When to Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to United

Author: Ari Socolow on May 28, 2015

After publishing this recent article about the outstanding value in Singapore’s KrisFlyer program, a Chase Ultimate rewards transfer partner (and a Amex and Citibank transfer partner), we have been inundated with questions about why anyone would ever still transfer points to United.

To be clear, there are many circumstances where you would still transfer points to United, including just about any redemption not outlined in that article as being one of the 4 great opportunities on Singapore.

In fact, while United has rampantly devalued its frequent flier program over the last several years, a handful of good redemption opportunities remain.

One of the best uses of United miles is a 30,000 miles redemption for intra-Europe round trip coach travel on any of its European partners or another partner. This opportunity covers a large geographic area as Europe on United’s chart extends from Iceland to Moscow, and redemptions may include a stopover or open jaw. United’s partners include SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Adria, Croatian and Swiss. Lufthansa and its German Wings subsidiary area also Star Alliance partners although for not recommended at the moment for intra-Europe travel for obvious reasons. (British Airways, also a Chase transfer partner, also offers intra-Europe round trip redemptions that may be even less than 30,000 miles, but often carry higher carrier-imposed surcharges).

Another solid United redemption is 35,000 miles for round trip coach travel between the US and Central America or the Caribbean on either United or partner Copa Airlines.

There are also great United redemptions in Asia through Air New Zealand that may be a more economical way to travel New Zealand (or through New Zealand) than by redeeming on Singapore. For example, it is 40,000 miles for a saver award for one way travel from US to New Zealand on partner Air New Zealand or 35,000 miles from the US to Fiji. It is also only 22,500 miles in coach from Japan to New Zealand or Australia or only 30,000 miles in business class from Japan to Fiji.

Finally, it should be noted that any discount that you may be receive from transferring Chase points to Singapore in order to book on United metal (as outlined in points 1 or 2 of this article) is available if you can find a United Mileage Saver award available on the date and time that you are seeking to fly. Many people will not have the flexibility to find a Mileage Saver award that suits their plans and will need to book so-called standard award redemptions. United does not open standard award redemptions to its Star Alliance partners so the only way to book these redemptions on United with Chase is by transferring your points directly to United.

One of the advantages of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program (and using Chase Sapphire or Chase Ink), as well as an advantage of Citibank and Amex’s flexible points program, is that you don’t need to transfer points until you are prepared to redeem for travel. In fact, as this article points out, you should never transfer points from Chase into either United or Singapore without firm travel plans. It is always better to leave them at Chase and maintain the flexibility to use them there or at one of Chase’s other great transfer partners when you are ready to redeem.

Ari Socolow
Ari Socolow: Ari Socolow is the Chief Economist and Editor-in-Chief at BestCashCow. He is particularly interested in issues relating to bank transparency and the climate crisis. Since co-founding BestCashCow in 2005, Ari has been frequently cited in the media as an expert on local and national savings accounts, CD products, mortgage and loan products and credit card rewards products.

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