How to Maximize Chase Ultimate Rewards

Transferring points to an airline or hotel program is one way to get more than the standard redemption value.

Rand ShoafDec 8, 2020
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When it comes to flexible rewards points, Chase bank's credit card rewards program, better known as Chase Ultimate Rewards®, is regarded as the gold standard by many points collectors and travelers. With excellent credit card options, powerful points earning opportunities and valuable transfer partners, there are many reasons to love this program.

Plus, Chase Ultimate Rewards® points can be more lucrative and versatile compared with other travel rewards cards.

Here's what you need to know to get the maximum value from your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points.

How to get started using your points

To begin redeeming your points, log in to your account. You can access your Chase Ultimate Rewards® account directly from your Chase online account or through this link.

Once you're logged in, you can view all redemption options through the "Earn / Use" tab in the top menu. Click it to see a drop-down menu with the various redemption options, along with some quick links to your card’s benefits, travel alerts and more.

How to get maximum value from your points

While booking through Chase’s online portal is the easiest way to use Chase Ultimate Rewards® for travel, this strategy may not get you the best value overall.

If maximizing the value of your points is the priority, transferring points to one of Chase’s travel partners is likely your best bet. You can transfer points to more than a dozen airline and hotel programs at a 1:1 ratio in increments of 1,000 points.

Chase Ultimate Rewards® airline transfer partners:

Chase Ultimate Rewards® hotel transfer partners:

Nerdy tip: The value of each of these partners’ points varies. In general, you can often get close to 2 cents per point in value when you transfer them to an airline program, then redeem for award flights.

For example, a one-way business class flight on United Airlines from Los Angeles to New York in May cost $725 on a recent search. But if you transferred points from Chase to United, this same flight would set you back 38,000 points. Divide $725 by 38,000 and you’ll see you’re getting 1.9 cents worth of travel for every point if you transfer your points to United miles.

Expect lower value when transferring to hotel programs, with Hyatt being an exception as those points are among the highest valued hotel points.

Other ways to redeem

You have plenty of other options for redeeming the Chase Ultimate Rewards® points you've earned beyond transferring your points to Chase partner programs — but some offer more value than others.

Book travel

Your points are most versatile when you use them to book flights, hotels, rental cars or experiences directly through their portal.

This is where you can redeem points for travel from nearly any provider — almost every major airline, hotel group, car rental company and more. Just search your dates and destination, and you’ll see cash prices from a whole range of providers, with a corresponding price in points for each.

The per-point value you get redeeming them this way depends on which credit card is in your wallet.

Here's the breakdown of how your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points value will differ based on the card you hold:

For example, a hotel room that costs $199 a night in cash can be booked by cardmember with a Freedom-branded or Ink-branded card for 1 cent per point, or 19,900 points. But with Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you get 1.25 cents per point in value and would pay 15,920 points for that same room.

A Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardmember, who gets 1.5 cents per point in value, pays 13,267 points for the same hotel stay.

Cash back or gift cards

You can redeem your points for cash back as a statement credit or a deposit into your bank account, or redeem points for gift cards at a wide variety of retail stores.

With both of these options, you will receive a flat rate of 1.0 cent per point in value, which may not be the best use of your points.

Amazon or Apple purchases

You can use your points to pay for Amazon purchases, but you’ll get only 0.8 cent per point. You're better off making the purchase with your card and redeeming points as a statement credit or cashing in points for a gift card.

You can also use points to shop at Apple, where you’ll get a value of 1 cent per point, but that’s useful only if you need very specific products.

The bottom line

In terms of sheer dollar values, some Chase Ultimate Rewards® redemption options are worth far more than others.

If flexibility and ease of use are important to you, redeeming points directly through the Chase travel portal is straightforward. If you want to use your points to buy merchandise, remember that statement credits and gift cards will usually get you more value than redeeming your points with Amazon or Apple.

In general, you’ll get the highest Chase Ultimate Rewards® points value by transferring them to their airline or hotel partners.


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