Chase Rewards Review – Do Ultimate Rewards Points Deserve Their Name?

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How much is a Chase Ultimate Rewards point worth? NerdWallet estimates about 1 cent, the industry standard – but the right type of card can increase your value by a full 25%. We’ll break down how best to earn and use Ultimate Rewards Points, no matter what card you have.

Redemption options:

  • Cash: 2,000 points gets you a $20 check or a $20 statement credit. You can use this option on cash back cards as well as non-cash back cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
  • Gift cards: Redeem 2,500 points for a $25 gift card at a wide range of major retailers.
  • Merchandise and experiences: Redemption values are terrible; don’t use them. Get cash instead.
  • Travel: You can book travel through Chase’s booking tool; rates are equivalent to those found on Kayak or Expedia, so they aren’t trying to nickel and dime you there.
    • Pro tip: If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus, your points are worth 25% more if you use them for travel booked through Chase.
    • If you have one of those cards, you can also transfer your points 1:1 to select airline and hotel programs.

Expiration: Never

Top Chase cards for earning points

Best in show

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
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on Chase's
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By far and away, the best credit card to earn rewards points is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Not only does it have a knockout signup bonus of Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months., but you get 2 points per $1 on dining and travel, and 1 per $1 elsewhere. You also get a 7% anniversary bonus on all the points you earned that year, so your rewards rate is effectively 2.14% and 1.07%. Finally, as we noted above, points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel, so your rewards rate can be as high as 2.68%/1.34%. But the best part is really the signup bonus, as it can pay for quite a few plane tickets. There’s no foreign transaction fee, and the $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

Best no-fee option

Chase Freedom - $100 Cash Back Credit Card
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on Chase's
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The Chase Freedom is among the most popular credit cards among NerdWallet users and staff alike. It earns 5% cash back on a slate of rotating bonus categories such as restaurants, Amazon and gas, up to $1,500 spent per quarter. It comes with a Earn a $100 Bonus after you make $500 in purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. signup bonus, and has no annual fees. With its stellar rewards rate, it’s among the best options out there for those looking to avoid the Sapphire Preferred’s fee.

Pro tip: If you have both the Freedom and the Preferred, you can transfer the points earned on your Freedom account to your Sapphire account, thus earning the 25% points bump.

Best business option

Chase Ink Bold with Ultimate Rewards Credit Card
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on Chase's
secure website

The Chase Ink Bold offers an even better signup bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months from account opening., again worth 25% more when you redeem for travel. Moreover, it gives:

  • 5% rewards on office supplies and telecom/cable services (up to $50k spent a year)
  • 2% rewards on gas and lodging (up to $50k/year)
  • 1% elsewhere (unlimited)
  • Access to airport lounges: 2 free passes to the Lounge Club, and discounted access for the rest of the first year
  • No foreign transaction fees

This card is a business charge card, but that doesn’t mean you should write it off immediately. Check out our article, Q&A: Can I Get a Business Credit Card Even if I Don’t Have a Business?

The Ultimate Rewards Mall

In addition to the Travel Tool, you can also stretch your point value at the Ultimate Rewards Mall. You can click through the Ultimate Rewards site to another retailer’s online storefront, and earn bonus points on any purchases you make there. Chase partners with a number of popular brands, like Sears, Lowe’s, HP and Barnes & Noble. It gives pretty darn good rewards on them, too: Sephora online purchases earn 8 points per dollar, while Macy’s earns 6 and Omaha Steaks gets 12, in addition to the base 1% reward.

Where can you transfer your Ultimate Rewards Points? 

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus and Chase Ink Bold, as well as the exclusive JP Morgan Select and Palladium, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards Points at a 1:1 value to the following programs:

Type 1:1 Transfer Programs
Airlines British Airways Executive Club
Korean Air Skypass
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
United MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Hotels Hyatt Gold Passport
Marriott Rewards
Priority Club Rewards
Ritz-Carlton Rewards
Other Amtrak Guest Rewards
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  • jamo

    Also, they seem to have cut the reward for booking travel through chase down to 20%.

  • PTee

    Anisha, et al, I’m quite confused. You can redeem CASH via Sapphire?! I thought you said it’s a “NON-CASH back” card? Is it because the points is under UR? Or can you really redeem cash from it even if you don’t have a freedom card?