Chase Ultimate Rewards is one of my favorite programs. Points are easy to earn, and you can redeem points for some great values. You can redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel by booking through their redemption portal or by transferring to airline partners. Transferring to airline partners is how we’re able to redeem for higher values. Earning points that give you multiple airline transfer partners increases your chances of a successful redemption.
You can earn transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points with these cards:
Earn your first 60,000 points!
The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is the first card I suggest for almost anyone, no matter what your travel goals are. At the very least, the welcome bonus of 60,000 is worth $750 if redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. But you can potentially get even more value out of those points by using transfer partners! Click here for a list of 25 ways to get more value by using Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners.This card also earns 2 points per dollar on travel and dining spend.
Emirates Skywards loyalty program is now a partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards.
In addition to Emirates skywards, Chase has 9 other airline partners to which you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio. You can also use Chase Ultimate Rewards to book travel in the redemption portal.
You can also transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Emirates at a 1:1 ratio. Capital One Venture miles transfer at a 2:1 ratio to Emirates.
There are a few ways to redeem Emirates miles for flights:
- Redeem miles for flights operated by Emirates
- Use miles to upgrade a paid flight on Emirates
- You can also redeem Emirates miles for flights operated by partner airlines of Emirates
Emirates Skywards partner airlines
Emirates is not in one of the three major airline alliances. Emirates has several non-alliance partners, and you can redeem Emirates Skywards miles for flights operated by these partners.
You should never transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards (or Amex Membership Rewards or any other currency) to an airline until you have confirmed availability for your dates. Transfers are permanent.
- Air Mauritius
- Alaska Airlines
- Copa Airlines
- Copa Airlines Colombia
- Japan Airlines
- Korean Air
- Malaysia Airlines
- South African Airways
- TAP Portugal
These airlines are also bookable on the Emirates website: Qantas, Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, easyJet, flydubai (Emirates operated flights are also bookable online)
To redeem Emirates miles for flights operated by these airlines, you must call to book: Air Mauritius, Malaysia Airlines, Copa Airlines, Copa Airlines Colombia, Japan Airlines, Jetstar, Korean Air, TAP Portugal and GOL
I’m not that excited (for the most part)
While adding an airline partner is almost never a bad thing, the addition of Emirates doesn’t really excite me. Emirates miles may be useful on select routes, but there are a few problems with Emirates miles.
The first problem is fuel surcharges. Emirates collects fuel surcharges on their own flights and on most partner flights. The surcharges are often so high that it can be a total deal breaker. Another problem is that some of their redemption prices are higher than those of other airlines.
Redeeming more miles sometimes makes sense if you want to avoid fuel surcharges. Likewise, redeeming less miles but paying surcharges sometimes makes sense. For example, Virgin Atlantic has some extremely low redemption prices on tickets to London from certain cities on off-peak dates. You’ll end up paying fuel surcharges, but with the small amount of miles required, it could make sense.
I did find a few good ways to redeem Emirates miles, and you can read more about those here, but to summarize:
- Economy seats on Emirates flights are almost never a good value due to high fuel surcharges (between $400 and $800, depending on your departure/route/destination)
- Business class award seats can be a decent value, but there is a better way to book most routes. You can save money and miles by using the money you’d pay for fuel surcharges to buy an economy ticket instead. Then you can upgrade the economy ticket to business class with miles. In the end, you save miles and/or money, plus you earn miles for the paid flight. This is subject to availability and you can read more about that here.
- First class award seats are a good value if you consider how expensive a paid first class seat is. By good value I mean if you calculate the cents per point value. You will pay fuel surcharges and redeem more miles than you probably care to, but if your goal is Emirates first class, you don’t really have better options.
The most appealing redemption options from the US are premium cabins on the fifth freedom routes to Europe
There are 2 fifth freedom routes between the US and Europe that are operated by Emirates:
- Newark to Athens (on a 777)
- JFK to Milan (on an A380)
For roundtrip nonstop flights, here are the amounts you’ll need to redeem:
- Economy: 45,000
- Business: 90,000
- First: 135,000
One way flights are more than just half the price of roundtrip, so roundtrip is going to be the best value:
- Economy: 38,750
- Business: 62,500
- First: 85,000
There are fuel surcharges, but they are more reasonable than routes to/through Dubai. Even with fuel surcharges, a roundtrip first class flight from the US to Italy or Greece for 135,000 miles roundtrip is a good value. For business class, it is usually better to buy an economy ticket and then use Emirates miles to upgrade. You can read more about that here.
Click here for a more comprehensive post on redeeming Emirates miles for flights on Emirates and partner airlines.
Emirates miles are easier than ever to earn. If a luxurious first class suite on an Emirates flight is your goal, the addition of Emirates as a Chase Ultimate Rewards partner just made that goal more attainable. You can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards and points earned from the Capital One Venture to Emirates.
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