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Update: Some of the offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard.

In our newbie question for today, TPG reader Jessica asks on Facebook:

“Can I book any airline with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Barclaycard Arrival?”

The basic answer is yes. If you’re looking to book any airline, use the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, because that card allows you to pay for the actual flight no matter what airline it is. Even the tiniest, most most far-flung, third rate operation qualifies so long as the merchant code correctly designates it as an airline. With Arrival, you pay for airfare using your card as you normally would, and then use your miles to erase the charge from your statement. You don’t have to book through any particular portal, and Arrival gives you a 10% miles refund for travel redemptions.

Chase Sapphire Preferred, on the other hand, offers two different ways to book airlines. First, there are 11 different transfer partners, including 6 airline partners that let you transfer your Ultimate Rewards points into their frequent flyer programs, like British Airways Avios.  You can then book if award seats are available on that airline – for example, if British Airways releases award seats – or on its partners like LAN, South America, American Airlines.

Transfer partners can be confusing, but if you can learn the system, you can actually get much more than one cent per point in value from your Ultimate Rewards. If you book first class awards, you can get 5, 6, or even 7 cents per point in value. That’s why a lot of people in the points and miles world love transferability. You have to learn which airlines tack on fuel surcharges, and how and where to find availability, but once you figure it out you can get huge value.

Ultimate Rewards points quickly add up if you make the most of the bonuses.
Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for travel or transferred to partners.

Chase will also let you book any flight just like Barclaycard Arrival, but you have to go through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, where they’ll give you 1.25 cents per point towards flights, hotels, and certain other travel expenses. I think a majority of commercial flights will show up in the Ultimate Rewards portal, but some of the more obscure airlines may be unavailable. Nonetheless, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus does have the edge there, since you can book whatever you want, pay for it, earn miles on the purchase, and then simply erase it from your statement.

For more info, check out these posts:

Ways to Maximize Each Ultimate Rewards Partner
Sapphire Preferred vs. Arrival Plus for International Travel
Chase Sapphire Preferred Announces More Benefit Changes

Hopefully that answers your question. If you have any others, feel free to tweet me at @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.

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
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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