The Three Programs You Should Never Transfer Your Chase Points To

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Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the currency earned on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, and Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. 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.

All Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to the Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners, which include the following:

AirlinesHotels
Aer Lingus Aer ClubIHG Rewards Club
Air France KLM Flying BlueMarriott Rewards
British Airways Executive ClubRitz-Carlton Rewards
Iberia PlusWorld Of Hyatt
Korean Air SkyPass
Singapore KrisFlyer
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
United MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

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

In the Ask Lucky forum, Aman Dhillon asks about the following, about transferring Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott Rewards:

Is it a good deal to transfer some Chase Sapphire points to Marriott Rewards so that I can book a 3 nights stay @ Marriott Grand Cayman, or buy the extra points from Marriott for $325 for 26K points. I am new to this rewards redemptions deal. I do have 277K Chase Sapphire points.

This raises an interesting topic about redeeming Ultimate Rewards points that I don’t think I’ve specifically addressed.

Does Ultimate Rewards have any “bad” transfer partners?

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 13 airline & hotel partners (specifically, nine are airlines and four are hotels). All those partners allow 1:1 transfers, and there are instances in which I think it can make sense to transfer points to all of those currencies… except three.

Specifically, I think you should almost never transfer Ultimate Rewards points to IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards, or Ritz-Carlton Rewards. 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 three currencies? It’s not because I don’t like the hotel groups, 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 Great British Pound, and that isn’t worth the same as an Indonesian Rupiah — neither are points currencies. I’ve shared my valuation of points currencies before, and as you can see, they’ll vary wildly.

Personally I value IHG Rewards Club points at 0.5 cents each, and Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards at 0.8 cents each. I absolutely wouldn’t recommend redeeming a currency worth a minimum of 1.25-1.5 cents per point for points like that. The other thing that all of those currencies have in common is that you can pretty consistently buy them directly from the program for less than a penny each.

So, what would I do in the above situation?

More specific to Aman’s question, what I’d do is use my Ultimate Rewards points for something else. To get your 26,000 Marriott Rewards points, buy Starpoints. At the moment Starwood is selling Starpoints for 35% off, which is an opportunity to buy them for 2.275 cents each. You can then transfer them to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, which is an opportunity to buy Marriott Rewards points for ~0.76 cents each. So buy 9,000 Starpoints for $204.75, and then you’ll have 27,000 Marriott Rewards points.

Then use the 26,000 Ultimate Rewards points for something else — at a minimum you’ll get $325 worth of travel if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or $390 worth of travel if you have the  Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card.

Bottom line

Chase Ultimate Rewards has lots of great uses, including transfer partners and the ability to redeem points as cash towards 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 Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards.

While the value of points is subjective, you can also buy those points currencies pretty consistently for under a penny each, so there’s no reason to redeem a currency worth a minimum of 1.25-1.5 cents each when you could buy the points for significantly less than that.

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

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Comments

  1. This post exemplifies the total lack of comprehension about the RELATIVE values of points currencies that permeates all of travel blogosphere.

    Comparing POINTS per CENTS without adjusting for the fact that different programs award different numbers of POINTS for the same number of CENTS makes little sense and this should be obvious.

    Comparing MR points/cents to, say, WoH points/cents is like comparing an Australian cent or Singapore cent to a US cent 1:1 because they are called ‘cents’. That is garbage in, garbage out. You need to do a currency conversion before doing such a comparison. It is no different with points currencies!!!

    Gotta return to my Friday night drink…

    G’day!

  2. Points/cents is just the inverse of cents/points so, well, the point is the same, however you want to look at it.

  3. @DCS
    You obviously compensate your own lack of comprehension with overconfidence.
    Hint: Lucky has not argued that it is a bad idea to accrue points in a certain program. He has not said so about Marriottrewards and not about your precious HiltonHonors.
    When deciding where to collect points, you indeed have to calculate your total return = value of point currency you accrue x earnings rate of that currency. And indeed, given the very high earnings rates of Hilton Honors, for example, collecting those points can be a great return on your spend even though the individual Honors point has a relatively low value (compared to other programs).
    However, Lucky’s post was about the question of converting Ultimaterewards to Marriottrewards at a 1:1 ratio. For that question, it is completely irrelevant how many points per dollar the Marriottrewards program awards for hotel spend.

  4. @Lars — if you are going to champion a cause, please make sure you know the issues or what you are talking about. There is nothing in your post that addresses anything I stated in mine.

  5. @DCS, we are talking about a transfer, not earning. In the MR world, earning will differentiate based on card/spend; yes we could build a complex model, but lets assume a basis of earning 1.25 MR per dollar spent.

    With that in mind, transferring points, the topic at hand, has no relevance to the scenario you bring up as the points acquired in which you would TRANSFER are accrued at the pre agreed upon rate. Yes we could argue over 3MR points/$1 or $1.5MR points/$1; but for topic at hand one must assume a pre-determined rate of acquisition.

    Therefore, Luckys points are valid. With that said, does anyone have data points in bought points count towards lifetime?

  6. One thing that Lucky didn’t mention, which I value, is the fact that UR point transfers to Marriott count towards Marriott lifetime status (where points moved over from SPG do not). So in my situation I was about 90k points shy of lifetime Plat and was 100k points short of what I needed for a Cat9 7-night stay/fly package. So I moved 100k UR points to Marriott which got me to lifetime Plat, and the stay/fly package which secured me 132k United miles. So there are instances where it makes sense to transfer to Marriott albeit unique.

  7. As Bob pointed out there are some instances where you would want to transfer UR to Marriott. Like most things in travel, everyone has different goals, and Ben is just giving the option that, based on the relative value of the points, would make the most sense. Buying Starpoints and transferring them is the cheapest option currently.

    Based on OP’s question he seemed to be open to buying Marriott Reward points, so buying starpoints would be a cheaper option, at this point. Only if he has a Starwood Account and can buy them. Ben gave a fair assessment, and showed a different option.

  8. Funny that DCS comes here and trolls away to make an argument that is totally unrelated to the topic at hand…not surprising. His hatred for the travel bloggers is pretty well established at this point, esp. since they don’t compliment his mediocre-to-poor HH program.

  9. And yet again, DCS comes in, insults everyone who disagrees with him, and does what he does best: he made the comments all about him.

    Maybe you’ll figure out someday that you aren’t called out for your bullshit when you don’t act like a narcissistic asshole, DCS.

  10. The unhinged forum elements are out of the woodwork and howling at the moon.

    There should be absolutely nothing controversial in what I stated above, which I have previously stated ad nauseam, for anyone with grade-school math skills. It is trivial stuff that eludes even bloggers or folks who should know better because they got caught in the travel blogosphere echo chamber and began repeating claims of dubious accuracy as established dogma without thinking.

    If you understand that a POINT cannot be a POINT if different programs award different numbers of POINTS for the SAME spend, then you should understand that one loyalty program’s ‘cent/point’ is different from another program’s ‘cent/point’ because they are effectively different currencies (like US $ and Japanese ¥) and, thus, cannot be compared 1:1. A “currency conversion” is required.

    0.5 cents/HH “currency converted” to starpoints = 0.5cents/HH * 6 HH/startpoint = 3.0cents/starpoint

    In other words, 0.5cents/HH have the same “purchasing power” as 3cents/starpoint…

    …just like UD$100 have the same purchasing power as AU$127 or SG$132 or JP¥10,000.

    Having a bigger ‘cent/point’ in a given points currency does not make it more “valuable” than another. One has got define the “units of measurement”…

    I am done here.

    G’day

  11. What do I mean by the “same purchasing power”?

    On AVERAGE one earns 3x more HH/$ than one earns WoH points/$, so that 0.5cents/HH = ~ 1.5cents/WoH.

    A top category Hilton property goes for 95K/night and a top cat Hyatt property for 30K/night. Therefore:

    0.5cents/HH * 95K HH/night = 47,500 cents/night = ~$475/night
    1.5cents/WoH * 30K WoH/night = 450,000cents = ~$450/night

    i.e., 0.5cents/HH would get you a room that costs on AVERAGE per night about the same as 1.5cent/WoH would get you…

    Q.E.D.

  12. While I agree in general, one time I needed to top off my marriott account with like 4k points and there was no marriott sale. I used chase URs to do so and I was able to redeem my first class flight on CX (via Alaska Airline miles) with this package. I then used 5 out of 7 nights on the certificate for a hotel as part of a different trip that saved me a good chunk of change. So while its normally not an ideal transfer partner in this instance it made a lot of sense, so never say never.

  13. 89,000 transferred UR points was what I needed for Marriott lifetime Gold, which I wanted to accomplish before the program changed to who knows what. Marriott could change the value of lifetime Gold but assuming they do not, that is lounge access for life. I’ve also used UR points transferred to Marriott for stay/fly packages—twice. No regrets.

  14. @DSC

    I’m not based in US, so I’m likely missing a point here: I assumed UR points are accrued based on cc spend, regardless of hotel brand? So, if I paid $1000 for a room in Marriott, I will get 1000 UR points. If I paid $1000 for Sheraton room, am I getting 1000 UR points or not?

    If both earnings are same, and the conversion Marriott to SPG is 3:1, I don’t think I can make any math (grade school or more advanced) that will make 1000UR points equally valuable regardless if I pick Marriott or SPG transfer, as UR to Marriott/SPG transfer is set at 1:1. Isn’t that the point of the article? Where does your “on average one earns 3x more points” phrase come into play with UR points?

  15. DCS is a dotard who doesn’t understand it’s a bad deal to transfer 1000 URs to 1000 MRs…he is unnecessarily obfuscating the issue.

  16. “Points currencies have no redemption value until they are redeemed.” — Ric Garrido (I think).

    The above being a concept I subscribe to, I believe it is truly unwise to be too dogmatic about what one should do or which currencies one should use for a given redemption before one has fully drawn one’s travel plans and begun to decide how to get the most value out of one’s miles and points.

    Case in point. Before UA switched over to the revenue system, when I earned most of my miles — lots of them due to my primarily long-haul int’l travel — based on distance traveled + elite bonus + class of service, I routinely transferred UA miles to MR points 1:1, up to the maximum allowed in RewardsPlus of 50K miles, whenever I would get an outsized redemption value of at least 1cpp out of the MR points, especially in locations without a Hilton presence. That meant that 50K MR points got me:

    50K * 1cpp+ = $500+

    I preferred paying for such expensive stays with points rather than with hard currency. Now that I have been raking in loads of UR points through the CSR @ 3x on travel and dining and through the CFU @1.5x on everything else, on top of UA miles that I still earn by flying long-haul as usual, it will be even easier for me to top off my MR account with either UA miles (which I would first redeem for flights) or UR points if I used up my UA miles and I would get the types of outsized redemption values I just describe above. It’s called playing the game with a “full deck” 😉

    G’day!

  17. The whole planet could concur with Lucky and DCS would still be making the same ole arguments.

    If you can transfer 30K UR to Hyatt and get a top tier hotel in the Maldives Vs. If you could transfer 30K UR to Hilton for a garden inn in Fargo, he’d still be yappin about how Lucky knows nothing.

    Give it a rest kid.

  18. @Joe — Except that the whole planet would be just as wrong, if the same arguments based on a specious understanding of the relative values of points currencies are used. 😉

  19. You stupid idiot. This is not about comparing the relative value of points. ALL Lucky is saying, don’t convert a higher value currency into a lower value one if it transfers 1:1. You are being needlessly argumentative.

    I am really embarrassed Cornell ever found you fit to hire.

  20. Where can I buy MR points THAT COUNT TOWARDS LIFETIME STATUS pretty consistently for under a penny each directly from Marriott? Seriously, I’d like to know. I am very aware of Starwood sales but has there been a MR sale on points in recent memory? Also, aren’t I limited to buying 50,000 MR points per year that count towards lifetime status but I can convert an unlimited number of UR points into MR points that count towards lifetime status?

    The title of this article is Three Programs You Should Never Transfer Your Chase Points To. So yes, I have a different take on this.

  21. Ben, could you add transferring to UA as a fourth on that list? That may have some small use but UA in general has terrible redemptions.

  22. @UA-NYC — Calls me a ‘stupid idiot’ and then goes on to show just who’s the idiot in the very next sentence.

    I promised I would not again go down to your level and soil myself, and I intend to keep that promise.

    Have a nice life.

  23. This blog is a much more intelligent place without you being dogmatic and obfuscating…you manage to turn a very simple, straightforward post on point transferring into an unrelated and unnecessary referendum on point valuation.

    Back to your dark lab.

  24. Just point to anything ‘intelligent’ you’ve ever posted. ‘Stupid idiot’, yeah, that is so darn intelligent!

  25. Admit you either 1) don’t understand the point of Lucky’s post, or 2) you are intentionally muddling the waters.

    There is no other explanation here.

  26. Actually, let me break down this post to you in small chunks so maybe you will finally get it:
    – MR point is worth ABOUT .8 cents
    – UR point is worth ABOUT 1.5 cents
    BECAUSE the FIXED and UNAVOIDABLE transfer ratio from UR to MR is 1:1, this is a BAD DEAL for anyone choosing to do it (driving up Marriott lifetime points excepted let’s say)
    Now IF the transfer ratio was 1:2 let’s say, this might be an OK DEAL
    Hypothetically IF the ratio was 1:3 (not real, but why not) this would likely be a GOOD DEAL

    This is NOT about the ease of earning the respective points, any comparison of earn & burn, etc.

    Let’s see if you admit to understanding that now

  27. BTW, this statement, “you manage to turn a very simple, straightforward post on point transferring into an unrelated and unnecessary referendum on point valuation”, shows why you simply must avoid calling anyone a “stupid idiot. For your edification, the straightforward recommendation is based on the value of points that I just showed are misunderstood.

    O.5 cents/point in one program get you the same “purchasing power” as 1.5cents in another program, which means that despite the common practice of using them as if they mean the same thing, all ‘cents/points’ are not created equal, so that it is the ultimately intended redemption that determines the ‘value’ of points:

    “0.5cents/HH * 95K HH/night = 47,500 cents/night = ~$475/night
    1.5cents/WoH * 30K WoH/night = 450,000cents = ~$450/night

    i.e., 0.5cents/HH would get you a room that costs on AVERAGE per night about the same as 1.5cent/WoH would get you…”

    Ergo, one has to be careful about throwing around estimates of the monetary values of currencies points

    You and I are not in the same league and you should have learned that by now…

    I am disconnecting from this thread…knock yourself out.

    G’DAY!

  28. So imagine there was a magical site that allowed you transfer & convert WOH points to HH points (AFTER EARNING THEM) at a 1:1 ratio. Because by all rational measures HH points are worth LESS than WOH points, you would NOT DO THE TRANSFER, correct? Not even you would argue that converting 10,000 WOH points to 10,000 HH points is a GOOD idea (though you would probably try).

    Now sub in “UR” for “WOH” and “MR” for HH, and the same analogy applies. Transferring and converting 1:1 is a BAD IDEA in both cases.

    That was the whole point of this post, which again, you seem to lack the brainpower and/or rationality to understand.

  29. I transferred 5K UR points to IHG to get to Spire status. That netted me another 25K IHG points.

    It was worth it. In general I agree, but there are exceptions, especially for ‘top-offs’.

  30. It’s all clearly and completely “lost in translation”, explaining why trivial concepts continue to elude …

  31. Nobody is talking about the relative power / earn and burn rates of different point currencies here, you moron.

    This post is about when to / when not to transfer credit card points to a hotel/loyalty program – and save for a couple exceptions (like status/lifetime status purposes), everyone (except for you) seems to get the point here.

    It’s just not that complicated.

  32. @ Lucky – I have two comments about this article.

    The value of the points should not be based on a cash value but rather redemption. For example if it takes you 70,000 Marriott points to redeem what you want for something valued at perhaps around $1,200, then figuring out the value is much eaiser.

    I agree and I disagree with your comments. While I agree, there are other cheaper ways of earning or buying rewards for the programs you mentioned, I also think that it depends on your siutation. I almost never redeem the Ultimate Rewards via transfer. I almost always redeem via purchasing a flight through them.

    Two reasons:
    1) Unlike Amex Platinum, there is no booking fee
    2) The rewards are valued at a 50% bonus if redeemed directly with them and their rates are decent. You can do a cash and points combination too.

    I only transfer in the case that I am a little bit short for redeeming with that partner and I want to redeem now.

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