40% off a Flight with Chase Ultimate Rewards

Updated on Nov 18, 2016

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

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Chase Ultimate Rewards are one of the few credit card rewards currencies that allow you to transfer your points to different airline and hotel travel partners. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, 1 point can equal 1 cent if you redeem for cash, and 1.25 cents when redeemed for travel. But the true value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be unleashed when you transfer your points to one of their eleven airline or hotel transfer partners. Here is a real life example of how I recently used my Ultimate Rewards points to help a friend of mine grab some huge savings on an airline flight.

The Situation

A few times a year, my five college roommates and I like to meet up and spend a weekend together to catch up and have a good time. Five of the six of us live in South Carolina, making it pretty easy to meet up somewhere within driving distance. But one of the roommates, Dan, lives in Houston, so naturally it’s a little more costly to hop on a plane for a short weekend trip. When we started making plans for our late August reunion in Charleston, South Carolina, I decided to offer to help Dan get a discounted flight by using a few of my Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

How to Earn Ultimate Rewards Points

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is regularly hailed as one of the top travel rewards credit cards on the market, and it is a well-deserved accolade when you consider the versatility of the Ultimate Rewards points that it earns. This card earns 2 points per dollar on travel and dining expenses and 1 point per dollar on everything else. What makes the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card even more appealing is that when it’s used in conjunction with the Chase Freedom card, you can rack up Ultimate Rewards points even faster.

The Chase Freedom® is usually just considered a cash back card. It earns 5% back in different rotating categories like gas, groceries, and dining, as well as 1% back on all other purchases. But in addition to redeeming for cash back, you can combine the points from your Chase Freedom with your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card points. By combining your accounts, the points you earned from your Chase Freedom can now be transferred to the travel partners of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Transferring to Travel Partners for Maximum Value

Two of the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s most valuable transfer partners are United Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Knowing that both of these carriers frequently have routes to and from Charleston and Houston, this was the first place I looked to find a flight for Dan. To make sure you’re getting the best value for your points, it’s important to check each airline partner’s website before you transfer to one of their frequent flyer programs. Once you transfer your points out of your Chase account, it cannot be undone, so it’s crucial to find which airline has availability on the route you want for the lowest number of points prior to transferring.

Both United and Southwest had plenty of availability from Houston to Charleston on the dates we needed, but we decided to book with Southwest since they had the most favorable times for flights. The award ticket cost 28,112 points, so I logged into my Chase Sapphire Preferred account and initiated a transfer of 29,000 points (you can only transfer in increments of 1,000) to my Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards account. The points transferred immediately, so I didn’t have to wait around for the transfer to go through before I could book the ticket.

Points Value Analysis

All in all, the cost of the flight cost 28,112 points plus $11 for taxes and fees. However, the cash price of this flight was $482, so when you consider that the 28,112 points had a cash value of $281, I was able essentially able to purchase the ticket at a 40% discount, earning a value of 1.7 cents per point. With the points I redeemed for this flight, I was getting a 3.4% return whenever I used my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for dining (2x points x 1.7 cents per point) and an 8.5% return when I used my Chase Freedom in the 5% rotating categories (5x points x 1.7 cents per point).

The Final Word

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has a $95 annual fee that is waived the first year, but it also comes with a 50,000 bonus points for new cardholders if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months and another 5,000 points after adding an authorized user. If you can manage to get a value of 1.7 cents per points like I did, the sign up bonuses alone could be worth $935! And don’t forget; having the Chase Freedom® in your wallet can really boost your earnings with its 5% back categories, and it won’t cost you anything because there is no annual fee!

After I booked him the flight from Houston to Charleston, Dan was so impressed with the savings that the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card could offer that he applied for the card himself. If you love to travel, but simply don’t think you can afford the flights or hotels, check out the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Freedom to discover all the opportunities that Chase Ultimate Rewards have to offer!

* Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

*The content in this article is accurate at the publishing date, and may be subject to changes per the card issuer.

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