For the savvy traveler, credit card reward points are a valuable asset. If you’re a Chase cardholder, you’re likely familiar with Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. As a flexible and highly sought-after form of currency in the travel rewards landscape, they can be utilized in a multitude of ways. From hotels to experiences, these points can truly make your travel dreams come true.
However, one of the challenges that arise for many travelers is figuring out how to use these points with Delta Air Lines, one of the largest airlines worldwide and a member of the SkyTeam alliance. The main hitch here is that Chase does not have a direct partnership with Delta, so it’s impossible to transfer points to Delta’s SkyMiles program directly.
But, don’t worry! In this article, I’ll guide you through the most effective ways to use your Chase points to book Delta flights, despite this seeming hurdle.
How to Fly Delta with Chase Points
As mentioned above, there is no way to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Delta to book a flight directly since Delta is not a transfer partner of Chase UR.
There are three ways to book Delta flights using Chase points:
- Transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club and book Delta flights directly from Virgin
- Transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Air France/KLM Flying Blue program and book Delta flights directly from either Air France or KLM
- Use the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal to book Delta 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
Virgin Atlantic and Air France/KLM are both transfer partners of Chase UR and airline partners of Delta (through the SkyTeam alliance). This allows you to transfer Chase points to these programs and book Delta flights.
Now, it’s important to note that there are some limitations to using these methods.
- All airline partners limit their award availability, especially for other carriers. Just because there is a Delta flight, it does not mean Virgin or Air France/KLM are necessarily selling award seats for that flight. You have to do your homework and check.
- Using the Chase Travel portal to book Delta 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 points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club program
One workaround is transferring your Chase points to Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club program. The transfer ratio is 1:1, meaning you’ll get an equal number of Virgin Atlantic miles for your Chase points.
Booking through Virgin Atlantic can often be cheaper than booking through Delta. You can really find some outsized redemptions for international business class tickets, but there’s still great value to be had for main cabin, both international and domestic hops.
For example, here’s a Delta flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo (HND) that’s bookable for 35,000 Virgin points.
Here’s the same exact flight booked direct with Delta SkyMiles for 46,000 points.
Method 2: Transfer Chase points to Air France/KLM Flying Blue program
Another great method is to transfer your Chase points to the Air France/KLM Flying Blue program. As with Virgin Atlantic, the transfer ratio is 1:1.
Flying Blue is the loyalty program for both Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the main carrier in the Netherlands. This means you can potentially book Delta flights directly from either of these two airlines.
Here’s the same Delta flight used in the previous example from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo (HND) that’s bookable for 38,000 Flying Blue points directly on Air France’s website.
Method 3: Use Chase travel portal to book Delta flights
Lastly, you can use the Chase travel portal to book Delta flights directly. The value of your points here is fixed depending on your card type. For instance, if you hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve, your points are worth 1.5 cents each towards travel.
The benefits of the Chase travel portal include no blackout dates and the ability to earn Delta SkyMiles and elite credits. This can be particularly valuable when cash prices are low or when award availability is scarce.
The downsides include potentially lower value per point compared to airline transfer partners, higher taxes and fees, and limited flight options.
There are several smart ways to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book Delta flights: via the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Air France/KLM Flying Blue program, or directly through the Chase travel portal. Each method has its own benefits and potential downsides.
When it comes to value, you can often get the best bang for your buck by transferring points to Virgin Atlantic or Flying Blue, provided you can find award availability and don’t mind dealing with the taxes and fees. If flexibility and ease of booking are your main concerns, then the Chase travel portal is likely your best bet.
To truly maximize your Chase points for Delta flights, consider these tips and tricks:
- Check multiple partner programs: Award availability and pricing can vary between programs, so it’s worth comparing before you transfer your points.
- Set up alerts: Use tools like ExpertFlyer or Point.me to set up flight alerts for specific routes and dates, helping you catch award seats as soon as they become available.
- Book in advance: As with most airlines, you’re more likely to find award availability if you book well in advance, especially for popular routes and travel periods.
Remember, the best method depends on your specific needs and circumstances, so it’s worth taking the time to research and plan your strategy. With some savvy planning, your Chase points can take you further than you might think on Delta Air Lines!