Best ways to use 100K Chase Ultimate Rewards points? That's a question I'm getting from some TravelSort clients who either applied today in-branch for the new Chase Sapphire Reserve, or plan to apply for the card this week, once online applications for it open.
As always, I recommend maximizing the value of your points by transferring to frequent flyer partners and redeeming for first class or business class, since you'll get more value per point that way then redeeming for hotel stays or by redeeming for travel via Chase. But first, I'll recap Ultimate Rewards transfer partners:
Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners
Here are the Ultimate Rewards transfer partners; I've bolded the ones I consider most valuable:
- British Airways Executive Club (Avios)
- Air France / KLM Flying Blue
- Korean Air SKYPASS
- Singapore Air KrisFlyer
- Southwest Rapid Rewards
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Hyatt Gold Passport
- IHG Rewards Club
- Marriott Rewards
- Ritz-Carlton Rewards
With this in mind, here are some of the best ways to use Ultimate Rewards points, if you value first class or business class:
1. Singapore Suites on the A380 from NYC via Frankfurt to Singapore: 93,500 Miles + $287.48 One Way
This has become a very tough award to reserve, so if you manage to book this, most likely last minute, it's a great deal. Note that you do not have access to the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt (this is only for those actually flying Lufthansa First Class) but you can enjoy the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse in JFK before your flight, pre-selected Book the Cook meals both on the JFK to Frankfurt flight and Frankfurt to Singapore, and, in my opinion, the most comfortable bed in the sky in an enclosed suite (see Best First Class Airline Beds).
2. Singapore First Class Houston to Moscow: 57,375 Miles + $211.80 One Way
Singapore Airlines will be discontinuing this route come October 30, 2016 (switching it to Manchester instead) so if you want to fly this to Moscow for a visit to Russia or Scandinavia you have limited time to redeem for this award. While this is Singapore's old First Class product, it's still a good deal considering the over 10 hour flight and excellent service, especially since United charges 70,000 miles each way for Star Alliance partner business class to Europe.
Or, wait until after October 30 to fly Houston to Manchester, UK in Singapore First Class for 57,375 + $203.40 one way.
3. Singapore Suites Paris to Singapore: 91,375 Miles + EUR 252.69 One Way
Since it's very challenging to book Singapore Suites on routes to and from the U.S., consider redeeming for an award from Paris to Singapore if your heart is set on trying Singapore Suites on the A380, and you want to visit both Europe and Asia on your trip. You'll still need to get yourself to Europe via an award or paid ticket.
4. Singapore Suites Sydney to Singapore: 63,570 Miles + AUD 285.75
Alternatively, if you're visiting Australia and Asia, try Singapore Suites on a flight from Sydney to Singapore for just over 8 hours. Be sure to check that the flight you're redeeming for is on the A380, such as SQ222 or SQ232 when flying from Sydney to Singapore, as the other flights are operated by a 777-300.
5. Singapore Business Class Europe to Singapore to New Zealand: 80,750 Miles + ~EUR 350
This can be a tough award to get, but it's a great deal for business class, given that you're flying around 14 hours from Europe to Singapore, then another almost 10 hours from Singapore to New Zealand. And depending on your flight from Europe you can have time during your Singapore layover to head into Singapore, say for a great bowl of laksa or a visit to the Gardens by the Bay.
6. Singapore Business Class Tokyo to LAX: 65,375 Miles + JPY 9370 (~$95)
While this flight is now operated by a 777-300ER and not the A380, business class is a good deal for over a 10 hour flight, and perfect for a trip to Japan for spring cherry blossom season or autumn foliage.
7. Korean Air First Class between the U.S. and Korea/Japan/China for 80,000 Miles + ~$200 One Way
Another great way to fly the A380 is on Korean Air, especially if you're seeking more than one award seat. Since Korean is a member of SkyPass and Delta SkyMiles members can't redeem for Korean Air First Class, Ultimate Rewards points are an excellent way to secure first class awards to Asia. The only thing is that there's just one lavatory for the 12 First Class suites, and Korean Air's bed isn't as comfortable as Singapore Suites nor does Korean Air tend to have as polished service as Singapore Airlines, plus you do need to avoid Korean Air peak date pricing, but otherwise this is an excellent use of Ultimate Rewards points.
8. Korean Air Business Class between the U.S. and Korea/Japan/China for 62,500 + ~$200 One Way
If you want to stretch your Ultimate Rewards points, you could use 100,000 points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus plus another 25,000 Ultimate Rewards points from spend on the Sapphire Reserve and perhaps one of your other Ultimate Rewards cards (Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus or Chase Freedom) to book a roundtrip in Korean Air Business Class between the U.S. and Northeast Asia.
Korean A380 Prestige Business Class is in a 2-2-2 configuration, so best if you're traveling with a partner; or if traveling solo, I recommend choosing one of the D or E seats in the middle so that you have direct aisle access and won't be disturbed by someone climbing over you when sleeping (and won't have to hop over someone else, as you would if seated by the window).
9. U.S. to Europe in Brussels Airlines Business Class for 70,000 United Miles + $5.60 Each Way
I rarely redeem for United awards after the United Award Chart devaluation, but if you want to avoid fuel surcharges and don't mind using more miles, it's certainly an option. Brussels Airlines offers flat bed business class with 20.5 seat width in an alternating 1-2-1 and 2-1-2 configuration, which clients tend to prefer to Lufthansa Business Class which is in a 2-2-2 configuration, and even to Austrian Airlines Business Class, which has a narrower seat width of 19 inches.
There are certainly many other awards possible, but the above are some of my favorites. What are your favorite ways to use 100K Ultimate Rewards points?
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