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Chase Ultimate Rewards Adds Korean Air Skypass as Airline Transfer Partner

by on September 17, 2011 · 23 comments

in Chase, Ultimate Rewards

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Update: As of April 2013, Chase Ultimate Rewards has added Virgin Atlantic as a new airline transfer partner.

Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program is shaping up to be a formidable competitor to American Express’ Membership Rewards. While browsing their site since I recently became a Sapphire Preferred cardmember, I noticed that Korean Airlines Skypass is now a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards.

This is interesting, because now all three alliances are covered:
Star Alliance: Continental
Oneworld: British Airways
Skyteam: Korean Air

I’ve never given the Korean Air program much of a look because I bank all of my Skyteam miles to Delta. However, since I am currently racking up tons of Ultimate Rewards points, I am going to research the best ways to maximize Korean Air miles, so stay tuned for an upcoming deep dive into that subject.

In the meantime, there are some basics of the program you should understand:
1) For travel on Korean Air, there are many blackout dates, see chart below.

Korean Air Award Travel Blackout Dates

2) You cannot book awards online. You need to call, but you can search for certain Skyteam partner availability, like Air France, KLM and China Southern on Expertflyer or Airfrance.us or even Delta.com.
3) They allow one way awards
4) They allow first class Skyteam redemptions, unlike Delta which blocks them.
5) They have a family mileage pooling option

Their Skyteam partner award chart has some hidden gems:
For example, US to Europe roundtrip is 50,000 for coach, 80,000 for business and 100,000 for First (though the only first class product you could take is Air France and that is limited to it’s own elite members).
Even the domestic award options at 25,000 for coach and 45,000 for first mirror Delta’s levels for their low level awards.
Air France’s LAX- PPT (Papeete, Tahiti flight) is only 90,000 miles roundtrip for business vs. 150,000 for the same flight using Delta SkyMiles.

Korean Skyteam Partner Chart

I tried transferring some of my Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Air so I could start playing around with their online award engine, but I got errors – which leads me to believe they aren’t 100% set up in the system yet. I’ve inquired with Chase to learn more about the partnership and will report back once my research is done.

Overall, the more transfer partners the better. I’m excited to see competition in the transferable point space and I hope we as cardmembers benefit by American Express and Chase competing to build the most valuable loyalty points program for premium credit and charge card holders.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Anonymous

    Wow, perfect timing — I was going through the KE award chart because I saw their partnership with Chase but couldn’t find the USA chart.

    I remember KE having a 10% discount when booking 2+ award tickets at once but don’t know if that still exists and/or is limited to KE flights only.

  • Sapphire = new AMEX Gold/Plat?

    Do you know if Ultimate Awards (or Sapphire) is going to start having similar perks to AMEX like lounge access or concierge services? Their annual fee isn’t similar so maybe a higher level card is in the works?

  • abcx

    Does KE charge YQ?

  • Pghernandez21

    I would really like to keep this card, but the $95 fee is a bit steep. I think they should reconsider and drop the fee to the level of the other valued card that people tend to hang onto – SPG.

  • Benthelefty

    Brian – Do you or anyone you know have a cheat sheet of air alliances and reward redemption for the partners? For example: Using Chase Rewards to transfer to any Skyteam partner and then book a cheap reward like you outlined in this post w/ Korean Air (Chase > Korean Air > US to Europe for 50k)? That would include of course redemption “gems” for all the other partners (Delta, KLM, etc.) and on other alliances (Oneworld and Star Alliance). Does that make sense?

    Is there a comprehensive list/chart that highlights the “best deals” across all 3 alliances and reward redemptions? Thanks in advance!

  • Benthelefty

    Sorry for the double post. I know you have this post here http://bit.ly/nxsvGY that outlines each airline, but i’m wondering as a whole (excel sheet w/ ALL Skyteam members and those great rates for example).

    Also, where did the chart showing the 50k US-Europe come from?

  • Richard1148

    I live in Hawaii. Interesting that Korean combines Hawaii with Mexico and Central America as a departure location. Departing from Honolulu, I can get a low level business class award to SE Asia using SkyMiles for only 80k miles R/T, but using Korean Skypass, the same trip would take 135k miles. On the other hand, business class to Europe using SkyMiles takes 120k miles for low level, whereas Skypass would take only 80k. I just got approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred a week ago, so I will definitely consider transferring points to Korean for a trip from HI to Europe.

  • rocksurflive

    I have about 14000 Korean Air Skypass miles – can I transfer these to my Chase Ultimate rewards account, or is there anything I can do with these?

  • kc

    No, you can’t transfer them to Chase. You could book a one way ticket if you’re just trying to get rid of them.

  • kc

    Ben, you should make it. You’d become famous for making that. Just put in a few hours a day till it’s done. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

  • http://chrishutchins.net Chris Hutchins

    Compared to similar cards, I really don’t think $95 is too high. What cards are you comparing it to?

  • Benthelefty

    That’s a good idea…I’ll need to try and conceptualize exactly how it will look and make sure I have all the information needed…we shall see!

  • Anonymous

    The annual fee really isn’t that high. Don’t forget the 7% yearly bonus/dividend on points earned. Well worth it in my opinion.

  • PJ

    get the freedom card and get their sign on bonus that pays for a few years of annual fees. KEEP IN MIND freedom ultimate rewards points can be transfer into Sapphire points which is used as 1.25 cents per points when you redeem for travel .

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=3431439 JP Cross

    Not sure what the mileage cost is, but Korean Air has a direct route from LAX to Sao Paolo. To my knowledge, it’s one of the very few direct flights to South America from the West Coast (LAN goes out of LAX, and more recently SFO, to Santiago). I had inquired with Delta about booking this route in August but they said that Korean Air has a summer blackout period for Delta bookings.

  • Jim Mehta
  • M124

    “3) They allow one way awards”

    Is this true for Skyteam partner redemption? At http://www.koreanair.com/local/na/gd/eng/sp/rm/eng_sp_rm_pa.jsp I am seeing: “Airline Partners awards are valid only for round-trip.”

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  • Anonymous

    How’s that chart coming along?

  • Rob Perelman

    Any update on getting some information from The Points Guy about booking awards with Korean air?

  • Sajer Guy

    Ditto, would love to see more info on booking awards with Korean Air. Would be nice to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points for First Class to Asia.

  • Matthew

    Yes they do.

    How long does it take for Chase to transfer to KE. Is it instant?

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