Sunday, January 25, 2015

Reinstated: Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to Korean Air SkyPass

Chase Ultimate Rewards is probably the most versatile credit-card rewards program, with transfer partners ranging from Hyatt to British Airways to Amtrak.  I booked my recent Los Angeles > Tokyo > Singapore > Shanghai trip in Singapore Airlines Suites Class by transferring points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Singapore Airline's KrisFlyer loyalty program.

(With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you can earn two Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on dining and travel, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere.  Chase Freedom points transfer 1:1 into the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, but only if you have the Sapphire Preferred or Ink cards).

In late November 2014, Chase abruptly dropped Korean Air as a transfer partner without an explanation.  But as of today, Korean Air is back as a transfer partner.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Partners
Source:  Chase

There are three major airline alliances.  Here are some of the key airlines in each:
  • Star Alliance: United, Singapore, ANA, Lufthansa, Thai, Air China, Air Canada, Turkish, Air New Zealand, Asiana
  • oneworld: American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Japan Airlines, Malaysia
  • SkyTeam: Delta, Air France, KLM, Korean Air, China Airlines
The nice thing about these alliances is that you can often book award flights on partner airlines.  For example, I booked an award trip using Asiana, Lufthansa, and Air Canada using miles in my United MileagePlus account.

When Chase dropped Korean Air, that didn't just cut off Korean Air redemptions; it effectively cut off the entire SkyTeam airline alliance as a transfer partner.  That's totally nuts.  But Korean Air is back!

Points from Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to Korean Air.  An off-peak one-way award ticket from North America to Korea is 35,000 miles in economy; 62,500 miles in business; and 80,000 miles in first class.  (Full award chart is here.)


  1. But they don't even serve nuts on a dish on Korean Air. 0/10 would not fly.

  2. So good that this connection is back!