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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 initial 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, use the ‘pay yourself back’ feature for statement credits, or you can transfer them to airline miles and hotel points. Your transfer options are:
- Airlines: United MileagePlus, British Airways Executive Club, Air France KLM Flying Blue, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Iberia Plus, Aer Lingus AerClub, Emirates Skywards, JetBlue TrueBlue, Air Canada Aeroplan
- Hotels: World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy, IHG Rewards Club
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card lets you earn 100,000 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 trjple on dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers an initial bonus to earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. This $550 annual fee card comes with a $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. Through December 31, 2021, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit
The card earns 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit, and 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out.
The card comes with one-time enrollment for a Priority Pass Select with unlimited visits (including for up to 2 guests) subject only to capacity at 1300+ lounges around the world. They do not exclude participating airport restaurants from the benefit.
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 pricing 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.
- Air France KLM. They have good award space to Europe, and awards tend to be cheaper than when booked through other SkyTeam airlines.
- Virgin Atlantic. There are five good uses for their miles the best being 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 more than redeeming points directly for paid travel with Ultimate Rewards. 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. And of course redemptions are fully cancellable with no fee.
- British Airways. These points are great for short distance awards including in premium cabins. A domestic US coach 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.
- 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.
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. You can fly roundtrip business class between the US and Europe for as little a 68,000 points.
- Emirates. They’ve raised the price of first class awards, but if you want to book first class you’re going to need to use Emirates points. So transferring to Emirates opens up that possibility. Their JetBlue redemption chart represents fairly good value.
- Hyatt. A single Hyatt point is the most valuable major hotel currency. 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 (leaving aside partner hotels and timeshares), compared to 95,000 at Hilton and 100,000 at Marriott.
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. They even offer premium suites as well.
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.
- JetBlue. JetBlue isn’t very good on the ground, they are better than most competitors in the air, but the loyalty program is an also-ran. It’s a revenue-based program and the value of a JetBlue point is less than the value of a Chase point. If you want to redeem for a Mint award, you can often get the same award for fewer points through transfer partner Emirates.
- Marriott. I like the promise of 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 $0.007. Chase partners are all one to one but not all points have equivalent value. Marriott’s ‘scale’ is simply inflated compared to Hyatt’s.
- IHG Rewards. 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 nearly 2 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.
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® Earn 65,000 AAdvantage miles.