Chase Ultimate Rewards Guide

Yesterday, Greg published an excellent resource on Citi ThankYou points (See: Citi Thank You Points. Deep Dive.) Many readers found that resource useful, so I decided to steal borrow Greg’s useful format to create a similar overview of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program for easy future reference.

Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points can be earned via credit card spend and new account bonuses. Those points can then be transferred to airline partners, used to pay for travel or merchandise, or converted to cash back.  Chase Ultimate Rewards competes directly with two other bank issued transferable points programs: Citi ThankYou Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards.

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about Ultimate Rewards.

Contents

Earn Points

Credit Cards

The easiest and quickest way to earn Ultimate Rewards points is through Chase credit card signup bonuses, category bonuses, and retention offers (though Chase is not known for generous or frequent retention offers).  Below are the current Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards.  Of particular note are cards that earn 3X to 5X rewards within certain categories of spend: Chase Ink Cash (5x at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services (cellular/landline) on up to $25K in purchases each year), Chase Freedom (rotating 5x categories each quarter), CSR (3x travel and dining), Chase Ink Business Preferred (3x travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone, and advertising with social media sites on up to $150K per year).

Chase Ink Business Preferred Card
80K points
80K after $5K spend in 3 months

$95 Annual Fee

Recent better offer: This is the best public offer we've seen. A 100K offer is sometimes available in-branch through a Business Relationship Manager.

FM Mini Review: Great card for signup bonus and 3X categories. Also consider the no-fee Chase Ink Cash for its 5X categories, and the no fee Ink Business Unlimited to earn 1.5X everywhere.


Card Type: Visa Signature Business

Earning rate: 3X travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone, and advertising with social media sites (up to $150K spend per year)

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ Points worth 25% more when redeemed for travel ⚬ Cell phone protection against theft or damage

Note: This card is known to be subject to Chase's 5/24 rule.

See also: How to sign up for Chase Ink cards

Chase Ink Business Unlimited
50K points
50K after $3K spend in 3 months

$0 Annual Fee

FM Mini Review: Great to earn 1.5X Ultimate Rewards in categories with no bonuses. Excellent companion card to Ink Business Preferred, Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred!


Card Type: Visa Signature Business

Earning rate: 1.5X on all purchases.

Note: This card is expected to be subject to Chase's 5/24 rule.

See also: Transferable points programs

Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card
50K points
50K after $3K spend in 3 months

$0 Annual Fee

Recent better offer: None. This is the best we've seen.

FM Mini Review: This one should be in everyone's wallet. Incredible signup bonus for a no-fee card. Great card for 5X categories. Excellent companion card to Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred!


Card Type: Visa Signature Business

Earning rate: ⚬ 5X office supplies ⚬ 5X cellular/landline/cable (on up to $25,000 in total purchases in 5x categories annually) ⚬ 2X gas and restaurants

Note: This card is known to be subject to Chase's 5/24 rule.

See also: How to sign up for Chase Ink cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
50K points
50K after $4K spend in the first 3 months

No Annual Fee First Year, Then $95

Alternate offer: Some people have been targeted for a 65K offer. See this post for more details.

FM Mini Review: Great signup bonus. This may be the single best "starter card" for those eager to get into miles & points.


Card Type: Visa Signature

Earning rate: 2X Travel and Dining

Noteworthy perks: Primary auto rental collision damage waiver ⚬ 0% intro APR for 12 months from account opening on purchases only.

Note: This card is known to be subject to Chase's 5/24 rule.

See also: Transferable points programs

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
50K points
50K after $4K spend in 3 months

$450 Annual Fee

Recent better offer: 100K after $4K spend in 3 months, last seen 3/11/2017 in-branch

FM Mini Review: Excellent all-around card for frequent traveler. Best when paired with no-fee Chase Freedom, no-fee Freedom Unlimited & no-fee Chase Ink Cash


Card Type: Visa Infinite

Earning rate: 3X Travel and Dining

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ $300 Annual Travel Credit ⚬ Points worth 1.5 cents each towards travel ⚬ Primary auto rental collision damage waiver ⚬ Priority Pass Select lounge access ⚬ $100 Global Entry fee credit

Note: This card is known to be subject to Chase's 5/24 rule.

See also: Sapphire Reserve Complete Guide

Chase Freedom Unlimited
Up to 17.5K points
17.5K: 15K after $500 spend in 3 months + 2.5K for adding authorized user

$0 Annual Fee

FM Mini Review: Great to earn 1.5X Ultimate Rewards in categories with no bonuses. Excellent companion card to Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred!


Card Type: Visa Signature or Platinum

Earning rate: 1.5X on all purchases.

Note: This card is known to be subject to Chase's 5/24 rule.

See also: Transferable points programs

Chase Freedom®
Up to 17.5K points
17.5K: 15K after $500 spend in 3 months + 2.5K for adding authorized user

$0 Annual Fee

FM Mini Review: Great for 5X categories. Excellent companion card to Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred!


Card Type: Visa Signature or Platinum

Earning rate: 5X in rotating categories

Note: This card is known to be subject to Chase's 5/24 rule.

See also: Transferable points programs

Chase Ink Plus® Business Credit Card

FM Mini Review: Great card for 5X categories!


Card Type: Visa Signature Business

Earning rate: ⚬ 5X office supplies, 5X cellular/landline/cable ⚬ 2X gas and hotels.

Note: This card is known to be subject to Chase's 5/24 rule. You may be able to get a 70K bonus by applying in-branch. More info here.

See also: How to sign up for Chase Ink cards

Bank Products

Some Chase banking products also earn Ultimate Rewards points bonuses.  If you can find a good signup bonus (like this one), you can earn as many as 60,000 points that way.  Similar offers occasionally surface for things like new mortgage accounts, though you’ll want to be sure you’re getting the best rate along with your points.

Keep in mind that points earned through banking are generally taxable.  However, unlike points earned from Citi’s banking products, Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned from bank account bonuses can be transferred to airline partners or combined with another member of your household.

Redeem Points

In general, Ultimate Rewards points are worth up to 1 cent each.  There are two ways in which it is possible to get more value, though: redeem points for travel or transfer points to airline partners.  More below…

Travel

There are a few ways to get better than 1 cent per point value when redeeming points for travel: Redeem for travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for 1.25 cents value with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred or redeem for 1.5 cents value with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Redeem points for travel: 1.25c / 1.5c per point through Chase Ultimate Rewards portal

This option requires the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred card for 1.25c in value or a Chase Sapphire Reserve for 1.5c in value.  Book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to get these values.  For example, a $500 flight would usually cost 50,000 points, but with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred it would cost only 40,000 points. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, it would cost 33,333 points.

You can book airfare, hotels, cruises, and car rentals in this way. Airfare purchased this way still earns airline miles and elite qualifying miles.  Hotels booked this way do not earn hotel rewards.  Worse, hotels booked this way often won’t offer you elite benefits even if you have status. Unfortunately, Chase recently switched to an Expedia-backed portal and removed some ultra low cost carriers. For example, you can no longer book Spirit Airlines or Southwest through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Fortunately, when you pay with points for travel, Chase’s automatic travel protections do apply.  So, you can be covered for things like trip delays, trip cancellation & interruption, lost luggage, etc.  The coverage you receive will be based on which card’s rewards were used to book the trip. For example, if you have both a Chase Sapphire Preferred and a Sapphire Reserve, you would want to move your Ultimate Rewards points from the Preferred to the Reserve and then use the Reserve points to book your trip. You will get both better value (1.5c per point) and better travel protections.

If you would like to use points earned on other cards with a card like the CSP or CSR, combine your Ultimate Rewards points with other cards in your name or with one other member of your household or business partner as seen below in the “manage points” section.

Transfer points

The best use of Ultimate Rewards points, in my opinion, is to transfer points to airline and hotel partners in order to book high value awards.  Your best bet is usually to wait until you find a great flight or night award before transferring points.  Unlike Citi and Amex, Chase does not typically offer transfer bonuses.  It makes sense to check out our Current Transfer Points page before transferring from Chase to be sure you can’t get a better deal elsewhere. For instance, Chase Ultimate Rewards always transfer 1:1 to British Airways Avios — but during transfer bonuses, you may get a ratio like 1:1.4 from Amex Membership Rewards to Avios. It’s worth taking a look at current bonuses before transferring (especially if you collect multiple currencies).

Remember that points can be transferred to the loyalty accounts of the primary cardholder or any authorized user on the account. Points can also be transferred to the loyalty account of a joint business owner, but they do need to be an authorized user on the associated business account.

Transfer Partners

Rewards ProgramChase Transfer RatioBest Uses
Air France KLM Flying Blue1 to 1Monthly Air France Promo Awards often represent very good value. Air France miles can be used to book Sky Team awards, including Delta awards.
Avios1 to 1While flights on British Airways itself often incur outrageously high fuel surcharges, many BA partners charge low or no fuel surcharges. Great value can be had in redeeming BA points for short distance flights. Iberia offers very low award prices on their own flights. Round trip partner awards can offer good value under some circumstances as well. Fuel surcharges are often lower than when booking through British Airways. Aer Lingus shares the "Avios" currency with British Airways and Iberia. In most cases it is best to move points to one of those programs in order to book awards for less.
Hyatt1 to 1Use for Hyatt free nights or points + cash nights. Hyatt points are often worth at least 1.7 cents each towards free nights, but they’re sometimes worth far more. One hidden bonus: award nights are not subject to resort fees.
IHG1 to 1
JetBlue1 to 1JetBlue points offer the most value when cheap ticket prices are available and when award taxes are high relative to the overall cost of the ticket (more details can be found here). The JetBlue Plus Card and the JetBlue Business Card offer a 10% rebate on awards, so you can get more value by holding one or both cards.
Marriott Rewards1 to 15th Night Free awards
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1 to 1Use to book Singapore Airlines First Class awards (generally reserved for their own members) or for Star Alliance awards. Low change fees and no close-in booking fees make this a very good program for booking United Airlines flights.
Southwest Rapid Rewards1 to 1Award flights are fully refundable. Point values vary due to certain taxes not being charged on awards, but tend to average around 1.5 cents per point.
United MileagePlus1 to 1Even though Singapore Airlines miles have a number of advantages over United miles for booking Star Alliance flights, United has advantages too. For one, it is possible to book most Star Alliance awards online at United.com. Additionally, United awards sometimes cost fewer miles with United than with Singapore (especially premium awards on United’s own flights). And, most importantly, United never charges fuel surcharges for awards. In some cases, United is far cheaper than Singapore Airlines for this reason alone.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1 to 1Virgin Atlantic miles can be usefully thought of as a way to get a discount off Virgin Atlantic flights (high fuel surcharges make the flights far from free), but there are some better uses. Use miles to upgrade paid flights or to fly partner airlines. A fantastic use is to fly ANA in business or first class thanks to Virgin’s generous ANA partner award chart. Or, if you can find saver level Delta awards for nonstop international travel, you can often book through Virgin Atlantic far cheaper than with Delta directly.

Cash back

Chase Ultimate Rewards cardholders can redeem points for 1 cent each either as statement credits or as cash back. Cash back can be taken as a statement credit or via check or ACH transfer.

Other ways to redeem points

Through the Ultimate Rewards portal you can also redeem points for gift cards or experiences.  At most, with this approach you’ll get 1 cent per point value.  One exception is that Chase occasionally offers gift cards at a discount so you may be able to get better than 1 cent per point value during a gift card sale.

You can also use points to pay some merchants directly (Amazon.com, for example or via Chase Pay).  Don’t do this.  These options offer very poor value. Further, they may compromise the security of your account (i.e. if someone hacks into your Amazon account, they might spend your Ultimate Rewards points – causing you a headache in getting your points reinstated).

Manage Points

Combine Points Across Cards

If you are the primary account holder with multiple cards, you can combine Ultimate Rewards back and forth between your accounts at your leisure.  Your points can then be redeemed according to the card to which you move them.  For example, if you have the Freedom Unlimited and the Sapphire Reserve card, you can earn 1.5 points per dollar on purchases with the Freedom Unlimited and then move those points to your Sapphire Reserve account to redeem them for 1.5c each towards travel.

If you intend to cancel a Chase Ultimate Rewards card, you should first combine your points with a card you intend to keep active. Once you cancel, you will forfeit any unused points in that account (See: My 90,000 Ultimate Rewards Points mistake). A product change should not affect your balance, but some people prefer moving points before a product change as well just to be safe.

Share Points Across Cardholders

Chase allows customers to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to any other account in that customer’s name or to one additional household member or joint business owner (for free).

share Chase Ultimate Rewards with friends

Why this is valuable:

  • You earn points with the card offering the best return on purchases and then use points with the card offering the best redemption rate.
  • Only one member of your household needs to maintain a premium card for transferring to partners or booking travel (though note that the primary cardholder can only transfer points to partner loyalty programs in the name of the primary cardholder or authorized users).

Transfer difficulties? Create a loop

If you have trouble transferring between accounts, some users have been able to combine points between their own accounts — like from Bob’s Freedom to Bob’s Sapphire Reserve — via secure message.

However, you may run into an issue if you try to connect more than one of your cards to a single card that belongs to someone else. Chase allows you to combine/transfer to someone else who lives in your household (or a co-owner of your business for business cards), but I’ve had complications with this from time to time.

For example, let’s say that Joe and Suzy live in the same household and are joint owners of a business and have the following accounts:

Joe first combines points from his Freedom Unlimited to Suzy’s Sapphire Reserve. Later, he logs into his Ink Business Preferred account and tries to combine points with Suzy’s Sapphire Reserve. Joe may run into an error adding Suzy’s Sapphire Reserve card to combine points. This has happened in our household several times. In that case, Joe should log into his Freedom Unlimited account and remove Suzy as a household member (click “remove saved card). About 24 hours later, he should be able to add Suzy to his Ink Business Preferred in order to combine his points to her account.

The easy solution I’ve found is to create a loop. In the example scenario they should transfer like this:

Joe’s Freedom Unlimited–>Joe’s Ink Business Preferred—>Suzy’s Sapphire Reserve—>Joe’s Freedom Unlimited

Creating a loop chain has solved that problem in my household. As noted, it took 24 hours after removing accounts to re-add them to other cards, so be aware of that limitation.

How to Keep Points Alive

Thankfully, it is very easy to keep Chase Ultimate Rewards points alive: simply keep the points in an open Ultimate Rewards account and they will not expire. Note that if you close an Ultimate Rewards card, you will lose any points associated with that card. You should first combine points to move points away from the card you intend to close and to another card that will remain open as per the sharing section above before canceling. See: My 90,000 point Ultimate Rewards mistake. See also: A checklist for cancelling credit cards.

More information

Chase’s official Ultimate Rewards page can be found here.

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

More articles by Nick Reyes »

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Biggie F
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Biggie F

Very helpful post — thanks. The transfer loop thing in particular is something I need to know, since like you, we have had trouble making some transfers within household. These were eventually fixed by just calling and having them do it over the phone. But not anyone’s preference…

Speaking of transfers, maybe under Transfer points, change first sentence to read “airline and hotel” partners…? Like all fanatics, I am prejudiced, but the 1-to-1 for Hyatt strikes me as one of the best things around. It’s amazing that that still exists in an environment where the ratio is the same for Marriott, not to mention IHG. So maybe “airline partners and Hyatt”?

Barry
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Barry

I typically unlink my accounts after transferring points. I just relink when I want to move points. This is another way to avoid getting the error message.

CarolSue Ayala
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CarolSue Ayala

Chase Reserve’s travel insurance pays. It took a while but I just got a check for my entire trip cancellation claim due to unexpected shoulder surgery. Woohoo!

CarolSue Ayala
Guest
CarolSue Ayala

Chase Reserve’s trip cancellation insurance pays. It took a while but I just got a check for my entire claim for trip cancellation due to unexpected shoulder surgery. Woohoo!

Dee Dee
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Dee Dee

I found this post and the earlier one on CITI Thank You so informative! Thank you! May I hope for another on AmEx rewards?

phil
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phil

@Nick,
Since Chase switched to Expedia the available hotel rooms have dropped immensely. I checked numerous cities for next June/July and a majority are unavailable. Hope this changes.

Barry
Guest
Barry

During the switch it seems like Chase took away a lot of the popular uses of points. They removed all of the Disney resorts, Spirit, Allegiant, Frontier, and Southwest. I wonder if they were loosing a lot of money on these redemptions.

Jeff
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Jeff

Southwest is a partner airline. They should allow you to transfer Chase Saphire Reserve (CSR) points to Southwest at a 1 to 1,5 pt rate until they get this straightened out. Otherwise, there is no reason to pay the CSR $450 fee if you use Southwest.

Jeff
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Jeff

Wife and I have Chase Sapphire Preferred for over 2 years now. We are under the 5/24 rule. Should I open a Chase Ink Business Preferred card (I do own a business)? And transfer the points over and eventually dump the sapphire preferred? Trying to accumulate points for a family Europe trip this summer. We currently have about 120k Chase points. Your post was very informative! Thanks.

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