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):
- The no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited® (review) offers 1.5x points on everyday spending
- The no annual fee Chase Freedom FlexSM (review) offers 5x points in rotating quarterly categories on up to $1,500 of spending per quarter (8.5% return)
- The no annual fee Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card (review) offers 1.5x points on everyday spending
- The no annual fee Ink Business Cash® Credit Card (review) offers 5x points on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases per account anniversary year at office supply stores, and on internet, cable, and phone services (8.5% return), as well as 2x points on the first $25,000 of combined purchases per account anniversary year at restaurants and gas stations
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.
Aer Lingus AerClub
IHG One Rewards
Air Canada Aeroplan
Air France-KLM Flying Blue
World of Hyatt
British Airways Executive Club
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Southwest Rapid Rewards
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
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.
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, given all the great uses of these points.
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 Gulf 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 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.
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 sometimes Suites and first 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.
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 102,000 Skywards miles one-way, if you can find award availability.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?