One of the best reasons to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards is transferring those points to airline and hotel partners. One of Chase's most popular partners is Southwest Airlines: a low-cost, no frills, airline that has frequent fare sales, offers two free checked bags per person with every ticket, and has the incredible Companion Pass, one of the best perks in air travel.
Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to Partners
Points transfers to Chase partners are only possible if you (or someone in your household) hold one of these cards:
Also, once you have one of the cards above, you can also earn transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards with any of these cards:
- Chase Freedom Flex
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Chase Ink Business Cash
- Chase Ink Business Unlimited
- any former versions of these cards (Chase Freedom, Chase Ink Business Plus, etc.)
Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners
Chase Ultimate Rewards has 11 airline partners and 3 hotel partners:
- Aer Lingus
- Air Canada (coming “late 2021”)
- British Airways
- Flying Blue (KLM/Air France)
- Singapore Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Transferring to Southwest Airlines
To transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest, you can follow the steps in our transfer guide. The points transfer is usually instant, so you won't have to wait to book the award ticket you want. Chase is the only credit card point currency that transfers to Southwest. The only other way to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points through credit card spend is by using one of the Southwest co-branded credit cards.
It is a good idea to go through and set up accounts for all the transfer partners, regardless of when or whether you think you will use them. You never know when in a pinch, you may need to make a quick transfer and booking.
Things to Know About Southwest
Southwest's biggest advantage for award redemptions is that availability is never a problem. Any seat available for booking with cash is available for booking with points. Also, redemption costs are tied to the cash price of the flight, so you do not have to read through any award charts or routing rules. This makes Southwest Rapid Rewards one of the easiest award programs to use.
Another major benefit of Southwest is that changes are fee-free, meaning you only pay the fare difference. You also get two free checked bags per person. Southwest points are valued at about 1.5 to 1.6 cents per point. This means 10,000 Southwest points are valued at around $150-$160. Depending on fares, you can sometimes get even more value than that from Southwest points.
Southwest routinely opens what is known as the “Southwest Change Trick.” This is where you can make changes to flights for no fare difference. This trick first came about due to the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max and Southwest allowing passengers to change their flights to those with a non-737 Max aircraft. This means that, ideally when the change window opens, you could book the cheapest fare for your route typically within 14 days of when you want to travel. Then, you can change that flight to one on the day you want. Sometimes, you can then change it again by another 14 days. That makes it truly one of the sweetest spots in travel.
Typically, the travel blogs will buzz when the change window opens. I routinely experiment during these times, to see how far out I can push flights. This is especially easy to do using points. If you need to cancel the flight instead of changing, Southwest returns the points instantly to your account without a fee. Therefore, it's always a good idea to check your booked flights to see if the change window is open.
Southwest Redemption Sweet Spots
As far as booking sweet spots, I like to look for those sales for low-cost routes or sales. Out here on the West Coast, Seattle to Las Vegas is popular option. In the example below, the non-stop flight that costs $124 cash would run you 7,951 points +$5.60. This means it comes out right about that 1.5 value. However, if you wanted the lower priced route at 3,250 points, which has a $62 cash rate, the redemption value would be a little higher at 1.7.
If you are on the East Coast, flights out of Baltimore, which is a Southwest hub, can have some great sales as well. For example, you can find fares to Portland, Maine for as little as 5,020 points round-trip!
Also, when Southwest launches new routes or begins flying to a new city, they have some great introductory fares. Recently, a fellow member of the Travel on Point(s) team scored $39 flights to Savannah, Georgia.
Southwest offers non-stop flights to several destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean. All of Southwest's consumer-friendly policies apply to its international flights as well, including free checked bags, fee-free changes, and the “Southwest Change Trick.” If you want to bring your snorkel equipment to the Caribbean, Southwest's free checked bags policy is tough to beat.
Additionally, on a final side note. If you are a Chase Sapphire cardholder, you can use the Chase ultimate rewards portal to book Southwest flights. It will require a phone call; as SWA flights do not show up online, but it is possible. This means with the Preferred you will get 1.25 per point. If you have the reserve, you will get 1.5. This could be valuable if you were wanting to book cash flights to earn the flight points or segments or perhaps qualify for a promotion.
Southwest should not be overlooked as a Chase transfer partner. With the current Chase Sapphire Preferred welcome bonus, you can book several flights by transferring those points to Southwest. With easy and fee-free changes, and two free checked bags per person, Southwest provides great value for you and the entire family. What are your thoughts on this program? Come over to our Facebook group and let us know.