A friend of mine is engaged and is going through the exciting process of honeymoon planning! As many of you know, a wedding can be a very expensive event, so it definitely helps to save money wherever you can. My friend knows a bit about points and miles and is committed to utilizing them as much as possible in order to cut down on the out-of-pocket cost of the wedding extravaganza – smart thinking!
She has her eyes set on the sunny island of St. Kitts in the Caribbean (sounds amazing!) and has a healthy amount of Chase Ultimate Rewards points to get her there.
Since there isn’t a direct flight from Tampa to St. Kitts, the optimal (fastest and cheapest) way to get there is to fly American Airlines with a single stop in Miami.
After learning this, my friend checked out the American Airlines Award Chart and noted that 35,000 AAdvantage miles can be redeemed for a round-trip flight from the US to the Caribbean.
To book this award the next step would be to transfer her Chase Ultimate Rewards points to American Airlines, right?
Not so fast! Unfortunately, she forgot one thing – that transfer is not possible since American Airlines is not a transfer partner with Chase! And since American Airlines is NOT a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, there are no direct transfer options.
So CAN she use her Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to fly on American Airlines?
Yes, she still can! Just not as easily as she initially imagined…
She has 2 options:
Remember, the American Airlines Award Chart applies to redeeming AAdvantage miles only!
For those of you that are unfamiliar, the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal allows you to book travel using points based on the actual price of the airfare. Once you have selected your flights you can then redeem Chase Ultimate Reward points at the standard rate of .0125 as shown below. For example, $742.26 / .0125 = 59,380 points.
UPDATE 8/25/16: If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve you can redeem Chase Ultimate Reward points through the portal at a standard rate of .0150 (rather than the CSP rate of .0125)!
Redeeming 59,380 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for this $700+ ticket is considered a good value, but is not the best use of those points in my opinion. In my experience the best use of Chase Ultimate Rewards points is to transfer them to travel partners, rather than redeeming through the portal (although the improvements to the redemption rate for CSR cardholders in very intriguing and could sway me in certain situations)…
…Which brings me to option 2:
She can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio to British Airways Executive Club Avios, and book American Airlines flights using the Avios she transferred into her account! Since British Airways and American Airlines are both OneWorld Memeber Airlines, you can easily redeem British Airways Avios for American Airlines flights!
British Airways mileage program is distance based, so luckily for my friend, Tampa and St. Kitts are not too many miles apart, making this a great use of Chase Ultimate Rewards points! Keep in mind that for longer-haul flights, British Airways Avios might not always provide the best value considering their distance based chart.
Now here is an example flight when booking a British Airways award flight flying on American Airlines:
And here is the cost of that one way flight:
Special thanks to reader Lynn who reminded me the power of British Airways Avios!!!
One bit of advice I shared with my friend is to consider applying for an American Airlines Citi AAdvantage Platinum card or a Starwood Preferred American Express card (remember SPG IS a transfer partner to American Airlines!) in order to build her AAdvantage miles balance and ultimately book an AAdvantage award flight.
Note: Since the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card has a wimpy current public sign-up bonus of 30,000 AAdvantage miles (there is an AA flyertak thread reporting that the 50k bonus is alive and well!), perhaps consider taking advantage of the strong Starwood Preferred American Express which is at an all-time high sign-up bonus!
Once she has the miles, she will be able to book the following award:
By using American Airlines AAdvantage miles for the flight, my friend can now find another use for her valuable Chase Ultimate Reward points!
So, can you use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to fly American Airlines? Yes! Just keep in mind that you have a couple options in the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal and points transfer to Britsh Airways Avios! Which option to chose varies on a case by case basis, so be sure to research both options and determine which will get you to your destination for the least amount of [valuable] Chase Ultimate Rewards points!
If you have additional questions related to redeeming Chase Ultimate Reward points or American Airlines AAdvantage miles, then consider AYP Travel Consulting and send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!