Chase Ultimate Rewards points are one of the top 3 most valuable points currencies you can collect largely because you are able to transfer them to other mileage programs and use the sweet spots in their programs. Technically, there are three possible uses of Ultimate Rewards points: redeeming for cash back, booking air travel with your points at a value of either 1.25 cents/point or 1.5 cents/point depending on the card, or transferring them directly to an airline or hotel partner. The third option will almost always get you the highest value per point as long as you book your awards wisely.
The biggest advantage of collecting Ultimate Rewards points over a specific airline mileage currency is that each mileage currency is subject to devaluations. However, if you have Ultimate Rewards points and one of their transfer partners gets devalued, you still have 11 other options to choose from, which makes it a much safer place to store your points. Due to this security it is almost never advised to speculatively transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to a partner airline or hotel. You should almost always wait until you are ready to book the ticket before transferring.
The Flying Blue program recently switched to a variable award pricing system, which means that there are no longer fixed award costs for specific routes. This is an especially good reason not to transfer speculatively to Flying Blue. However, this variable pricing also means that it’s possible to find some incredible deals such as using their Promo Awards. In these circumstances, you can get great value from transferring your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Flying Blue.
British Airways is unlike most airlines in that it uses a distance based award chart rather than a region based chart. This means that if you are flying on a nonstop, short-haul flight, you will often get great value by booking with British Airways Avios over most other programs. Chase will sometimes even offer a transfer bonus of up to 30% when transferring to British Airways which can make the deal even sweeter.
Iberia Plus uses a distance based award chart just like British Airways does, however, they combine your total distance traveled when calculating an award price while British Airways calculates an award price for each segment. This means that if you are flying on a shorter route, but not non-stop, Iberia will often provide better value than British Airways.
Singapore Airlines is a Star Alliance carrier that has very competitive and often even industry leading award prices on many routes. So if you are looking to make use of one of these sweet spots such as flying Singapore Suites or flying from the US to Hawaii, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer is a great option for transferring your Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
United has one of the easiest to use mileage programs in the industry, and due to its being in Star Alliance, award availability is usually very good on most routes. Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United MileagePlus miles is most people’s first use of points and miles and is a great way to observe the value you can get from participating in the miles and points hobby. So, if you are looking to take advantage of one of United’s many sweet spots such as the Excursionist Perk, transferring Ultimate Rewards points is a great way to do it.
World of Hyatt is the only hotel program to which it’s advisable to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points. This is because they offer an extremely reasonable award price for their lowest end and their highest end properties. It costs just 5,000 Hyatt points to book a Category 1 hotel room, and considering most Category 1 properties still charge over $100/night, 5,000 points is a bargain. On the flip slide, Category 7 properties such as the Park Hyatt Tokyo often charge over $1000/night and yet only cost 30,000 points per night. Most hotel programs charge 2-3 times this number of points and so are never good options for transferring points; but World of Hyatt can offer excellent value.
JetBlue charges award prices based on the cash price of the ticket. This means that however you choose to redeem JetBlue miles, you will always get about 1.4 cents/point. If you are happy to get this value from your Ultimate Rewards points, then it is a fine redemption. However, considering you can redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for 1.5 cents/point towards travel with the Sapphire Reserve card, you will often want to to save your points for a more valuable redemptions with a different transfer partner.
Southwest Airlines also determines award prices based on the cash price of the ticket, but the conversion rate seems to vary a bit more than with JetBlue. Cheaper flights will often get closer to 1.7 cents/point in value whereas more expensive flights will get you more like 1.4 cents/point. This means it can be an okay value to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest to redeem on cheaper flights. Note: This value can be doubled if you have the Companion Pass.
Unfortunately, most Virgin Atlantic redemptions usually come with astronomical surcharges which often make the redemption not worth it. This is why it is in the average section. However, the program does have a few sweet spots without surcharges such as flying First Class from the US to Japan on ANA. If you want to take advantage of one of these opportunities, you can still get phenomenal value from transferring Ultimate Rewards Points.
Aer Lingus also uses the distance based Avios program that British Airways and Iberia use, but there is nothing that makes their program better to use than British Airways or Iberia.
IHG properties simply cost far too many IHG points to book, which means that IHG points are not worth very much. Due to their lack of value, you can pretty much get better value from any other Chase transfer partner.
Marriott properties also cost an exorbitant number of points per night, which makes transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to their program a very low value usage of points. Marriott also offers a wide array of co-branded credit cards that make it easy to accumulate Marriott points without transferring Ultimate Rewards points.