January 6th, 2012

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

Well, the big day is finally here. As of yesterday, Southwest is now officially a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards. Sapphire Preferred and certain Ink Bold cards will be able to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio and then redeem those points towards any Southwest flight.
Since Southwest’s points program is a fixed-value system based on award type, points vary in value depending on the type of fare you redeem for. (Obviously points’ values vary a lot with other programs as well, but here it’s a bit more regimented than with other airline or hotel programs.)

Wanna Get Away: 1.67 cents per point
Anytime: 1 cent per point
Business Select: .83 cents per point

For the mathematically challenged, a $200 Wanna Get Away flight would cost 11,976 Southwest/Ultimate Rewards points.

Here’s a reward chart for Southwest points with an example of how many points you’d need to book each kind of fare:

This is a great enhancement for both Ultimate Rewards and Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program. The one downside is that these transferred points will not count towards qualifying for the Companion Pass, which is one of the best benefits in the airline loyalty program world. This could also be a sign that Southwest is going to be clamping down on Companion Pass Qualifying points and no longer counter hotel transfers and credit card sign-up bonuses, like they currently do. If you are holding out to transfer a ton of points to start your 2013 qualification, it may be a risk, and you could see the value of those points devalued.

On the other hand, in my opinion this just strengthens the Ultimate Rewards program, making it that much more versatile by adding another airline partner. In addition to landing more transfer partners, the one major feature I’d love to see from Ultimate Rewards is to start running transfer bonuses, like American Express does (with their current British Airways 30% bonus) to stay competitive with Amex.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
5.00%
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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