How long do Chase Ultimate Rewards take to transfer?
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Ultimate Rewards points make an excellent foundation for an award traveler’s portfolio. Like other transferable loyalty currencies, these points can be redeemed for highly valuable awards through airline and hotel transfer partners. I currently hold several credit cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which earns 3x points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and dining and offers an assortment of travel and purchase protections.
As with any transferable points program, an essential aspect of using Ultimate Rewards is knowing how long it takes to transfer them to whichever partner you want to utilize. Long transfer times make planning and booking awards more difficult, especially when availability is limited. American Express Membership Rewards offers some instant transfers, while Citi ThankYou Rewards can take up to a week.
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To see how Chase Ultimate Rewards stack up against the competition, we researched each program’s transfer partners. We transferred points to my corresponding individual airline and hotel partner accounts and tracked how long it took for them to show up. Here’s what we found:
|Program||Transfer Time||Transfer ratio|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Instantaneous||1:1|
|Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)||Instantaneous||1:1|
|Singapore Airlines||Same Day**||1:1|
|** While points transferred from Ultimate Rewards to Singapore Airlines processed on the same day for us, the confirmation email from Chase states that it can take up to 2 business days for Ultimate Rewards transfers to appear in your Singapore KrisFlyer account. Some readers have reported transfer times of up to 7 days.|
Out of the 14 programs, Ultimate Rewards transferred to 12 of them instantly, and we never waited more than two days for points to show up in any program. These transfer times represent our own experiences and shouldn’t be taken as hard-and-fast rules. However, others have reported a similar timeline when transferring points from Ultimate Rewards. Your own transfers may be faster or slower, but you can use them as guidelines when planning your trips.
Before transferring Ultimate Rewards
While these results set a high bar for any transferable points program, there’s still some risk that award availability can change while you’re waiting for points to show up in your account. Transfers are irreversible, so you could be stuck with thousands of points in a program you have little use for if the flight or hotel room you were banking on disappears. Even though Ultimate Rewards offers mostly excellent transfer times, here are a few tips to help you avoid that situation
Put your award reservation on hold before transferring
Not all programs allow you to do this, but those that do make things much easier. For example, Marriott allows you to book awards with an insufficient balance, so long as you earn the additional points at least 14 days before check-in. As of Sept. 14, 2019, Points Advance reservations will only lock in availability, not the award rate.
Choose flights that have more than one available award seat
This is helpful in case someone else books before your miles show up. You can use tools like ExpertFlyer (owned by TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures) to determine how many award seats are available on a flight, or you can do a single search for three or four passengers, which should give you an idea of how many seats are open.
Select uncommon routes
You can improve your chances by flying less popular routes or routes that originate in smaller airports, since those often have better award availability. For a transpacific flight, check out ANA’s route from San Jose (SJC) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND) when it resumes next year. You can book this with Aeroplan, United or Virgin Atlantic miles.
Have a backup plan
If your original itinerary is kaput because availability has dried up, have another option (or multiple options) in mind so you can still book when your points arrive.
If your original flights disappear, don’t panic. Remember that award availability changes frequently and can increase dramatically as your departure date approaches. Check regularly, and be ready to act quickly when seats do open up.
While transfer times may vary from one person to another, Ultimate Rewards is pretty consistent compared to ThankYou Rewards and some American Express partners. I’m confident in the award space and hotel nights being available by the time my Ultimate Rewards transfers are complete.
Can you transfer Ultimate Rewards to someone else’s account?
Chase allows you to transfer points freely among your own accounts. You can even convert cash-back rewards earned with a card like the Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited into transferable Ultimate Rewards points. You just need an Ultimate Rewards-earning card to be eligible for this transfer option.
You can also transfer your points to another Ultimate Rewards account belonging to your spouse or household member. If you have a business card like the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, you can transfer your points to an Ultimate Rewards account belonging to a company co-owner.
Which cards earn Ultimate Rewards points?
If you’re looking to give your Ultimate Rewards account a boost, there are currently three Chase cards offering generous rewards and substantial welcome bonuses:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: 100,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening.
Just keep in mind that Chase does enforce a 5/24 rule, meaning if you’ve applied for five cards at any bank in the last 24 months, you likely will not be approved by Chase.
Transferring Ultimate Rewards to airline and hotel partners is hands down the best way to squeeze the most value out of your points. Whether you’re looking to book a cheap domestic ticket through Southwest or a first-class Star Alliance adventure, this program can help you get there. With points transferring 1:1 and instantly to nearly all transfer partners, Ultimate Rewards are worth investing in.
Additional reporting by Ariana Arghandewal and Benji Stawski.
Featured photo by Kite_rin/Shutterstock
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