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Save Chase Points on Domestic Flights by Booking Through Air France

Nov. 15, 2018
Travel, Vacations & Trip Planning
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If you want to book a flight within the U.S., Air France might be the last place you would think to look.

But for Chase Ultimate Rewards® members, the fine print of bank and airline partner relationships contains surprising opportunities to save points on flights. As a result, Air France just might have the best deal for your domestic flight.

Take, for example, a recent search for an early December 2018 trip from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Kahului Airport on the Hawaiian island of Maui. A Chase Ultimate Rewards® member could convert 22,500 points into 22,500 United MileagePlus miles to purchase a one-way ticket.

But that would be a shame because just 17,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points could be converted into Air France Flying Blue miles for a nonstop from Seattle to Maui on Delta Air Lines.

Take advantage of airline partnerships

How is this possible? Airlines all have different ways of pricing their award flights, with some using zoned charts and others — especially international carriers like Air France — using distance-based charts. Plus, there are opportunities to get a lot more travel for your points by taking advantage of airline partnerships.

»Learn more: 12 transfer partners coming to Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card cardholders

Chase points can be converted at a rate of one-to-one to any of its nine airline transfer partners: United, Southwest, JetBlue, Virgin Atlantic, Iberia, Singapore, Aer Lingus, British Airways and Air France. Those partners, in turn, have partnerships with other airlines. That’s why you can’t transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to Delta, but you can use them to book Delta by transferring them to Delta’s partner Air France.

Always price compare to get the best deal

Flight availability and prices vary and are tough to predict. The only way to find the best deal is to comparison search. See how many points you would need on an airline like United or Southwest. Then, search for the same trip with Air France’s frequent-flyer program, Flying Blue. As a final step, search for Chase’s own booking portal.

At times, Chase can’t compete with its own partners. Booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, that Seattle-to-Maui flight would cost a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholder 21,592 points — 4,000 more than booking a Delta flight through Air France.

Other times, Chase wins by a mile. An early December 2018 one-way flight from Atlanta to Newark could be had for 12,500 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points converted to United miles. Transferring to Air France gets the same trip for just 11,500 miles on Delta. But if booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® online reservation portal, nonstops on United start at just 8,656 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for holders of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

»Learn more: Nine easy ways to earn airline miles

Travelers who have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® do even better because of that card’s revved-up redemption rates. Unlike the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which delivers 25% more rewards when booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® delivers 50% more, meaning every flight booked through Chase by a Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholder costs fewer points than a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Cardholder would pay.

You can’t search for award flights on Air France’s website unless you’re logged in as a member of Flying Blue. So to compare Air France redemption rates on domestic U.S. flights with other carriers, you’ll need to sign up. It’s free and takes just a few minutes. Then, you’ll be able to see Flying Blue redemption options that could, if you play your cards right, leave a lot of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points in your pocket.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2019, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Chase Ultimate Rewards: How to earn and use them
How I flew for free: Round trip NYC to India using Chase Ultimate Rewards
Air France-KLM launches U.S. credit card

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