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I tend to avoid these two Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners — here's why

June 01, 2022
7 min read
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I love Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can do a lot of things with them, which is why they are so valuable and so popular.

There are numerous transfer partners for redeeming your Ultimate Rewards for free flights and free hotel stays, and some programs provide much more value than others.

In fact, there are two airline transfer partners I tend to avoid entirely.

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Here's a look at what they are and why I tend to avoid using my points this way.

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Understanding what Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth

(Image by Phongphan Supphakankamjon/EyeEm/Getty Images)

For those unaware, we publish a monthly list of points and miles currencies and what we think they are currently worth. In TPG's valuations, we believe Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 2 cents apiece.

But what exactly does that mean? And how did we arrive at that number?

It comes from a number of factors, such as the flexible options for how to use your points, the value you can achieve through redemptions from Chase's transfer partners and the unique airlines and hotel programs it offers.

When you consider the various ways you can use your points and the value those redemptions offer, our calculations put Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents apiece. Sure, you can get more than that — by using your points to fly in first class on a long-haul flight, for example. And the opposite also holds true: it's possible to get less than 2 cents per point in value from your Ultimate Rewards points.

However, while the sky is (literally and figuratively) the limit for high-end redemptions, there is also a floor for redeeming Chase points:

  • 1.25 cents per point for those with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Ink Business Preferred Credit card.
  • 1.5 cents per point for those with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

That's because using your Ultimate Rewards points directly through Chase Travel will unlock these values — and you typically should never get less than that.

This leads us to the transfer partners I tend to avoid.

Why I avoid transfers to JetBlue and Southwest

There's nothing inherently bad about JetBlue TrueBlue or Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards as loyalty programs. The same applies to the airlines themselves. The reason I don't tend to transfer my Ultimate Rewards points to these programs has nothing to do with my opinions of the airlines or their respective rewards programs.

Instead, it's because I believe my points are worth more than what these programs can offer in value for my Ultimate Rewards points.

Let me explain.

I said above that TPG values Ultimate Rewards at 2 cents per point. From the same research process, we peg Southwest points at 1.5 cents each on average, while JetBlue points are typically worth 1.3 cents apiece. Thus, sending your points from Chase to either of these programs likely makes them lose value.

How is that possible? It's because of the value you get during the redemption.

Consider this Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) to Denver International Airport (DEN).

(Screenshot from southwest.com)

Now consider the exact same flight but booked using Rapid Rewards points:

(Screenshot from southwest.com)

If you book these flights using points, you will achieve the following redemption values:

  • Business Select: 1.35 cents per point.
  • Anytime: 1.36 cents per point.
  • Wanna Get Away Plus: 1.39 cents per point.
  • Wanna Get Away: 1.42 cents per point.

When my points are worth 2 cents each in my Chase account, I'm not keen on making them depreciate to roughly 1.4 cents each in this booking example. Values with JetBlue are even lower on average.

Related: Southwest’s new fare type is here. What to know about ‘Wanna Get Away Plus’

Does it ever make sense to transfer points here?

While I do tend to avoid these transfers, I won't say you should never use them. That's because there are limited circumstances when it can make sense to transfer Ultimate Rewards to Southwest or JetBlue.

If you are just a few points shy of an upcoming award redemption, transferring the remaining points from Chase to complete the booking can make sense. In this way, you get the award flights you want by topping off your Rapid Rewards account. Unlike JetBlue, Southwest doesn't offer a way to choose how many points to use. As a result, you must have enough to cover the entire redemption or you'd need to simply pay for the flight.

If you find yourself in this position, points transfers can make sense. However, transferring large sums of points (we're talking tens of thousands at this point) should be avoided wherever possible. Your points are losing value during the transfer process.

What you can do instead of transferring points

Rather than transferring Ultimate Rewards points to TrueBlue or Rapid Rewards, consider simply buying the flight using your points. You can do this via Chase Travel. With JetBlue, you can complete your booking online.

(Screenshot from ultimaterewardstravel.chase.com)

Unfortunately, you can't book Southwest flights online, so you'll need to call 866-951-6592 to book.

In either instance, if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can redeem your points for 1.5 cents apiece through Chase Travel. This is higher than the redemption values you will typically get from transferring your points to JetBlue or Southwest, so you should pay fewer points for the exact same flight you saw on the website for either airline.

Moreover, Southwest and JetBlue will consider these bookings as "paid" fares, so you will earn miles when flying. You won't get that on award redemptions made with TrueBlue or Rapid Rewards after transferring your Chase points.

Bear in mind that the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card only allow these redemptions at a rate of 1.25 cents apiece via Chase Travel. This may make your decision more borderline, so crunch the numbers to see whether it makes sense to transfer or book through the Ultimate Rewards site.

Bottom line

Given that Ultimate Rewards points are worth 2 cents apiece, according to TPG's valuations, I'm not a fan of sacrificing value when it comes to my rewards. For that reason, I tend to avoid transferring my Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest Rapid Rewards or JetBlue TrueBlue.

There are a few instances where these transfers can make sense, but I see those as exceptions to the rule. If you're looking to book JetBlue or Southwest flights with your Chase points, cardholders of the Sapphire Reserve (or even the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred) are likely better off using points to pay for the flights, rather than using a points transfer.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
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Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
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Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases