Let me be clear right off the bat. There is no way to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to American Airlines to book a flight directly with AA. However, through the power of airline alliances and airline partnerships, there are still ways to use Chase points to book an American flight.
American Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world, but it can be tricky to accumulate AAdvantage points since most flexible currencies, like Chase Ultimate Rewards, do not transfer directly to AA. Only Bilt Rewards has a direct partnership with AA.
In this article, I’ll guide you through the most effective ways to use your Chase points to book AA flights, despite this seeming hurdle.
How to Fly American Airlines with Chase Points
As mentioned above, there is no way to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to American Airlines to book a flight directly since AA is not a transfer partner of Chase UR.
There are three ways to book AA flights using Chase points:
- Transfer Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways Avios and book AA flights directly from British Airways
- Transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Iberia Plus Avios and book AA flights directly from Iberia
- Use the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal to book AA flights using UR points at a 1.25 cents/point ratio for Chase Sapphire Preferred® cardholders or 1.5 cents/point ratio for Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders.
British Airways and Iberia are both Chase UR’s transfer partners and American Airlines’ airline partners (through the oneworld alliance). You can transfer Chase points to these programs and book AA flights.
Now, it’s important to note some limitations to using these methods.
- All airline partners limit their award availability, especially for other carriers. Just because there is an AA flight, it does not mean British Airways or Iberia are necessarily selling award seats for that flight. You have to do your homework and check.
- Using the Chase Travel portal to book American flights is an easy way to redeem points. However, you’ll be getting less value for your Ultimate Rewards points. I value UR points at 2 cents/point. Even if you hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you’re only getting 1.5 cents/point. Most people have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which is only 1.25 cents/point. That being said, this method can still be worth it depending on your own travel goals and strategy.
Let’s discuss each method in detail.
Method 1: Transfer Chase UR Points to British Airways Avios
One workaround is to transfer your Chase UR points to British Airways Avios at a 1:1 ratio, and then use Avios to book American Airlines flights.
Booking through British Airways can often be cheaper than booking through American Airlines, but not always. Even if the flight is more expensive with Avios, it’s the flexibility that makes this method powerful.
The downsides include limited availability – American Airlines flights are not always bookable via British Airways – and potential surcharges on some routes, especially transatlantic flights. You have to check the BA site to see if they are selling award seats for the AA flight you want to book. It helps to be flexible with your travel dates.
To search for award flights on BA, do the following:
- Go to www.ba.com and create a British Airways account. You’ll need to sign up for their loyalty program to search for award flights.
- Go to “Book” from the top navigation and choose “Book a flight with Avios”
- Search for your flight
- Once you are sure you found a flight you can book with Avios, then log into the Chase Ultimate Rewards site and transfer chase points to British Airways. Note: you do not want to preemptively transfer points as there’s no way to transfer back.
Here’s an American Airlines flight from Charlotte (CLT) to Los Angeles (LAX) that’s bookable for 13,000 British Airways Avios.
Method 2: Transfer UR Points to Iberia Plus
Another way to use your Chase UR points for American Airlines flights is by transferring them to Iberia Plus, the loyalty program of Spain’s flagship carrier, which is also part of the oneworld alliance with AA and British Airways.
- Visit Iberia’s website and create a loyalty account.
- Log into your Iberia Plus account and search for flights. Be sure to tick “pay with Avios”.
- Once you are sure you found a flight you can book with Avios, then log into the Chase Ultimate Rewards site and transfer chase points to Iberia. Note: you do not want to preemptively transfer points as there’s no way to transfer back.
Let’s search the same example flight as we did with the British Airways example,
Here’s the same example flight that I searched for British Airways, an American Airlines flight from Charlotte (CLT) to Los Angeles (LAX). This is bookable for 13,000 Iberia Avios.
Method 3: Use the Chase Travel Portal
The Chase travel portal works like other online travel agencies. You can search for flights, hotels, and car rentals, and then book using your Chase UR points. To use this, follow these steps:
- Log in to your Chase account and navigate to the Ultimate Rewards page.
- Click on “Travel” and search for your desired flights.
One of the major benefits of this method is its simplicity and flexibility. You can book any available American Airlines flight and pay using Chase Ultimate Rewards points at either 1.25 cents/point for Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders or 1.5 cents/point for Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders.
There are no blackout dates and you can also earn AA miles this way.
Be aware that you may not get the best value per point compared to other redemption options.
Here’s the same example flight that I searched for British Airways, an American Airlines flight from Charlotte (CLT) to Los Angeles (LAX). This flight will cost 30,832 Chase UR points.
Each method to book American Airlines flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards points has its advantages and disadvantages. The best one for you depends on various factors, including your location, destination, flexibility, and how much you value each point.
Using the Chase Travel Portal offers simplicity and flexibility, but potentially lower value per point. Transferring points to British Airways or Iberia can provide better value, especially for certain short-haul, off-peak, or round-trip flights, but it also requires more work and may have limited availability.
Here are some tips and tricks to get the most out of your Chase UR points for AA flights:
- Keep an eye on the award charts of British Airways and Iberia to find the sweet spots.
- Regularly check the British Airways and Iberia websites for award availability on American Airlines flights.
- Consider the total cost, not just the number of points or miles. Don’t forget to factor in taxes, fees, and surcharges.
- Be flexible with your travel dates and times to increase the chances of finding a good deal.
- Remember that not all American Airlines flights can be booked with British Airways or Iberia Avios, especially certain domestic routes and premium cabin seats.
Remember, the goal is to use your points in a way that brings you the most value and makes your travel dreams come true. So keep exploring, and happy traveling!