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 everything you need to know about earning, transferring, and redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Introduction to Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

What are Chase Ultimate Rewards points and why should I collect them?
Two of my accounts are empty because I choose to pool my points into my Chase Sapphire Reserve account

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 and points are extremely valuable when redeemed for travel. If you have more than one credit card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you can be easily pool them into one account. This makes it easy 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 Plus 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 varies by redemption option

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 to 0.8 cents per point.

When redeeming for travel on Chase’s portal, the point value changes as follows:

  • 1 cent per point: Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Unlimited, and Chase Ink Cash
  • 1.25 cents per point: Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Plus
  • 1.5 cents per point: 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 Ink Plus card in order to transfer points to Chase’s travel partners. Points from Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and Ink Cash can be transferred to your Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Plus 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 two 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 TypeAnnual FeeSign-up BonusBonus CategoriesValue on Chase Portal
Chase Sapphire ReservePersonal$450100,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months3x on dining and travel, 1x on everything else1.5 cents
Chase Sapphire PreferredPersonal$95, waived first year50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months2x on dining and travel, 1x on everything else1.25 cents
Chase FreedomPersonal$015,000 points after spending $500 in the first 3 months5x on quarterly categories such as drugstores and wholesale stores up to $1500 per quarter, 1x on everything else1 cent
Chase Freedom UnlimitedPersonal$015,000 points after spending $500 in the first 3 months1.5x on everything1 cent
Chase Ink Preferred Business$9580,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months3x on the first $150,000 spent per year on travel, shipping, advertising, and internet, cable and phone service, 1x on everything else1.25 cents
Chase Ink CashBusiness$030,000 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
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. This 5/24 rule has sure put a damper on earning points! Choosing what cards to sign up for now requires more strategy. If you are interested in earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points, make sure to prioritize these applications while you are still under 5/24. You’ll also want to go for the best sign-up bonuses. I’d recommend starting with Chase Sapphire Reserve (100,000 points) and Preferred (50,000). If you qualify for a small business credit card, Chase Ink Plus (60,000 points) is also a great choice. It’s also recommended not to apply for more than two Chase cards in 30 days. These aren’t hard and fast rules but anecdotally seem to be true.

How can I earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points?
  1. Have a pimply teenager? Get 25 bonus points per dollar with Proactiv!

    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. You also have to consider the 5/24 rule when applying for new cards.

  2. Add an authorized user: Along with the sign-up bonus, some cards offer additional points for adding an authorized user and having them make a purchase in the first three months. This includes Chase Sapphire Preferred (5,000 bonus points), Chase Freedom (2,500 bonus points), and Chase Freedom Unlimited (2,500 bonus points). Never add someone as an authorized user without asking. And keep it mind that if they also open credit cards for the sign-up bonuses, being an authorized user on an account counts towards their 5/24.
  3. 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.
  4. Shop through Chase: If you are shopping online, you can get bonus points by shopping through Chase’s portal. There are currently 232 stores listed that earn at least 1 bonus point per dollar. Some stores are as high as 25 bonus points per dollar.
  5. 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?
Cash Back
If you want cash back, you’ll need at last 2,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points

You can redeem points for cash back as a direct deposit to any bank account or as a statement credit. You need a minimum of 2,000 points to redeem for cash back. Points are one cent each so 50,000 points is equivalent to $500.

Gift Cards
Warning: Your points will lose value if you choose the Amazon redemption option

You can redeem points for gift cards starting at 500 points for a $5 gift card. Minimum points needed for redemption varies by store. I’m not really sure why you would do this instead of cash back. Maybe if you need a gift for someone?

Amazon Purchases

You can shop for products on Amazon with your points but you lose value by doing so. Points are worth less than a cent a piece with this redemption. 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 Experiences
You can use Chase Ultimate Rewards points for exclusive VIP experiences

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.

Travel

Ah, my 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 Plus.

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 different value. Right now I haves 131,464 points. With my Chase Freedom I can book $1314.64 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 found hotels for Puerto Natales, Chile where I’ll be staying for a night before my Patagonia trip in January. 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 better flight or hotel deals 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:

Airlines
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Air France / KLM Flying Blue
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Hotels
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Rewards
  • The Ritz Carlton Rewards

Since Marriott and Starwood merged, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott and then to your linked Starwood Preferred Guest account. However, the transfer is 3:1 so 30,000 Chase points will yield only 10,000 Starpoints.

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 Ink Plus card in order to transfer points to Chase’s travel partners. Points from Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and Ink Cash can be used too but you need to transfer them to your Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Plus 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 the business owner.

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 which can take 2 days and IHG, Marriott, and Ritz Carlton which post the next business day. 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.

Booking a night at the Park Hyatt New York on the Chase travel portal is a colossal waste of points. Transfer points to Hyatt for a better deal!

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 than book on the portal. The Park Hyatt in New York can cost over $1000 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).

Why transfer 55,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to IHG when you can book through the portal for 30,000?

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 55,000 points through IHG but 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 next summer. On United economy seats 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?
This is what you’ll see when you combine your points. You can also use this page to transfer points to someone in your household.

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 a long as you keep your account open. If you are planning on closing an account and don’t have any travel coming up, here are your options:

  • Transfer points to another one of your Chase Ultimate Rewards accounts
  • 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 (you need at least 2,000 points)

Final Thoughts

This may be a lot of information but Chase Ultimate Rewards has 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.

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