Can I Change Flights Booked with Chase Ultimate Rewards?
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Through December 31st of this year, Chase will give you one extra Ultimate Rewards point per dollar spent on flights (and other qualifying travel expenses) when you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. That's in addition to the 2 points per dollar that you get for travel purchases on your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. The bonus has made booking through Chase a pretty lucrative option, but there's some confusion out there about how such flights are classified by the airlines.
TPG Reader Rebecca sent me a message looking for clarification about whether her ticket would be eligible for changes:
"If I book using Chase Ultimate Rewards, are flight changes handled the same as if I had booked directly with the airline?"
The answer is yes; even though your flight is technically booked through Chase (which is handled via a travel agency), you can still call the airline and make changes based on the fare class that you purchased. You'll still pay the same change fees, and if you book a nonrefundable fare, it's still nonrefundable.
These rules apply even if you use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to pay for your flights, since the booking is made through the same platform either way. You can choose either to pay cash for the ticket or to redeem Ultimate Rewards points. If you have the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus Business Card, you can redeem at a rate of 1.25 cents per point (so 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points will get you $500 in flights).
Also, regardless of how you pay, you'll earn miles and elite credits on your flights as if you had paid cash, so you'll be eligible to upgrade (again, based on the fare class you purchased).