Don’t Make This Mistake With Your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

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Reader Delphine left the following in the Ask Lucky forum, which I think is worth specifically talking about, given that it’s an issue many people run into:

I cancelled my Chase Sapphire Reserve card to keep my amex platinum, and didn’t transfer my Chase UR points out. Now, because I only have a Chase Freedom (non premium card) I’m unable to transfer my points (nearly 150,000) to a travel partner. Is there any way around to get my points transferred to an airline partner without a premium card? I feel like they are being held hostage and I don’t want to book travel through the Chase Portal. Any help or suggestions welcome!

Understanding the differences between Chase rewards cards

Chase has so many phenomenal credit cards with useful bonus categories and benefits, and having a combination of them can really help you maximize the points you earn.

Specifically, there are seven credit cards that either accrue Ultimate Rewards points, or can accrue Ultimate Rewards points.

Three cards offer premium rewards

The following premium cards accrue Ultimate Rewards points:

Four cards have no annual fees 

The following no annual fee cards accrue points that can be combined with Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio, in conjunction with one of the above cards:

Using a combination of these cards can make a lot of sense, and it’s easy to combine the various points currencies directly through Chase’s website.

The value of Ultimate Rewards points varies by card

Even among the three cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points and the four cards that can earn Ultimate Rewards points in conjunction with another card, not all cards are created equal. Here’s a chart showing the different values of the points:

Ultimate Rewards cardValue of points if redeemed for cash backCan points can be transferred to partners?

1.5¢ per point when redeemed towards travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal
Yes, and having this card makes all your Ultimate Rewards points transferable

1.25¢ per point when redeemed towards travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal
Yes, and having this card makes all your Ultimate Rewards points transferable

1.25¢ per point when redeemed towards travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal
Yes, and having this card makes all your Ultimate Rewards points transferable

1¢ per point
No (or only in conjunction with a premium card on this list)

1¢ per point
No (or only in conjunction with a premium card on this list)

Chase Freedom®

1¢ per point
No (or only in conjunction with a premium card on this list)

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

1¢ per point
No (or only in conjunction with a premium card on this list)

You can always get the value based on the most premium card you have, given how easily you can transfer points.

Ideally you’d have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which allows you to redeem points from any of the seven cards for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase, or convert them into airline miles or hotel points.

Meanwhile if you “just” have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, then you can redeem points for 1.25 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase, or convert them into airline miles or hotel points.

How to increase the value of your existing points

Many people independently use the Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit CardInk Business Cash℠ Credit CardChase Freedom, and/or Chase Freedom Unlimited® for their everyday spend, without realizing the value they’re missing out on by not having one of the premium cards.

Say you’ve had one of these cards for years, and have earned tons of points with them. Not all is lost, because you don’t have to redeem those points for one cent each!

For example, if you pick up the Chase Sapphire Reserve® now, then you could transfer all of your existing points to that card. Suddenly you could redeem all the points you’ve earned up until now for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase, or transfer them to airline or hotel partners.

Arguably those with existing points balances on no annual fee cards would be best off getting one of these premium cards, since they’d not only get more value for their points in the future, but would even get more value for the points they’ve earned in the past.

Have a card earning Ultimate Rewards points?

Do you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, and/or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card? Make sure you either transfer your points to an airline or hotel partner, or redeem them for 1.25-1.5 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase, before closing those cards:

  • If you are left without any of the above seven cards then you’d forfeit all of your points
  • If you only have one of the four no annual fee cards, then your points will suddenly only be worth one cent each, which is way less than the value you can otherwise get out of them (that’s the situation Delphine is in)

I’d note that even though Delphine is currently in a situation where she can only redeem points for one cent each, if she applied for one of the cards earning Ultimate Rewards points, her points would once again be worth more, and that could very much be worth it. Alternatively, if she can’t apply for a new card or doesn’t want to, she might be eligible to upgrade her existing card. She’d have to call Chase to find out the options available to her.

Bottom line

Chase’s portfolio of seven cards that can potentially earn Ultimate Rewards points is just about the best out there for maximizing the points you earn through credit card spend. Chances are most people won’t get all of the cards, but having two or three of these cards can be an excellent strategy, especially given that a majority of the cards don’t have an annual fee.

Just be careful when canceling or product changing cards, since you want to be able to redeem your points as Ultimate Rewards points, rather than only for one cent each.

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Comments

  1. That’s a pretty dumb mistake. It’s pretty well known in the blogosphere and in the loyalty world that you need a premium Chase UR card to transfer any of your UR points to travel partners.

  2. She’s best off waiting 2 years to signup for the welcome bonus. Or if you have a spouse you can transfer to their chase account if you are the same address.

  3. CALL CHASE AND HEAVE THEM UPGRADE FU TO CSR, THEN TRANSFER POINTS TO WHATEVER TRAVEL PARTNERS YOU WANTED. NEXT IS UP TO YOU BUT EITHER KEEP THE CARD AND PAY THE AF OR CALL CHASE AND DOWNGRADE TO FU AGAIN.

  4. Second what JP said – I would just upgrade the Freedom back to Reserve or Preferred (she should ask about how long she has to keep it or if she can change her mind and downgrade instantly). Worst case you keep it upgraded for a while before downgrading again – hopefully with the Preferred in that case for a lower fee.

  5. If she is over 5/24, she can probably just upgrade her Freedom to a Chase Sapphire Preferred.

  6. Find a gf/bf with a premium card. Pursue them relentlessly. Move in with them. Transfer to their account. Have them buy you a ticket. Break up with them. Enjoy your travels.

    Out of box thinking that most women would enjoy.

  7. Anyone who would cancel the CSR in order to keep the AMEX Plat is not serious about playing the miles/points game.

    The AMEX plat is just for show, “status symbol”. The CSR is the real deal.

    Case in point that we are all aware of: The AMEX Plat’s $200 airline credit is good only for incidental spend incurred with one and only one airline. The CSR’s $300 travel credit is good for any spend that qualifies as travel, a category that Chase defined VERY broadly.

    If you must choose, choose to keep the CSR and drop the AMEX Biz…cuz…

    …the CSR, if you don’t got it, you gotta get it!

  8. Hopefully she combines the points into her Freedom UR account within 30 days of closure or Chase will yank them.

  9. @DCS
    “Case in point that we are all aware of: The AMEX Plat’s $200 airline credit is good only for incidental spend incurred with one and only one airline. ”

    Well you’re almost right. Its good for one airline only but it works on actual airfare not just incidentals. Have been for me and many others for the last 3 years.

  10. Here is a question. I have a CSR, an ink plus and an amex biz plat. I was thinking downgrading my ink plus to a no AF card that still earns me 5x points in the various categories, closing my amex plat when the Af hits and keeping my CSR. Any real downsides to doing this? I rarely fly delta and don’t usually use airports with centurion lounges.

  11. I agree Chris, you only need exactly one Chase premium card. I prefer Ink Plus for 5X on office supply stores and telecommunications, but you might like CSR because of the low net $150 annual fee.

  12. The bigger question is why would you cancel the Chase card for Amex platinum whose benefits are lower and their points are more expensive (for number of points needed) to redeem, and whose travel service charges a commission fee.

  13. My CSR, easy, $300 credit go’s to my fast pass toll charges, gobbled up as soon as it’s available, a charge I must pay, my home airport BOS has a nice priority pass lounge 150’ from my gates I fly, for just those reasons I’ll stick with sapphire Reserve.

  14. @Chris: In my opinion, keeping the CSR and downgrading your Ink Plus to the Ink Cash would cover you on the Chase side of things. If you close your Amex Platinum, you may want to think about opening a no annual fee MR card to secure any rewards you’ve already earned. A couple of no-fee cards to consider are the Blue Business Plus and Amex Everyday card. You could also give the Amex Everyday Preferred consideration if you don’t mind the $95 annual fee.

  15. @Joe – Thanks for the clarification. I do not use my AMEX Biz Plat for airline tickets as I put all such spend on the CSR. So, I earn the AMEX Plat travel credit only for incidentals. I now also have a $250 AMEX travel credit on the HH Aspire card, for a total of $450 in travel credits on 2 AMEX cards per year. At the moment, I have been drawing down the credit by purchasing wifi access on practically every flight I take that offers it, and alternating charging it to the AMEX Plat and Aspire. May not be enough use up the entire $450 credit, however…

  16. dumb mistake…I mean, this is pretty common sense stuff, not to cancel before transferring or using your points!

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