shipping and advertising on social media and search engines, so great for anyone who advertises on Facebook or Twitter, or who spends money advertising with Google. It also comes with $600 protection against theft or damage when you use it to buy your cell phone.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is the best personal card with a strong signup bonus, fast earning, and great benefits. You get 50,000 point signup bonus after $4000 spend within 3 months; triple points on travel and dining; Priority Pass Select membership with free guests; $300 travel credit.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card lets you earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. In addition you get 5000 points for adding a no annual fee authorized user and making a purchase within the same time period.
The card earns two points on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. The card has an introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95. I suggest it as the number on card to get started with in miles and points. Get Sapphire Reserve later, perhaps, the card’s annual fee makes this the one to get first.
Regardless of which card you choose, points transfer to:
- Airlines: United, Southwest, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Air France KLM
- Hotels: Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, IHG
Transfer Points and Redeem for Singapore Airlines
You can use points to book paid travel. Depending on which of these cards you have the points are worth up to 1.5 cents apiece. However the real leverage comes from transferring points to miles. Here are some of my favorite things you can do with Chase points.
- Roundtrip first class between the US and Japan on ANA for 110,000 – 120,000 Virgin Atlantic miles
From the West Coast it’s just 110,000 miles for first class (90,000 in business class). I’ve booked a Houston – Tokyo Narita first class roundtrip for 120,000 miles and $169.26 in taxes (no fuel surcharges).
You can put the award on hold for 24 hours. Points transfer from partners instantly. Roundtrip travel is required, Virgin Atlantic awards have a $50 per passenger change fee, and a cancel/redeposit fee of $50 as well. No changes are permitted within 24 hours of travel.
- Pretty good transatlantic award availability using Air France KLM Flying Blue miles.
Air France KLM Flying Blue charges 62,500 miles each way for business class between the US and Europe and Europe even includes Tel Aviv. Awards are even cheaper with promo awards which rotate each month. When flying Air France you’re going to pay fuel surcharges, expect one way US to Paris to cost about $230 out of pocket for taxes and fees.
The key here is that there’s much more award availability on Air France using miles in their own program than if you’re trying to use Delta (or Alaska) miles. And Air France’s new business class is quite good.
- Korean Air Skypass 80,000 miles roundtrip for business class between the US and Europe. You’ll pay fuel surcharges, but you’ll save a lot of miles. (Transfer partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards)
Earn the signup bonus from a Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and you have enough miles for roundtrip business class to Europe, not just one way.
- Korean Air first class to Asia as far South as Hong Kong for 80,000 miles one way and 160k roundtrip using China Eastern and China Southern. (Transfer partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards)
Again, earn the signup bonus from a Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and you have enough miles for first class to Asia.
What makes this so good is that Korean Air (1) flies to more US destinations than any other Asian airline, and (2) has better first class award availability between the US and Asia than anyone else.
As a side note you can book Saudia first class with Korean miles as well.
- First class between the US and Hawaii for 45,000 Korean Air miles roundtrip
Korean partners with Alaska Airlines, Delta and Hawaiian Airlines and you can use your choice for Hawaii awards although the rules and prices are slightly different with each. Delta awards are 45,000 miles roundtrip in first class between the US mainland and Hawaii. On Alaska or Hawaiian it’s 60,000 miles roundtrip in first.
You have to book roundtrip, and you cannot combine these airlines on a single award. There’s no change to routing after departure of first flight. Once travel begins you can change only dates/times.
It’s not just first class awards that are cheaper, for instance here’s pricing flying Delta New York to Hawaii and back in economy (Alaska and Hawaiian economy awards are 30,000 miles roundtrip):
- Singapore Airlines business class between the US and Singapore or A380 Suites between Europe and Singapore because of expanded availability
Singapore Airlines doesn’t generally make long haul premium cabin award space available to partner airlines, but they do make space available to their own members. Business space is easier to get than first class, but space does open up even for Suites class and especially Europe – Singapore rather than US – Singapore.
- Short business class flights within Asia, Australia using less than 20,000 British Airways Avios.
British Airways charges for each flight you take separately, based on distance. As long as you stay under 2000 flown miles business class is double (rather than triple) the cost of economy.
That’s great for flights with a real (rather than intra-Europe) business class. I love this especially in Asia using their partners Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, and SriLankan. It’s also great for Qantas intra-Australia and on trans-Tasman routes.
Here’s the chart:
Business class generally means a better seat, baggage allowance, priority check-in, and lounge access all for a very reasonable mileage increment.
- Redeem points for suites at premium Hyatt properties.
Hyatt lets you redeem ~ 60% more points (rather than double points) for a suite on a free night. And Hyatt lets you spend 6000 points per night on a qualifying paid rate stay to upgrade to a suite — at booking. And that 6000 point price is the same regardless of the price level of a hotel.
You do have to pay the standard or Hyatt daily rate to use points to upgrade a paid reservation to a suite, and at a resort you have to book at least a deluxe room to be eligible to use points for upgrades.
The major limitation of redeeming points for free nights in a suite is that you must reserve a minimum of a 3 night stay. This limitation does not apply to using points to upgrade paid stays, however.
There are a handful of hotels where suite upgrades aren’t permitted such as Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort, Park Hyatt Sydney, Andaz Tokyo, Hyatt Regency Phuket, Hyatt Regencys Tulsa, Wichita, and Hyatts Key West, Manila, Santa Barbara, Paris Madeline. And suite upgrades also aren’t offered at timeshare properties or Hyatt Place properties.
Park Hyatt New York
If you don’t actually want a suite you can have club rooms by spending points — either more points on an award night (as detailed in the above chart), or 3000 points per night on a paid stay as long as you’re reserving a qualifying rate which is the same for a club room as it is for a suite.