Transferring Ultimate Rewards Points to Aer Lingus
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One of my many bits of advice to both newbies and experienced hobbyists is to earn transferable points. These currencies open up a wealth of flexibility, since you aren't stuck redeeming your points through a single program. Instead, you can wait for the perfect award to come available, transfer points to the program with the most attractive award chart (a process which is often instantaneous) and then lock in your trip, laughing all the way to the business class lounge.
When it comes to these transferable point programs, the Chase Ultimate Rewards program is viewed by many to be the most lucrative one out there thanks to valuable cards like the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve and the array of transfer partners like United and British Airways. Two new ones were added at the end of 2017: Iberia and Aer Lingus. Today I'll go through the process for transferring your Ultimate Rewards points to AerClub, the loyalty program of Aer Lingus, including a look at how to redeem those Avios once they hit your account.
Before you can actually transfer points to Aer Lingus (or any transfer partner, for that matter), there are a couple basic steps you’ll need to complete. The first is to make sure your Ultimate Rewards-accruing credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Ink Business Cash Credit Card is set up for online access. This process begins by visiting www.chase.com and looking for the “Not enrolled? Sign up now” link:
From there, simply enter the corresponding information from your account to create your online profile with Chase.
If you already have an online account with Chase for a different credit card (like the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card), you can click on Manage Accounts from the Customer Center at the right to start the process of linking a new card to your existing account. You’ll then click on Add Accounts from the My Information section.
The second essential item is to make sure that you sign up for the AerClub program and make sure your account is active (though hopefully you’ve already done this if you’ve read my post on common points and miles mistakes!). You can sign in to your existing account by visiting Aer Lingus' homepage and clicking Log In at the top, or you can create a new account from this link.
(Note that when I signed up for AerClub, I was asked to sign up for an Avios.com account to which my AerClub account would be associated. You'll see why this is beneficial later on.)
After you’ve completed these two tasks, you’re ready to start transferring!
Transferring to Aer Lingus
The actual process for transferring Ultimate Rewards points to all partners starts the exact same way:
1. Log in to your Chase account and click on the Go to Ultimate Rewards link at the top right:
Alternatively, if your online view has been converted over to the "Chase for Business" user interface, scroll down and click on Ultimate Rewards at the bottom left:
(1a. If you have more than one card account, choose your desired one from the next page.)
(Note that in order to transfer points, you must select a premium card like the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred. You can transfer points earned on cards like the Chase Freedom (No longer open to new applicants) and Chase Freedom Unlimited; they just need to be moved to the premium card's account first. For a step-by-step guide on how to do this, check out my post on Combining Ultimate Rewards Points.)
2. Hover over the Use Points drop-down menu and select Transfer to Travel Partners.
3. Find the Aer Lingus AerClub line and click Transfer Points.
4. Select yourself or an authorized user from the drop-down menu, enter your AerClub member ID, then click Continue.
5. Enter the number of points you want to transfer (must be in increments of 1,000) and click Continue.
6. Review your details on the next page and then click Confirm & Submit.
The next screen should confirm that the transfer was successful.
We’ve tested each of the Ultimate Rewards transfer partners to see how long it takes for the points to appear in your frequent traveler account, and fortunately transfers to Aer Lingus are instantaneous. There are a few important things to keep in mind with these transfers:
- The transfers are nonrefundable, so be certain you want to make the transfer before you click Submit.
- You can only transfer to yourself or an authorized user.
- You can combine points from your different cards or transfer points between your account and that of your spouse/domestic partner. For complete details, check out my post on combining Ultimate Rewards points.
Booking With Aer Lingus
Now that you’ve made the transfer, it’s time to actually redeem your Avios with Aer Lingus. This is where things get a bit confusing. Both Iberia and British Airways also use Avios as their currency, and both are full members of Oneworld, allowing you to redeem those Avios across alliance members like American and Cathay Pacific. However, Aer Lingus does not belong to Oneworld. As a result, you're limited to redeeming Avios in the AerClub program to the following airlines:
- Aer Lingus
- British Airways
However, one of the unique aspects of the Avios currency is that you can combine balances across these carriers using the Combine Avios feature (check out Jason Steele's post on this topic for additional details). As a result, any Avios in your AerClub account can be easily transferred over to either Iberia or British Airways to then be redeemed on Oneworld partners.
Here’s how to search for and then book award tickets with Aer Lingus:
1. Start by visiting Avios.com and click on Log In at the top right.
2. Enter your username and password, then click Log In.
3. Scroll down to the Flight Search, enter your travel information, then click Search Flights.
4. Select your desired flights, review the price at the bottom, then click Continue with booking.
5. Follow the rest of the on-screen prompts to finalize your booking.
Now, there's an important caveat to all of this: I can't find a redemption where you're better off booking through AerClub than going through British Airways or Iberia. Generally speaking, you'll get the best redemptions when you redeem Avios from a loyalty program on that airline's flights. For example, booking Iberia flights are best through Iberia Plus due to lower taxes and fees, while booking British Airways flights through the Executive Club program carries lower taxes and fees than going through Iberia or AerClub.
Interestingly enough, that's not the case here. Take the above example of a round-trip, nonstop flight from Newark (EWR) to Dublin (DUB). If you book through British Airways or Aer Lingus, you'll use the same number of Avios (26,000 for economy, 100,000 for business). However, the taxes & fees booking through AerClub would be ~$278 for economy and ~$326 for business. British Airways, on the other hand, only adds ~$121 in taxes and fees to these redemptions (though you do need to call for these awards). As a result, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways and then book through the Executive Club for the same number of Avios but lower out-of-pocket expenses for taxes and fees.
That being said, one of the nice things about signing up for AerClub is that you can search for award inventory online, and I've found that British Airways phone agents typically have access to the same number of award seats as you'll see online at Avios.com. It's also worth noting that even though ExpertFlyer does carry Aer Lingus award inventory, it may not be the best tool for researching that availability. Here's what ExpertFlyer has to say about the Dublin-Miami flight on Friday March 16:
And here's the inventory through Avios.com:
This is not a one-time glitch, as I've encountered several other discrepancies between the two sites. As a result, I'd suggest relying on the Avios website to search for Aer Lingus awards but then transferring points to British Airways to actually book those flights.
It's always nice to see the transferable point currencies add additional transfer partners, and the Ultimate Rewards program did just that at the end of 2017. While sending your Ultimate Rewards points to Iberia can make sense in certain situations (given the lower taxes & fees charged on Iberia award flights), I have yet to discover when it makes sense to transfer them to Aer Lingus, especially since Avios can be freely shared across the AerClub, Iberia Plus and British Airways Executive Club programs. If you're looking to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points on Aer Lingus-operated flights, my suggestion is to call and verify prices before committing to a transfer, as they are non-reversible once they're made.
Featured image by Eric Salard / Flickr, Creative Commons.