How Much Are Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Worth?

How Much Are Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Worth?

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Determining the value of points can be a highly subjective exercise, where people arrive at wildly different numbers. With the increasing popularity of transferable points currencies and the number of points that people rack up, I know many wonder just how much their rewards points are worth.

In this post I wanted to share my valuation of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which is one of my favorite points currencies, and explain how I come up with that number.

I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are one of the most valuable and widely collected points currencies out there, given all the great cards that earn Chase points. Personally, I’ve long stated that I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points at roughly 1.7 cents each. I’ve received a lot of questions over the years about how I come up with that valuation, so in this post I wanted to take a closer look at how I arrive at that number.

There’s no correct valuation for points

Let me start by saying that while I believe there’s a right and wrong way to go about valuing points, there’s not actually a widely agreed upon valuation of points.

Just as I say that Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.7 cents each, some may say that they’re worth 1.25 cents each, while others may say that they’re worth 2.5 cents each. They’re not necessarily any more right or wrong than I am.

In my post listing all my points valuations, I talk a bit more about how I go about valuing points. The simplest way to explain it is that points are worth some amount between your acquisition cost and your redemption value.

Where in that range your valuation falls depends entirely on how you choose to redeem points, and how much you’d otherwise pay for those experiences. With credit card points, the acquisition cost math gets murky, since you have to view that in terms of the opportunity cost of earning those points (for example, how much cash back could you otherwise earn with another credit card?).

With airline miles you’ll typically get the most value out of first & business class redemptions, though transferable points currencies give you a bit more flexibility in terms of the ways you can redeem while optimizing your points.

If you are going to redeem points for a first or business class ticket, personally I think you can only value miles based on how much you’d otherwise be willing to pay for that ticket, rather than how much the ticket costs in cash.

If you redeem 100,000 miles for a ticket that would cost $10,000 in cash, you’re not actually getting 10 cents per mile of value, assuming you wouldn’t have paid that in cash. Instead the real value you’re getting is how much you would have otherwise been willing to pay for the ticket. At least that’s how I recommend approaching it when valuing points, or else the math gets absurd.

Other people disagree with my logic and would suggest that they are in fact getting 10 cents of value per point in the above scenario. While I understand the logic, and while that’s technically true, I’d ask those people if they’d be willing to buy Ultimate Rewards points for nine cents each in that case (you can’t actually buy them, so this is theoretical, but still…).

So if you want to argue that you’re getting 43 cents of value per Ultimate Rewards points (or something) I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong, though I also think that “valuation” isn’t terribly useful.

Transfer points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club for redemptions in ANA first class

The two best ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards points

In the case of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, there are two “optimal” ways to redeem these points that have to be considered when coming up with a valuation of these points. So let’s go over those.

Redeem Chase points as cash toward travel

Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed as cash toward the cost of a travel purchase through the Chase Travel Portal. You can use your points for things like flights, hotels, rental cars, and more. The amount of value you get per point varies based on the most premium card you have:

It’s not just about which card you’re earning points with, but rather about which card is the most premium, since you can transfer points between accounts. So if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Ink Business Preferred, all points can be redeemed for 1.5 cents each toward the cost of a travel purchase.

As you can see, this establishes a base value of 1.25-1.5 cents per Ultimate Rewards point, depending on which card you have.

Redeem points for 1.5 cents each toward the cost of a travel purchase

Transfer Chase points to an airline or hotel partner

The other way you can redeem your Ultimate Rewards points is to transfer them to one of the Chase Ultimate Rewards airline or hotel partners.

All three cards earning premium Ultimate Rewards points have the ability to transfer points to these 14 partners, which include eleven airline programs and three hotel programs:

Airline Partners
Hotel Partners
Aer Lingus AerClub
IHG One Rewards
Air Canada Aeroplan
Marriott Bonvoy
Air France-KLM Flying Blue
World of Hyatt
British Airways Executive Club
Emirates Skywards
Iberia Plus
JetBlue TrueBlue
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Southwest Rapid Rewards
United MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners

In deciding the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, we have to decide the value of the points currencies you can transfer to. Personally, my valuations of these points are roughly as follows:

Transfer Partner
Value of Points
Aer Lingus AerClub
1.3 cents
Air Canada Aeroplan
1.5 cents
Air France-KLM Flying Blue
1.3 cents
British Airways Executive Club
1.3 cents
Emirates Skywards
1.3 cents
Iberia Plus
1.3 cents
JetBlue TrueBlue
1.3 cents
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
1.4 cents
Southwest Rapid Rewards
1.2 cents
United MileagePlus
1.3 cents
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
1.2 cents
IHG One Rewards
0.5 cents
Marriott Bonvoy
0.7 cents
World of Hyatt
1.5 cents
Point Valuations for Chase Partners
Transfer points to KrisFlyer for redemptions in Singapore Airlines Suites

How can points be worth more than any individual redemption?

You might be saying to yourself “well wait a second, how can Ultimate Rewards points be worth 1.7 cents each, when the most you value any of the individual redemption opportunities with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card is 1.5 cents per point?”

Some may disagree with my approach here, though let me first say that I intentionally value points conservatively, much more so than many. That’s because every time I decide whether to pay cash or redeem points for something I crunch the numbers, and I don’t want to establish a value where I create an unrealistic expectation of points.

So how can I value Ultimate Rewards points more than any of the individual currencies you can redeem the points for? Because one aspect of my valuing points is applying a discount to account for the fact that they’re prone to devaluations:

  • If you’re collecting a specific points currency, the value of your points can decrease significantly overnight
  • If you’re collecting a transferable points currency, you have a ton more flexibility, and therefore I think it’s only reasonable to apply a premium to the points, in this case of a bit over 10%

Simply put, I value an Ultimate Rewards point more than any of the individual redemption options because I’d rather hold onto flexible Ultimate Rewards points than points with a particular partner, and I need to account for that in my valuation.

The valuation of a particular points currency isn’t based on the absolute most value you can get out of those points, but rather is based on an achievable redemption that takes into account the decreasing value of points over time.

That’s to say that I could get more than 1.5 cents of value per World of Hyatt point, but that’s a “conservative” valuation of those points. Therefore it seems logical that I’d value Ultimate Rewards points higher, since those points give me even more redemption options and flexibility. If World of Hyatt (theoretically) had a huge devaluation tomorrow, I’d be much better off having Chase Ultimate Rewards points than World of Hyatt points, so the valuation accounts for that.

Transfer points to World of Hyatt for redemptions at the Park Hyatt Maldives

What does that mean for Chase cards earning Ultimate Rewards points?

Given my valuation of 1.7 cents per point, what does this mean for the return on spending offered by the major cards earning Ultimate Rewards points?

As you can see, those are some impressive returns. On personal cards, it’s tough to beat the combination of the Sapphire Reserve and Freedom Unlimited, and for business cards both the Ink Preferred and Ink Cash offer some valuable bonus categories.

Bottom line

There’s no objective valuation of points that everyone will agree on. Rather I try to provide general guidance as to how I value points, noting that everyone will redeem their points differently, and get different value out of them.

With that in mind, I like to value points conservatively, because I don’t want to create unrealistic expectations, and then have people hoarding points they’ll never get a good value out of.

Personally, 1.7 cents per Ultimate Rewards point is a value I’ve long felt good about, and continue to feel good about. By my logic:

  • Redeeming Ultimate Rewards points for 1.5 cents each toward a travel purchase isn’t an ideal redemption, though others can value the points slightly less and find this to be a great redemption
  • While I don’t value the points of any individual transfer partner at 1.7 cents, I intentionally value Ultimate Rewards points at a premium, due to their flexibility

I’m curious to see how my valuation of Ultimate Rewards points compares to how OMAAT readers value them.

What do you think — how much are Ultimate Rewards points worth?

Conversations (19)
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  1. iamhere Guest

    "It’s not just about which card you’re earning points with, but rather about which card is the most premium, since you can transfer points between accounts."
    More precisely if you have the Freedom Unlimited card you can earn more on every day purchases rather than just travel and dining and still redeem for a higher rate through the travel center as Sapphire or Reserve points. I would only suggest transferring to an airline or...

    "It’s not just about which card you’re earning points with, but rather about which card is the most premium, since you can transfer points between accounts."
    More precisely if you have the Freedom Unlimited card you can earn more on every day purchases rather than just travel and dining and still redeem for a higher rate through the travel center as Sapphire or Reserve points. I would only suggest transferring to an airline or hotel if you have an immediate need because those are not flexible points and tend to devalue quicker. You also do not seem to mention about the "pay yourself back" feature, which many people have been successful at taking advantage of which allows you to redeem for many types of transactions at the same rate as redeeming for travel through Chase. Further, you still earn the points for the transaction.

  2. RANDY WARREN Guest

    Points are not inflation-protected. The longer we hold them now, the less they will be worth.

  3. Cindi Guest

    Totally agree with not valuing redemptions based on the ticket price, but rather what you would have paid cash. I often make this point to people. Maybe they want to brag about high point valuations, but they're doing themselves a disservice if it causes them to use the points in a less valuable way than they might have.

    I feel like any valuation of airline points has to ask: Are you a person who flies...

    Totally agree with not valuing redemptions based on the ticket price, but rather what you would have paid cash. I often make this point to people. Maybe they want to brag about high point valuations, but they're doing themselves a disservice if it causes them to use the points in a less valuable way than they might have.

    I feel like any valuation of airline points has to ask: Are you a person who flies international business class? Or are you a person who flies domestic only? Because those are really 2 completely different valuation ranges. I haven't seen decent valuations on domestic flights in years.

  4. Robert Herrington Guest

    The only good way to get real value out of your points is dependent on what you have to "pay" to acquire them. The best way to do that is simply apply for as many cards as you can that have large welcome bonuses and low annual fees.

  5. ffI Guest

    Lucky
    ALL bloggers overvalue these points to sell clicks - Come on we all know that
    The max value of a point is 1.5c, period.
    Often the cost to get a UR point is greater than 1.5c - A good cash back card can get you 2.625c - using it for non-bonus categories is terrible value at 2.625c lost cash
    The only way one should ever get UR points is by...

    Lucky
    ALL bloggers overvalue these points to sell clicks - Come on we all know that
    The max value of a point is 1.5c, period.
    Often the cost to get a UR point is greater than 1.5c - A good cash back card can get you 2.625c - using it for non-bonus categories is terrible value at 2.625c lost cash
    The only way one should ever get UR points is by using it only for the bonus categories - say dining, groceries etc for the Sapphire Preferred at 3x when it costs 0,875 - So real world benefit of the points are 0.5c at most even then
    When you factor in the 95$ fee, it is worth it only if you spend 20k on bonus categories each year - i.e. rarely worth it for ANY one

    If you only sign up for cards for bonuses, then these cards are worth it
    Telling gullible people to use them for bonus categories and claiming 5% valuations on the points is really bad and I say this as someone who has been in the game longer than you

  6. MikeBosto Guest

    I took advantage of a recent Chase promotion with 100k miles for a $4k spend in 90 days. I then used 92k points to transfer to Virgin Atlantic to book an ORD-NRT-FRA on ANA and then PAR back to US on AF for first quarter of 2023 - fingers crossed Japan reopens to non-tour tourists.
    ORD-NRT in F: 47k used (60k needed w/ 30% bonus): retail on that flight $15,800.
    HND-FRA in J:...

    I took advantage of a recent Chase promotion with 100k miles for a $4k spend in 90 days. I then used 92k points to transfer to Virgin Atlantic to book an ORD-NRT-FRA on ANA and then PAR back to US on AF for first quarter of 2023 - fingers crossed Japan reopens to non-tour tourists.
    ORD-NRT in F: 47k used (60k needed w/ 30% bonus): retail on that flight $15,800.
    HND-FRA in J: 35k (45k before bonus) retail $8400.
    PAR-JFK in Y: 10k (12,500 before bonus), retail $1100.
    Total of 92k Chase points and $600 in taxes/fuel, value of approx $24k. $0.255 per

    1. MikeBosto Guest

      Sorry, VA was running a 30% transfer bonus with Chase at the time.

    2. Cindi Guest

      Yeah that's a case of ridiculous valuations because you never would have paid $24k for those flights. Let's take the ORD-NRT, there was probably a different day or routing that was $4000 that you would have gone to instead.

  7. Ivan X Guest

    There's a built in added value to Chase UR points if you're married to United, as I am, and the 1.5c redemptions are a great fallback.

    Concerning about the above comment saying it can take a long time for points to transfer to United miles -- it's always been instant for me, but I also haven't done in some time because now we're sitting on a pile of United miles from United card offers.

  8. brianna hoffner Member

    These days it's a complete crapshoot for me how long UR points will take to transfer to United – sometimes it's instant, sometimes it's 36 hours, sometimes it's days... Given how quickly award seats are snatched up, it's not really worth the risk of marooning points over at United if your seats are gone by the time the points show up.

    Because of that, I find I use them mostly for the 1.5¢ redemptions....

    These days it's a complete crapshoot for me how long UR points will take to transfer to United – sometimes it's instant, sometimes it's 36 hours, sometimes it's days... Given how quickly award seats are snatched up, it's not really worth the risk of marooning points over at United if your seats are gone by the time the points show up.

    Because of that, I find I use them mostly for the 1.5¢ redemptions.

    (Also, I soooo miss having Korean as a transfer partner. They used to have such great award seat availability...)

  9. Mark Guest

    I believe that your argument for valuing the UR points at a higher value as "inflation protection" is not valid all the time. It only holds if you vary your use of the UR points. For example, if you redeem your points exclusively for World of Hyatt and Hyatt increases redemption rates, you are subject to the same devaluation whether you are holding UR or World of Hyatt points. In this case, why would the...

    I believe that your argument for valuing the UR points at a higher value as "inflation protection" is not valid all the time. It only holds if you vary your use of the UR points. For example, if you redeem your points exclusively for World of Hyatt and Hyatt increases redemption rates, you are subject to the same devaluation whether you are holding UR or World of Hyatt points. In this case, why would the UR points be valued any higher than the currency that you transfer them to unless there is a bonus with the transfer?

  10. Aleks Guest

    I suggest using a minimum redeemable value per your needs - that's how you don't overvalue the points.
    For example: if you mostly redeem for Hyatt, and say you get ~2cpp most of the times - then this is your average UR value; if you mostly redeem at United, and get ~1.25cpp - then your personal average value is 1.25c per UR point. If you mostly use transfer bonuses, like 30% on Avios, then...

    I suggest using a minimum redeemable value per your needs - that's how you don't overvalue the points.
    For example: if you mostly redeem for Hyatt, and say you get ~2cpp most of the times - then this is your average UR value; if you mostly redeem at United, and get ~1.25cpp - then your personal average value is 1.25c per UR point. If you mostly use transfer bonuses, like 30% on Avios, then count it into your equation.

    With this system you mostly don't overvalue your points stash, and have flexibility to switch to more "profitable" conversion in case of a transfer partner devaluation. Plus, if you have a Preferred/Reserve card, you can always redeem for cash at 1.25/1.5 cpp - so those are the lowest cash back rate you are getting.

  11. Patrick Guest

    I agree with your statement "If you redeem 100,000 miles for a ticket that would cost $10,000 in cash, you’re not actually getting 10 cents per mile of value, assuming you wouldn’t have paid that in cash. Instead the real value you’re getting is how much you would have otherwise been willing to pay for the ticket." But the problem with that is that I wouldn't have been ABLE to pay for a ticket, even...

    I agree with your statement "If you redeem 100,000 miles for a ticket that would cost $10,000 in cash, you’re not actually getting 10 cents per mile of value, assuming you wouldn’t have paid that in cash. Instead the real value you’re getting is how much you would have otherwise been willing to pay for the ticket." But the problem with that is that I wouldn't have been ABLE to pay for a ticket, even in coach, going to some exotic destination.
    Do you look at the least amount a ticket would cost going some place and don't consider that class?
    It's a hard one. But's it's fun.
    I'll be at 1,000,000 reward points this month when my statement closes. On to start building my AMEX points for my 45th anniversary trip.

  12. Steve Diamond

    Guaranteed and instant 1.5 on pay yourself back on the CSR is great. I have a million hyatt points anyways so yeah im spending down my ultimate rewards points this way. Just not worth the hassle anymore to find outsize first class value, rather just pay $ for J these days anyways.

  13. Dublin Guest

    Good luck trying to find any availability on ANA I check daily. Zero. Well if you want to travel by yourself I guess there is some

    1. Rgr Guest

      Yes the bloggers need to start admitting that some of the redemption that they love to push are no longer viable.

      ANA with Virgin is the first on that list.

    2. Andrew Guest

      I found and booked two F out of JFK. They are still released. They just get booked on the first day they are available. The bigger issue is the $750 fuel surcharges for a round trip. It used to be like $100.

    3. Trey Guest

      Same here: if booking far out I see only one seat in premium economy and business. I think that's all they're releasing. If traveling with another adult, I suppose you could book one and see if another opens up later. Two seat availabilities are found for more near-term (Sept/Oct) flights out of west coast. Anyone seeing the same?

  14. Beltway Guest

    It’s worth noting that Chase not infrequently runs promotions offering bonuses above the normal 1:1 conversion rate. The current one—an extra 50% on transfers to Marriott—may not appeal to many users, but the recent one with BA had a certain appeal.

    In short, here’s another plus factor in favor of the claim that UR points have more value than the highest baseline value of the points/miles in their travel partners’ programs.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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RANDY WARREN Guest

Points are not inflation-protected. The longer we hold them now, the less they will be worth.

1
Rgr Guest

Yes the bloggers need to start admitting that some of the redemption that they love to push are no longer viable. ANA with Virgin is the first on that list.

1
iamhere Guest

"It’s not just about which card you’re earning points with, but rather about which card is the most premium, since you can transfer points between accounts." More precisely if you have the Freedom Unlimited card you can earn more on every day purchases rather than just travel and dining and still redeem for a higher rate through the travel center as Sapphire or Reserve points. I would only suggest transferring to an airline or hotel if you have an immediate need because those are not flexible points and tend to devalue quicker. You also do not seem to mention about the "pay yourself back" feature, which many people have been successful at taking advantage of which allows you to redeem for many types of transactions at the same rate as redeeming for travel through Chase. Further, you still earn the points for the transaction.

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