Is Chase still the best option to fly Star Alliance awards?

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For years now Chase has been the clear credit card bank of choice for United and Star Alliance flyers, and with good reason. To begin with United and Chase have to co-branded cards in the MileagePlus Explorer personal and business versions. Then there are the Chase branded cards, such as the Sapphire Preferred, Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Ink Business, and lastly the Sapphire Reserve..all of which card members can use to earn tons of Chase Ultimate Rewards, which can then be transferred to United and used to fly United or Star Alliance partners. This is too much goodness to ignore; and until now it’s been the absolute best route to earning United miles.

Banks offering travel credit cards are all currently in a two-front war. On one side they’re competing against each other to offer the best travel cards, still with the intention of arriving at the best possible profit margin. On the other side lie points-and-miles gamers, credit card churners, etc., who are doing all they can to get approved for as many cards as possible to earn sign up bonuses, and possibly close the card if the annual fees can’t be otherwise offset by card benefits; this group tries to maintain their balances at $0, which is not what the banks want. It’s a very fluid and tough business at the moment, when so much light has been shed on points travel.

Chase is not the exception. They are battling…and not necessarily with the customer’s interests in mind. They’re making it more difficult to earn those beloved points and miles.

  • Sometime in 2014 – signup bonus eligibility every 24 months per card
  • June 2015 – 5/24 rule applied Chase branded cards
  • May 2016 – 5/24 rule extended to most co-branded card, including United cards

The 5/24 rule in particular makes things quite difficult, when there’s no scarcity in travel credit card offers from other banks. However, Chase has taken it further with its Sapphire cards. Last year Chase launched the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the world went nuts about its benefits and 100k sign-up bonus. Since, Chase has decreased the bonus to 50k. I wonder whether Chase is yet to make a profit from this card. At the time, many who had the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, applied and were approved for the more premium card, the Reserve. Now, a new restriction.

  • August 2017 – only 1 Sapphire card restriction is implemented

This complicates things quite a bit for many people, when coupled with the 5/24 rule. Which brings me to my next point: Amex is now the best option to fly Star Alliance. I’ve already touched on some of the reasons why on this post about my Amex Business Platinum card, which currently is offering a 75k signup bonus.

That’s a blanket statement, yes. But let me explain why I think so, aside from the restrictions that Chase has put in place. Of course, if you travel once or maybe twice a year, this won’t be the case for you. But if you’re intent is to travel often, in premium class, and with points, then this applies to you.

  • Amex Membership Rewards points transfer to Air Canada, ANA, and Singapore
  • For now, Amex also has the SPG personal and business cards, which are transferable to all of these, but also to LAN, Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian)
  • SPG points can also be transferred to Marriott, with which you can book air + hotel packages that can net you plenty of United miles, as it did for me with this package
  • Because things are changing so much it makes no sense to pass on great credit card offers and pray that Chase doesn’t further complicate things by the time you’re above 5/24
  • Amex has so many Membership Rewards card products, that its once-in-a-lifetime signup bonus restriction per card product will take a very long time to significantly affect you
  • You can have 4-5 open credit cards at a time, and as many charge cards as you’re approved for
  • Charge cards are generally better in in my opinion in that they make you more accountable of keeping your balance at $0
  • Amex Sync offers
  • Provisions to make tons of additional points on cards you already hold, check out this post about how I netted 90,000 on two Amex cards, excluding signup bonuses

Maybe that’s enough for now. The point is, if you haven’t yet and are for some reason trying to play with Chase for the most part, it’s a good time to reconsider. My Aeroplan and ANA accounts are quickly bulging up for travel on the next coupe of years, and can too by tapping into the Amex portfolio now!


My personal favorites are both the Business and Personal Platinum cards.

Apply for the Amex Business Platinum card HERE


Apply for the Amex Platinum card HERE

2 thoughts on “Is Chase still the best option to fly Star Alliance awards?

  1. Any thoughts about signing up/accruing Aeroplan points given that Air Canada is breaking free and will begin its own program? any news if they will stay within the star alliance?
    I’m United GoldbPremier so i’ve committed which keeps me close to their bosom for Premier status renewal. Secretly i’d like to break free to Air Canada and their Maple Rooms lol. and I know I can designate United to be credited with the travel if I fly Air Canada, particularly if I purchase the ticket on United but I’m playing in an Air Canada plane. But tell me, if I purchase an Air Canada ticket and a fly in an Air Canada plane, and credit the travel to United, will I receive the same amount of premier points for annual renewal then if I had taken a United flight? Will I receive any premier status miles at all? Because that’s my main reason right now for flying United is to keep the premiere status, and it seems as if you really have to fly United in United planes and spend money on United order to do that,!is that right?

  2. Hi Patrick, I’ve also heard the announcement from Air Canada about them parting ways with Aeroplan, that however, slated for 2020, and who’s to say that something doesn’t change and Aeroplan makes a case to keep AC’s loyalty program… I don’t see and haven’t heard about why they would break from Star Alliance because of the loyalty program change.

    Regarding the earnings when flying AC and earning United PQM or PQS, here’s the link to the info in the UA site

    The key thing to pay close attention to is the fare class. Some discount economy fare classes won’t earn you any Premier Miles or Segments.
    The other thing to keep in mind is that If you purchase the ticket through United you also earn Premier Dollars, but if you purchase it from Air Canada, then no PQD earnings, which could be critical to your status.

    You could also look into some mileage runs to make the Dollar requirement if you prefer to make AC status rather than United. That however will be more difficult/expensive. Keep me up to date with what you decide to do. I always like to learn about others’ strategies. Sometimes they really highlight my own mistakes. 😉

Give me your thoughts