Chase Eliminating Korean Air as Transfer Partner August 25

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Chase shared with me that Ultimate Rewards would no longer partner with Korean Air SkyPass after August 24. You have through August 24 to make these transfers.

Chase Sapphire Reserve and Preferred and Ink cards with an annual fee allow you to transfer their points to airline and hotel programs. The remaining partners will be:

  • Airlines: United, Southwest, Singapore, Air France KLM, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Iberia, Aer Lingus
  • Hotels: Marriott, IHG, Hyatt

You’ll see a notice from Chase if you set your computer’s clock to tomorrow (Wednesday).

Chase simply describes the change as a “mutual decision.” This is disappointing because while most points transferred from Chase are to United’s MileagePlus program, Korean offers some of the most unique value.

  1. 80,000 mile business class roundtrips between the US and Europe on SkyTeam airlines
  2. Cheap awards to Hawaii on Alaska, Delta, and Hawaiian
  3. China Eastern and Saudia first class awards
  4. Access to Korean’s first class seats, something you cannot book with Delta SkyMiles (and Korean flies to more US gateways than any other Asian carrier, plus offers first class not only on long haul flights but intra-Asia as well).

Korean Air First Class

Since Chase has so much invested in the Ultimate Rewards program I look forward to seeing what they add. Virgin, Air France, Iberia and Aer Lingus weren’t original transfer options and have been added in the last several years.

In the meantime I have to decide how I feel about my current Korean Air points balance. It’s a good, useful program so I may want to put more miles in that account. Korean Air miles do expire — after a generous ten years — additional account activity does not extend your miles. (They wanted to introduce five year expiration of miles but got South Korean government pushback.)

I suspect I’ll be adding a bunch of points to my SkyPass account which has a couple hundred thousand in it already prior to August 25th.

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  1. Thanks for sharing this information. I guess a question is whether Korean’s SkyPass will remain a reliable place to park points/miles, or whether it might change in ways that make it a lot less desirable.

  2. This is a huge blow for me. I may transfer in most of my UR and look for new card alternatives. All my airfare is on the AMEX Platinum. Soon all my hotel stays will be on the SPG Luxury card. I don’t think I have enough spend left over in the 3x categories to justify the CSR going forward.

  3. @steve well I don’t really know the answer for sure but they’ve generally been very good about providing significant advance notice of changes

  4. I hope this at least gives an opening for AMEX to pick up Korean Air as a transfer partner. I wonder what the reasoning was for this…too easy to rack up Skypass miles with the CSR 3x multiplier? Skypass is one of the greatest of all time point redemptions. I’m guessing Chase was paying too much for that point transfer and Korean Air was not going to devalue Skymiles.

  5. Remember back 3 years ago when the option to transfer UR points to KE skypass suddenly disappeared without notice? Then 3 months later KE skypass got reinstated… at least this time they gave us notice; and 10 days notice is better than no notice at all!

  6. Once this occurs, are there any other remotely reasonable ways to transfer miles into SkyPass? If I transfer in and they devalue their chart, I’m wondering how hard it will be to top up as necessary.

  7. So now i am thinking i should stop worrying about 5/24 and just app for whatever i want and say goodbye to chase.

  8. Going to bulk up my SkyPass account, am planning a family Hawaii trip next year and had hoped to sit for a bit before making the transfer. Guess it’ll happen next week!

  9. I’m with Jack; this is brutal. From my base in SE Asia, ICN has been great for connecting to Japan, Europe and North America. Losing transfer to Skypass from Sapphire Preferred is a major card downgrade. My spend will be going elsewhere.

  10. @Philip Kim: I’ve wondered about Amex as well, but I have to confess that at this point it’s just wishful thinking.

    @Alan: You can transfer points from the Starwood/Marriott combined program (come Aug. 18) into SkyPass. Both programs were already SkyPass partners. I believe the new rate will be 60K points = 25K SkyPass miles, but I’m not certain.

  11. Hmmm…that leaves Singapore as the main option to Asia if you, like me, think United premium awards are a step down from most of the other Asian carriers. Losing Korean is a blow to be sure. Chase needs to step up with one of the following to fill the void they’re creating here:

    EVA (my personal preference)

  12. I agree with @MGS. If Korean Air is picked up by Amex, my CSR business will go to them. I am close anyway to making the jump. And if Amex does not pick up Korean Air, I will probably give my CSR business to my Delta Platinum card anyway. I am less then impressed with CSR’s travel booking arm. I have used them to book hotel and ground tours and none of the bookings have gone off free of problems. Yes, was tempting to continue to use them because of the 150% transfer of points for redemption, but factor in the problems, not feeling it is worth it.

  13. A major blow for sure. KAL was the best and in many cases, the only option to Asia. I just upgraded my preferred to the reserve in June. This is a deal breaker for me and I will now have to consider dumping Chase altogether.

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