The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card are two of the most popular rewards credit cards out there, and there’s not a single best way to redeem those points. The points give you a lot of flexibility, and you can most efficiently redeem them as cash towards the cost of a travel purchase, or transfer them to one of the excellent Ultimate Rewards hotel or airline partners.
The basics of Ultimate Rewards points
Then the Chase Freedom FlexSM, Chase Freedom Unlimited®, and Ink Business Cash® Credit Card are technically cashback cards, where each point can be redeemed for one cent cash. However, if you can have any of those cards in conjunction with one of the three cards earning Ultimate Rewards points, then you can transfer over those points at a 1:1 ratio.
All Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to the Ultimate Rewards airline and hotel partners, which include the following:
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
Alternatively, you can also choose to redeem Ultimate Rewards points towards the cost of a travel purchase (flight, hotel, car rental, etc.), and the value you get is based on the most premium card you have:
- If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, you can redeem points for 1.5 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase
- If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, you can redeem points for 1.25 cents each towards the cost of a travel purchase
As far as I’m concerned, it’s most worthwhile to redeem Ultimate Rewards points as cash towards the cost of a ticket if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card.
Is redeeming Ultimate Rewards points for 1.5 cents each a good deal?
This brings us to the next logical question. Personally I value Ultimate Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, so can it make sense to redeem points for 1.5 cents towards the cost of a travel purchase?
First I’d note that using my math, you’re really only getting ~1.42 cents of value per point. I say that because ordinarily the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card offers triple points on travel purchases, and if you redeem points for a travel purchase then you’re forgoing the points you’d earn if making the purchase in cash. So you’re missing out on a ~5.1% return, which you’d have to subtract from the 1.5 cent redemption value.
Whether or not that’s a good use of Ultimate Rewards points depends greatly on who you ask. I know some people who redeem all their Ultimate Rewards points for 1.5 cents each towards a travel purchase.
That can be a great use of points, especially when you consider that you can earn 1.5x points on all purchases with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, transfer those points to your Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, and then you’re getting 2.25 cents worth of travel for every dollar spent on non-bonused purchases. That’s objectively a great deal and one of the best returns offered by any card, so I can’t fault anyone for redeeming their Ultimate Rewards points that way.
However, I’ve never redeemed my Ultimate Rewards points towards a travel purchase. Instead I’ve transferred them to Air France-KLM FlyingBlue, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, United MileagePlus, and World of Hyatt. For premium cabin redemptions you can get outsized value by transferring to a partner, given how much international first & business class tickets can cost in cash.
Just to give one example, a roundtrip first class ticket on Korean Air from New York to Seoul would cost you 160,000 Korean Air SkyPass miles. If you were to redeem those points for 1.5 cents towards an airfare purchase, that’s the equivalent of $2,400 worth of travel. Meanwhile that same ticket in first class would cost you $24,000 if paying cash. I’m not saying I value the redemption at anywhere close to $24,000, though I certainly value it at more than $2,400. Unfortunately, this redemption is no longer available through Ultimate Rewards, but there are many other great premium cabin options.
This brings me to the question for you guys. For those of you with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, how do you mostly redeem your points — for 1.5 cents towards a travel purchase, or do you transfer them to a partner? Please vote in the below poll! This is useful info so I can better tailor information in the future based on how most people are redeeming.