Chase Ultimate Rewards are my favorite kind of credit card points. Valued at $0.01 each for non-travel redemptions, Chase Ultimate Reward points are extremely versatile when used strategically. Points can be redeemed on Chase’s portal for cash back, gift cards, or travel including hotels, flights, and rental cars. In some instances, you can also transfer points to travel partners like United and Hyatt. Here’s your complete guide to Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Guide to Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
What are Chase Ultimate Rewards points and why should I collect them?
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the reward currency used for a majority of Chase branded credit cards. They’re highly sought after because redemption options are flexible. If you have more than one credit card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can easily pool them into one account. This makes it easy to use different Chase credit cards to take advantage of category bonuses. For example, you may use your Chase Sapphire Reserve to get 3x points on restaurants and your Chase Ink Cash for 5x points at office supply stores. It’s also easy to combine points from multiple sign-up bonuses which is definitely the fastest way to earn points.
How much are Chase Ultimate Rewards points worth?
The value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points changes based on how you redeem them. If redeeming for cash back or gift cards, points are worth one cent each regardless of which credit card account you use to redeem them. You can also shop for products by linking your account with Amazon but this drops the value significantly and is not recommended.
When redeeming for travel on Chase’s portal, the point value changes as follows:
- 1 cent per point: Chase Freedom Flex, Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Ink Cash, and Chase Ink Unlimited
- 1.25 cents per point: Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Preferred
- 1.5 cents per point: Chase Sapphire Reserve
You can also get some great deals by transferring to travel partners. However, you must have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Preferred card in order to transfer points to Chase’s travel partners. Points from Freedom Flex, Freedom Unlimited, Ink Cash, and Ink Unlimited can be transferred to your Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Preferred account and then transferred to travel partners.
Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
What credit cards earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points?
There are four personal and three business cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. All are subject to the 5/24 rule. This table shows the value, sign-up bonus, and annual fee for credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. You can read about each card in detail here.
|Card||Type||Annual Fee||Sign-up Bonus||Bonus Categories||Value on Chase Portal|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Personal||$550||50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months||10x on Lyft rides, 3x on dining and travel, 1x on everything else||1.5 cents|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||Personal||$95||60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months||5x on Lyft rides, 2x on dining and travel, 1x on everything else||1.25 cents|
|Chase Freedom Flex||Personal||$0||20,000 points after spending $500 in the first 3 months||5x points back on rotating categories up to $1,500 per quarter; 5x points on travel purchases through Chase; 3x points on dining and drug stores; 1x points on all other purchases||1 cent|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||Personal||$0||20,000 points after spending $500 in the first 3 months||5x points on travel purchases through Chase; 3x points on dining and drug stores; 1.5x points on all other purchases||1 cent|
|Chase Ink Preferred||Business||$95||100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months||3x on the first $150,000 spent per year on travel, shipping, advertising, and internet, cable and phone service, 1x on everything else||1.25 cents|
|Chase Ink Cash||Business||$0||50,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months||5x on the first $25,000 spent per year on at office supply stores and on cell phone, landline, internet and cable TV services, 2x points on the first $25,000 spent per year at gas stations and dining, 1x on everything else||1 cent|
|Chase Ink Unlimited||Business||$0||50,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months||1.5x on everything||1 cent|
What is the best strategy for applying for Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards?
In general, Chase will not approve you for new cards if you have opened five or more credit cards in the past 24 months. If you are interested in earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points, make sure to prioritize these applications while you are still under 5/24.
However, you can only get the sign-up on a Chase Sapphire card once every 48 months. For this reason, I recommend starting with Chase Sapphire Preferred due to its higher sign-up bonus. If you want the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can upgrade after one year of card membership.
If you qualify for a small business credit card, the Chase Ink cards are also great choices due to their sign-up bonuses.
How can I earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points?
Sign-up bonuses: The easiest way to earn points is through sign-up bonuses. It’s difficult to churn these cards since you can’t receive the bonus again for another 24 months (or 48 months for Sapphire cards). You also have to consider the 5/24 rule when applying for new cards.
Everyday spending: I recommend using a combination of cards to maximize earning on everyday spending. Try to always get more than one point per dollar. This is easy with Chase Freedom Unlimited which earns 1.5x points per dollar. Consider adding other cards to your arsenal to take advantage of category bonuses. This is outlined in the table above and in more detail here.
Shop through Chase: If you are shopping online, you can get bonus points by shopping through Chase’s portal.
Refer-a Friend: Sometimes cardholders receive offers to earn bonus points for getting their friends to sign-up for the card. These bonuses vary but can be as high as 10,000 points per referral! Check the site to see if you are eligible to refer-a-friend.
Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
What are my redemption options?
You can redeem points for cash back as a direct deposit to any bank account or as a statement credit.
You can redeem points for gift cards. The minimum points needed for redemption varies by store. For the most part, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are valued at one cent each when redeemed for gift cards. Occasionally, you’ll find a gift card that will get you better value.
Pay Yourself Back
Chase Sapphire, Freedom, and Ink cardholders now have access to the “Pay Yourself Back” feature. Cardholders can redeem points for statement credits for purchases made in categories such as grocery stores, home improvement stores, select charities, and dining (including take-out and delivery). The categories and value of points vary by card:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: Points are worth 1.5 cents each and can be redeemed for grocery stores, home improvement stores, select charities, and dining (including take-out and delivery). Valid through April 30, 2021.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Points are worth 1.25 cents each and can be redeemed for grocery stores, home improvement stores, select charities, and dining (including take-out and delivery). Valid through April 30, 2021.
- Chase Ink Preferred, Cash, and Unlimited: Points are worth 1.25 cents each and can be redeemed for online advertising, shipping, and select charities. Valid through December 31, 2020.
- Chase Freedom, Freedom Flex, and Freedom Unlimited: Points are worth 1.25 cents each and can be redeemed for select charities. Valid through December 31, 2020.
After each purchase posts, you have 90 days to “pay yourself back”.
Apple Ultimate Rewards
You can use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to pay for all or part of your Apple purchase on the Apple Ultimate Rewards portal. Points are valued at one cent each so it’s the same as getting cash back.
You can shop for products on Amazon with your points but you lose value by doing so. Points are worth 0.80 cents on Amazon. You’d be better of doing cash back or redeeming for an Amazon gift card if you want to use points for a specific product.
Chase Sapphire cardholders can use points for VIP Chase Experiences. These events can be pricey. If you want to be treated like a VIP at the Sundance Film Festival and have 600,000 points lying around, this is your option! Other redemption options include a dinner series with famous chefs and luxury sports packages. Points are worth one cent each when redeemed for Chase Experiences.
Ah, everybody’s favorite redemption method. This is where Chase Ultimate Rewards points really shine. As previously mentioned, any Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card can be used to redeem travel through Chase, but if you want better rates and the ability to transfer to external travel partners, you will need Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Preferred.
Using Chase’s portal, you can book flights, hotels, rental cars, and activities. Activities include guided tours, airport transfers, cooking classes, and more. Depending on what card you use, your points will have a different value. Right now I have 131,464 points. With my Chase Freedom Flex, I can book $1,314.64 worth of travel. With Chase Sapphire Preferred, the value is increased by 1.25 to $1,643.30. And with Chase Sapphire Reserve, it’s worth 1.5 times more for a total of $1,971.96.
Always transfer your points to the account that will give you the best value!
My favorite use of the portal is for booking smaller hotels that aren’t part of a chain. It allows you to use points for hotels pretty much anywhere. I even booked a room in a chateau in Normandy, France! Another benefit is that if you don’t have enough points, you can pay the rest with your Chase card.
In some cases, you may find a better flight or hotel deal by transferring your points at a 1:1 ratio to Chase’s travel partners.
Who are Chase’s travel partners?
You can transfer points to the following rewards programs.
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- British Airways Executive Club
- Emirates Skywards
- Air France / KLM Flying Blue
- Iberia Plus
- JetBlue True Blue
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- IHG Rewards Club
- Marriott Bonvoy
- World of Hyatt
What are the rules for transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners?
You need to have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Preferred card in order to transfer points to Chase’s travel partners. Points from Freedom Flex, Freedom Unlimited, Ink Cash, and Ink Cash Unlimited can be used too but you need to transfer them to your Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Preferred account first.
When you’re ready to transfer to a travel partner, go to the “Use Points” dropdown on the Chase Ultimate Rewards site and click “Transfer to Travel Partners”. There you can transfer points to the listed programs. Once you complete a transfer, your information will be saved at the top for future transfers.
You can transfer points to your own rewards program account or the account of an authorized user who lives in the same household (e.g., a spouse). If you are using a business card, you can also transfer points to the rewards program account of a business partner who is also an authorized user.
All transfers are 1:1 meaning that one Chase Ultimate Reward point will equal one Southwest Rapid Reward point, for example. Transfers occur instantly with the exception of Singapore Airlines, IHG, and Marriott which post in 1-2 days. Once you transfer points to a travel partner, you cannot transfer them back.
When should I transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners?
You will have to decide when to transfer points based on the scenario. Always compare the points needed on the travel partner website to a similar redemption on Chase’s portal.
The Chase portal is like Expedia and other travel sites where prices will vary based on the time of year or day of the week. This also causes the cost in points to fluctuate. Sometimes you can get a much better deal by transferring to an airline or hotel rewards program that has fixed reward pricing.
I find that it’s usually better to transfer points to Hyatt then book on the portal. The Park Hyatt in New York can cost over $1,000 per night. It was listed at 67,207 points on the Chase portal when booking with Chase Sapphire Reserve. This would cost even more points if booked with Chase Sapphire Preferred! Regardless of which Chase Sapphire card you have, it will always be 30,000 points on Hyatt’s site (pending standard room availability).
Other hotel brands like IHG or Marriott are less appealing transfer options since their properties tend to require more points for award bookings. A night at the InterContinental in Boston would cost 70,000 points through IHG, but on a typical night will cost only 30,209 on the portal when booking with Chase Sapphire Reserve.
For airlines, I like to transfer to United when possible. I needed to book a flight from Milan Linate Airport to Boston. On United, the economy seat cost 30,000 points plus $81.26 vs. 49,184 points for a similar flight on Aer Lingus booked through Chase.
What are the rules for transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points between accounts?
If you have more than one Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, you’ll end up with more than one account. It’s very easy to pool your points into one account. You can also combine points between business and personal accounts. Go to any of your Chase Ultimate Rewards accounts and hover over your points balance in the upper righthand corner. Click the “Combine Points” option and choose which accounts you want to move your points to and from. Here’s a step-by-step guide to transferring points. I recommend keeping them in the account that provides the best rate on the travel portal. For me, this is Chase Sapphire Reserve.
You can also transfer points to someone in your household. On the “Combine Points” page, select “Add Household Member” and enter the cardholder’s account number and last name.
How do I prevent my points from expiring?
Chase Ultimate Rewards points do not expire as long as you keep at least one account open. For example, I can close my Chase Sapphire Reserve but my points will stay active if I still have a Chase Freedom Flex. If you are planning on closing all Chase accounts and don’t have any travel coming up, here are your options:
- Transfer points to another person in your household that has a Chase Ultimate Rewards account
- Transfer points to a travel partner
- Redeem for cash back
This Chase Ultimate Rewards guide sure has a lot of information, but Chase Ultimate Rewards have a lot to offer! The flexibility in redemption options is what makes this program so valuable. While you will get the best value by redeeming for travel, there is truly something for everyone with Chase Ultimate Rewards.