How to use transfer partners is one of the most requested guides because there are so many steps to take. To get the maximum value from points, you'll have to put in the work and research which airline partners are best for you.
Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use transfer partners. Before we dive in, be sure to transfer all your Ultimate Rewards Points to the card that has access to transfer partners: the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, or the Chase Ink Preferred.
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How to Transfer Points
1. Login to your Chase account and find the Ultimate Rewards Portal.
2. Click on a card that has access to transfer partners like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Chase Ink Preferred, or the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
3. Transfer all your points to the respective card. i.e., transfer Chase Freedom points to a Sapphire card.
In the example below, we're transferring points from the Chase Freedom to the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Transfer all the points.
4. To use transfer partners, hover over the use points and click one of the airlines.
5. Choose the airline partner you want to use.
6. Enter your frequent flyer information.
7. That's it! The good thing about Chase is that transfers are instantaneous, unlike Amex where it may take a few days.
Important: Once you transfer Ultimate Rewards points to an airline, you cannot revert the points back to Ultimate Rewards. Only transfer the amount you need.
Since there are a lot of different options, you need to sit down and research which programs are the best use of points. There are a few sweet spots available for redemption, but supply is limited and hard to find.
For example, a viewer messaged me asking if I was lying about the IHG Bora Bora free certificate redemption because they tried once or twice and failed. I spent one week looking once or twice a day and booked my certificate nights.
How to Book a Flight
Since there are a lot of options, let's run through a real example. Let's say I'm trying to go from SF to Seoul.
Download the Trip Planning Template here: http://bit.ly/2ysr6Gt
To use the trip planning template, you want to run down the whole list of transfer partners and see how many points it would cost for each one (info can be found on each carrier's website). Yes, this is going to take work on your end.
For United, the travel awards redemption is straight forward. Let's assume we're flying economy to Seoul, which costs 80,000 award miles per way. An economy roundtrip ticket costs 160,000 award miles.
The next step is to see if there is any award or saver availability on United's website. Be sure to check the box for "Search for award travel."
A calendar of award availability should appear and since we're looking for Saver Award, focus on the solid blue line.
In addition to the 35,000 miles, you'll still have to pay $5.60 for taxes and fees.
If you don't have flexibility, then you're going to have to take the Economy tickets for 80,000 points.
In our example, we're assuming you do have flexibility so the spreadsheet reflects the 70,000 points and $11.20 in fees.
How to use the Chase Travel Portal
Beyond transfer partners, be sure to compare the rates to the Chase Travel Portal. Since the prices in the Travel Portal are similar to Google Flights, it's easier to use Google to find the best flight route. It's hard to compare dates and different airline carriers with the Chase Travel Portal user interface.
Keep in mind that just because the route is cheap, it may not be the fastest nor the most efficient route. Choose the route that makes the most sense for you.
To filter the search, select your desired airlines.
Flights might not be available on your desired dates, so it helps to be flexible.
We altered our search to Dec. 10-Dec. 18.
Found a decent flight on Air Canada, but the layover seems excessive. Let's alter the dates.
If we move the date to Dec. 11, then the layover is more reasonable.
After you locate the desired airline and flight number, login to the Chase Travel Portal and find the flight. Note down how many points it takes in the spreadsheet to compare it to all the options.
We're not going to run through all the transfer partners or we'll be here all day. Researching can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 10 hours. Transfer partners are optimal for sweet spot redemptions or last minute travel.
Transfer partners are also good to use during peak holiday times to lock in prices. Another good use to transfer partners are for first or business class redemptions.
If you're someone who doesn't want to compare all the transfer options, then go the Google Flights route and book flights using the Chase Travel Portal.
It helps to have a redemption in mind, but if you need some inspiration, we recommend signing up for Scott's Cheap Flights to get deal alerts.