Chase now lets you exclude Basic Economy! Amex excludes it automatically.

Over the weekend, I updated my guide “How to avoid basic economy when paying with points“.  Thanks to reader escot, I had learned that Chase now lets you filter out Basic Economy online when paying with points for flights.  I also found that Amex Travel no longer shows Basic Economy at all.  Both are good news for those of us hoping to use points to pay for flights.

As a reminder, you can get up to 1.5 cents per point value with Chase Ultimate Rewards points by logging into your Chase Ultimate Rewards account and using points to book travel.  The value you get per point depends upon the card used.  Use your Chase Sapphire Reserve card for 1.5 cents per point value.  Use your Sapphire Preferred, Ink Business Preferred, or Ink Plus card for 1.25 cents per point value.  Other cards offer just 1 cent per point value, but you can get better value by first moving those points to a premium card account.  You can freely move points to another household member or business partner’s account.

Similarly, with Amex you can a 35% point rebate if you have a Business Platinum card and you use Membership Rewards points to pay for economy travel with your preferred airline, or business or first class travel with any airline.  This results in just over 1.5 cents per point value.

Chase now lets you exclude Basic Economy!

When you search for flights through the Ultimate Rewards portal, the results now automatically include a link to let you “Exclude Basic Economy Fares.”

This is awesome!  Here’s what it looks like afterwards:

The other major pay-with-points options

I was curious if Amex, Citi, or US Bank had added an awesome filter like Chase’s.  So, I picked a random flight on a random day where AA, Delta, and United all had both Basic and regular Economy available at the following prices:

  • Basic Economy:  AA $167, Delta $175, United $175
  • Economy: AA $187, Delta $200, United $195

I didn’t find filters like Chase’s on any of the other websites, but I did find that Amex showed only regular economy prices..

Amex no longer displays Basic Economy at all

Notice that the prices in this summary results screen closely match the regular economy prices that I found when searching airline websites directly for the same flight:

I scoured the search results for Basic Economy flights, but couldn’t find any.  This could be a problem if you want to save money with Basic Economy, but it’s good news if you’d rather avoid it.  I can’t promise that the Amex Travel site always excludes Basic Economy, but it did so for all of the routes I tested.

Citi still the pits

Via Citi ThankYou Rewards, I found only Basic Economy flights (except where Basic Economy was unavailable).  I couldn’t find any way to filter to regular economy online.

US Bank sucky too

Via US Bank, I found the same as with Citi.  There was no way online to filter out the Basic Economy results.

Avoid Basic Economy via Phone Call

If you are using points that don’t let you avoid Basic Economy online, you should be able to book regular economy over the phone.  I recommend first finding the exact flight and fare class that you want by going through the preliminary steps of booking the flight through the airine’s website, and then call your rewards program (e.g. Citi ThankYou Rewards, US Bank, etc.) to book the flight.  If they can’t find the regular economy option, you may have to hang up and call again. If they try to impose a telephone booking fee, ask them to waive it since this flight was not bookable online.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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15 Comments on "Chase now lets you exclude Basic Economy! Amex excludes it automatically."

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iahphx
Guest

A few months ago, I needed to book a domestic flight for Christmastime for my family. I found a cheap AA flight but, oddly, regular economy was only $10 more than basic economy. I wanted to use points. US Bank’s 1.5 cent redemption was attractive, but there was no way to select the regular economy option. I called their travel dept, and the agent found and was able to book the regular economy seats for me. She might have mumbled something about ordinarily having to pay a fee to book with an agent, but that fee was waived.

Ron
Guest

I recently used US Bank points for a regular economy domestic ticket. It did not appear on their website, only Basic Economy, so I called. The rep was polite and helpful, with no mention of a phone booking fee, and my regular coach ticket was promptly purchased.

Corbett Kroehler
Guest

I concur that this is great news. Don’t forget that Chase Ultimate Rewards telephone representatives always offer the option of performing what they call as “manual redemption.” Research your flights (including cabin class) through the airline’s website first and make a note or take a screen shot and store it in MS Paint (or similar app) and then hop on the phone.

The Chase UR rep will be happy to book the exact fare class you specify. I have used this technique to good effect.

Perhaps a similar approach could be used with Citi?

Robert
Guest

Kudos to Chase! Choice is always better, and I must disagree with the praise for Amex. Sometimes I want to book Basic Economy (the horror!), so I dislike Amex forcing me to pay for regular Economy just as much as I dislike Citi/US Bank forcing me to take Basic Economy.

Julian Banks
Guest

I agree Robert! I don’t like them making the choice for me and with the right airline card or status to help with free bags, basic economy can be a great option.

Dave
Guest

Does booking an economy ticket with miles (AA or UA) get us a regular economy or Basic Economy seat?

Jed
Guest

I’ve heard there is no way to avoid Basic Economy with the Merril Lynch rewards (from the BofA credit card). Can you confirm this?

Ken East
Guest

Guys
Have you noticed that the ur website now DOES NOT ASK OR ALLOW YOU TO PUT IN YOUR FREQUENT FLYER ACCOUNT DETAILS WHEN ENTERING PASSENGER DETAILS. VERY sneeky! If you book, or have booked recently, you will need to insert your account details after booking, and likely before seat selections if you are an elite and get seat privileges, like united economy plus.
I presume this is a cheap to prevent folks getting miles for the revenue tickets they are flying.
Greg, I think this warrants a post of its own to get it publicized.

Sarah
Guest

Praise the Lord! I had the most miserable experiencing book a regular economy flight through the chase portal. I had to book it 4 x’s before it was actually economy and not basic economy. And my seat assignment still magically disappeared on the day of the flight.

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