How Chase Reversed My Point Transfer Due To Hurricane Irma

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Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Reversal

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Reversal

The favorite flexible points currency of many points enthusiasts are Ultimate Rewards from Chase.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Reversal
My favorite flexible point currency

Having a Chase premium credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve allows you to transfer points 1:1, most of the time instantly, into several lucrative airline and hotel point programs. Including some popular partners like United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, British Airways and Hyatt.

Once a transfer is executed you CANNOT reverse it — so make sure if you’re looking to book a flight with one of Chase’s airline transfer partners, that you check for availability award space BEFORE transferring the points. I did just THAT on September 8th, 2017.

I had been tracking the path of Hurricane Irma all week and since I live in South Florida, knew her arrival wasn’t a question of ‘when’ but ‘where’, as there was uncertainty where the eye of the hurricane would land. Soon after it was apparent that Irma would be hitting South Florida directly, I scrambled quickly looking for flight options out of town.

With airline price gouging running rampant and scarce domestic flight availability from all three South Florida major airports, I ventured into searching international routes less than a 3 hour flight from home.

Finding Hope

Checking all the loyalty airline programs where I had miles invested or could transfer miles into, I could only find space for EIGHT from Miami to Panama on Copa Airlines on Friday, the last day before airports were to be shutdown. I wanted to get my entire family out of Irma’s way, including my in-laws and seeing eight one-way award seats available was miraculous. Because you can book Copa flights with United miles, I quickly did a search on United.com and found EIGHT seats available for an early afternoon flight on Friday to Panama City from Fort Lauderdale.

Without hesitation, I hurried to my Chase Ultimate Rewards page and logged in to transfer 140,000 points (17,500 one-way per each family member) to United. Once the ‘instant’ transfer was initiated, I refreshed the United website and immediately saw the points transferred to my United MileagePlus account. I now had 142,000 miles readily available to book the award flights and get us out of town.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Reversal
Transferred 140,000 from Chase UR to United

Upon doing the flight search again, United’s website gave me an “insufficient miles to complete the booking” message. I knew the website was wrong as I had enough miles in my account, so I dialed up United’s reservation line and fed the phone representative the flight number and city pairs. She had trouble finding the space but I insisted it was there. As she kept working to find the award seats, I went to flightaware.com to check on the flight status and came across the words “Cancelled” almost immediately upon entering the flight number and airline code. I informed the agent and thanked her for trying to assist.

I was out 140,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points, my favorite flexible rewards currency as they were now 140,000 United miles.

The reality set in that I was too late in securing flight reservations for my family to evacuate South Florida before Hurricane Irma’s arrival. Not one to feel down and out, I immediately took to Twitter and private messaged United Airlines about possibly getting my point transfer reversed. I informed them that the only reason I transferred from Chase to United was because the United website showed 8 award seats (phantom space) and I needed to book quickly given the emergency situation we were in. The United Twitter team told me to contact MileagePlus, United’s loyalty program, so I gave them a call and a very nice phone representative told me I had to email customercare@united.com and I’d receive a response within 7-10 days.

Taking to Twitter

The United Twitter team also told me to reach out to Chase in hopes that they could assist. I immediately sent a private message to Chase through Twitter with my issue and a few minutes later I got the following response:

We understand how important this is for you. All point transfers are final. Once points are transferred, they may not be refunded and the transaction cannot be reversed. We would advise you to keep working with them for a resolution.

I didn’t stop there. I replied:

I know the policy and I would even frown upon anyone NOT knowing the policy. But this would be a one time exception request. I ask that you somehow at least submit a notation on my account to have them consider this if United reaches out. Thank you

Their response:

Unfortunately, due to system limitations, we cannot retract the points from them since we already sent it to their system. It’s not because we’re unwilling to make an exception for you. We hope you understand. As you requested, we’ve made notes on your account about this.

At this point, I’m just hoping United and Chase talk about my transfer reversal request and consider the circumstances. Two days later, I received some incredible and unexpected news from Chase via Twitter:

Good afternoon, Juan. We know this has been a stressful situation, and we reviewed this case further for you. We will be making an exception to have your points returned. I’ll let you know when this has been completed.

WOOHOO! Certainly not expected but very appreciated, Chase decided to return the points to my Ultimate Rewards account. I’ve since seen the miles reversed on my United MileagePlus account but they have yet to appear on the Chase side. I’ll presumably have 140,000 Ultimate Rewards points back into my account in a few days.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Reversal
140,000 Miles Reversal

Final Thoughts

Although points transfers are irreversible and final 99.9% of the time, there are excruciating circumstances in which exceptions to the rule are made and point reversals are approved. I’m appreciative to Chase for an empathetic review of my point reversal request and glad to have weathered the storm safely in South Florida.


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