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Chase Ultimate Rewards—Are You Redeeming Your Points Strategically?

Early on in my marriage, I didn't see the value of my wife going to multiple grocery stores when she did our grocery shopping. It was when I started doing grocery store shopping that I learned the art of comparison shopping—getting the best price for a needed item. In short order, I was going to multiple grocery stores—like my wife was—and was saving a lot of money in the process. Thank you wife!

What is the point? Sometimes, by doing your homework, you can make your dollar stretch further. When this becomes a pattern, and part of your routine, you can literally save hundreds or thousands of dollars over time.

On a similar note, Chase offers some of its cardmembers a "currency" known as Ultimate Rewards® points. These points have value. However, are you redeeming your Ultimate Rewards® points at the highest value? To find out how this can be done, read on!

Redeeming your Ultimate Rewards® with Chase is like a game of chess—what will be your next move?
Redeeming your Ultimate Rewards® with Chase is like a game of chess—what will be your next move? Image courtesy of Wix

All opinions and reviews expressed herein are the author's alone and have not been reviewed or approved by any credit card issuer, airline, bank, hotel chain, or other entity. Some of the credit card offers and links appearing in this article are from companies from which we may receive commission or a referral bonus when you click on the link. You do not need to use our links but we appreciate it when you do—it helps support our website! Some of the credit card offers mentioned herein are time-sensitive and may no longer be available.

Chase Ultimate Rewards® Points

Perhaps the most valuable points to earn from a credit card are Ultimate Rewards® from Chase. Ultimate Rewards® is a Flexible Points Currency. In other words, you earn points in a centralized account. You accumulate your points in that account based on using a credit card—or another credit card in Chase's "family" that also earns the same points "currency." You can subsequently redeem your points in multiple ways including: Transferring your points to a transferable partner; using Chase's Travel Portal; receiving a statement credit or cash back; purchasing a gift card, etc.

Not all Chase credit cards earn Ultimate Rewards® points. The following four personal credit cards are offered publicly and do: Chase Sapphire Reserve®; Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card; Chase Freedom Flex℠, and Chase Freedom Unlimited®. The following three business credit cards do: Chase Ink Business Preferred®; Chase Ink Business Cash®; and Chase Ink Business Unlimited®.

A must-have credit card in the Award Travel arena is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It currently has an 80,000 Ultimate Rewards® points sign-up bonus! You can learn more about this card in the following post: Chase Has Done It Again—80,000 Ultimate Rewards Points Welcome Bonus! You can apply for this card here!

One of the best ways to redeem your Ultimate Rewards® points is to transfer them to one of Chase's 14 partners. This is my favorite method! You will need one of these premium cards to "open the door" to this option: Chase Sapphire Reserve®; Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card; or Chase Ink Business Preferred®.

Transfer to Chase's Travel Partners

Chase currently has 14 transfer partners—11 airlines and 3 hotels. Basically, you are transferring your points to a partner of Chase, and redeeming those points with that partner for an award booking.

Here are the 11 airlines:

Here are the 3 hotels:

  • IHG® Rewards Club

  • Marriott Bonvoy®

  • World of Hyatt®

Although the transfer rate is fixed—a 1:1 point transfer to any airline or hotel partner—the end value is not. When done strategically, it is possible to get a value of MORE than 1.5 cents or even 2 cents per point! In other words, 80,000 Ultimate Rewards® points—the current sign-up bonus for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card—can bring you a value of $1,200 to $1,600—or even more!

"Learning how to redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points is just as important as learning how to earn them."

Point transfers are always one-way—from Chase to its partner. You can not transfer points back to Chase. The points need to be in increments of 1,000 and are generally instantaneous—although there are some exceptions. Also, you will need to have an existing account with the loyalty program you want your points transferred to. Be sure that your full name with Chase and the loyalty program match exactly. You will also need to know your loyalty program identification number.

To learn more about how to strategically book an Award Flight, see the following post: An Easy Example of How to Leverage Your Miles & Points for an Award Ticket.

Pay Yourself Back®

Another method to redeem your Ultimate Rewards® points is using Pay Yourself Back®. You receive a statement credit to "erase" eligible transactions that post to your account. The eligible categories are: Airbnb, Dining at restaurants—including takeout and eligible delivery services, Select charities, and Annual membership fees. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives you a 25% boost on your points whereas Chase Sapphire Reserve® gives you a 50% boost!

The Airbnb, dining at restaurants, and annual membership fee categories are valid through June 30, 2022. The select charities redemption is valid through December 31, 2022. I think it is great that Chase has Airbnb as an eligible category. Hopefully, Chase will extend Airbnb beyond June 30, 2022. All eligible transactions need to be redeemed within 90 days of the posting date.

I recently product changed my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® to take advantage of the 50% boost in points—or a 1.5 cents per point valuation—and erase Airbnb charges for an upcoming trip to Greece. This "erased" $1,874 in charges from my trip! I like to "earn and burn" my points as opposed to hoarding them. Loyalty programs are constantly being devalued over time.

Chase Ultimate Rewards® Travel Portal

Chase has migrated their Expedia-powered Ultimate Rewards® travel portal to cxLoyalty. You can book flights, hotels, cars, and cruises. Similar to Pay Yourself Back®, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives you a 25% boost on your points whereas Chase Sapphire Reserve® gives you a 50% boost.

I am not a fan of using Chase's Ultimate Rewards® travel portal—except for occasionally booking a hotel. Using an online travel agency can be a headache—especially when travel plans change. For example, United Airlines recently changed a flight within my itinerary. I wasn't pleased with what they selected. Because I booked an Award Flight with them directly, I was able to "feed" them an alternative flight that I preferred, and they happily made the adjustment. This may not have been possible had I used a third-party booking engine.

The multipliers are excellent when using Chase's Ultimate Rewards® travel portal. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 5X total points; Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns 5X points on flights and 10X points on hotels and car rentals. The 10X points on car rentals seem very tempting; however, from my experience, the prices are high and I have booked rentals for hundreds of dollars less from other sites.

You can earn miles toward your designated loyalty program when you book a flight on Chase's travel portal using your Ultimate Rewards® points; this is because it is a revenue-based transaction from the airline's side. However, when you book a hotel through Chase's travel portal you will not earn any hotel points, stay credits, etc. In addition, if you have status with that hotel, you probably will not be able to take advantage of your status benefits.

Cash Back

You can elect to have your Ultimate Rewards® deposited into your checking account—or used as a statement credit—for a value of 1 cent per point. In other words, the 80,000 Ultimate Rewards® points sign-up bonus from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card would bring you a value of $800. This valuation is substantially less than the other aforementioned redemption options. I would not recommend this option—unless you have no plans to travel and are unable to take advantage of any of the eligible Pay Yourself Back® categories.

Nevertheless, it still shows the value of having a premium credit card. In the event of an emergency, being able to quickly convert your Ultimate Rewards® points into cash is a useful option. This is one reason why using a credit card makes financial sense versus only using a debit card. To learn more about this, see the following post: Why You Lose Money When Using a Debit Card.

Calculate "Your" Credit Card Value

Everyone has their own "custom" spending habits. Therefore, selecting the right Chase Ultimate Rewards®-earning credit card is a personal decision. Wouldn't it be great if there was a "custom" calculator that generated a value based on your spending habits?

There is! AwardYourMiles has developed a Miles & Points Calculator. Select the credit card and enter the amount of money you spend on average per month in the corresponding category. It will calculate the following:

  1. The monetary value of your first and second years using the credit card; and

  2. The miles/ points generated from your spend.

AwardYourMiles has also developed a Credit Card Selector Calculator. It uses our proprietary algorithm which determines the best credit card in our database based on your spending habits. You will be able to determine the value of each credit card in your first year of use! Having more miles & points will improve your ability to leverage for an Award Ticket.

The Bottom Line

Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are amongst the most valuable points to earn and redeem! With a little time, practice, and effort, you can learn how to use these points successfully. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is an easy way to get started and rack up a lot of points with the current 80,000 points sign-up bonus! You can apply for this card here!

Do you feel overwhelmed with all the options available when it comes to redeeming your miles & points? Would you like some assistance to get you started in the right direction? You will benefit from the services of a Credit Card Miles & Points Consultant. You will be assisted with regards to earning miles & points through credit card use and leveraging those miles & points for Award Travel. Or, feel free to use any of our Award Travel Tools online. Get started today!


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