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We’ve beat the drum of transferable currencies and how powerful credit card welcome bonuses can be. Maybe you were even enticed by the recent highest-ever Welcome Bonus for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card (80,000 points after $4,000 spend in 3 months, a $1,000+ value. $95 annual fee.) Now it’s time to put that hard work to use by making a redemption using those points, and what better destination than Hawaii?

Chase Ultimate Rewards are transfer partners with a number of airlines, many of which make frequent trips to Hawaii. This means you have a multitude of options to choose from when deciding on your route.

Check Cash Prices

The first thing to do any time you want to travel with points is to first check the “cash rates”. Since Ultimate Rewards points are redeemable for 1.25 cents/point (1.5 cent/point if you have the Sapphire Reserve) through the Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal.

To do this, log in to your account and select “Redeem Rewards”:

When the page loads, select “Travel” at the top:

From there, you will be able to plug in the dates of your flight and see what the cash rates are and how many points it would require.

This method is advantageous for locations that typically have low fares or frequent sales. You can sometimes pay fewer points booking a cash rate than transferring to partners and you also earn miles on those flights as opposed to award tickets which do not. However, cash prices to Hawaii during peak season (winter in the northern hemisphere) are often high and even though the example above shows a cost of only 29,000-31,000 points it’s actually possible to pay fewer by transferring to partner airlines.

Transfer to Travel Partners

What’s even more advantageous about using transfer partners is that the cost in miles is not dependent on the cash rate, so even if the airline jacks the price over Christmas you won’t have to pay any additional miles as long as you can find an award seat. There are two airlines in particular which make great transfer partners for flights to Hawaii: British Airways and Singapore Airlines.

Our view of Molokai from a helicopter ride during our most recent trip to Hawaii (2018). This is where Jurassic Park was filmed!

British Airways

A valuable transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards is British Airways, where points can be exchanged for Avios. BA uses a distance-based chart for their awards, meaning the number of Avios required depends on how far you’re flying. While BA itself doesn’t fly from the U.S. to Hawaii, you can use their miles to book on partner airlines such as American and Alaska, both of which make frequent departures to the islands. The sweet spot here is that flights between 2,001 and 3000 miles require just 13,000 Avios + $5.60 in taxes, and many routes between the West Coast and Hawaii fall into this range.

For example, these departure airports are all within range to qualify:

  • Anchorage
  • Seattle
  • Portland
  • Los Angeles
  • Sacramento
  • San Diego
  • Phoenix

Flying to:

  • Oahu
  • Maui
  • Big Island
  • Kauai

This means that you and a partner could fly roundtrip to Maui from as far east as Phoenix for 52,000 miles + $22 in taxes!

To book any of these flights, first find availability on your desired dates. Hawaii is a popular destination, so be sure to check as far in advance as possible (up to a year) in order to have the best chance finding space. To search for award space, it’s best to look on British Airways’ website even though you are searching for American flights. To do so, log in to BA then select “Book a flight with Avios” under the “Book” menu.

Then, you’ll be able to plug in your dates and see what American Airlines flights are available. Here, I found availability from Phoenix to Maui on December 3, 2021 for 13,000 Avios + $5.60:

This very same flight, if booked with American Airlines miles (which are not a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards), would cost 20,000 miles +$5.60 each way. So simply by using BA Avios instead of AA, you save 7,000 miles.

Booking Alaska Airlines flights with British Airways is also possible, and since they joined the OneWorld Alliance on April 1, 2021 the flights are now visible in British Airways’ search results (formerly you needed to call to book).

Once you have found award availability on your dates, go ahead and transfer the required number of Ultimate Rewards Points to your British Airways account and they should show up as Avios instantaneously. Then, if your flight is on American you can book it directly from the British Airways site with your Avios. If you are traveling on an Alaska Airlines flight, you’ll have to call British Airways to book at 800-AIRWAYS, ensuring you have your account and flight numbers ready for the agent to ensure smooth processing.

Booking with British Airways is a fantastic way to get to Hawaii using Ultimate Rewards Points – but what if you’re not flying from the West Coast? Luckily, there are other Chase partners that can get you there as well.

Singapore Airlines

Another incredibly useful transfer partner of Chase is Singapore Airlines, which happens to also partner with Alaska Airlines much like British Airways from the previous example. However, Singapore Airlines does not use distance-based awards, rather they have their own chart for flights with Alaska:

While it doesn’t cover the entire United States (e.g. East Coast), it offers more options than British Airways and, in some cases, even requires fewer miles.

For example, here is the mileage cost of flying to Hawaii (Zone 5) from the following areas:

  • Zone 1 (West Coast): 12,000 miles
  • Zone 2 (West of Mississippi River): 11,500 miles
  • Zone 3 (Midwest): 12,500 miles

To find award availability on Alaska Airlines flights to Hawaii from any of the aforementioned zones, it’s best to use American Airline’s search engine the same way you would if searching for a flight to book with Avios as previously explained. Again, you need to search for “MileSAAver” availability or else the seats won’t be bookable with Singapore miles. Once you have found availability, write down the flight information and make your transfer of Ultimate Rewards Points to Singapore Airlines miles (which takes 24-48 hours to process). When the miles are in your account, call Singapore Airlines at (800) 742-3333 to book the flight.

In addition to booking Alaska Airlines flights with Singapore miles, you can also use them to book United flights since they are a member of the Star Alliance. Although the rate is a bit higher at 17,500 miles each way, United has a larger domestic footprint than Alaska so you will be able to find flights from the East Coast.

Booking United flights with Singapore miles is a little trickier now that their award chart is dynamic which makes it difficult to determine which flights are “Saver” level.

Note that you could also transfer Ultimate Rewards Points directly to United, but they charge 22,500 miles each way (or more) for an award ticket, so it makes sense to book the same flights with Singapore for fewer miles.

 

Luau time in Maui!

How to Transfer Ultimate Rewards Points to Airlines

To transfer your Ultimate Rewards points, log in to the Ultimate Rewards portal and navigate to the Transfer Points page. From there, you can select which airline you would like to transfer to by inputting your corresponding airline account number. Note that transfers to British Airways (and most other partners) are instantaneous and transfers to Singapore Airlines are within 24 hours. Also, you cannot transfer to another person’s airline account from your Ultimate Rewards account – the names must match. However, you CAN pool your Ultimate Rewards Points between members of the same household and then transfer to airlines from a single account in order to combine balances.

As a reminder, you must have an Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card that charges an annual fee in order to have the ability to transfer points to Airline partners. This includes the

Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and Ink Business Preferred credit cards. If you have one of these cards, you can pool points from non-annual fee options like the Chase Freedom Unlimited and transfer those to airlines, but you cannot do so if you only have the Freedom Unlimited itself.

Final Thoughts

There are two main ways to use Ultimate Rewards points to get to Hawaii: booking flights through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal or transferring to airline partners like British Airways and Singapore Airlines. Booking through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal can sometimes be a better deal if there’s a sale happening and you’re looking far enough in advance, but oftentimes transferring to partners is the best choice for maximum value. If you choose that route, make sure you confirm availability of the award seat before transferring points as you won’t be able to get them back if you make a mistake.

A great card to get Ultimate Rewards points is the Chase Sapphire Preferred, currently offering its highest-ever Welcome Bonus for the card (80,000 points after $4,000 spend in 3 months, a $1,000+ value. $95 annual fee).

Once you arrive in Hawaii, you may need a hotel. There are numerous Marriott hotels throughout the islands and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card currently has an offer of 3 free nights after $1,000 spend in 3 months. $95 annual fee.

Brandon Chase is a financially independent writer, endurance athlete, and travel hacking enthusiast originally from Maine. He is a former Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State and spent nearly a decade overseas serving at embassies in Cairo, Egypt, and Nicosia, Cyprus, and Islamabad, Pakistan. Since getting hooked on “the hobby” in 2013, he and his wife have accumulated and redeemed millions of points and miles for luxury travel, including a $35,000 trip around the world for 97% off retail which he wrote about on his blog Fit For Miles. In addition to travel, he loves to be outdoors and has summited Mr. Kilimanjaro, thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, and completed ultramarathons at the 50k and 50-mile distances. Brandon is thrilled to share his knowledge of credit cards, award travel, and optimization with the Go Curry Cracker readers and hopes to help people travel more and better than they ever thought possible.

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