This is the 7th post in my intro series to travel hacking. For a list of other posts, check out my post on how to travel hack your way around the world.
Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program is the best in the industry, hands down. Transferring Ultimate Rewards points into partner programs is quick and painless, taking minutes for some programs (e.g. United and Hyatt) and upwards of 48 hours for others (e.g. Marriott).
Points transfer from Ultimate Rewards into partner programs at a 1:1 ratio. Partners Include:
- Airline Partners
- United Airlines
- Korean Airlines
- British Airways
- South West Airlines
- Hotel Partners
- Priority Club (Holiday Inn, Intercontinental, etc.)
- Ritz Carlton
- Other Partners
Mrs. Selfish and I primarily use our Ultimate Rewards points with partners like United and Hyatt, both of which have excellent returns. With Hyatt only 22,000 points can net you a stay at a top tier property like the Park Hyatt Tokyo, while you would need 40,000 Marriott Rewards points, or 50,000 HHonors points (soon to be 95,000!).
I also enjoy using Ultimate Rewards points with United to book travel on partner airlines. For the Thailand portion of our trip we booked business class tickets on Thai Airways from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui for 35,000 miles for both of us, while the segment from Beijing to Seoul only cost us 40,000 miles on partner Air China. This was especially useful since One World is particularly weak in China and there were no direct flights from Beijing to Seoul and paying in cash would have easily cost $300+ a ticket in economy.
Transferring Ultimate Rewards points can also be a useful way to top off other accounts – although you’re getting less value per point spent. On the Hong Kong portion of our trip I ended up transferring 65,000 Chase UR points to my Marriott account in order to book a 5-night stay at the JW Marriott. This allowed me to free up our Hilton nights in order to book a 5 night stay at the much lauded Hilton Bora Bora – something I would not have been able to do were it not for our reserve of Chase UR points.
Transferring to Spouses
Chase allows you to combine UR points with a spouse online within a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, you can’t transfer points to friends or any other family member’s UR account without violating Chase’s terms & conditions.
Fortunately, it seems as if you can transfer points into anyone’s partner account. I haven’t tried it myself, but it sounds like some people have done this successfully, though Chase’s official stance on this practice is a little vague.
Other Uses of Chase UR Points
Another, less often used approach is to use Chase UR points directly through Chase’s online travel booking system at a 20% discount. Points redeem at a rate of .8:1, which means for every 40,000 UR points you use, you’ll get back $500 worth in travel.
Not the best use of points, but you do earn miles on any flights purchased this way, so it’s not a horrible trade-off either, especially if you’re flying domestically.
Chase Cards With Good Sign-up Bonuses
Cards with great UR sign-up bonuses include:
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – 40,000 Ultimate Reward Points after spending $4000 in 3 months. Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio into numerous partners like United, Hyatt, and Marriott. 2x on restaurants & travel expenses, with an additional 7% annual bonus on all points earned. Annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year.
Chase Ink Bold/Chase Ink Plus Cards – 50,000 Ultimate Reward Points after spending $5000 in 3 months. Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio into numerous partners like United, Hyatt, and Marriott. 5x on office supplies, cable, and internet expenses, 2x on hotels and gas stations. Annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year.