How hard is it to redeem for airfare? Any airlines, any time?
Bare with me here.
There are TWO ways to redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Chase UR points can be used to buy stupid shite like coffee makers all the way to airline tickets (target demographic for this card) through the Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) Mall. The points have a set value when used in the UR Mall. When Chase says:
After you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months from account opening* - That's $625 towards airfare or hotels when you redeem through Chase Ultimate RewardsSM
That's IF you buy your ticket through the UR mall. Now, there are no blackout dates or anything like that if you book through the mall. Its just like buying a ticket on travelocity or what not.
HOWEVER, there is a second way to redeem your points. Chase has a number of transfer partners, some being Korean Air, United, British Airways, etc.
By transferring your points to these partners (at a 1:1 rate), you are putting your points under that company's award policy, which is subject to availability of seats, etc. The benefit of this is that your points may be worth way more than what Chase says they are.
For example, Chase values 40,000 UR points at $500. However, on United, a roundtrip saver award in economy class is 40,000 United miles to northern South America. That ticket could likely cost you more than $500 out of pocket, therefore your points are worth more than Chase says they are when transferred to United for this purpose.
This valuation gets more and more pronounced when you redeem for first class/business class, so again for example, what Chase values 120,000 UR points at would be about $1,500. The same points transferred to United could buy you a roundtrip ticket to Africa in business/first class which is WAY more than $1,500 (think 3 to $4,000).
Hope that was somewhat helpful.
This post was edited on 11/26 at 6:30 pm