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Chase Ultimate Rewards: How to Earn and Use Them

Nov. 6, 2018
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Chase Ultimate Rewards® is the name of the points program for Chase’s rewards credit cards. (The issuer’s co-branded cards with airlines, hotels or retailers have their own rewards programs.)

Among points systems, Chase Ultimate Rewards® 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®.

» MORE: Chase credit cards mobile app review

Chase Ultimate Rewards®: The basics

You’ll earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points only with Chase-branded rewards credit cards. That excludes Chase non-rewards cards and Chase cards that have a “co-brand partner,” such as United Airlines, Amazon or Marriott.

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.

Each Chase Ultimate Rewards® point is generally worth 1 to 1.5 cents, depending on which cards you have and what you buy with the points. Points may be worth even more if you transfer them to one of Chase’s travel partner programs. (More on that below.)

Point valuation is lower, just 0.8 cents a piece, when used for Amazon purchases.

Current 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 one penny in those cases.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points on travel and dining out
  • 1 point on every $1 spent on everything else

Sign-up bonus: 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®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points on travel and dining out
  • 1 point on every $1 spent on everything else

Sign-up bonus: Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Chase Freedom®

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

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • 1.5% cash back on all spending

Sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

  • 5% cash back on office supply store purchases and internet, cable and phone services, up to $25,000 spent per year combined
  • 2% back at gas stations and restaurants, up to $25,000 spent per year combined
  • 1% back on everything else

Sign-up bonus: Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

  • 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points per $1 on the first $150,000 per year in combined spending on travel and select business categories
  • 1 point for every $1 spent on everything else

Sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

New! Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

  • 1.5% cash back on all spending

Sign-up bonus: Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

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.

» MORE: How to use credit card bonus malls

How to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards®

To use your rewards, log into the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal and follow the appropriate prompts.

Cash equivalents

For many redemptions, Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are worth about 1 cent each.

  • Cash back: This can take the form of a statement credit or direct deposit for a penny per point. There is no minimum redemption level. You could redeem 100 points for $1.
  • Gift cards: Most cost the equivalent of a penny per point, but some are discounted. For example, a $25 gift card to 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 redemption value and not recommended if you’re trying to maximize the value of your points. You’re better off 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. Redemptions are for a penny per point. But Chase called that rate “a special limited time offer” when it was announced as a new redemption option in November 2018. Chase did not say what the redemption rate would be after the offer expired.

Travel redemptions

The Chase Ultimate Rewards® site has a travel-booking tool with competitive prices. Travel booking is powered by the online travel agency Expedia. (Current as of November 2018.)

Generally, points are worth a penny each when booking travel through Chase. If you book a $150 hotel room, it will cost 15,000 points.

However, if you have one of three special Chase cards — two consumer cards and one business card — your points will carry more value, and you’ll be able to do the following:

  • Book travel through Chase at a discount.
  • Transfer points to Chase’s airline and hotel partners.

Book travel at a discount

If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, you can redeem points for a higher 1.25 cents when you book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® site, as opposed to the usual 1 cent per point. That bumps to 1.5 cents per point with Chase’s luxury travel card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Those portions of a cent can make a big difference. For example, if you want to pay for a $1,000 flight through the Chase travel site, it would cost 100,000 points normally. But the same flight would cost just 66,666 points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Even if you used those unspent points for a statement credit, savings would total $333.

Card-to-card points transfers: Chase Ultimate Rewards® points from other Chase rewards cards can be transferred to those three special cards to get the higher redemption rates. For example, if you have the Chase Freedom®, 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® points to either of those cards and redeem for the higher value.

Transfer points to airline and hotel partners

To potentially wring the most from your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, you might transfer them to a Chase travel partner, of which there are several. (For example, you could convert Chase Ultimate Rewards® points into frequent flyer miles with a partner airline.)

Here are the programs that accept Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. All are at a rate of one-for-one — one Chase Ultimate Rewards® point is converted to one frequent flyer mile, for example. Transfers are available only with the same three special cards: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card:

Airlines

Hotels

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 miles.