We’ve seen card issuers add a variety of temporary perks, in light of current circumstances. This has especially been the case on premium travel cards, given that fewer people are traveling than in the past.
Chase has done a particularly good job with adding temporary perks to its credit cards, and in this post I wanted to take a closer look at the “Pay Yourself Back” feature. This has been extended and expanded since initially being introduced, and it’s arguably the best way to redeem any transferable points currency for a non-travel purchase.
Chase “Pay Yourself Back” basics
Perhaps it’s easiest to explain this in the form of an example for the cards that have the best “Pay Yourself Back” features. The Chase Sapphire Reserve & Sapphire Preferred are two of the most popular travel rewards cards. Historically there have been two ways to maximize the Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned on these cards:
- You could transfer them to the Chase Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners
- You could redeem them for 1.25-1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase through the Chase travel portal
While there have been other ways to redeem Chase points (for example, at one cent each towards statement credits), those are by far the most efficient options.
This brings us to the “Pay Yourself Back” feature, whereby you can efficiently redeem points for non-travel purchases for a limited time. In other words, you can redeem points towards your daily expenses at the same rate you could redeem them towards travel.
Let’s break down this perk by card type:
Chase Sapphire “Pay Yourself Back” benefit
- Redeem points towards non-travel purchases, including grocery stores, dining (including takeout and eligible delivery services), home improvement stores, and eligible charities, at an improved rate
- This feature is available through April 30, 2021
As a reminder, you’ll be able to redeem points at the following rates towards these purchases:
- If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can redeem Ultimate Rewards points earned on all cards for 1.5 cents each towards eligible purchases
- If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can redeem Ultimate Rewards points earned on all cards for 1.25 cents each towards eligible purchases
Chase Ink Business “Pay Yourself Back” benefit
The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review), Ink Business Cash® Credit Card (review), and Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card (review), are all offering the “Pay Yourself Back” feature, though in a limited capacity:
- Points are worth 25% more when redeemed towards select online advertising and shipping expenses, as well as contributions to a dozen eligible charities
- This is valid through December 31, 2020
Chase Freedom “Pay Yourself Back” benefit
- Points are worth 25% more (so 1.25 cents per point) when redeemed towards contributions made to a dozen eligible charities
- There’s no end date for this
Chase “Pay Yourself Back” FAQs
The above covers the basics, though let’s answer some of the common questions about the “Pay Yourself Back” feature:
What can you redeem Chase points for?
With Chase’s temporary “Pay Yourself Back” feature, you can redeem Ultimate Rewards points for statement credits against purchases in the following categories (with the bonus categories varying by card):
- Grocery stores
- Dining, including restaurants, takeout, and eligible delivery services
- Home improvement stores
- Eligible charities
- Select online advertising and shipping expenses
How much value can you get per Chase point?
Keep in mind that you can combine Chase points between accounts, so the value you get per point depends on the most premium card you have:
- If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can redeem Ultimate Rewards points for 1.5 cents each towards eligible purchases
- If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can redeem Ultimate Rewards points for 1.25 cents each towards eligible purchases
In other words, if you have the Sapphire Reserve, then you could redeem points on any of the Sapphire, Ink, or Freedom cards at the rate of 1.5 cents each towards everyday expenses.
How long is this feature valid?
The most lucrative feature here is on the Chase Sapphire products, and for those cards the feature is valid through April 30, 2021. However, personally I’d expect this to be extended and expanded in the future, given how times have changed.
Note that the end date is based on when you request reimbursement, and not based on when a purchase was made.
How recent do purchases have to be for reimbursement?
With the Chase “Pay Yourself Back” feature, you can redeem points for any eligible purchases that posted to your account within the past 90 days.
Is there a minimum number of points you have to redeem?
Nope, you can redeem points with this feature for either all or part of the cost of an eligible purchase. For example, this means that you can:
- Redeem 100 points to get $1.25-1.50 reimbursed
- Redeem 1,000 points to get $12.50-15.00 reimbursed
- Redeem 10,000 points to get $125.00-150.00 reimbursed
Which charities are eligible for this feature?
As you can see, the “Pay Yourself Back” feature on all cards is valid for contributions to charities. Here are the dozen eligible charities:
- American Red Cross
- Equal Justice Initiative
- Feeding America
- Habitat for Humanity
- International Medical Corporation
- Leadership Education Fund
- NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
- National Urban League
- Thurgood Marshall College Fund
- United Negro College Fund
- United Way
- World Central Kitchen
Is this feature available on other Chase cards?
As of now this feature is only available on Chase Sapphire, Ink, and Freedom cards. It’s not only possible that it will be added to more cards over time, but also possible that it will be extended and evolved on existing cards. I’d expect this feature to be around for a long time.
How does redeeming Chase points impact points earning?
Here’s an interesting — and perhaps unexpected — wrinkle to this redemption opportunity.
For context, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 3x points on dining and travel, and for a limited time is offering 3x points on groceries, on up to $1,000 per month in spending. Ordinarily if you wanted to redeem those points towards a travel purchase at the rate of 1.5 cents per point, then you’d be forgoing Ultimate Rewards points on that purchase.
In other words, if you redeemed 10,000 points towards a $150 travel purchase, then you wouldn’t also earn the 3x points on that $150, since you’re not actually “spending” $150, but rather are redeeming points.
However, anecdotally it would appear that you’re still earning points as usual when reimbursing Chase transactions through the “Pay Yourself Back” feature. At least that’s the case for the transactions I’m seeing.
In other words:
- Say you spend $150 on groceries
- You’d earn up to 3x points, meaning you’d earn 450 Ultimate Rewards points
- You could then redeem 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points to wipe out that purchase
- Chase doesn’t seem to reverse the 450 Ultimate Rewards points you earned, meaning your net “out of pocket” is 9,550 points for a $150 purchase, which is 1.57 cents of value per Ultimate Rewards point
At least that’s how it seems to be working as of now, though that can certainly change (and if anyone has conflicting data points here, please let me know).
How much are Chase points worth?
This is highly subjective, but personally I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each. This is based on the ability to transfer the points to airline and hotel partners, where I get outsized value (under normal circumstances) for first and business class flights and luxury hotels.
Step-by-step guide to Chase’s redemption feature
How does redeeming Ultimate Rewards points using Chase’s “Pay Yourself Back” feature actually work? Just log into your Chase account and go to the Ultimate Rewards homepage, and then in the dropdown you’ll see the option for “Pay Yourself Back.”
On the next page you’ll see all eligible transactions, starting with those closest to 90 days ago (meaning the most recent transactions will be displayed last). You’ll also see the amount of each transaction listed, along with how many points it would take to wipe out the purchase.
When you select a particular transaction you’ll have the option of choosing how many points you want to redeem towards a transaction. You can redeem for anywhere from one cent to the entire purchase amount, depending on how many points you have and want to redeem.
Then the next day you should see your statement updated to reflect the statement credits for all the purchases.
Is this a good use of Chase points?
Let me focus specifically on the “Pay Yourself Back” feature on the Sapphire cards, since I’d argue this is by far the most lucrative opportunity.
Historically I’ve primarily redeemed my Chase Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to airline and hotel partners, rather than redeeming them at 1.5 cents each towards travel purchases. I’m still not sure whether I’ll take advantage of this, though I do have a few thoughts.
First of all, I consider this to be a much better value on the Sapphire Reserve than Sapphire Preferred. That’s because with both programs you can transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to airline and hotel partners, while the values are different when redeeming to offset a purchase.
Second of all, I think this is a better value than redeeming points for 1.5 cents each towards travel purchases for a few reasons:
- It appears that you still earn points for the purchases with this redemption option, which you don’t when redeeming towards travel
- I far prefer having purchases reimbursed after the fact, rather than having to book travel specifically through the Chase portal, which is restrictive
- With so many schedule changes in the airline industry I’d generally avoid booking travel through an online travel agency (including the Chase portal) because it only adds another layer of complication if you need to change or cancel a flight
Chase’s “Pay Yourself Back” feature is arguably the most lucrative redemption opportunity we’re seeing for non-travel redemptions on a travel credit, in particular on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This is a straightforward and valuable option to offset your everyday expenses, especially during this tough time.
I’m not sure this is a slam dunk redemption option for those of us who usually transfer points to airline and hotel partners, though I do consider this to be a better option than redeeming points towards the cost of travel purchases, for the reasons outlined above.
If you usually redeem Ultimate Rewards points towards the cost of travel purchases, you should absolutely take advantage of this. If you usually transfer points to partners, then it’s perhaps a tougher decision.
What do you make of the “Pay Yourself Back” feature? Have you used it yet?