Everyone’s dreamed of flying first class, especially when traveling on long-haul flights. For many travelers, that privilege hasn’t come to fruition. After all, flying in front of the plane comes with a hefty price tag! But who says you have to pay face value? Take advantage of a few travel tips including raking up Chase Ultimate Rewards points and you may just find yourself in first class, sipping champagne with a flatbed and on your next flight. Here’s how to fly first class with Chase Ultimate Rewards Points:
The Skinny on Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re looking for a credit card that suits your wanderlust, then consider those that allow you to earn points through the Ultimate Rewards Program. There are several travel credit cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points.
The lower tier cards include the Chase Sapphire, Chase Freedom, and Ink Business Cash. These allow cardholders to redeem their rewards one cent per point. The premier cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and the Ink Business Preferred, on the other hand, gives cardholders up to 50 percent more redemption rate value. That means if you have 50,000 accumulated with a lower tier card, it can be redeemed for up to $500 for travel, but if you have the same amount on a premier, the redemption value can be as much as $750 for travel.
In addition to the redemption value, it’s important to point out that lower tier cards don’t come with a hefty annual fee. Some don’t even charge one at all. The premier cards, however, such the Chase Sapphire Reserve, can be as much as $450 per year. And you should never apply for a credit card if your credit score isn’t in good condition.
How much are the points worth?
As mentioned above, the point value for the Ultimate Rewards is relatively simple. When redeeming your points through the Chase Travel Portal the Chase Sapphire Preferred & Ink Business Preferred cards, it’s one cent to one point equivalent when redeeming for cash back, travel expenses and other items. If you redeem towards travel, each point receives 1.25 cents. The premium Sapphire Reserve gives you a value of 1.50 cents.
How to Fly First Class with Chase Ultimate Rewards Points?
Knowing the best ways to earn Ultimate Reward points and how to use them brings you halfway closer to flying first class. Following the tips below will get you there.
Tip #1: Transfer your Ultimate Reward points to loyalty partners.
A direct transfer of your points to loyalty partners is the best way for you to secure that first class seat on your next long-haul flight. Chase Ultimate Rewards program partners with a number of major airlines. It currently has partnerships with the following airline loyalty reward programs:
- United Airlines MileagePlus®
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®
- British Airways Avios
- Korean Air SKYPASS
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Air France / KLM Flying Blue
Depending on the route, the date of travel and the promotions available with each airline, you can fly first class for as little as 60,000 miles each way. That translates to just $600 (if you were to redeem your points through Chase’s website), which is a super bargain if you compare it to the face value of one first-class ticket.
Though transferring your points is the cheapest way to book a first class ticket, keep in mind that you will be subject to rules and limitations of airlines. Allow for some flexibility when planning your trip. Also, it’s important to note that once you transfer your points, you may not cancel or transfer them back, so make sure before you make the leap.
Another tip is that you can fly any airline that’s a partner of a transfer airline! For example, you can fly Lufthansa with United miles since they are both apart of the Star Alliance.
Tip #2: Use reward points to upgrade a ticket you’ve purchased.
Another way to take advantage of the Chase Ultimate Rewards partnership with airline loyalty program is to use your points to upgrade a ticket you’ve purchased. A direct transfer can get you a first class seat at an economy price.
Even though Chase Ultimate Rewards only has partnerships with the seven mentioned above, each of these airlines is part of a much larger group with transferrable miles. Before booking, call the airlines and check if your miles with an affiliated partner airline will be honored. After all, almost all of the major airlines offer an option to upgrade using miles from their respective loyalty programs.
Tip #3: Upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card to maximize your point earnings.
I mentioned earlier that within the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, there are two different levels. Being on the upper level gives you more earning potential and higher redemption value.
If you currently have a lower level credit card that earns you Ultimate Rewards points, consider upgrading to the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. Not only will you maximize your point earnings, you’ll get a discount when redeeming points for travel use. The same is true if you own airline credit cards that reward you with mileage points.
Most airline credit card’s earning potential is two cents per dollar. Upgrading to the Chase Sapphire Reserve, however, rewards you with three points for every dollar spent. For example, if you have a United MileagePlus Club card and used it to purchase a $1,000 round trip to London, you’ll earn just 2,000 in your card. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you’ll earn 3,000 points. And because the Ultimate Rewards Program has a partnership with United, you can directly transfer your points without fees or penalties, giving you a total of 33% more miles.
Tip #4: Use the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to book travel.
Last but not least, you can increase your chances of flying first class by booking directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. This will most likely cost you points and is better for domestic first class flights, but sometimes award availability in airline loyalty programs can be scarce. Not only will your redeemed points go further, you’ll also earn 3x more points for every dollar spent. More points equate to more miles available for transfer. This gives you a better opportunity to get a free first class trip through mileage redemption or a bargain deal through the airline’s pay-by-mileage upgrade request.
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