One of the most frequent requests I get from friends and family is how to book a family getaway to Hawaii using miles. I don’t blame them – I personally love Hawaii, and I have taken 5 trips the islands over a span of 18 months myself. I especially loved my spontaneous trip to Hawaii last January. The sub-$400 round-trip last-minute fare was calling my name during the sub-zero NY temperatures. My family vacation to the Andaz Maui was also incredible. I can’t wait to go back.
Well guess what? Everyone is excited about the new Chase Ultimate Rewards news. In case you missed it, Chase has added Singapore KrisFlyer miles as a 1:1 transfer partner. I’m excited because it makes visiting Hawaii so much cheaper now (especially since United increased their award price).
There are two main cards to earn transferable Ultimate Rewards:
Singapore KrisFlyer miles can be used to book any Star Alliance flight including all the same saver award space open to most members of United’s MileagePlus program. Singapore’s award chart for flights within the United States and flights from the mainland to Hawaii is much cheaper than United’s award chart for the exact same flight.
Let’s look at a specific flight example to illustrate this.
On September 4, 2014, there is a direct United flight from Houston to Honolulu with Saver award space in economy and first class.
United would charge 22,500 United miles for this flight in economy. You can book the exact same flight for only 17,500 Singapore Airlines miles in economy.
United would charge 40,000 United miles for this flight in first class. You can book the exact same flight for 30,000 Singapore miles. That’s a 10,000 mile savings.
For fancy-pants readers, that means the sign-up bonus on the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card is just about enough for a roundtrip award in First Class to Hawaii.
Both United and Singapore would collect the exact same $2.50 in taxes for the flight in either cabin.
Here are some questions I expect are floating through your mind:
Can you combine United and Singapore miles?
No, you can never combine miles across airline programs. But you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards to either United miles or Singapore miles. For most awards, United offers the better deal, but not for all awards.
How can I use my United miles to book awards at the price on the Singapore award chart?
You can’t. United miles = United chart. Singapore miles = Singapore chart. Ultimate Rewards = choose the cheaper chart.
How do you transfer Ultimate Rewards to Singapore miles?
- Open a Singapore KrisFlyer account for free here.
- Transfer Ultimate Rewards on chase.com.
- Wait a few days for the points to post as Singapore miles. The transfer is NOT instant.
How do you know whether to transfer Ultimate Rewards to Singapore miles or United miles?
Both programs can book almost the exact same award seats, but the miles price and fuel surcharges are very different between the two programs. When you book an award with United miles, refer to the United award chart. When you book an award with Singapore miles, refer to the Singapore award chart.
If United’s award chart is cheaper, use United miles. If Singapore’s award chart is cheaper, consider whether Singapore KrisFlyer would collect fuel surcharges on your award.
Awards booked with United miles never have fuel surcharges. Awards booked with Singapore miles always have fuel surcharges EXCEPT when you flying United flights.
This leads to the “strange” result that you’re often better off booking a Singapore Airlines flight with United miles and a United flight with Singapore miles.
Where are the sweet spots on the Singapore Award chart?
It is cheaper to use Singapore miles than United miles in one or more cabins from the United States mainland to:
- within the United States mainland
- Southern South America
- the Middle East
- North Africa
How can you book a Singapore award?
To book a United flight with Singapore miles, call Singapore Airlines at +1 (800) 742-3333 any time. There is no phone-booking fee. For best results, perform the award searches on united.com on your own before calling.
Singapore KrisFlyer miles can book any Star Alliance award space on united.com in the Saver columns when you are NOT signed into your united.com account. (Signing in means that space only available to United elites and credit card holders will appear. This space is not open to Singapore miles.)
I’m really excited about Ultimate Rewards adding Singapore KrisFlyer miles as a transfer partner. It means I can get back to Maui sooner and cheaper than with United miles.
Have you transferred your Ultimate Rewards points to Singapore KrisFlyer miles yet? If so, share your redemptions!