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TPG reader Dave tweeted me to ask:

@thepointsguy–”Is it possible to use miles on United to upgrade to first class for a ticket that was booked using miles?”

I often get asked this question in one form or another. With pretty much all airlines, if you redeem miles for an award ticket in economy, you can’t then use miles to upgrade to a premium cabin.

It’s hard to upgrade using miles on a ticket that was already booked with miles. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

However, if you use credit card points or even Starwood points to book flights directly, then you’re effectively paying for an economy ticket, and you can then use frequent flyer miles to upgrade if you’re in an eligible fare class. You will have to re-deposit or re-ticket in business or first class in order to fly in that cabin.

Some airlines may sell upgrades at the gate and you may get lucky, but in general, if you book an international economy award with most carriers, expect to fly in economy. It’s pretty difficult to combine miles as an upgrade when a ticket is already booked as an award.

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

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.

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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
N/A
Regular APR
16.24%-23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer
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.

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.