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How To Book Delta Flights With Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Advertiser disclosure: The Miles Genie has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products.  The Miles Genie and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Editorial disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses, and recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities.

Transferable bank points such as Chase Ultimate Rewards points are my favorite type of credit card rewards. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are easy to earn and easy to redeem.  There are several redemption options thanks to Chase’s airline and hotel transfer partners.

When you use an airline co-branded credit card, you only earn miles for that airline program. For example, if you only have a Delta co-branded card, you only earn Delta Skymiles. Airline miles generally to not transfer to other airlines. You cannot transfer Delta Skymiles to other airlines. Airline co-branded cards are great for welcome bonuses and for benefits, but for everyday spending, it usually makes more sense to accumulate transferable points such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership rewards points.

The most common argument is “but I fly [insert airline] so I need [insert airline] miles”. This seems like a reasonable argument, but most people overlook the fact that transferable points such as Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards have airline partners.

American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to Delta Skymiles. So it’s pretty easy to argue that Amex Membership Rewards are better than Delta Skymiles because I can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to 19 different airlines including Delta.

Delta Skymiles is not one of the 10 airline transfer partners of Chase Ultimate Rewards, so I can’t really make that argument. Instead, I’ll explain why you don’t need Delta Skymiles to book Delta flights. There are 3 ways to book Delta flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. No Skymiles necessary.

You do not need Delta Skymiles to book Delta award flights

There are three ways to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Delta flights

  1. Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Delta flights by booking via the Ultimate Rewards redemption portal.
  2. You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic to book Delta flights.
  3. You can also transfer to KLM/France to book Delta flights
With Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can book some Delta flights for significantly less than the amount of Delta Skymiles required

The way Delta Skymiles prices award tickets often makes Skymiles have a pretty low value. The amount of miles required for some tickets gets pretty insane. There are some great deals, but without Delta publishing any type of award pricing information, it’s hard to predict. As you’ll see in an example below of a roundtrip Delta flight from the US to Paris, you would not want to use Delta Skymiles even if that is an option. This particular flight would be 98,000 Delta Skymiles. But Chase has 2 partners that can book the exact same Delta flight for 60,000 miles or less.

How to earn transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points

These 3 cards earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred to Chase’s airline partner programs:

Tip: If you have one of those 3 cards, you can also earn bonus points by making purchases online in their shopping portal.

Earn your first 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points
Chase Sapphire Preferred 2019

No matter what your travel goals are, the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is the first card I suggest for almost anyone. The welcome bonus of 60,000 is worth at least $750.  But you can potentially get even more value out of those points by using transfer partners as I’ll discuss in this post. This card also earns 2 points per dollar on travel and dining spend.

Transfer partners are generally the most valuable way to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points. But first, I’ll explain the Ultimate Rewards booking portal option.

Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Delta flights using the Ultimate Rewards redemption portal

You can use your Ultimate Rewards points to ‘pay’ for all or part of your airfare by booking through the Ultimate Rewards redemption portal. Note that you can also use Ultimate Rewards to book hotels and cards through the redemption portal. This portal is powered by Expedia, so they should have the same options for flights, hotels, rental cars, and tours as what Expedia.com offers.

The advantage to this (as opposed to transferring to airline partners) is that you have lots of options in terms of airlines and routing. You do not have to worry about award seat availability since the ticket is issued as a paid ticket, not an award ticket. This also means that you will actually earn miles for the flight the same way you would on a paid ticket.

The disadvantage is that you will be redeeming the points at a fixed rate. Sure, there are no blackout dates to worry about. You also don’t have to worry about award seat availability. The problem is, a more expensive plane ticket is going to require more miles/points. This can be a problem if you’re trying to book travel on peak dates such as holidays.

How much are Chase Ultimate Rewards points worth if I redeem via the redemption portal?

Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents per point or 1.50 cents per point, depending on which card you hold:

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel via the Ultimate Rewards redemption portal is a good option when fares are low, but tickets with higher fares may require more Ultimate Rewards than you care to redeem.

Tip: There are other Chase cards, such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited, that earn Ultimate Rewards points but those points cannot be transferred. The no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited is basically a cash-back card on its own, but pairing it with a CSP, CSR, or CIBP is a great way to boost your earning potential.  

If you also have one of the three Chase cards that earn transferable Ultimate Rewards points (CSP, CSR, or CIBP), then any points earned from the Chase Freedom Unlimited can be redeemed the exact same way you would redeem your transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Pairing one of the transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards earning cards with the Chase Freedom Unlimited gives you the potential to earn 1.88% or 2.25% back on your spending when you redeem through the redemption portal.  This is better than the return rates of the Chase Sapphire cards alone. Click here for more information.

How to book via the redemption portal

I’m using a nonstop Delta itinerary between the US and Europe for this and other examples throughout the post. You will be able to see that each of the three ways to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards for Delta flights will result in a different redemption price. The best way to book depends on routing, paid fares, and availability.

Log in to Ultimaterewards.com using your Chase username and password. On the main menu, select travel.

Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal

Type in your dates and destination. All available flights will populate. You can filter by airline, nonstop, etc. The cheapest nonstop route is $1029.

How to book Delta flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards

A nonstop Delta flight from Detroit to Paris is just over $1,000 on these dates. That would require 68,564 points if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred, the price would be ~82,200 points.

Depending on which Chase Sapphire credit card you have, this itinerary is 68,564 points or ~82,200 points
How to book Delta flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards

Another option: If you’re okay with another airline and/or a connecting flight, you may be able to find cheaper flights. For example, for this particular route, there is a roundtrip American Airlines itinerary that connects in Philadelphia with a fare of only $521. A ticket that costs $521 requires less than 35,000 Ultimate Rewards points roundtrip with the Chase Sapphire Reserve! With the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Prefered, the price would be 41,600 points which is still a good deal for a roundtrip ticket to Europe.

How to book Delta flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards

Using points to book in the redemption portal is a good option when fares are low. It’s always a good idea to check transfer partners for award ticket availability, though. This is how you can get more than 1.25 or 1.50 cents value out of your Ultimate Rewards points.

The exact Delta itinerary that requires 68,564 points or ~82,200 in the redemption portal can be booked for 53,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you use one of Chase’s airline transfer partners to book.

Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airline partners

The second way to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards for flights is to transfer them to airline partners. Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to airline partners is how you can potentially get more value out of your points. Once transferred, your Ultimate Rewards become miles for the program to which you transfer. You can redeem the miles according to the policies of the airline program.

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to these 10 programs at a 1:1 ratio.

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners

Chase Ultimate Rewards has 10 airline partners, but Delta Skymiles is not one

Delta Skymiles is not a transfer partner of Chase. You cannot convert Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Delta Skymiles. But you can still book a flight operated by Delta.

This is possible because Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue are transfer partners of Ultimate Rewards. Both of these airline programs have a partnership with Delta. As a result, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue. Then you can use miles of either program to book a flight operated by Delta.

The best part is, using these programs sometimes results in a better redemption price than if you were to use Delta Skymiles.

Can I transfer Virgin Atlantic Flying Club or AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue miles to Delta?

No.  But you can use the loyalty program of either to book award flights operated by Delta.

Award ticket pricing when booking Delta flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners

When you use a partner program to book a Delta flight, your redemption price is determined by that partner program, not Delta Skymiles:

  • If you use AirFrance/KLM miles to book a flight operated by Delta, AirFrance KLM Blue determines your award ticket price, not Delta Skymiles.
  • If you use Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles to book a flight operated by Delta, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club determines your award ticket price, not Delta Skymiles.

Each airline program has its own way of pricing award tickets

Most frequent flyer/airline loyalty programs I discuss on this blog fall into one of these categories:
  1. Region/Zone based 
  2. Distance-based
  3. Fare-based
  4. Dynamic pricing

You can read more about the different types of award ticket pricing here.

  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club uses a zone-based award ticket pricing model
  • AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue is distance based for partner flights such as Delta

Depending on your route, one type of pricing may be better than another.

Each of these programs will likely have a different redemption price for the exact same Delta flight. Sometimes zone-based results in a lower redemption price, but other times distance based may be lower.

The great thing about transferable points such as Chase Ultimate Rewards points is that you can choose the partner that results in the lowest redemption cost. If you only have miles with one airline, you don’t have a choice because you can only redeem the miles with that airline.

how to book delta flights with chase ultimate rewards points
you can book Delta flights to Paris with Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Comparing award pricing of AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

I’ll give 3 different examples to show the differences in pricing.

1. Delta nonstop flights from the US to Europe

I’ll use the roundtrip nonstop flight in economy from Detroit to Paris from the redemption portal example. Remember, this would have been $1028 or ~68,000 or ~82,000 Ultimate Rewards points (depending on which card you hold).

I can use Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles or AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue miles to book the Delta flight. This itinerary happens to be available, but keep in mind that not all Delta flights are going to be available for partner bookings. I’ll discuss that more in a moment.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (zone-based) is 60,000 miles roundtrip
can I convert chase ultimate rewards points to delta
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club award ticket pricing

This is Virgin Atlantic Flying Club’s award chart for Delta operated flights.

Delta operated flights booked with virgin Atlantic miles chart 2019

One way is half the amounts shown. Nonstop flights are definitely the best value. You’ll see why in the next example.

AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue (distance based for partner flights such as Delta) is 53,000 roundtrip
Delta flights booked with Airfrance/KLM Flying Blue miles
AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue award ticket pricing

Flying Blue has moved to a dynamic pricing model for flights operated by KLM and AirFrance. This means that it’s pretty tough to predict the amount of miles required for any given route.

See also: Dynamic pricing

But for partner flights, their website states “You can also use Miles to book flights for yourself or the person of your choice in Economy and Business with SkyTeam partners and other partner airlines. On all partner flights, the price in Miles is based on the booking class and flight distance.” So, for partner airlines, it’s distance based pricing. There may be slight variations in pricing (similar to peak and off peak pricing). There is no award chart like Virgin Atlantic has for Delta flights, but at least Flying Blue’s prices seem a little more stable than Delta Skymiles pricing.

It’s unclear how distance is calculated and the impact a connecting flight may have. You’ll see in the next section (itineraries with a connecting flight) that Flying Blue requires slightly more miles, but it’s not a deal breaker like it is with adding a segment using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles.

Delta Skymiles award tickets have dynamic pricing. For this particular itinerary, you would need 98,000 Skymiles.

This wouldn’t even be an option since Chase points do not transfer to Delta Skymiles, but I wanted to show why even if Delta was a partner, this flight is better with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles or AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue miles.

how to convert chase ultimate rewards points to delta

So your options for this itinerary with Chase Ultimate Rewards are:

  • Redemption portal-more than 68,000 Ultimate Rewards points
  • Virgin Atlantic- 60,000
  • AirFrance/KLM- 53,000

2. Delta flight from US to Europe (with a connection)

This is a roundtrip flight in economy from New Orleans to Paris. There is one stop each way. The entire itinerary is operated by Delta. The paid fare on the dates I searched is $1137.

To book this ticket in the redemption portal, you would need either ~75,000 Ultimate Rewards points or ~ 91,000 Ultimate Rewards points depending on which card you have.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is 85,000 miles roundtrip

Nonstop flights are definitely the best value with Virgin Atlantic miles because If the flight requires a connection, the additional amount of points for that particular segment is required.

For example, Detroit to Paris is 60,000 miles. But a flight from MSY that connects in Detroit, Atlanta, or anywhere in the US would require points for the MSY-DTW or ATL segment which is 25,000 roundtrip. So the total for the roundtrip would be 85,000 instead of 60,000.

can I convert chase ultimate rewards points to delta
AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue is 58,000 roundtrip

This is more than the nonstop (which is 53,000 miles), but only by 5,000 miles. Much better than the extra 25,000 miles Virgin Atlantic requires.

So your options with Chase Ultimate Rewards for this itinerary are:

  • Redemption portal- 75,000 or 91,000 points, depending on which card you have
  • Virgin Atlantic- 85,000
  • AirFrance/KLM- 58,000

3. One more example- US to Johannesburg, Africa

Delta operates a nonstop roundtrip economy itinerary from ATL to Johannesburg. The fare for the dates I searched is just under $1400. That would be ~111,500 or ~93,000 points (depending on which card you have) if you redeem through the UR redemption portal.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is 80,000 miles roundtrip
can I convert chase ultimate rewards points to delta
AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue is 92,000 miles roundtrip
can I convert chase ultimate rewards points to delta

So your options with Chase Ultimate Rewards for this itinerary are:

  • Redemption portal- 75,000 or 91,000 points, depending on which card you have
  • Virgin Atlantic- 80,000
  • AirFrance/KLM- 92,000

Ready to book Delta flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards partners?

If you are planning to transfer your Ultimate Rewards to a partner program, do not transfer yet.

Do not transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to any airline until you have confirmed price and availability

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfers to airlines are permanent. You need to make sure your dates are available and you will want to confirm the exact amount of miles needed before transferring. Transfers are usually immediate, so there is no reason to transfer before you find availability.

Once you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to partner airlines or hotels, you cannot get them back

When you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to a partner airline or hotel, your points become the currency of the airline or hotel program.  For example, if you transfer 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, you now have Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles.  Those miles are now subject to the rules and policies of Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

You CANNOT transfer those points back to Chase Ultimate Rewards.  If you transfer and then the Delta (or other partner) flights that you want are not available, you are stuck with 20,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles.  If you wait to transfer, you can check other Chase Ultimate Rewards partners for other options if a Delta flight is not available.

Award ticket availability

Award seats are not always going to be available on any given flight, especially when the flight you’re trying to book is a partner flight.

If you’re using a partner program, such as Virgin Atlantic, to book a Delta flight, Delta only makes a certain amount of seats available. In other words, just because a seat is available to book with Delta miles, it doesn’t mean a partner Virgin Atlantic will have that seat available to book with Virgin Atlantic miles. The same applies to other partner programs with which you can book Delta flights.

If you’re trying to book a Delta flight, you most likely will always be able to book it with Delta Skymiles since that program has dynamic pricing. However, you may end up having to redeem a lot more miles than what a “saver” ticket would require. Once the lower level, or saver, seats are gone, Delta will still let you redeem miles for a ticket, but the redemption cost is usually going to be too high to consider. Anyway, that doesnt even matter since Delta Skymiles isn’t a partner of Chase.

The best way to check price and availability is to search online with each partner program you’re considering. You can search for and book Delta flights online with Virgin Atlantic and AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue. You should not have to call to book.

Tip: In general, if a flight is available with one partner, it will be available to other partners. For example, if a Delta flight is available to book with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, it should also be available to book with AirFrance/KLM Flying Blue.

Final thoughts

You do not need Delta miles to book Delta award flights. If you have Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can still book flights operated by Delta. The great thing about having flexible points such as Chase Ultimate Rewards is that you have options. If you only have a Delta-cobranded card, you only earn Delta Skymiles. You cannot transfer Skymiles to any airlines. Your redemption options are limited to the Skymiles program.

There are three ways to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Delta flights:

  1. Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Delta flights by booking via the Ultimate Rewards redemption portal.
  2. You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic to book Delta flights.
  3. You can also transfer to KLM/France to book Delta flights

Redeeming Ultimate Rewards points for travel via the Ultimate Rewards redemption portal is a good option if paid fares are low (option 1). But you may be able to redeem less points by using transfer partners (options 2 and 3). Transferring to airline partners is how we’re able to get max value out of Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Earn your first 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you open a Chase Sapphire Preferred card

Chase Sapphire Preferred 2019

Current offer: Earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. 

Earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. The annual fee is $95, but the welcome offer alone is worth at least $750.

Advertiser disclosure: The Miles Genie has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products.  The Miles Genie and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Comments below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. The comments have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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