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If you’re planning on signing up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, you may be wondering how to put the 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points from the sign-up bonus to use. TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Nick Ewen is here to help with a list of some of the top redemption options.
Earlier this month, Chase officially confirmed that it would be offering a new premium travel rewards credit card, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is now here, having formally launched on August 22. With a sign-up bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months plus a host of other perks, it’s one of the most compelling credit card offers we’ve seen in a long time. Today I want to go through 10 great ways you can put those points to work and make your dream vacation a reality.
Before getting into these examples, it’s important to note that the entire list is focused on transferring points to the various travel partners of the Ultimate Rewards program. Chase officially categorizes the sign-up bonus on the card as being worth $1,500 (thanks to the ability to redeem points directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal at a rate of 1.5 cents apiece). However, TPG pegs Ultimate Rewards points at 2.1 cents apiece in his most recent valuations, since you can get even more value out of transferring your points.
Here’s a quick run-down of the program’s 11 current partners, including links to my series of posts on transferring points, transfer times and value for each individual loyalty currency:
(Cents per Point)
|Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)||Instantaneous||1.3|
As you can see, there is quite a bit of variation in the value of each transfer partner’s currency, but if you plan carefully, you can extend your redemptions far beyond these valuations. Just always be sure you are getting at least 1.5 cents of value per point when you transfer points earned from the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. In other words, if you are considering transferring 100,000 points to a partner, the redemption should be worth more than $1,500. Otherwise, you’d be better off booking directly, as any redemption value of less than 1.5 cents per point would require fewer points than transferring.
One final disclaimer: You’ll notice that I included some options that are slightly higher than 100,000 points. Remember that you need to spend $4,000 to earn the full sign-up bonus, and if all of those purchases fall into the dining and travel categories, you’ll earn 3x points on each transaction and will wind up with 112,000 Ultimate Rewards points. You may also have other cards that accrue Ultimate Rewards points (like the Ink Plus Business Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card), and you may already have an existing balance in the individual transfer partner’s account. Finally, you can also utilize the Ultimate Rewards online shopping portal to boost your earnings even higher for your online purchases.
So what redemptions can this incredible sign-up bonus unlock?
1. Transfer 110,000 points to United for one-way Lufthansa first class to Europe.
One of the first incredibly valuable awards you can snag with this sign-up bonus is Lufthansa first-class flights to (or from) Europe via United MileagePlus. While the program did undergo a major devaluation back in 2014 that increased the price of this award significantly, it’s still one of the most comfortable ways to get to Europe. You’ll need 110,000 miles for the one-way flight, but as TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig found, you’re in for a fantastic (and consistent) experience. Just be aware that Lufthansa is removing first class from some A330s that fly in and out of Munich, and you’re also only able to book these awards at most 15 days away from departure. However, if you can find availability, the perks can be worth it.
To give you an idea of just how lucrative this particular redemption can be, at the time of writing, Lufthansa had first-class award space on the nonstop Houston (IAH) to Frankfurt (FRA) flight on Tuesday, August 30, giving you almost 10 hours of bliss on the carrier’s A380. That flight would set you back $12,441.90 if you paid for it, giving you a whopping value of 11.3 cents per point!
2a. Transfer 105,000 points to British Airways for seven round-trip economy flights of 1,151 miles or less.
On the opposite end of the luxury spectrum is another fantastic Ultimate Rewards redemption: If you transfer 105,000 points to British Airways, you’ll have enough points for seven round-trip economy flights of 1,151 miles or less. This is all thanks to the carrier’s distance-based award chart, where economy flights under this distance are only 7,500 Avios each way. With numerous Oneworld partners (like American, JAL and Cathay Pacific), it’s a great way to keep a ton of cash in your pocket. Just be sure that each ticket you book is at least $213.80; otherwise you’d be better off redeeming the points directly.
2b. Transfer 108,000 points to British Airways for 12 round-trip economy flights of less than 651 miles (outside of North America).
Utilizing British Airways’ award chart for economy flights gets even more lucrative when your origin and destination cities are outside of North America and you’re flying distances of less than 651 miles. These trips require just 9,000 Avios for a round-trip itinerary, an award rate that was removed for North America in February. As a result, if you transfer 108,000 points to British Airways, you’ll be able to book an eye-popping twelve round-trip award tickets at this rate, a fantastic value, especially for short-haul flights out of Oneworld hubs.
As luck would have it, I was recently looking at an especially lucrative use of this very award rate. A good friend is getting married in Arequipa, Peru next June, and my wife and I are tentatively planning on flying down to the wedding. We’d have to connect in Lima and are interested in spending some time in Lima before and/or after the wedding. A round-trip ticket on any of the numerous nonstop LATAM flights on our desired dates run $337 each, so after taking out the taxes and fees we’d have to pay on the award ticket, booking 12 of these tickets would give us roughly $3,850 of value from the 108,000 points, a value of 3.56 cents per point.
3. Transfer 100,000 points to Hyatt for four nights in a Category 6 property.
One of the most lucrative hotel options in the Ultimate Rewards program is Hyatt Gold Passport, and if you transfer 100,000 points, you’d be able to book a four-night stay in any of Hyatt’s Category 6 properties like the Andaz Tokyo, Andaz 5th Avenue or Andaz Maui. Probably the most consistently lucrative option in this category is the Park Hyatt Maldives, a property that dropped down to Category 6 in 2015. Revenue rates for a standard Pool Villa tend to start around $700 but easily reach $1,000 per night (or more) during the holiday season. If you snag an award stay when revenue rates are at the high end of that range, you’re looking at roughly $4,950 worth of free hotel rooms (factoring in taxes and fees), giving you a redemption value of 4.95 cents per point.
4. Transfer 98,000 points to Singapore for 2 one-way business-class flights from New York to Frankfurt.
Another tremendously luxurious redemption option for your Ultimate Rewards points is through Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer program. While the carrier’s first-class cabins are a crown jewel for many points and miles enthusiasts, finding availability can be a bit tricky, especially in Suites Class on the A380. Fortunately, Singapore’s business class is still a very comfortable ride, as Zach Honig discovered flying back to New York from Singapore (via Frankfurt) earlier this year. At the time of writing, there’s award inventory from New York (JFK) to Frankfurt for two passengers on several dates throughout the fall, coming in at 48,875 miles when you factor in KrisFlyer’s 15% online award-booking discount plus $193.40 in taxes and fees. These one-way flights regularly sell for close to $1,700, so for two passengers (and again excluding taxes and fees you have to pay regardless), you’d be getting a value of roughly 3.07 cents per point.
Remember too that you can always book business class on this flight and then waitlist for Suites Class, which would only require an additional 8,500 miles per passenger each way. For complete details on this process, be sure to check out Jason Steele’s post on How to Waitlist for a Cheaper Singapore Award.
5. Transfer 100,000 points to Korean Air for 4 round-trip economy flights from the US to Hawaii.
It’s rare that a single sign-up bonus can score you even two round-trip award tickets to Hawaii, but if you transfer the 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card to Korean Air’s SkyPass program, you could book four award tickets thanks to the carrier’s inclusion of the island paradise in its North America region. Each round-trip flight will set you back just 25,000 miles, regardless of where you start your journey. All you have to do is find low-level award inventory on Delta, Korean’s SkyTeam partner (which, granted, is sometimes easier said than done). You can even include one stopover and build in a “surface segment” (read: open jaw) at your destination. Just be aware that booking these awards isn’t the easiest process, so check out Jason Steele’s post on How to Book Award Flights with Korean Air SkyPass for full details.
As an example, I see inventory for four travelers from New York (JFK) to Honolulu on Thursday, September 29, returning from Kahului, Maui (OGG) to New York (JFK) on Friday, October 7. With or without a stopover in Los Angeles (LAX), you could book four award tickets for 100,000 points. With revenue rates around $900 per person, you’re looking at saving roughly $3,600, giving you a value of 3.6 cents per point.
6. Transfer 100,000 points to British Airways for 4 round-trip economy flights from the West Coast to Hawaii.
If you’re based on the West Coast, you have some added flexibility for getting a family of four to Hawaii thanks to British Airways’ distance-based award chart and its partnerships with both Alaska and American. Both carriers serve the four major airports in Hawaii: Honolulu (HNL), Lihue (LIH), Kona (KOA) and Kahului (OGG). The following gateways are less than 3,000 miles from these destinations and thus require just 25,000 Avios for a round-trip flight:
- Alaska: Anchorage, Bellingham, Oakland, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose (CA) and Seattle
- American: Los Angeles and Phoenix
This (coupled with Korean’s redemption on Delta) gives you a wealth of ways to get four people to Hawaii with just a single credit card sign-up bonus.
7. Transfer 100,000 points to Flying Blue for 4 round-trip economy flights from the US to Aruba, Saint Maarten, Curaçao or Bonaire.
The newest transfer option for Ultimate Rewards is Flying Blue, the loyalty program of Air France/KLM, and there are some terrific uses of these miles. One particularly attractive option involves flights from the US to four specific islands in the Caribbean. Since the program classifies Aruba, Saint Maarten, Bonaire and Curaçao as part of the US, you’d only need to redeem 25,000 miles per person for round-trip economy flights to any of these destinations and could also include a stopover along the way.
Paid rates for simple nonstop flights to Aruba from Atlanta and JFK start around $500 and quickly climb from there, and if you’re booking from the West Coast, you could pay almost $1,000 for these flights.
8. Transfer 115,000 points to United for round-trip business class to Europe.
While Lufthansa first class is considered an aspirational redemption, you may just be looking to get to Europe comfortably and conveniently, so United can also be a great option for round-trip flights on its own metal. After the 2014 devaluation, these awards will set you back 57,500 miles each way, so you’d need to transfer 115,000 Ultimate Rewards points to cover the entire trip (in addition to paying $52.96 in taxes and fees). While this is slightly more than the sign-up bonus, it should be easy to make up the additional miles through activities like shopping through the MileagePlus X app or utilizing a buy miles promotion. Remember that United also has some generous routing rules, though some of these are changing as of October 6.
One example I found was for any Chicago-area TPG readers interested in checking out some Christmas markets in Belgium this December. At the time of writing, I saw award inventory from Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Brussels (BRU) on Thursday, December 8, returning on Sunday, December 18. With revenue tickets for business class running at $3,952.96, you’d be getting a value of 3.39 cents per point.
9. Transfer 100,000 points to Hyatt for 20 nights in a Category 1 property.
Hyatt’s top-tier properties are quite incredible, but there are also some terrific redemption options to be had on the lower end of the spectrum. While these hotels may not be the most luxurious in the world, redeeming your Hyatt Gold Passport points for these locations can keep a ton of cash in your pocket. In fact, transferring the full 100,000-point sign-up bonus to Hyatt would get you 20 nights in a Category 1 property. Any rate of more than $75 a night would put you ahead of booking directly, but there are many properties where you’d get substantially more value.
For example, the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque has rates that start around $119 per night this fall but climb as high as $169 ($191.50 with taxes and fees). If you can replicate a similar rate across all 20 nights, you’d be saving $3,830, giving you a redemption value of 3.83 cents per point.
10. Transfer 110,000 miles to Virgin Atlantic for round-trip ANA first class from the West Coast to Tokyo.
A final (somewhat obscure) redemption comes through Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club program. While redemptions on the carrier’s own metal are subject to insanely high fuel surcharges, there are some deals to be had on its various partners. One of the best options is ANA, as you can book round-trip first-class flights from the West Coast to Tokyo for just 110,000 miles. That’s the same price that United charges for a one-way first-class award flight on the same route.
That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind about this particular award. For starters, the price isn’t available online in any award chart (taking a page from Delta’s book), but as of the time of writing, it’s correct. Since ANA is a Star Alliance carrier, I’d recommend starting your search on United’s website. You’ll then need to call the Flying Club service center to book the award, and I’d strongly encourage you to wait to transfer the points until the agent confirms that he/she can see the award space. You should also expect taxes and fees to be around $400.
In a quick search at the time of writing, I found first-class award inventory from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT) on Wednesday, March 1, returning on Wednesday, March 15. This flight would set you back $6,334.25 if you paid for it, so taking out the taxes gives you a redemption value of 5.39 cents per point.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is one of the most exciting credit card products to hit the market in some time, and the 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points you can earn as a sign-up bonus can go a long way toward unlocking your next trip. There are many different ways to use Ultimate Rewards points for maximum value, but hopefully this post has given you some concrete suggestions for where to start if you pull the trigger on applying for this new card.
Have a question about the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card? Check out our Q&A. And see these posts for more:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve Review and Application Link
- Questions and Answers About the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
- Everything You Need to Know About Chase Sapphire Reserve Perks
- Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Benefits, Coverage & More
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