Top 5 Ways To Redeem 60,000 Ultimate Rewards Points For A Business Class Flight
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Even if you've carefully studied TPG's valuations, it can be hard to visualize exactly what you get when you sign up for a new credit card to take advantage of a welcome offer. This is especially true if you're newer to travel rewards and looking at starter cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
The Sapphire Preferred, long considered one of the best all around rewards cards on the market is currently offering new applicants 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening, with $95 annual fee. TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, making this bonus worth an impressive $2,000.
60,000 points is more than enough to start planning your next vacation. Maybe you're traveling with a family or prefer to fly economy and stretch your points into as many trips as possible, but if you're eyeing a premium cabin redemption and a flat bed for your next flight, here are six ways to redeem your Chase Sapphire Preferred sign-up bonus for a business class flight.
1. Fly United's "High J" 767 To Europe
Transfer partner: United MileagePlus
Miles required each way: 60,000
While Chase has a diverse collection of transfer partners, many people will be best off looking to United first as its a familiar program, and you might already have some MileagePlus miles from your previous travels. It used to be that United business class was hardly worth talking about, but that's rapidly changing as the carrier retrofits more and more of its fleet with the sleek new Polaris seats.
Earlier this month United unveiled its first high-density 767-300ER Polaris retrofit with a whopping 46 seats on board. In reality only 45 will be bookable on most flights, as 1A is reserved for crew rest on transatlantic routes. Speaking of transatlantic routes, this plane made a surprise debut on the Newark (EWR) to London (LHR) route last week, and TPG editor-at-large Zach Honig was on board for the first flight in each direction. You can check out his full review here, but the 46 seat cabin definitely slowed down the service flow.
If you're looking to book this route yourself, or really any United operated flight from the US to Europe, you can do so for exactly 60,000 MileagePlus miles, transferred 1:1 from Chase Ultimate Rewards. Note that if you fly on a Star Alliance partner like Lufthansa or Austrian you'll pay an extra 10,000 miles for the one-way business class award. That being said, hopefully the 46 seat Polaris cabin will make it easier to find saver level United awards.
2. Book British Airways' New A350 Business Class From London (LHR) to Toronto (YYZ)
Transfer partner: British Airways Executive Club
Miles required each way: 50,000-60,000
British Airways business class has long been a disappointing product, with outdated seats, cramped cabins, and limited privacy. British Airways recently unveiled its new business class seat, and while it will be a while before much of the fleet features this product, it seems like BA really did a good job addressing the most serious concerns.
The seats are a modified reverse herringbone seat, similar to what you'd find on Air Canada or American Airlines, though British Airways will be installing a closing door for even more privacy.
The new product will initially debut on British Airways' A350-1000 aircraft, the first of which it expects to take delivery of this July. The first long-haul routes will be from London (LHR) to Madrid (MAD), Dubai (DXB) and Toronto (YYZ). TPG's JT Genter did an excellent job compiling all of your options for booking this new product on points and miles, but one option jumps out immediately: flights from London to Toronto cost either 50,000 or 60,000 Avios each way in business class, depending on whether the flight is during peak or off-peak travel dates.
You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points 1:1 to Avios, meaning you can take advantage of this deal even if you signed up for the Sapphire Reserve under the old 50,000 point offer. Just remember flights to and from London carry nasty taxes, ~$550 if you're departing from London and about $400 if you fly in the other direction.
3. Fly JetBlue Mint From Coast To Coast
Transfer partner: JetBlue TrueBlue
Miles required each way: ~50,000-60,000+
Most of the time flying in "domestic first class" is a huge letdown. If you're hoping for lounge access, flat beds, and top notch food and serve, the three US legacy carriers will leave you disappointed more often than not. One notable exception here is JetBlue's Mint class, which provides true lie flat seats and an enjoyable experience to an ever growing selection of north and central American destinations.
Much like Southwest, JetBlue uses a revenue based program so a seat up front in Mint will cost a different amount of miles on different days. For flights from New York (JFK) to San Francisco (SFO), one of the longest routes to feature Mint, the best you can hope for is about 50,000 miles one way, which roughly maps to a $660 cash ticket.
This gives you a redemption value of about 1.32 cents per point if you transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to JetBlue, better than the 1.25 cents you'd get if you booked these flights directly through the Chase portal.
4. Take Advantage Of Flying Blue Promo Awards
Transfer partner: Air France/KLM Flying Blue
Miles required each way: Varies by route and day
Air France/KLM Flying Blue lost a lot of value for the average traveler when the program took a page out of Delta's playbook and removed its award charts in favor of variable or "dynamic" pricing. This means that the price you see on any given day is the price you get, making it hard to speak about the program in general terms. One redemption options that continues to be a good value though is Flying Blue's monthly promo awards, offering discounts for flights from Europe to select cities around the globe.
The discounts used to be a set number of miles, but now they're a percentage discount off the best available award rate. For March, the North American destinations and discounts are as follows:
- Toronto (YYZ) 25% off business class awards
- Cancun (CUN) 25% off business class awards
- Mexico City (MEX) 25% off business class awards
- Montreal (YUL) 25% off business class awards
You'll want to try and book towards the beginning of the month to get the best deals, but even this late in March it's possible to find plenty of one-way business class awards between the above cities and Europe for under 60,000 miles each way. For example, you can fly from Toronto to London (LHR) for only 53,000 miles in business class.
5. Use The Chase Portal To Book Cheap Transcontinental Business Class Flights
Transfer partner: N/A, book through the Chase portal
Miles required each way: 45,000+ points (points are worth 1.25 cents each)
Normally you'll get the best value from your Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to an airline partner, but it's important to remember that the Chase Sapphire Preferred does carry a 25% bonus when you redeem your points directly through the Chase portal. While this won't get you into any international business class seats, it might be enough for a free flight across the country.
American Airlines flies a specially configured Airbus A321T (for transcontinental) from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO). This plane features a lie-flat business class cabin (shown above), and an even more spacious first class cabin. Since these routes are very popular with business travelers, you'll often find significantly cheaper fares on the weekend.
At $558 for a one-way business class award, you could book this through the Ultimate Rewards portal for only ~44,600 points. The number on my account is lower because I have a Chase Sapphire Reserve which has a 50% bonus for portal bookings.
These transcontinental flights will also get you access to American's flagship lounges, which are some of the better ones operated by any American airline. If you want to fly in first class, which features 10 reverse herringbone seats (similar to the ones you'll find in most of American's international fleet) laid out in a 1-1 configuration, you may be able to swing that as well.
If you count the money you spend earning the bonus on the Sapphire Preferred, you'll walk away with at least 64,000 points. That's enough for $800 of free travel through the Chase portal, and while first class fares don't get quite that low, one of the nice features of the Chase portal is you can mix and match points and cash. Your bonus, plus ~$60 out of pocket, could you a first class flight an an invitation to AA's flagship first dining on the ground before you go. As an added bonus these are revenue flights, so you'll continue to earn miles and elite qualifying metrics on this ticket.
These are just a few examples of what can be done with the bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Having a lie flat seat and a dream vacation in the back of your mind will help you earn your bonus as fast as you (responsibly) can, and with an extra 10,000 points in your wallet, the sky's the limit on where you can go.