August 12, 2022
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One of the beautiful things about transferable points currencies is how much flexibility your points get you, as you can transfer them to many airline and hotel partners. However, not all transfer partners are created equal, and in this post I wanted to talk about two programs that I’d (personally) never transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are incredibly valuable

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the currency earned on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (review), Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review), and Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review). I consider Ultimate Rewards points to be one of the most valuable and flexible points currencies out there, thanks to the multitude of ways you can use the points.

Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to the 14 partner loyalty programs, including 11 airline loyalty programs and three hotel loyalty programs.

Airline Partners

Hotel Partners

Aer Lingus AerClub

IHG One Rewards

Air Canada Aeroplan

Marriott Bonvoy

Air France-KLM Flying Blue

World of Hyatt

British Airways Executive Club

Emirates Skywards

Iberia Plus

JetBlue TrueBlue

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

Southwest Rapid Rewards

United MileagePlus

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners

Alternatively, you can also choose to redeem Ultimate Rewards points toward the cost of a travel purchase (flight, hotel, car rental, etc.) through the Chase Travel Portal, and the value you get is based on the most premium card you have:

Personally I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, based on the ability to transfer them to valuable travel partners, like World of Hyatt.

Transfer Chase points to Hyatt for some amazing hotel stays

Does Ultimate Rewards have any “bad” transfer partners?

Reader Rob asked me a question about transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to IHG One Rewards to top off for an award redemption, and that brings up a topic I want to address more broadly. Here’s the question:

I have 300K Chase points and 180K IHG points. I am looking to book a four night stay at an IHG resort, but it requires 240K points. Should I transfer 60K points from Chase, or is there a better option? FWIW, the four night hotel stay would cost $2,000 if paying cash.

In general I tend to say that a good use of points is anything that gets you a travel experience you’d like. If you want to transfer Ultimate Rewards points, there are 14 airline & hotel partners, and all those partners allow 1:1 transfers. There are instances in which I think it can make sense to transfer points to all of those currencies… except two.

Specifically, I think you should almost never transfer Ultimate Rewards points to IHG One Rewards or Marriott Bonvoy. Meanwhile I think there are instances where it absolutely makes sense to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to all of Chase’s other Ultimate Rewards partners.

Why shouldn’t you transfer points to those two currencies? It’s not because I don’t like the hotel groups or hotel loyalty programs, but rather because not all points are created equal. Much like monetary currencies aren’t created equal — one US Dollar isn’t worth the same as a British Pound, and that isn’t worth the same as an Indonesian Rupiah — neither are points currencies. You’ll see this reflected when you look at my points valuations.

Personally, I value IHG One Rewards points at 0.5 cents each, and Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.7 cents. I absolutely wouldn’t recommend redeeming a currency worth a minimum of 1.25-1.5 cents for points like that.

I would never transfer Chase points to Marriott Bonvoy

What would I do in the above situation?

What would I do in Rob’s situation? Well, I’d pursue other avenues for earning points. Keep in mind that both IHG One Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy frequently sell points at an attractive cost, so you’d be much better off buying those currencies with cash, and then saving your points for other uses.

With a promotion, IHG One Rewards points can be purchased for as little as 0.5 cents each. Even without a promotion, you could buy them for 1.0 cents each, which I’d prefer compared to transferring Chase points.

In other words, you could acquire 60,000 IHG points for ~$300-600. Then you could redeem the Chase points for a minimum of $750-900 toward the cost of a travel purchase (or you could get even more value by transferring those points to other partners).

All that being said, let me acknowledge my general approach toward points, which is also why I have strong feelings on this:

  • Points don’t grow on trees, so I assign them a certain value, and try not to redeem them if I’m not getting at least that much value; I don’t view them as being a “free” currency that I should just automatically use whenever I can
  • It’s important to consider the opportunity cost of redemptions; I don’t view any redemptions as being “free,” since there’s always an opportunity cost to both earning and redeeming points (it’s also why I don’t like the concept of TikTok videos along the lines of “how I flew to Europe in business class for $6 — no, that’s really bad math)
  • I should acknowledge that one important exception would be if you’re cash “poor” and points “rich,” and you’re not in a position where you can spend the cash to buy points
I would never transfer Chase points to IHG One Rewards

Bottom line

There are lots of great uses of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, including transfer partners and the ability to redeem points as cash toward the cost of a travel redemption. I think there are instances where it can make sense to transfer points to any of Chase’s transfer partners, with the exception of IHG One Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.

While the value of points is subjective, a points currency that can be redeemed for a minimum of 1.25-1.5 cents toward a travel purchase probably shouldn’t be redeemed for points currencies that can pretty consistently be acquired for under a cent each.

At least that’s my take, based on viewing points as a currency, and trying to be efficient about redeeming them.

Does anyone have a different take, or have another Ultimate Rewards transfer partner that they think is almost never worthwhile?

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