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Chase points are very valuable. I had a strong seven figure balance and yet I look to accumulate them whenever I can — whether via signup bonuses or by putting as much spending as possible that earns double or triple points or more. And I’m careful about them because of their usefulness.
- You can spend them directly for travel, or you can transfer them to airline miles and hotel points.
- Your airline options are United, British Airways, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, Korean, Air France, Aer Lingus, Iberia
- Your hotel options are Hyatt, Marriott, IHG Rewards Club, and Ritz-Carlton
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. The card earns two points on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide.
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card has an 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 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 make this new Visa Infinite card from Chase with a $450 annual fee the most exciting new entrant of the year.
There are fantastic options to use the points that these three cards earn. But there are also (4) that I’d never take advantage of, and recommend that you not as well.
So let’s review how each partner is useful.
- United. This is the partner that gets the most transfers. Because of their Star Alliance partners they’re most likely to get you to Europe or Asia in business class, and they don’t add fuel surcharges to any awards. Plus you can book most awards online and they’re easy, a familiar name. Although their award chart doesn’t always provide the most value.
- Singapore Airlines. They give much better award availability to their own members than they do to partners, so being able to transfer points here for business and first class awards is fantastic and you get an amazing inflight product. Their Star Alliance awards may cost fewer miles than United’s, but they do add fuel surcharges to Star Alliance booked when those are part of a paid fare.
- Korean Air. They have good first class award space to Asia, and cheap awards on partner airlines to Hawaii and to Europe (80,000 miles for business class roundtrip on Air France/KLM or Delta, with fuel surcharges). Their hold and change policies are generous too. But you can only book awards for yourself and direct family.
- Virgin Atlantic. The only award they offer that I love is ANA first class between the US and Japan for 110,000 – 120,000 miles roundtrip. And there are often better transfers to Virgin from American Express (eg transfer bonuses). So I try not to waste Chase points this way. But it’s possible to want to make a transfer to Virgin. They can also be better for some Delta redemptions as well.
- Southwest. Redeeming Southwest points for airline tickets isn’t going to get you much more than redeeming points directly for paid travel with Ultimate Rewards (Chase Sapphire Reserve redeems points at 1.5 cents apiece towards paid tickets, bear in mind that Southwest isn’t searchable online so you have to call, while Southwest points inclusive of taxes will get you about 1.7 cents apiece in value). When you buy tickets through Ultimate Rewards those tickets earn points and count towards status.
Nonetheless I would transfer points to top off a Southwest account for a ticket you need. If you have 12,500 points and you need 13,500 then transferring that 1000 makes total sense because points at the margin, those that push you over the top for an award, are worth far more than the average value of points since they unlock the value of the rest of your points.
- British Airways. These points are great for short distance awards including in premium cabins. A domestic US flight on American or Alaska starts at 7500 points each way. West Coast – Hawaii 12,500 points. Hop around Europe or Asia from 4500 points per flight segment. And go in business class for double the price of coach. There are no fuel surcharges on many intra-Europe, domestic US, North Asia, South America and Australian domestic awards.
- Air France KLM. Air France availability is much better using their own points rather than points from a partner like Delta or Alaska. I make the transfer to unlock available transatlantic business class seats mostly.
- Iberia. You can move points from British Airways to Iberia already, but your Iberia account would have had to have been open 90 days and earned miles in order to do it. So Chase adding Iberia was a useful move back in the fall.
There are low fuel surcharges redeeming on Iberia flights. If you use British Airways Avios for Chicago – Madrid roundtrip you’ll pay $956 in fuel surcharges. Using Iberia points instead it’s under $150. And the awards are often cheaper too. Boston and New York – Madrid costs just 34,000 points each way in business class outside peak season using Iberia. I’ve also had good success redeeming Iberia points on Royal Air Maroc for 94,500 miles roundtrip.
- Hyatt. A single Hyatt point is the second most valuable major hotel currency behind a Starwood Starpoint. It doesn’t take nearly as many points to book a top Hyatt property as it does to book a Hilton for instance. The most expensive Hyatt standard room is 30,000 points, compared to 95,000 at Hilton. I have stayed at the Park Hyatt Hadahaa in the Maldives for 25,000 points per night (or less, in the past) and that’s a property that can easily go for over $1200 per night.
I also get fantastic value with Hyatt redeeming for suites, since you only pay about 60% more points for a suite than for a regular room — which on vacation at properties like the Park Hyatt St. Kitts or Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rico can drive tremendous value.
That leaves four partners I haven’t written about – the four partners I’m never going to transfer Chase points to.
- Aer Lingus. I just haven’t found Aer Lingus Aer Club to have usefulness beyond what British Airways and Iberia offers. It’s pure duplication with a more limited set of partner redemption options.
- Marriott. I like the Marriott program for earning and burning points. However I do not like that transfers from Chase to Marriott are only one-to-one. A Marriott point is worth about $0.008. Chasse partners are all one to one but not all points have equivalent value. Whereas the Park Hyatt in the Maldives will cost me 25,000 Chase points (transferred to Hyatt), the Marriott Courtyard Boca Raton will also cost me 25,000 Chase points (transferred to Marriott). Marriott’s ‘scale’ is simply inflated compared to Hyatt’s.
Use the Chase portal to book Marriott travel, those stays will not count towards elite status but in my experience elite status will still be recognized by Marriott on third party bookings.
- Ritz-Carlton Rewards. The Ritz-Carlton Rewards program is really just different branding for Marriott Rewards. You are supposed to choose whether to have a Marriott account or a Ritz-Carlton account, the promotions offered to you for staying at hotels may be different, but points-earning and redemptions are the same.
- IHG Rewards Club. IHG Rewards Club will sell points for less than $0.006 apiece and ‘regular price’ is $11.50 per 1000 points. I value Chase points at 1.9 cents apiece. I’d buy 1000 points in a minute rather than transferring to IHG from Chase, since in effect that means buying Chase points at just 1.1 cents which I consider to be a bargain.
Not every partner is created equal. Know your rewards goals and how you want to use your points, and make the most out of this scarce resource.