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Updated January 14, 2017 3:22 PM PT

Chase Ultimate Rewards Review: Get Maximum Value

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Get the most out of Chase credit cards. Read this in-depth guide to Chase's Ultimate Rewards program. We'll explain how to get the maximum value.

The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Chase Ultimate Rewards

Spend 15 minutes reading this guide. By the end, you'll learn brilliant ways to earn Chase Ultimate Reward points fast and how to redeem the points for the best value:

When you name something "ultimate," you better deliver. There are few things in life more disappointing than hearing something described as "ultimate" that then fails to meet the claim (e.g., an "ultimate cheeseburger" with anything less than 2 patties).

Fortunately, the Chase Ultimate Rewards program delivers on the ultimate promise by making travel rewards easy to earn and - most importantly - easy to redeem.

But to get the most return on your rewards, you need to make the right moves. Flexible redemption options also mean flexible values; your rewards points could be worth just 1 cent or more than 2 cents, depending on how you use them.

Here's everything you need to know to get the ultimate value from your Ultimate Rewards (UR).

Note: The points and redemption values are based on September 2016 data. Redemption options and value can change at any time. Taxes, fees and surcharges are additional.

CHASE ULTIMATE REWARDS CARDS

Before you can redeem them, you've got to earn them. And Chase offers many rewards cards that let you boost your Ultimate Rewards collection:

Personal cards:

CardRewards
Chase FreedomEarn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Bonus Categories for 2017:
Q1 (January 1 – March 31, 2017): Gas stations and local commuter transportation (not including parking, tolls, and Amtrak® purchases)
Q2 (April 1 - June 30, 2017): Grocery stores (not including Walmart® and Target® purchases)
Q3 (July 1 – September 30, 2017): TBA
Q4 (October 1 – December 31, 2017): TBA
Chase Freedom UnlimitedUnlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic!
Chase Sapphire Preferred2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide.
1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Chase Sapphire Reserve3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs

Business cards:

CardRewards
Ink Business CashEarn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year.
Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year.
Unlimited 1% cash back on all other card purchases.
Ink Business PreferredEarn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn.

Tip: You can combine your UR points together into a single account, which is a good tactic to make your way to a ton of points. If you've got a small business or even a side hustle that earns income, you can apply for one of the Chase business cards and get more rewards points.

Each card has a different structure for how Ultimate Rewards (UR) are earned and how lucrative they become when you redeem them.

The sign-up bonuses also differ for each card. Here are the Chase credit cards that earn Ultimate Rewards, and their bonus:

  • Chase Freedom lets you earn a $150 Bonus after spending $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. There is a 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.49-24.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum.

    This is the fun part: You can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. The cash back rewards do not expire as long as your card account remains open. There is no annual fee.

  • Chase Freedom Unlimited lets you earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. You earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. There is also a 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.49-24.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum. The cash back rewards will not expire as long as your card account remains open. There is no annual fee.

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred
    Apply for Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
    Chase Sapphire Preferred lets you earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. You can earn 5,000 bonus points if you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within the first three months from account opening. This card lets you earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide. The points can be transferred 1:1 to leading frequent travel programs including airline transfer partners. The card has a $0 foreign transaction fee. The card also comes with premium travel and purchase protection benefits (including trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance and auto rental collision damage waiver). There is an Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95.

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve lets you earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. This card offers a $300 annual travel credit (as reimbursement for travel purchases such as airfare and hotels charged to your card). This card earns 3x points on travel and dining worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. The points can be transferred 1:1 to leading frequent travel programs including airline transfer partners. There are no foreign transaction fees. The card also comes with complimentary Priority Pass™ Select for access to over 900 airport lounges worldwide. There is a $450 annual fee.

  • Ink Business Cash lets you earn $300 bonus cash back when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other card purchases. There is no annual fee.

    Plus, there is a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months. After the intro period, a variable APR applies (See Issuer's Terms).

  • Ink Business Preferred
    Apply for Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
    Ink Business Preferred lets you earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. 80,000 points is worth $1,000 toward travel when you redeem via Chase Ultimate Rewards. Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases—with no limit to the amount you can earn. There are no foreign transaction fees. There is a $95 annual fee.

Tip: The sign-up bonuses are a great way to get a huge jump start on collecting rewards points. Just make sure you can meet the minimum spend within the timeframe specified to receive the bonus.

REGULAR VS. PREMIUM CARDS

You'll notice that some cards - the Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and Ink Business Cash - have no annual fee and are stated as cash back cards. How they work is that you will still earn points in your account when you make purchases on these cards, but they can only be redeemed for cash value at a rate of 1 cent per point (10,000 points = $100).

Some redemption options with these cards include:

  • Cash back through direct deposit or statement credit
  • Trading for gift cards
  • Buying with points on Amazon
  • Booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal

On the other hand, Chase's premium travel card, Chase Sapphire Preferred has an annual fees. It offers more flexibility in how you can redeem your rewards. One of the biggest advantage is that you can redeem points for travel at a discount.

With the premium cards (such as Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred), you get the extra options of:

  • Booking travel with points through Ultimate Rewards at a 20% discount, making each point worth 1.25 cents (10,000 points = $125).
  • Transferring the points 1:1 to frequent travel programs, which has the potential for each point to be worth even more.

We will go over each of these redemption options in more detail below.

Like we said, the Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and Ink Business Cash cards alone will only earn cash (or cash-equivalent) rewards at the rate of 1 point = 1 cent. But you can maximize the redemption potential if you combine all your points along with one of the premium card accounts. Then you can use those Chase points toward travel rewards at a higher value.

Tip: If you own one of the premium cards, the Chase Freedom is a great 2nd card because you can earn 5% on certain types of purchases (Chase calls them "bonus categories," and changes them every three months). Past categories include groceries stores, restaurants, and gas. So when those bonus categories come around, use the Chase Freedom to get 5% back on those purchases, where you would only get 1-2x with other rewards cards (note: the most you can earn per quarter at the 5% range is $75).

COMBINING POINTS TO EARN A TRAVEL DISCOUNT

With the no-annual-fee cards, you are able to redeem points for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, but each point is worth only 1 cent. You can get more out of your points, however, by pooling points earned with multiple Chase cards.

Did you know: Chase has some very clear rules on when you can and can't combine your points. Basically, all the cards have to belong to you, your spouse, or your domestic partner, and all of the accounts have to be in good standing. Also, your relationship with the person should be in good standing because you're about to share your Ultimate Rewards with them. That's a big step.

When you're ready to roll your points from one card to another, you log in to the first account and navigate to the Ultimate Rewards page. Then, you select the "Combine Points" option and enter the account number for the card you want to transfer the points to. After you verify that your information is correct, your points will be transferred to the second card.

Once you've combined all of your points onto one of the premium Chase cards (e.g.: Chase Sapphire Preferred) that's eligible to earn the discount, you can book your trip through Ultimate Rewards. This is an easy way to make the most of the various rewards categories each card offers.

EARN BONUS POINTS WHEN YOU SHOP

Other than earning the standard rewards from everyday purchases, you can earn even more rewards points when shopping through Chase's shopping portal.

Did you know: Chase recently revamped its Ultimate Rewards shopping mall, and the new Shop Through Chase platform offers lots of opportunities to get even more points when you use your card at participating retailers.

There are over 200 partner merchants that are offering bonus points per dollar spent. Most stores offer 2x-5x points per $1, but some stores go as high as 15x points. So whenever you're feeling the urge to do a little online shopping, don't forget to check the Chase portal first to see if your store is on the list. Using the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall is a great way to earn rewards points fast.

What are Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Worth

Chase Ultimate Rewards can be redeemed in a variety of ways. How much your points are worth depends on how you choose to redeem them. We'll go over each in more detail before, but this is what you can expect (value is listed as per point):

ForOur Value Estimate
Booking travel on Chase Ultimate Rewards 1.25 cents (with Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred); 1.00 cent (with Chase Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, or Ink Business Cash)
Transferring to airline and hotel partnersWith Chase Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred: ~1 cent up to ~3 cents depending on the redemption option and how you value award travel.
Get cash back1.00 cent
Exchange for gift cards1.00 cent
Pay on Amazon0.80 cent
Buy an experience1.00 cent

REDEEMING REWARDS FOR NON-TRAVEL

When you're ready to use your Chase points, just log in to your Ultimate Rewards account, and you'll see a pull-down menu with all the options for redemption.

Let's go over the options for redeeming non-travel rewards first. Remember, you can expect to get just 1 cent per point with these options.

  • Redeem for cash back: You get a 1:1 return in the form of a credit statement or direct deposit into your bank account. You'll need at least 2,000 points to convert them to cash.

    For example, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, and you can see my 16,944 points is worth $169.44 in cash back.

  • Give yourself a gift: For a 1:1 exchange, you could get a gift card from your favorite retailer. Most merchants require that you trade in 2,500 points for a $25 gift card.

  • Pay on Amazon: The perk here is easy checkout, but points are only valued at 0.80 cents (instead of 1:1).

  • Buy an experience: You can also trade in your points for an experience at a 1:1 exchange on Chase's Exclusive Events, including fine dining, entertainment, and sports. But events are limited and are only in certain cities.

REDEEMING REWARDS FOR TRAVEL ON CHASE'S TRAVEL PORTAL

If you have one of the premium cards, you can redeem for travel rewards for a better value. Here are some example:

Let's say you use Chase Sapphire Preferred. Booking through the Chase travel portal ensures that you'll get 1.25 cents per point, which basically equals a 20% discount on the price. In other words, you would only need 40,000 UR points to book a $500 trip (whereas choosing cash back would only get you $400). As long as you book travel with points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, every 10,000 points will get you $125 in value.

Tip: You can use one of the no-annual-fee cards to book travel on the Ultimate Rewards portal as well, but you will only get a value of 1 cent per point (unless you also have one of the premium cards). Only the premium cards offer the discount.

When you log in to your Chase account, you will see something like this:

You can see that on my Chase Sapphire Preferred card, my 16,994 points are worth $211.80 when I book travel through Ultimate Rewards (instead of just $169.44 in cash back).

Using the Chase travel portal is similar to other online booking sites. You enter the destination and the dates you want to travel and review your options. And because you're not booking directly through an airline, you'll avoid any blackout dates. You'll also be able to book during times when award flights aren't offered (like holidays).

In this sample flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR), you can see that it would cost either $978.66 or 78,292 UR points.

If you don't have enough points for this flight, you will see something like this:

So I would have to cash in all my points and pay $766.85 out of my own pocket for this flight.

Next, we'll see how transferring points is often a better way to go.

TRANSFERRING POINTS TO TRAVEL PARTNERS

The other approach is to transfer your Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio to one of Chase's travel partners - this is where you get the ultimate value from your points. The 1.25 cents through the travel portal is nice but with transfer partners, you can potentially make your Chase rewards points worth 2 cents or more.

If you select "Transfer to Travel Partners," you will see this:

Transferring points is quick (just fill in your member ID number) and you always get full value with no transfer fee attached. In other words, 80,000 Ultimate Rewards will equal 80,000 miles in your loyalty program. Here are the programs you can transfer Chase points to:

Airlines:

  • United MileagePlus
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • British Airways Executive Club

Hotels:

  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • Marriott Rewards
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards

For example, let's look at that sample flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR) from Sept. 26 to Oct 2, 2016 we referenced earlier. On the day of my search, the flight would cost $978.66, or 78,292 UR points, if I booked through the UR travel portal (1.25 cents a point).

However, if I transferred my points to Singapore Airline's KrisFlyer Miles and then booked a partner flight with Virgin Atlantic, I could get the same flight for just 50,000 miles, which works out to almost 2 cents a point. And I'd be saving more than 28,000 Ultimate Rewards (worth another $350 when booking on UR). Subject to availability. Taxes, fees and surcharges not included.

Obviously, this changes from flight to flight and sometimes the 20% discount from the Chase travel portal is the better deal. For example: if I were booking a flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Phoenix (PHX) in late October 2016, it would cost me $228.20 or 18,256 points. On the other hand, that same flight would cost 20,000 United MileagePlus miles. I would save nearly 2,000 Ultimate Rewards by going through Chase Travel.

In general, you'll find that transferring Ultimate Rewards is best for international travel or expensive business class or first class tickets. But if you take the time to check both options, you could save yourself a bundle on your flight.

Here are some of our favorite use of Chase Ultimate Reward points:

  • Transfer to United as they never charge a fuel surcharge. Take advantage of its 1 free stopover / 2 open-jaw policies to visit more destinations with no additional points
  • Transfer to Hyatt as some hotel stay redemptions can be valued at over 2 cents a point
  • Use Flying Blue or Korean Air SKYPASS to fly from the continental U.S. to Hawaii, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean
  • Use British Avios to fly within Europe
  • Use Southwest Rapid Rewards to fly within the U.S.

For more ideas, read our guide on the best Ultimate Rewards transfer partners.

The downside with using Chase transfer partners is you need to be flexible with your schedule. Booking award travel directly through an airline or hotel can often lead to the dreaded blackout dates, so you might need to shift a bit in order to reap the benefits.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Transfer Partners

Let's do a run-down of all the airline transfer partners:

British Airway Avios

Do: If you're on a European vacation where you'll be hopping between countries, use Avios to find short flights within Europe at a great transfer rate. A lot of popular routes only cost 4,500 Avios one way with no fuel surcharge.

Don't: In general, you'll be hit with hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges when flying long-haul on Avios, EXCEPT for when you fly with American Airlines.

Use the British Airway Avios calculator.

Air France Flying Blue

Do: Fly from the continental United States to Hawaii, Central America, or the Caribbean for only 30,000 miles round trip (sometimes even as low as 25,000 miles). Flying Blue also releases promo awards at the start of each month, where you can snag great deals for certain routes. For example, in October 2016, there's a deal for Washington D.C. to Europe round-trip for only 37,500 points on economy.

Don't: Flying Blue is not great for booking business class, as the points required are often way more than other transfer partners. For example, from Los Angeles to Paris is 25,000 one way in economy and 62,500 in business class, whereas Singapore Airlines will only require 45,000 miles in business. You'll also be hit with a high fuel surcharge for most flights to Europe, EXCEPT for when flying with Delta.

Use the Flying Blue Miles calculator.

Singapore KrisFlyer

Do: Book online because you'll receive a 15% discount from the reward rates shown for a Singapore Airlines flight. You are also allowed one free stopover on a round-trip Saver flight (or 2 free on a Standard Award flight), which will allow you to visit a new destination. For example, you can go from Los Angeles to Australia, with a stopover in Tokyo, for 50,000 miles in economy.

Tip: If you want the ultimate first-class experience, you can't get better than flying on Singapore Airline's luxurious A380 Suites (the first double-bed in the sky!). A favorite route for travelers is from New York to Frankfurt (8 hours of airtime) for 57,375 points (after the 15% discount). Or you can go from Singapore to Tokyo to Los Angeles (18.5 hours of airtime) for 91,375 points.

Don't: You pretty much can't get around the high fuel surcharges flying to Europe. In general, you'll be hit with high surcharges on international long haul flights, EXCEPT for flights with Air New Zealand, Copa, Avianca, and TACA.

See Singapore Airline's award chart.

United MileagePlus Miles

Do: One good thing about United is that it never charges a surcharge, not even on partner airlines. Take advantage of United's generous stopover and open-jaw policies in order to visit more places on one trip. You can book one stopover and 2 open-jaws (on a round-trip) on an award ticket for no additional miles.

Tip: A stopover is when you stop in one city for a longer period of time (over 24 hours and for as long as you like). Open-jaw is when your route has an "opening" that you will cover on your own (such as by train, car, etc.). For example: If your ticket is from City A to City B, and then from City C to City D, and then back to City A, you will cover the travel from City B to City C on your own.

Don't: Redeeming points on United for business and first class tickets is often higher than other airlines, so that's not the best use of your points.

See United's interactive award chart.

Southwest Rapid Rewards

Do: Use this transfer partner to book flights within the U.S. The value is especially good on the Wanna Get Away flights, with many routes as low as 4,500 points one way. And you don't pay any taxes or surcharges for domestic flights either, except for the $5.60 Security Fee for each direction. Southwest also offers very low rates to Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean for a bit more in taxes.

As you can see in the above screenshot, this flight from Los Angeles to Denver costs only 4,278 points for a Wanna Get Away flight

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Do: Flights within the U.S. could be a good value. For example, you can get from Los Angeles to San Francisco round-trip for 10,000 points in economy. If you're traveling within Japan or Australia/New Zealand/Pacific Islands, you can get round-trip domestic flights for 15,000 or 20,000 points.

Don't: Aside from that, in general, Virgin Atlantic is not our favorite transfer program, and we don't recommend using it for international travel.

See Virgin Atlantic's award chart for partner Virgin America.

Korean Air Skypass

Do: Fly to Hawaii, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands for 25,000 points round-trip with no fuel surcharges. Round-trip flights within Europe go for 25,000 points as well. Korean Air also allows for 1 stopover and 1 open-jaw, so it's a great opportunity to add in an additional destination on any of these trips at no extra cost.

Don't: Korean Air has a peak season where the points go up, so don't travel during peak season.

See Korean Air's award chart.

Redeeming Award Flights

Award tickets have limited availability so it's best to have flexibility schedule-wise. You'll also have to have the patience and the time to find the best deals and wait for awards to become available. To book, you would have to be a member of the airline's frequent flyer program and use the site to find availability. Booking online is the easiest, but not all the airlines are great at showing availability for award flights. So sometimes, you may find that it's best to call.

As far as booking an award ticket on a partner flight goes, let's clear something up: Say you want to use Flying Blue Miles to fly to Hawaii on Delta Airlines. You would be transferring your UR points to the Flying Blue program (NOT Delta), and then call Air France or use their website to book the partner flight on Delta.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners

Hyatt Gold Passport

Redeeming for free nights at Hyatt starts at just 5,000 points/night for a Category 1 Standard Room. A Category 4 or 5 room goes for 15,000 - 20,000 points/night, while a night in a Category 7 hotel will cost you 30,000 points. You also have the option to pay in points and cash, which is great if you want to save some points. You can also use points to upgrade to a Club room (for 3,000 points per night) or a Suite (for 6,000 points per night).

Do: In general, we find that redeeming points for Hyatt free nights is a great value. For example, a room in the Andaz 5th Avenue in New York (a Category 6 hotel) costs $525/night, or 25,000 points. This gives each point the value of over 2 cents per point. OR you can pay cash and points: $125 + 12,500 points per night. This option also offers a great value to snag this $500+ room for just a little bit of cash and points. If you stay for 3 nights, the normal cost would be $1,575. Subtract the $375 you pay in cash, the value of your points would come out to 3.2 cents per point.

Don't: Hyatt also lets you redeem points on their dining, spa, and resort activities, but the value of the points is only about 0.5 - 0.8 cents per point. We only recommend using your points to redeem for free nights and save your cash for the hotel extras.

See Hyatt's free night award chart.

IHG Rewards Club

Points redemption start at 10,000 points a night for a Category 1 hotel and up to 60,000 points a night for a Category 11 hotel. IHG also lets you combine cash + points. For example, for a Category 5 hotel, you can pay 30,000 points, or 25,000 points + $40, or 20,000 points + $70.

Do: Keep your eye out on BreakPoints® deals, which is a bimonthly deal where IHG releases rooms in certain hotels for only 5,000 points per night. But if you see something you're interested in, you'll have to act fast, as the availability is limited and they go quick. For example, for October 2016, there are deals available in Brazil, Honduras, and Mexico.

Don't: Aside from lucking out with a BreakPoints® deal, in general, we don't recommend using this transfer partner. The points conversion is not great and is often valued at far less than 1 cent per point. For example: the Crowne Plaza Times Square Manhattan goes for $274.40/night for a random date in April 2017, but costs 50,000 points. That puts the value at only 0.55 cents a night.

Marriott Rewards

Marriott properties are structured from Category 1 (7,500 points/night) to Category 9 (45,000 points/night). Then there are Ritz Carlton hotels that go from Tier 1 (30,000 points/night) to Tier 5 (70,000 points/night). And if you use points to book 4 consecutive nights, you get the 5th night free.

Do: Marriott occasionally offers PointSavers rates, where you can book nights at a hotel for the number of points of the hotel category below it (i.e., you can book a Category 5 room at a Category 4 rate). So be sure to check if any Marriott properties in the city you're visiting is offered at a PointSaver rate. Or you can check the calendar availability if your time is flexible. Using your points to book 5 nights will get you the best value, as the 5th night is free.

Don't: Marriott is not our favorite use of Chase UR points either. In our opinion, Marriott points are only valuable if you have the Marriott Rewards Premier card from Chase, as you rack up the Marriott points a LOT faster, thus making each point worth more. Transferring it 1:1 from Chase will rarely get you a value of over 0.8 points a night, unless you're looking at Category 1 and 2 hotels.

Let's look at an example of the PointSavers: Currently, the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino (a Category 8 hotel) is participating in the PointSavers. You can book a 40,000 points/night room for 35,000 points. Add in the 5th night free, and you're spending 140,000 points for 5 nights. At a normal rate of $255/night, this is only a value of 0.91 cents per point.

See the Marriott rewards chart.

Ritz Carlton Rewards

Points redemption start at 30,000 points for Tier 1 to 70,000 points for Tier 5. And if you use points to book 4 consecutive nights, you get the 5th night free. One thing to beware of: as Ritz Carlton falls under the Marriott brand portfolio, you can't belong to both programs. You can, however, change your membership from one to the other within the same account and keep your point balance. The difference is that there may be some promotions from time to time for the different programs.

Ritz Carlton Rewards also participate in the PointSaver program (a Tier 3 hotel will only require 40,000 points instead of 50,000). But just like with Marriott Rewards, we don't particularly recommend that you use this transfer partner, as the redemption value is poor.

See the Ritz Carlton rewards chart.

To recap:
Transferring your UR points to Hyatt Gold Passport is a great value when redeeming for free nights. Their award chart is well priced and the transfer makes for a great points conversion most of the time. The points + cash option could yield even better value, and you would be able to save points.

We don't recommend using the 3 other hotel partners, as the value of the points is very low. That's pretty much like throwing your hard-earned UR points down the drain. Unless you can find good deals like with IHG BreakPoints®. Transferring Chase points to airline partners is almost always the best value.

Rewards Expiration

Ultimate Rewards points never expire as long as your account is open, but if you decide to shut your card down, any rewards you've earned and haven't redeemed will disappear.

Chase also reserves the right to suspend your Ultimate Rewards privileges if it appears that you're abusing them. Typically, this is most likely to occur if you're opening up multiple accounts to get the sign-on bonuses and then using or transferring your Chase points before canceling. Making purchases only in the bonus categories in order to max out your rewards may also send up a red flag.

Note: Chase has a 5/24 rule where if you've opened up 5 credit card accounts in the past 24 months, your applications will most likely not go through. So if you want any of the Chase UR cards we've mentioned, prioritize it over other credit card applications.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best Chase Ultimate Rewards deal?
    If you have one of the premium cards (Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred), the best use of points is to transfer them to one of the travel partners. However, be careful, as some transfers are more valuable than others. Read our guide to the best Chase transfer partners.

  • What if I don't travel? What are my best redemption options?
    You can receive cash back (either as statement credit or direct deposit into your bank account) at the rate of 1 cent per point (10,000 points = $100). Or you can get gift cards (they make great gifts too) from select retailer at the same redemption rate.

  • Do Chase Ultimate Rewards expire?
    No, your points never expire as long as your account is active and in good standing.

  • When do Chase Ultimate Rewards points post?
    You will see your points in your account at the end of each statement cycle.

  • How do I use Chase points on Amazon?
    You can use your UR points to check out on Amazon. But keep in mind that Chase values Amazon redemption at just 0.8 cent per point (it used to be 1.0 cent). This means that 1,000 points will only be worth $8. So we do not recommend this as a smart redemption option.

    If you still wish to do so, just simply link your Chase card to you Amazon.com account. When you're ready to check out, select the option to pay with your points. You can either pay for the entire order with points, or partially and the rest with your card.

  • How do I shop through Chase?
    Shopping through the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall will allow you to earn bonus points with many popular retailers. Log in to your Ultimate Rewards page and go to "Earn Points" at the top. Select "Shop Through Chase" from the pull-down menu. You can now search and browse through the almost 300 retailers.

  • Who can I transfer points to?
    You can only transfer points to another Chase card that you own. OR a spouse or domestic partner who is an authorized user on your account.

  • Can I undo a points combine/transfer action?
    If you combined points with another Chase card that you own, you can just move them back in another transaction. If you transferred points to a spouse or domestic partner, he/she would have to log into their account and transfer the points back to your.

  • Can I undo a points transfer to a travel partner?
    Unfortunately, this action is irreversible. Once you have transferred your points to an airline or hotel partner, it's for good. So before you click on that button, double and triple-check that your member ID and the number of points to transfer are all correct.

  • How many Chase credit cards can I apply to?
    There's no rule for how many of these cards you can own. But keep in mind that Chase has a 5/24 rule. If you've opened up 5 credit card accounts in the past 24 months, your applications will most likely not go through. This applies to any cards with any bank. So if you want any of these Chase UR cards, prioritize it over other credit card applications.

FINAL WORD

Chase Ultimate Rewards is one of the best reward programs out there, with the potential for squeezing incredible value out of your points. Our favorite combination is the Chase Sapphire Preferred (2x points on travel and dining) and the Freedom (5% bonus categories). This combo makes for an effective earning and redeeming travel rewards strategy. Use the cards, pool the Ultimate Rewards, and redeem through the Chase portal for a minimum 1.25 cents a point value toward travel.

Getting ultimate value is a little more involved because you'll need to pay attention to the schedules of transfer partners to find the best times to book. But all it takes is that first award booking where you realize you just got more bang for the buck and, ultimately, you'll be hooked.

Ross Frasier is a research analyst at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to Ross Frasier at ross@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped travelers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by Chase. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Chase. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

Disclaimer: The information for the Chase Freedom, Ink Business Cash Credit Card, Chase Freedom Unlimited, and Chase Sapphire Reserve have been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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About CreditDonkey®
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