Best Ways To Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Best Ways To Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

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If you want to maximize your credit card rewards, I always recommend earning transferable points currencies for your spending whenever possible. In this post I wanted to take a detailed look at how to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points, as this is one of the most popular points currencies out there.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are easy to earn

There are several credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Arguably one of the best things about Ultimate Rewards is the portfolio of credit cards that you can create, to maximize both your personal and business credit card spending.

The following three cards directly earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points (I’m also listing their annual fees and rewards structures):

  • The $550 annual fee Chase Sapphire Reserve® (review) offers 3x points on dining and travel
  • The $95 annual fee Chase Sapphire Preferred® (review) offers 3x points on dining, online groceries, and select streaming services, and 2x points on travel
  • The $95 annual fee Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review) offers 3x points on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases per account anniversary year on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, and phone services, and advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines

Meanwhile the following four cards earn points that can be converted into Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio in conjunction with any of the above cards (I’m also listing their annual fees and rewards structures):

Personally I have six of the above cards, so points rack up quickly. Read about my Chase credit card strategy here.

Create a portfolio of Chase credit cards

How much Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth

Based on my methodology of valuing points currencies, I value Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each. For that matter, that’s how much I value all major transferable points currencies. There’s no science to that, but rather I think it’s a fair but conservative valuation for how much value you could get if you’re maximizing your rewards.

How you can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Let’s take a brief look at how you can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points, and then we’ll talk about how you should redeem points to maximize value.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to airline and hotel partners. The program has the below 14 partners, including 11 airlines and three hotel groups, and all transfers are at a 1:1 ratio.

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

The beauty of Chase Ultimate Rewards is that points can also efficiently be redeemed toward the cost of travel purchases, including for flights, hotels, and rental cars. This applies for bookings made through the Chase Travel Portal, and the maximum value you’ll get depends on the most premium credit card you have. As you can see, you can potentially get 1.25-1.5 cents of value toward travel purchases.

1.5¢ per point or transfer points to partners
Chase Sapphire Reserve® Chase Sapphire Reserve®
1.25¢ per point or transfer points to partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
1.25¢ per point or transfer points to partners
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
1¢ per point points transfer to partners only in conjunction with a premium card
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
1¢ per point points transfer to partners only in conjunction with a premium card
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
1¢ per point points transfer to partners only in conjunction with a premium card
Chase Freedom Unlimited® Chase Freedom Unlimited®
1¢ per point points transfer to partners only in conjunction with a premium card
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Chase Freedom Flex℠

There are a variety of other ways to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points, though they’re generally going to get you at most one cent of value per point, so this isn’t how I’d recommend redeeming them. Among other things, you can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points in the following ways:

  • Toward cash, in the form of a direct deposit
  • Toward shopping directly with popular retailers
  • Toward a gift card with a variety of retailers

The catch is that aside from points transfers or travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal, you’ll get at most one cent of value per Ultimate Rewards point.

The best uses of Chase Ultimate Rewards points

There are lots of ways to efficiently redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points, whether you’re looking to transfer points to a travel partner, or redeem toward the cost of a travel purchase. Below I wanted to share what I consider the best uses of Chase Ultimate Rewards points to be, roughly ranked starting with my favorite.

If transferring to airline partners, it’s important to understand that you’ll generally get the most value redeeming for international flights, especially in business class. Also, if you’re new to redeeming points, check out my top 10 tips for redeeming points, so you can hopefully get the best value.

Transfer to World of Hyatt

World of Hyatt is my single favorite Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, especially as a Hyatt Globalist member. Hyatt has some fantastic hotels, and a free night will cost you anywhere from 3,500 to 45,000 points, depending on the category and whether there’s peak pricing or not.

Many people struggle with redeeming airline miles, given the capacity controls. The beauty of World of Hyatt is that there are no blackout dates, so as long as a standard room is available for sale, you can redeem points for it. It should be really easy to get well over two cents of value per point with World of Hyatt.

Redeem for a stay at Alila Jabal Akhdar

Transfer to Air Canada Aeroplan

Air Canada Aeroplan is probably my single favorite frequent flyer program. Not only does Aeroplan have more airline partners than any other airline loyalty program, but you can also add stopovers to awards for 5,000 points one-way.

If you’re looking to redeem on Star Alliance, or a variety of other airline partners (ranging from Air Mauritius to Oman Air), booking through Aeroplan is an excellent option. To get the best value and access to most airlines, in general I find Air Canada Aeroplan to be a more compelling transfer partner than United MileagePlus, even though both programs give you access to Star Alliance airlines.

Redeem for Oman Air business class

Redeem for 1.25-1.5 cents each toward travel

There’s a huge learning curve to redeeming points efficiently, so there’s something to be said for an easy redemption. One of the best things about Chase Ultimate Rewards is the great rate at which you can redeem points directly toward travel purchases through the Chase Travel Portal.

If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, then you can redeem for 1.5 cents each toward travel purchases, while if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, then you can redeem for 1.25 cents each toward travel purchases. If you have multiple cards, you can redeem all your points at the highest rate available with any card.

The beauty of this is that you don’t have to look for award availability, but rather you can book the flight or hotel you want directly through Chase. While this isn’t how I choose to redeem my Chase points (I consistently get more value with World of Hyatt), I think it’s a great option for many.

Redeem toward the cost of an airline ticket

Transfer to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

Singapore Airlines restricts most of its first class and business class award space to members of its own KrisFlyer program. So while the airline is in the Star Alliance, don’t expect to be able to snag Singapore Airlines long haul premium cabin awards through other programs.

Fortunately Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer has fair redemption rates, pretty good award availability in business class, and limited surcharges. For example, a one-way business class award on the world’s longest flight will cost you 111,500 miles, while a one-way business class award from New York to Frankfurt or Houston to Manchester will cost you 81,000 miles.

Redeem for Singapore Airlines Suites

Transfer to Emirates Skywards

Emirates is regarded as one of the world’s best airlines, and Emirates Skywards is the best way to book most Emirates tickets with miles. This could be useful whether you want to take one of Emirates’ fifth freedom flights (from Newark to Athens or New York to Milan), or whether you’re looking to fly with the airline to Dubai and beyond.

It’s even possible to redeem miles for Emirates first class, though it could take some work. A shower in the sky is a worthwhile reward, though! A first class award between the United States and Europe costs 85,000 Skywards miles one-way, if you can find award availability.

Redeem for Emirates first class

Transfer to Air France-KLM Flying Blue

If you want to fly across the Atlantic in business class, it’s tough to beat Flying Blue, as this is the key to unlocking Air France business class and KLM business class awards. Not only is this great if you’re looking to travel to Amsterdam and Paris, but the two airlines have extensive route networks throughout Europe and beyond.

You can generally expect that transatlantic business class awards will start around 55,000 miles one-way, with mild fuel surcharges (around $200 one-way). You can sometimes get even better pricing if you can book a Flying Blue Promo Rewards offer.

Redeem for KLM business class

Transfer to British Airways Executive Club

British Airways Executive Club is a useful frequent flyer program, especially for oneworld redemptions. Executive Club has a unique distance based award chart, so it’s a particularly useful points currency if you’re trying to redeem for travel on Alaska or American from or within the United States. Avios can be a great deal for travel to Hawaii and the Caribbean.

Avios are also useful for short haul redemptions in other regions, including within Asia and Australia.

Redeem for Qantas business class

Transfer to Southwest Rapid Rewards

Southwest Rapid Rewards is a useful Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, even if it’s not the most aspirational or high value. Rapid Rewards is a revenue based frequent flyer program, and you can expect that each point will get you roughly 1.4 cents toward the cost of a ticket.

For example, take the below one-way flight from Baltimore to Tampa, which costs either $99 or 6,515 points plus $5.60 in taxes. That’s a redemption value of ~1.43 cents per point, which is quite good.

Southwest ticket cost in cash
Southwest ticket cost in points

Now, a few things to note:

  • 1.43 cents per point is a much better option than non-travel redemptions that get you just one cent per point
  • In theory you can book travel through the Chase Travel Portal for 1.25-1.5 cents per point, but Southwest flights don’t appear through the portal
  • Southwest has a huge route network, so the ability to easily redeem at a pretty efficient rate is a good opportunity
Redeem for Southwest Airlines flights

Transfer to JetBlue TrueBlue

JetBlue is another transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards that’s also a revenue based currency when it comes to redemptions.

If you transfer Chase points to JetBlue TrueBlue, you can generally expect that each TrueBlue point will get you around 1.5 cents toward the cost of a JetBlue economy ticket. For example, take the below flight from New York to Los Angeles, which costs either $162 or 10,300 points plus $5.60 in taxes.

JetBlue ticket cost in cash
JetBlue ticket cost in points

Now, JetBlue flights also appear through the Chase Travel Portal, so you can redeem your points for 1.25-1.5 cents each toward the cost of a JetBlue ticket, depending on the card you have. Which redemption option is better depends on your specific situation.

Redeem for JetBlue economy

How not to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points

I tend to think that if you feel good about an award redemption then that should be enough. At the same time, I’d generally aim to get more than one cent of value per Chase Ultimate Rewards points, based purely on the easy ways there are to efficiently redeem these points for more value.

I’d highly recommend avoiding all the redemption options that give you at most one cent per point. This would include gift cards with retailers, cash, online shopping, etc.

On top of that, there are two Chase transfer partners I’d recommend avoiding — IHG One Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. That’s not because there’s not value to be had with IHG One Rewards or Marriott Bonvoy, but rather because I value those individual points currencies at 0.5-0.7 cents each, yet the transfer ratio is still “only” 1:1.

In the same way monetary currencies have different values, travel points currencies also do, so this isn’t a lucrative way to redeem your points.

Bottom line

Chase Ultimate Rewards is a popular points currency, and rewards add up quickly with cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®Chase Sapphire Preferred®, and Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card.

Ultimate Rewards points are an incredibly versatile currency. Not only can points be redeemed for 1.25-1.5 cents each toward the cost of a travel purchase through the Chase Travel Portal, but Chase also has some valuable transfer partners.

Personally World of Hyatt is by far my favorite Chase transfer partner. After that, I appreciate the value of Air Canada Aeroplan. Then there are several other currencies that could be useful, though frankly almost all of my Chase points go to World of Hyatt.

To those who collect Chase Ultimate Rewards points, what are your favorite uses of the currency?

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  1. Natedogg Guest

    The 50% bonus on dining credits (while it lasts) is one of the best uses of Chase Sapphire Reserve points IMO.

  2. Eric Guest

    One additional advantage to transferring to airline partners (specifically Southwest, United, British Airways, and JetBlue) is that award tickets on these carriers have "free" cancellations including miles going back to your account (British Airways will keep taxes/fees, and United one must change the booking to be more than 30 days out before cancelling). This is in contrast to the annoyance of using travel credits with a paid ticket (good for 1 year usually except Southwest)...

    One additional advantage to transferring to airline partners (specifically Southwest, United, British Airways, and JetBlue) is that award tickets on these carriers have "free" cancellations including miles going back to your account (British Airways will keep taxes/fees, and United one must change the booking to be more than 30 days out before cancelling). This is in contrast to the annoyance of using travel credits with a paid ticket (good for 1 year usually except Southwest) or dealing with the travel portal customer service for changes. I find this flexibility and the ability to avoid hours on hold (as commenter Vipul mentioned) to be quite valuable.

  3. Vipul Guest

    As a long time Chase member, a big issue lately has been dealing with Chase Travel for flight changes. Airlines require going through Chase to make a simple change, which ends up meaning hours spent on hold with Chase while they hold with the airline, instead of making the change in seconds in the app when booking directly. Given the flux in flights now and the ease of changing with the airlines, I'm steering away from booking through the Chase portal.

    1. DCS Diamond

      As a long time Chase member, a big issue lately has been dealing with Chase Travel for flight changes. Airlines require going through Chase to make a simple change, which ends up meaning hours spent on hold with Chase while they hold with the airline, instead of making the change in seconds in the app when booking directly. Given the flux in flights now and the ease of changing with the airlines, I'm steering away...

      As a long time Chase member, a big issue lately has been dealing with Chase Travel for flight changes. Airlines require going through Chase to make a simple change, which ends up meaning hours spent on hold with Chase while they hold with the airline, instead of making the change in seconds in the app when booking directly. Given the flux in flights now and the ease of changing with the airlines, I'm steering away from booking through the Chase portal.

      The fact that one has to deal with Chase Travel to make changes to flights booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal instead of making the changes either directly or with the airline is indeed a big problem that I just had to deal with earlier this week.

      I'd booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal a business ticket to fly round trip on SN from BRU to FIH and back. Due to circumstances I could not control, it was necessary that I cut my trip short and return from FIH to BRU (from where I would also need to change my UA flight to EWR, which I could do online).

      I first tried to change the SN flight in my LH account, where I could pull it since SN is part of the Lufthansa Miles & More group, but could not. Then I called SN customer support, and I was told that because the ticket was purchased through Chase Travel I had to contact them to make the change. So, I called Chase Travel. While the Chase Travel agent I spoke with was extremely professional and well trained, she was not able to help me change the ticket to an earlier travel date because there were no SN flights available for at least another week, meaning that even if I had the ability to change the flight online, I would not have been able to because there were simply no flights (something that the SN agent I'd spoken with earlier had already indicated to me). However, so good was the Chase Travel agent that without even being prompted she'd already found alternate flights! She told me that there were daily flights available on TK (doing FIH-IST-BRU), including on my preferred return date. Great! I just needed to either book the TK flight through Chase Travel using UR points, or book the same TK flight but with cash through UA so that I would maximize the number of PQPs (needed to requalify for 1K) and award miles I would get for having a O16 UA stock ticket. I told the Chase agent that I wanted to try the latter first. So, I went to the UA website and tried to book the TK flight but it was not available!!! I then went to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, and the flight that was invisible on the UA site was there. I promptly booked using UR points.

      I decided to relate the preceding, not because I disagree that it would be infinitely better to be able to change flights booked through Chase UR online, but to provide another perspective: human intervention may sometimes be necessary because, for one reason or another, one may not be able to make changes, or flights that one can find through UR may not be available through other channels!

      One item I still need to resolve involves the return portion of my original business ticket booked with UR points to fly FIH-BRU on SNR. Chase Travel told me that it was up to SN to decide whether to reimburse me the cash equivalent, give me credit for future travel or allow Chase Travel to redeposit my UR points, all of which I find strange considering that when I reached out to SN to change the ticket they said they could not do it and referred me to Chase Travel. So, shouldn't Chase Travel also be the one deciding about what do to with my unused return ticket?!

      Stay tuned...

  4. Mantis Guest

    UR are for Hyatt, MR are for F/J intl flights.

  5. DCS Diamond

    On top of that, there are two Chase transfer partners I’d recommend avoiding — IHG One Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. That’s not because there’s not value to be had with IHG One Rewards or Marriott Bonvoy, but rather because I value those individual points currencies at 0.5-0.7 cents each, yet the transfer ratio is still “only” 1:1.

    People simply have to understand that the different nominal values of hotel points currencies (e.g., WoH: 1.5cpp; or...

    On top of that, there are two Chase transfer partners I’d recommend avoiding — IHG One Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. That’s not because there’s not value to be had with IHG One Rewards or Marriott Bonvoy, but rather because I value those individual points currencies at 0.5-0.7 cents each, yet the transfer ratio is still “only” 1:1.

    People simply have to understand that the different nominal values of hotel points currencies (e.g., WoH: 1.5cpp; or IHG: 0.5cpp; or BonVoy: 0.7cpp) have little to do with why some points transfers are more favorable than others. Rather, it is due to the relative magnitudes of points scales that the different hotel programs chose, quite arbitrarily, to use.

    Hyatt's points scale goes only up to 45K, whereas IHG's or BonVoy's point scale goes up to more than 100K points. What that means is that it requires transferring a much lower number of Chase points 1:1 to WoH points than it does to IHG or BonVoy points to afford a decent redemption. Whether that is a plus for WoH members and a negative for IHG or BonVoy members, as is generally implied, is actually debatable.

    The argument, which is similar to one I made about SPG (R.I.P) long before the program went belly-up, is that the more favorable transferability of Chase points to WoH points is actually detrimental to Hyatt because it allows WoH members to earn Chase points on any Chase credit card without ever setting foot in and spending real money on revenue stays at Hyatt hotels, which is clearly not good for Hyatt's bottom line. The model is similar to SPG's which, as we all know, allowed members to earn starpoints on the SPG AMEX without ever setting foot in Starwood hotels, and then to redeem those points for free airline tickets rather than for award stays at Starwood hotels (too expensive!) -- a double whammy that I believe contributed to the demise of Starwood, as it gave away every advantage of its loyalty program which was supposed to be its "cash cow." The situation is not quite as dire with WoH because (a) the program does not make the transferability of its points to airlines as favorable as did SPG, and (b) Hyatt awards are significantly more affordable than were SPG's, especially at the very high end.

    By contrast, the unfavorable transferability of Chase points to IHG or BonVoy points means that in order for members of these programs to earn enough points to afford award stays at the respective chains' hotels, they must first spend real money on revenue stays, which is clearly beneficial to the chains' bottom lines.

    Moreover, I consider it a waste, almost heretical really, to transfer highly coveted transferable points currencies like Chase UR points to hotel points currencies to book a award stays. That one even needs to do such a 'heretical' thing, in my view, reflects a weakness of the hotel program. IHG or BonVoy members do not need to transfer UR points to their respective points currencies to be able to afford award stays because these programs make it relatively easy for members to earn loads of points (generous base earn rates + elite bonuses + co-branded CC bonuses + promos). Of course, no program comes close to rivaling Hilton Honors in the ease of earning points, which means that I will never in a million years consider it an disadvantage that the transferability of, e.g., AMEX MR points to HH is highly unfavorable. I reserve my transferable points currencies (AMEX MR and Chase UR points) exclusively for booking long-haul premium cabinet award tickets.

    Remember the preceding when anyone tries to convince you that the favorable transfer rate of Chase UR points to WoH points has anything to do with the "high value" of WoH points compared to the "values" of other hotel points currencies, or that the favorable transfer rate is an advantage. No, it ain't.

  6. Antonio Guest

    Pay Yourself Back doesn't rank as one of your best uses?

    1. James Guest

      I've cashed out hundreds of thousands of UR points at 1.5 cents/pt. So much better than trying to eke out a small premium in value from miles/hotel points that I can only manage to use with great difficulty.

    2. Ari Guest

      Same here. Trying to find long haul J/F class flights from LAX to Europe using BA or Flying Blue is nearly impossible if you have kids and need to fly during school vacations. Not sure where @Lucky got the 55k redemption rate for Flying Blue over the pond, but a quick look showed the cost for LAX-CDG RT to be 286k, a far cry from 110k RT.

      So I'm with you @James. Much easier to...

      Same here. Trying to find long haul J/F class flights from LAX to Europe using BA or Flying Blue is nearly impossible if you have kids and need to fly during school vacations. Not sure where @Lucky got the 55k redemption rate for Flying Blue over the pond, but a quick look showed the cost for LAX-CDG RT to be 286k, a far cry from 110k RT.

      So I'm with you @James. Much easier to just redeem using UR portal at 1.5c (and getting the miles credited for the $ spent) than trying to find the rarely existent reward flights.

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Ari Guest

Same here. Trying to find long haul J/F class flights from LAX to Europe using BA or Flying Blue is nearly impossible if you have kids and need to fly during school vacations. Not sure where @Lucky got the 55k redemption rate for Flying Blue over the pond, but a quick look showed the cost for LAX-CDG RT to be 286k, a far cry from 110k RT. So I'm with you @James. Much easier to just redeem using UR portal at 1.5c (and getting the miles credited for the $ spent) than trying to find the rarely existent reward flights.

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Natedogg Guest

The 50% bonus on dining credits (while it lasts) is one of the best uses of Chase Sapphire Reserve points IMO.

0
DCS Diamond

<blockquote>As a long time Chase member, <b>a big issue lately has been dealing with Chase Travel for flight changes. Airlines require going through Chase to make a simple change</b>, which ends up meaning hours spent on hold with Chase while they hold with the airline, instead of making the change in seconds in the app when booking directly. Given the flux in flights now and the ease of changing with the airlines, I'm steering away from booking through the Chase portal.</blockquote> The fact that one has to deal with Chase Travel to make changes to flights booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal instead of making the changes either directly or with the airline is indeed a big problem that I just had to deal with earlier this week. I'd booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal a business ticket to fly round trip on SN from BRU to FIH and back. Due to circumstances I could not control, it was necessary that I cut my trip short and return from FIH to BRU (from where I would also need to change my UA flight to EWR, which I could do online). I first tried to change the SN flight in my LH account, where I could pull it since SN is part of the Lufthansa Miles & More group, but could not. Then I called SN customer support, and I was told that because the ticket was purchased through Chase Travel I had to contact them to make the change. So, I called Chase Travel. While the Chase Travel agent I spoke with was extremely professional and well trained, she was not able to help me change the ticket to an earlier travel date because there were no SN flights available for at least another week, meaning that even if I had the ability to change the flight online, I would not have been able to because there were simply no flights (something that the SN agent I'd spoken with earlier had already indicated to me). However, so good was the Chase Travel agent that without even being prompted she'd already found alternate flights! She told me that there were daily flights available on TK (doing FIH-IST-BRU), including on my preferred return date. Great! I just needed to either book the TK flight through Chase Travel using UR points, or book the same TK flight but with cash through UA so that I would maximize the number of PQPs (needed to requalify for 1K) and award miles I would get for having a O16 UA stock ticket. I told the Chase agent that I wanted to try the latter first. So, I went to the UA website and tried to book the TK flight <b>but it was not available!!!</b> I then went to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, and the flight that was invisible on the UA site was there. I promptly booked using UR points. I decided to relate the preceding, not because I disagree that it would be infinitely better to be able to change flights booked through Chase UR online, but to provide another perspective: human intervention may sometimes be necessary because, for one reason or another, one may not be able to make changes, or flights that one can find through UR may not be available through other channels! One item I still need to resolve involves the return portion of my original business ticket booked with UR points to fly FIH-BRU on SNR. Chase Travel told me that it was up to SN to decide whether to reimburse me the cash equivalent, give me credit for future travel or allow Chase Travel to redeposit my UR points, all of which I find strange considering that when I reached out to SN to change the ticket they said they could not do it and referred me to Chase Travel. So, shouldn't Chase Travel also be the one deciding about what do to with my unused return ticket?! Stay tuned...

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