After last week’s news about Citi dropping several benefits from their cards, I wrote a post about how to use up Citi Thank You Points. This post is like the Citi post, but it ponders how to use up Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points.
Fortunately, Chase is not removing most of their cards’ benefits. But knowing how to redeem points is just as important as knowing how to earn them. You can earn as many points as you want to. But points earned are worthless (or worth less) if you don’t know how to use them.
Chase’s premium and mid-tier cards offer the most redemptions methods. The Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, and Ink Business Preferred are the three premium Chase cards. This is because Chase charges an annual fee for them and they have direct access to the bank’s transfer partners.
Transfer partners are by far Chase’s most valuable and popular redemption option for UR points. The beauty about Chase is that they have quality partners for hotels, domestic flights, and international flights.
All UR points transfer to Chase’s partners at a 1:1 ratio:
- Marriott / Ritz-Carlton
- World of Hyatt
- Aer Lingus
- Air France / KLM Flying Blue
- British Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Your mileage may vary for each partner. But for most partners, you should be able to easily redeem your points for at least 1.5 cents per point (CPP).
Chase Travel Portal
The Chase Travel Portal is the second-most popular way to redeem UR points. Points are worth a flat 1.5 CPP with the Sapphire Reserve and 1.25 CPP with the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred. Technically, those with a no annual fee Chase card can use the portal as well. However, people with those cards will get just 1 CPP, which is like using cash.
The Sapphire Reserve’s increased rate could make using the portal more valuable than transferring to some partners. You have to calculate if transferring is worth it by finding out how many CPPs you will receive from a given redemption. You’re mileage may vary, so make sure you’re redeeming for as much value as possible.
No Annual Fee Cards
Chase’s no annual fee cards are fantastic options for beginners and those (re)building their credit. But their main purpose for traveling are as secondary cards to one or more premium cards. These cards also earn UR points, but you need a premium card to access the bank’s transfer partners.
The Chase Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Freedom Student, Ink Business Cash, and Ink Business Unlimited are the bank’s five no annual fee cards. You can use any of the following redemption options if you don’t have a premium Chase card:
Gift cards are the most valuable way to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points without a premium card. Normally, UR points can be redeemed for gift cards for 1 CPP. However, Chase often has sales for their gift cards, making them more valuable.
For example, Chase might offer a $10 Starbucks gift card for 900 points. That’s a value of 1.11 CPP. Normally, the same $10 gift card would be 1,000 points. That’s a value of 1 CPP.
Cash Back / Statement Credit
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points can also be redeemed for cash back (if you have a Chase bank account) or statement credits. Both options are similar, and they provide a value of 1 CPP each. Chase is the best bank for redeeming points for cash back, even though I don’t recommend doing so. American Express, Capital One, and Citi all have the same options. However, their points are worth 0.8 CPP at most when redeeming this way.
Chase has some other methods to redeem UR points as well. One of the more noteworthy one is using Points to Shop. This program lets you purchase merchandise on Amazon and Apple. You can redeem points at Amazon for 1 CPP but redeeming at Apple will provide less value unless they’re having a sale.
Chase Experiences is another great option for all cardholders to redeem points for. All experiences are valued at 1 CPP. However, they can make your traveling even more fun. I would only use this option if tickets are more expensive elsewhere.
The Chase Ultimate Rewards “ecosystem” is one of the most flexible and generous for redemptions. This is one of the reasons why points and miles enthusiasts love Chase cards. They also have great earning structures that fit nicely with each other. Having a Chase Trifecta or Quartet is not uncommon. In fact, its my preferred earning strategy as Chase points are the most valuable to me.
Such value is also why application rules like 5/24 are in place. Chase cards are very desirable, so make sure that you abide by their rules when applying. Not doing so could cost you thousands in discounted or free travel, as well as great earning opportunities.