Chase Ultimate Rewards: How the Program Works

This rewards program gets high marks from travelers for its relatively high potential point values and its flexible redemption options — including some top-notch transfer partners.

Gregory KarpJul 14, 2021
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Chase Ultimate Rewards® is the name of the points program for Chase's rewards credit cards. Among points systems, Chase's program is highly regarded because point values can be relatively high if used strategically to pay for travel.

Here’s what to know about earning and redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

In this article

Chase Ultimate Rewards®: The basics

Earning points: You earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points by making purchases with Chase-branded rewards cards — including the Sapphire travel cards, Freedom cash back cards and Ink business cards.

You earn at least 1 point per dollar spent on all purchases, and most (but not all) of these cards give you additional  rewards for purchases made in certain categories. (Jump ahead to see cards that earn Ultimate Rewards® points.) Additional points are available through sign-up bonuses, targeted offers (e.g. 5 points per dollar at a particular merchant for a limited time) and incentives, such as bonuses for referring new applicants.

Cards issued by Chase with a brand partner — such as United Airlines, Amazon or Marriott — do not earn Ultimate Rewards® points. They earn rewards in the partner's loyalty program.

Using points: Chase Ultimate Rewards® points can be redeemed for:

  • Cash back.

  • Travel.

  • Gift cards.

  • Amazon purchases.

  • Apple purchases.

You may also be able to redeem for "experiences" — access to special events — if you have an eligible Chase card.

Nerdy tip: Chase's "cash-back" credit cards, such as the Chase Freedom Flex℠, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, actually earn Ultimate Rewards® points. With those cards, you just redeem your points for cash back.

How much are Chase Ultimate Rewards® points worth?

The value of a Chase Ultimate Rewards® point varies depending on what you do with it — redeem for cash back, for travel or for something else. Further, when redeeming for travel, point values also depend on which cards you have.

Let's start with cash and cash-like redemption options. Point values for these redemptions are the same regardless of which card you have.

Cash redemptions

  • Cash back: This can take the form of a credit on your statement or a direct deposit at a rate of 1 cent per point, or 100 points for $1. There is no minimum redemption about.

  • Gift cards: Most cost the equivalent of 1 cent per point, but Chase often sells specific cards at a discount. For example, a $25 gift card for a specific retailer might cost 2,250 points instead of the full 2,500 points, a value of 1.1 cents per point.

  • Amazon payment: You can link your eligible Chase card to your Amazon account and use your card's rewards to pay through the Shop With Points program, at a rate of about 0.8 cents per point. That’s the lowest-value redemption option for Chase points and not recommended if you’re trying to maximize the value of your points. You’re better off just taking cash back at a full penny per point and using that money to pay for Amazon purchases.

  • Apple purchases: Redeem points for Apple merchandise through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal for 1 cent per point.

Travel redemptions

There are two ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for travel:

  • By booking your travel through Chase and paying for it with your points.

  • By transferring points to Chase's partner airline and hotel programs.

Booking through Chase

The Chase Ultimate Rewards® site has a travel-booking tool with competitive prices. Travel booking is powered by the online travel agency Expedia. The value you get per point depends on which card you have:

  • With cash-back cards, booking travel through Chase gets you a value of 1 cent per point. These include the Freedom-branded cards (Chase Freedom®, Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Chase Freedom Flex℠) as well as the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card and the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card.

  • With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, booking travel through Chase gets you a value of 1.25 cents per point.

  • With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, booking travel through Chase gets you a value of 1.5 cents per point.

Transferring points to partners

If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, you can transfer your points on a 1:1 basis to about a dozen airline and hotel loyalty programs.

The exact value you get per point depends on which program you transfer to and how you redeem the points within that program, but NerdWallet estimates the overall transfer value at 1.8 cents per point.

Airlines

  • Aer Lingus.

  • Air France/KLM.

  • British Airways.

  • Emirates.

  • Iberia.

  • JetBlue.

  • Singapore.

  • Southwest.

  • United.

  • Virgin Atlantic.

Hotels

  • Hyatt.

  • InterContinental Hotels Group.

  • Marriott.

» HOW THEY STACK UP: See how Chase Ultimate Rewards® points compare with other issuer programs on our points and miles valuations page. Or:

Card-to-card points transfers

Chase Ultimate Rewards® points earned on different cards can be pooled and redeemed together. That allows you to move points to one of the Sapphire cards or the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card to redeem for outsize value.

For example, if you have the Chase Freedom Flex℠, you can't redeem for travel at the higher rewards rate — just the usual 1 cent per point. But if you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can transfer your Chase Freedom Flex℠ points to either of those cards and redeem for the higher value (or transfer to a partner airline or hotel).

Credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Note: Chase's cash-back credit cards technically earn that cash in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards®. One point equals 1 cent in those cases.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining.

  • 1 point per $1 on everything else.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

» READ OUR REVIEW of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card


Chase Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
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Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • 3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining.

  • 1 point per $1 on everything else.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

» READ OUR REVIEW of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®


Chase Freedom Flex
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Chase Freedom Flex℠

  • 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories, on up to $1,500 spent per quarter (cash back comes in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards®).

  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase.

  • 3% back at restaurants.

  • 3% back at drugstores.

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

» READ OUR REVIEW of the Chase Freedom Flex℠

Nerdy tip: The Chase Freedom Flex℠ replaced the original Chase Freedom®, but holders of the original card were able to keep using it. That card offers the same 5% in rotating categories and 1% elsewhere, but not the bonus rewards on travel, dining and drugstores.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card
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Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase.

  • 3% back at restaurants.

  • 3% back at drugstores.

  • 1.5% on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

» READ OUR REVIEW of the Chase Freedom Unlimited®


Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
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Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

  • 3 points per $1 spent on the first $150,000 per year in combined spending on travel and select business categories.

  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus: Earn 100k bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

» READ OUR REVIEW of the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card


Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card Credit Card
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Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

  • 5% cash back on office supply store purchases and internet, cable and phone services, on up to $25,000 spent per year combined.

  • 2% back at gas stations and restaurants, on up to $25,000 spent per year combined.

  • 1% back on all other purchases.

Sign-up bonus: Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

» READ OUR REVIEW of the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card


Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card
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Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

  • 1.5% cash back on all spending.

Sign-up bonus: Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

» READ OUR REVIEW of the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

Other ways to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Online shopping through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal with any of these cards will earn extra points or cash back.

You can earn anywhere from 1 to 15 points per dollar spent, depending on the retailer.

Fine print

Chase Ultimate Rewards® points don’t expire as long as your card is open. If you cancel your account, you’ll lose unredeemed points.

Frequently asked questions

Chase Ultimate Rewards® is a points system. You earn at least 1 point for every dollar you spend with a Chase-branded credit card, and most cards earn extra points on purchases in specific categories, such as travel, restaurants or drugstores.

Options for using points include booking travel, getting cash back or — depending on which card you have — transferring them to partner airline or hotel loyalty programs. How much a point is worth depends on how you use it, but you should be able to get at least 1 cent of value per point. You can combine points from multiple cards to maximize your redemption potential.

All Chase-branded rewards credit cards earn Ultimate Rewards® points. Even Chase’s cash-back cards technically earn their rewards as points.

Cards that earn points include the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, as well as business credit cards like the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card and the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card.

Credit cards issued by Chase in partnership with airlines, hotels or retailers do not earn Ultimate Rewards® points. Instead, they earn rewards in the partner’s loyalty program. Examples include Chase’s “co-branded” cards with United and Southwest airlines, with Marriott and Hyatt hotels, and with Amazon and Starbucks.

The value of a Chase Ultimate Rewards® point depends on the card you have and how you redeem. When used for cash back, they’re worth 1 cent apiece. Redeemed for travel booked through Chase, they’re worth 1 to 1.5 cents apiece. When transferred to a partner, they can be worth even more — or even less; it depends on what you do with the points you transfer. Our points and miles valuation page digs deeper on transfer value.

When redeemed for cash back, 10,000 Chase points are worth $100. When redeemed for travel booked through Chase, 10,000 points are worth $150 if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or $125 with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, or $100 with other Chase cards.

When redeemed for cash back, 100,000 Chase points are worth $1,000. When redeemed for travel booked through Chase, 10,000 points are worth $1,500 if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or $1,250 with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, or $100 with other Chase cards.

If your Chase card allows transfers, you can transfer them to about a dozen hotel and airline loyalty programs. They include:

  • Airlines: Aer Lingus, Air France/KLM, British Airways, Emirates, Iberia, JetBlue, Singapore,  Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic

  • Hotels: Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott

Chase Ultimate Rewards® points don’t expire as long as your card account is open. If you cancel a card, you’ll lose any unredeemed points on that card.

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