02 Mar Can you use Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to fly on American Airlines?

A friend of mine is engaged and is going through the exciting process of honeymoon planning! As many of you know, a wedding can be a very expensive event, so it definitely helps to save money wherever you can. My friend knows a bit about points and miles and is committed to utilizing them as much as possible in order to cut down on the out-of-pocket cost of the wedding extravaganza – smart thinking!

Wedding - AYP Post

Everyone loves weddings… but they can be expensive!

She has her eyes set on the sunny island of St. Kitts in the Caribbean (sounds amazing!) and has a healthy amount of Chase Ultimate Rewards points to get her there.

Caribbean boat

St. Kitts is a great honeymoon choice – featuring clear skies and sandy beaches for optimal relaxation!

Since there isn’t a direct flight from Tampa to St. Kitts, the optimal (fastest and cheapest) way to get there is to fly American Airlines with a single stop in Miami.

Flight Path to St Kitts

The best way to St. Kitts form Tampa is through Miami!

After learning this, my friend checked out the American Airlines Award Chart and noted that 35,000 AAdvantage miles can be redeemed for a round-trip flight from the US to the Caribbean.

AA Award Chart.JPG

The AA Award Chart – noting 17,500 AAdvantage miles need for a one-way trip (35,000 miles for round-trip)

To book this award the next step would be to transfer her Chase Ultimate Rewards points to American Airlines, right?

Not so fast! Unfortunately, she forgot one thing – that transfer is not possible since American Airlines is not a transfer partner with Chase! And since American Airlines is NOT a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, there are no direct transfer options.

CSP Transfer Partners

Here is the list of Chase Travel Partners – Since AA is not a Travel Partner, there is not an effective or efficient way to convert Chase Ultimate Reward points to AAdvantage miles.

So CAN she use her Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to fly on American Airlines?

Yes, she still can! Just not as easily as she initially imagined…

She has 2 options:

Option 1: She will need to utilize the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal, rather than relying on the mileage noted in the American Airlines AAdvantage Award Chart.

CUR Portal

The Chase Ultimate Rewards portal travel search

Remember, the American Airlines Award Chart applies to redeeming AAdvantage miles only!

For those of you that are unfamiliar, the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal allows you to book travel using points based on the actual price of the airfare. Once you have selected your flights you can then redeem Chase Ultimate Reward points at the standard rate of .0125 as shown below. For example, $742.26 / .0125 = 59,380 points.

UPDATE 8/25/16: If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve you can redeem Chase Ultimate Reward points through the portal at a standard rate of .0150 (rather than the CSP rate of .0125)!

AA Flight Chase Ultimate Rewards

The price in points is 59,380 Chase Ultimate Reward points for round-trip flight!

Redeeming 59,380 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for this $700+ ticket is considered a good value, but is not the best use of those points in my opinion. In my experience the best use of Chase Ultimate Rewards points is to transfer them to travel partners, rather than redeeming through the portal (although the improvements to the redemption rate for CSR cardholders in very intriguing and could sway me in certain situations)…

…Which brings me to option 2:

She can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio to British Airways Executive Club Avios, and book American Airlines flights using the Avios she transferred into her account! Since British Airways and American Airlines are both OneWorld Memeber Airlines, you can easily redeem British Airways Avios for American Airlines flights!

British Airways mileage program is distance based, so luckily for my friend, Tampa and St. Kitts are not too many miles apart, making this a great use of Chase Ultimate Rewards points! Keep in mind that for longer-haul flights, British Airways Avios might not always provide the best value considering their distance based chart.

A great tool to determine how many Avios you will need for a specific route is the Avios Redemption Calculator from Wandering Aramean:

Avios Redemption Calculator

Tampa to St. Kitts can be booked using 17,500 Avios each way! A much better deal than the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal!

Now here is an example flight when booking a British Airways award flight flying on American Airlines:

BA St Kitts Flights - AYP

Use Avios to fly on British Airways Partners like American Airlines!

And here is the cost of that one way flight:

17500 Avios - AYP

Transferring 17,500 CUR points (35,000 for a roundtrip) to Avios is a much better value than booking through Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal!

Special thanks to reader Lynn who reminded me the power of British Airways Avios!!!

Other Alternatives?

One bit of advice I shared with my friend is to consider applying for an American Airlines Citi AAdvantage Platinum card or a Starwood Preferred American Express card (remember SPG IS a transfer partner to American Airlines!) in order to build her AAdvantage miles balance and ultimately book an AAdvantage award flight.

Note: Since the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card has a wimpy current public sign-up bonus of 30,000 AAdvantage miles (there is an AA flyertak thread reporting that the 50k bonus is alive and well!).

Once she has the miles, she will be able to book the following award:

AA Award flight to St. Kitts

Here is the price in AAdvantage miles for that same flight I mentioned earlier! A cost of 35,000 AAdvantage miles is way cheaper than having to shell out over 59,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points!

By using American Airlines AAdvantage miles for the flight, my friend can now find another use for her valuable Chase Ultimate Reward points!

This might be a great option for her, considering that Hyatt is opening the new Park Hyatt St. Kitts later this year, and Hyatt is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner!

Caribbean 1 - AYP Post

Enjoy St. Kitts, my friend!

Final Thought

So, can you use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to fly American Airlines? Yes! Just keep in mind that you have a couple options in the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal and points transfer to Britsh Airways Avios! Which option to chose varies on a case by case basis, so be sure to research both options and determine which will get you to your destination for the least amount of [valuable] Chase Ultimate Rewards points!

If you have additional questions related to redeeming Chase Ultimate Reward points or American Airlines AAdvantage miles, then consider AYP Travel Consulting and send me an email at accountingyourpoints@yahoo.com!

Happy Travels!

DW

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