Transferable travel rewards are arguably the most sought-after currency in the credit card rewards space. These points and miles can be transferred to hotel or airline loyalty programs, effectively turning them into frequent flyer miles or hotel points. This makes it easy to then redeem those rewards for free flights and hotel stays.
Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points have long been a favorite among transferrable rewards aficionados. Not only do the points themselves offer a lot of value, but Chase has several of the best travel rewards cards on the market, with lucrative bonus rewards categories. The issuer also tends to offer significant sign-up bonuses on those cards, making it easy to start earning free travel.
But while the Ultimate Rewards program has a robust array of transfer partners, it has long lagged behind American Express’s Memberhip Rewards program in terms of partner volume. However, Chase recently chipped away at that lead with a new addition to its airline partners: Air Canada Aeroplan.
What can you do with Aeroplan miles?
At first glance, this may not seem like the most exciting addition — especially if you don’t plan to fly into Canada anytime soon. Even regular travelers to our northern neighbor may not fly often enough to make the Aeroplan addition more than a passing interest, despite its competitive 1:1 transfer rate.
Yet it shouldn’t be discounted too quickly. Besides a slew of award options for heading to the Great White North, Aeroplan miles can also be used to book award flights on any number of partner airlines.
How? It all comes down to airline alliances.
In particular, Air Canada Aeroplan is a member of the Star Alliance, an airline partnership that includes more than two dozen major airlines:
- Aegean Airlines
- Air Canada
- Air China
- Air India
- Air New Zealand
- All Nippon Airways (ANA)
- Austrian Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- Copa Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- Ethiopian Airlines
- EVA Air
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
- Shenzhen Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- South African Airways
- Swiss Airlines
- TAP Portugal
- Thai Airways
- Turkish Airlines
- United Airlines
Many of the airlines included in the alliance are ones that you can’t actually transfer to directly. For example, Germany’s largest airline, Lufthansa, isn’t a transfer partner of any of the transferable rewards programs (not even Amex). So, if you want to book an award flight to Germany (or anywhere else) on a Lufthansa aircraft, you’ll need to do so through an alliance partner.
Aeroplan miles can also be useful for booking United Airlines flights. Sure, Ultimate Rewards can be transferred directly to United — in fact, this is the only major program that can do so — but there are plenty of examples of folks finding lower-cost rewards on United flights through a partner program than they could get through United’s MileagePlus program directly.
Cards that earn Ultimate Rewards
Chase has many excellent credit cards, but only a handful earn Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred to a travel partner. Indeed, only two of Chase’s consumer credit cards and one of their business credit cards earn points that can be transferred:
While several of Chase’s cash back credit cards technically earn Ultimate Rewards points, those points can’t actually be transferred. Instead, those cards have limited redemption options that include a statement credit or gift cards.
A small addition with big impact potential
Chase’s latest airline partner addition isn’t necessarily going to excite a ton of cardholders — but maybe it should. Even if you have zero intention to fly to Canada this year (or next), Air Canada Aeroplan’s status as a member of the Star Alliance gives it a lot of award redemption potential.
At the very least, the addition of a new airline partner adds a little more versatility and value to an already popular rewards program. Here’s hoping this is just the first of many new additions to come.