We’ve received a ton of positive feedback on our Best Ways To Use Membership Rewards series so I’ve decided to dive into the Chase Ultimate Rewards program as well. As with the American Express series, I’ll be breaking this up into regions.
How much are Ultimate Rewards points worth?
Our current points valuation considers Chase Ultimate Rewards points to be worth 1.7 cents each. Now, the value of your points will very much be determined by how you choose to redeem them so they could easily be worth more.
However, Chase makes it easy to determine the lowest value you should get from your bookings.
If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can use your points in the Ultimate Rewards travel portal at 1.5 cents each — often a solid way to book international economy flights. If you have either the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, your points are worth 1.25 cents each in the Chase travel portal.
Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners
Something I like about the Chase Ultimate Rewards program is that points transfer to all airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio. This is a solid transfer rate and the consistency prevents any confusion.
Chase currently has 11 airline partners which can help you reach almost anywhere in the world. But as you can freely move points between Aer Lingus AerClub, British Airways Executive Club, and Iberia Plus, there are effectively nine.
Unlike Amex Membership Rewards, you might actually want to take advantage of one of Chase’s 3 hotel partners.
Specifically, the World of Hyatt program can provide some great redemption options. The other hotel programs have redemption rates that rarely make it worth transferring points. Often, you’ll be better off using the Chase travel portal if you want to use Ultimate Rewards points to book.
Ultimate Rewards points often transfer to its partners instantly, but that’s not always the case. If the transfers aren’t instant, just keep in mind that award space could be scooped up by someone else while you wait.
Know before you transfer
When transferring points to airline partners, make sure you know if they will require you to foot the bill for fuel (re. carrier-imposed) surcharges and, if so, how much they will be. If you book international flights with British Airways Executive Club, Korean Air SkyPass, Singapore KrisFlyer or Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, there’s a decent chance you’ll see some steep surcharges.
While Singapore Airlines won’t impose surcharges on its own flights, it will on partners flights if the partner airline includes them. British Airways is notorious for imposing surcharges on its own flights as well as partners. With Korean Air, it varies a bit but you can expect steep surcharges on partner awards to regions such as Europe and Africa.
Virgin Atlantic is an interesting case as it’s not part of a major airline alliance. You’ll see steep surcharges on its own flights and some partners such as Air China but not on others — Air New Zealand.
While this is just a quick snapshot of the surcharge situation, I’ll dive into some of the details you need to know in each part of this series.
Please don’t throw away your points
With so many great ways to use Ultimate Rewards points just waiting for you, I hate seeing them go to waste. While I know Chase likes to offer you the amazing opportunity to redeem your points for cash or gift cards, just trash those email offers without a thought.
Cashing your points in like this will mean each point is worth 1 cent. Even if you just redeemed your points through the Chase travel portal at 1.25 or 1.5 cents per point, you’d be getting a much better value for them.
If you’re not into travel, maybe that makes sense for you but, let’s be honest, you wouldn’t be here if travel weren’t a priority for you.
I mentioned this earlier, but it’s important. Transferring Ultimate Rewards points to hotel partners other than World of Hyatt is generally a poor decision. The number of points required by Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and IHG requires per night is generally going to make these transfers a poor use of points — there are of course exceptions for specific circumstances — but as a general rule the value just isn’t comparable.
If you want a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points
I don’t want to overstate this but, if you’re new to the world of miles and points, Chase Ultimate Rewards should be your starting point. Not only are the points valuable because of airline partners and hotel partners (re. World of Hyatt), but even the Chase travel portal can provide some good value.
Of course, Chase also has the 5/24 rule which would prevent you from getting cards that Ultimate Rewards points later. I see no reason to skip Chase and miss out on tons of Ultimate Rewards points.
As a reminder, there are many options to accrue Ultimate Rewards.
The Chase Ultimate Rewards program provides one my favorite card lineups with cards that have great bonus categories to help you earn plenty of points — on top of the welcome bonuses. When you pair that with the ability to transfer points to airlines and hotels, it really is a well-rounded program and a great way to start your points journey.
In the following series, I’ll go through some great ways to use Ultimate Rewards points to book award flights to Hawaii (and within the contiguous U.S.), Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, India, Mexico, the Middle East, Africa and South America.
Thanks for joining for this journey into the Ultimate Rewards program. Please let me know what questions you have as we go!