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Ultimate Rewards Makes Another Effort to Increase Its Appeal

Chase Ultimate Rewards have added Emirates Skywards to the list of transfer partners, rounding out the number of airline programs to an even 10. Ultimate Rewards is a favorite flexible travel program among many award travel enthusiasts, but I doubt that the new addition will please as many.

Chase Adds Emirates as a Transfer Partner

Chase members who collect Ultimate Rewards points with credit cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Ink Business Preferred, can transfer their points to Emirates Skywards at a ratio of 1-to-1 in increments of 1,000 points.

Emirates has been a transfer partner of both American Express Membership Rewards and Capital One Venture Rewards, and these partnerships aren’t going away.

However, the new option begs the question: Is Emirates Skywards a valuable loyalty program?

How Valuable Are Emirates Skywards Miles?

As always, the answer depends on how you redeem them.

Ironically, using Skywards Miles to book a flight on an Emirates-operated flights isn’t their best use. If you have them, you’re better off redeeming Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles or JAL Mileage Bank miles when looking to fly on the Dubai-based carrier. Additionally, Emirates Skywards passes on high fuel surcharges to their award bookings.

In comparison, a one-way flight in business class from the United States to Dubai will set you back either 82,500 Alaska miles + $20 or 100,000 Skywards Miles + $842.

Believe it or not, a somewhat decent option of redeeming your Skywards Miles are for upgrades to a premium cabin on a paid fare. You can upgrade an economy ticket to business class or a business ticket to first class. Upgrades start at 9,000 miles, depending on your itinerary and ticket class.

What Does It Mean for Ultimate Rewards?

Frankly, not much. Personally, I don’t view adding Emirates Skywards to the list of Ultimate Rewards airline partners as an improvement.

It’s true that the program has some unique transfer partners in United MileagePlus and the World of Hyatt, but both of those programs have had significant devaluations, and removing Korean Air SKYPASS from the list hasn’t helped, either.

After these negative changes, Ultimate Rewards is struggling to find its appeal again, but adding a couple of mediocre transfer partners in TrueBlue JetBlue and Emirates Skywards isn’t going to do it. More doesn’t always mean better, and this move doesn’t make Chase’s rewards program any more compelling.


Do you view Emirates Skywards as a useful transfer partner?

Comments are Closed.
mike2200 August 28, 2019

no would like to see Korean Air back on the list!

UserMark August 27, 2019

Ultimate Rewards is already appealing. They just won't give people cards due to 5/24.