The Ultimate Guide to Chase Ultimate Rewards
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Chase Ultimate Rewards is one of the best credit card rewards programs out there. Not only is it easy to earn points, but it’s also easy to redeem those points for hundreds of dollars of free travel. These seven cards will help you get started today.
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When it comes to credit card rewards programs, you’ve got a handful of choices, including American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points.
While I’ve dabbled in other programs, I have to say my favorite is Chase Ultimate Rewards.
That’s because Chase Ultimate Rewards points (UR points) are flexible, as they transfer to 13 different airline and hotel partners, and easy to earn, as Chase cards often have great signup bonuses and high earning capability.
Want to get involved? Here’s everything you need to know about Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program.
|Card & Rewards||Annual Fee|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
|Chase Freedom Flex℠
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®
|Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
|Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
How Do You Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards?
Once you’re approved for a Chase card that’s affiliated with Ultimate Rewards, you’ll be automatically enrolled in the program — and can start earning points as soon as your card arrives.
Then, down the road, you can redeem those points for free flights and hotel stays (more on that later).
Here are the three main ways you can earn UR points with your Chase credit card:
1. Introductory Bonuses
All of the Chase UR cards come with an “introductory bonus.”
This is the easiest way to rack up rewards, as you’ll get a huge chunk of points if you spend a certain amount of money on the card within three months of your account opening.
With my introductory bonus from the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, for instance, I was able to book several one-way flights on points alone: San Francisco to Buenos Aires, Medellin to Malaga (Spain), and San Francisco to Tokyo. If I had booked those flights with cash, it would’ve easily cost me $2,000.
Never go over your budget or into debt to get a signup bonus. If a bonus requires you to spend $5,000 in the first three months, but you can only pay off $1,000 per month, the answer is simple: Don’t apply. As rewards cards often have high interest rates, you should only consider them if you can pay your statement balance in full each and every month.
2. Everyday Spending
Although bonuses can kickstart your UR journey, your point accumulation won’t stop there.
Aside from the bonus, most UR cards earn a baseline of one point for every dollar you spend (which we write as “1X”), and have several bonus categories in which you’ll earn more.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for example, previously earned 5X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides and 2X points per dollar spent on travel and dining.
Let’s say you generally spend $1,500 per month on your credit card, of which $500 goes toward travel and dining. Here’s how that might break down in your first year with the Sapphire Preferred card:
- $500 per month on travel and dining (2X points/dollar) = 12,000 UR points
- $1,000 per month on everything else (1X point/dollar) = 12,000 UR points
When added to a 60,000-point introductory bonus, you’d have 84,000 points — just for applying for a credit card and putting your everyday expenses on it. Those 84,000 points would be worth more than $1,000 of travel (or potentially much more). We’ll get into redemption options below.
3. Online Shopping
You can also earn UR points with the “Shop through Chase” program, which gives you extra points for logging in to Chase’s shopping portal before clicking through to a retailer and making an online purchase.
Chase claims it has more than 350 stores in the program, at which you can earn an extra 1X–15X points per dollar.
Keep in mind, this is on top of your regular earning: If Chase is offering a 4X-point bonus at a certain store where you’d normally earn 1X point, you’d earn 5X points per dollar in total (1X base rate, plus 4X for shopping through the portal). So, 250 points for a $50 purchase.
When I checked recently, you could earn 2X extra points per dollar on purchases made at Macys.com, 4X at Cabelas.com, 5X at Staples.com, and 20X at Norton by Symantec.
Which Cards Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards?
At the moment, you can apply for seven Chase credit cards that come with access to the UR program: three “premium” cards and four cash back cards.
To maximize the value of your UR points, we recommend having one premium and one cash back card (we’ll explain why in a minute).
Though we refer to the cash back cards’ rewards in terms of dollars and percentages, they actually earn UR points (1 point = 1 cent). If you’re earning 1.5% cash back, for example, a $100 purchase will snag you 150 UR points. Which you can then redeem for statement credits or travel (we recommend the latter, as you’ll get a higher redemption value).
Premium Ultimate Rewards Cards
- 10% annual point bonus: Get a 10% bonus on all points earned in the past year; awarded on your account anniversary.
- 25% redemption point bonus: Get 25% more value when redeeming for travel expenses through Chase Ultimate Rewards; that means each point is worth 1.25 cents. Chase may give a 25% bonus for other redemption types as well.
- Point transfer: Transfer points at a 1:1 rate to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs, like Marriott Bonvoy and United MileagePlus.
- DoorDash membership: Get a free membership (DashPass) for at least a year, which provides free delivery and reduced service fees on orders over $12.
- $60 Peloton credit: Enroll to get up to $60 back for an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership (through 2021). No fitness equipment is required.
- Shop through Chase/Chase Offers: Earn more points by shopping at participating retailers with the Shop through Chase and Chase Offers shopping portals.
- Visa Signature Concierge: Call to speak with your Visa Signature Concierge any time, day or night.
- Primary Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Get primary coverage on eligible rental vehicles so you don’t have to pay for rental insurance and your premiums won’t go up after an accident.
- Travel protections: Roadside Dispatch; Trip Delay Reimbursement; Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption Insurance; Baggage Delay Insurance; Lost Luggage Reimbursement; Travel Accident Insurance; Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
- Shopping protections: Purchase Protection; Extended Warranty Protection
- No foreign transaction fee
- Annual fee: $95
- $300 annual travel credit: You’ll get a $300 travel credit every year that will be automatically applied to any travel-related expenses you charge to your card.
- Priority Pass Select membership: Cardholders get complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, which provides access to over 1,000 airport lounges and restaurants worldwide. You must manually activate this benefit, and you’ll receive a Priority Pass Select member card in the mail.
- Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit: Every four years you’ll get up to a $100 credit towards the application fee for either Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85).
- Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection: The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection provides some complimentary services and benefits at participating hotels and resorts.
- Elite hotel benefits at Relais & Châteaux: Cardholders get accelerated progress towards Club 5C member status with Relais & Châteaux luxury hotel and resort properties; just stay two nights at qualifying properties in a 12-month period. Club 5C status provides benefits like a VIP welcome, room upgrades, access to a unique experience at each property, and invitations to exclusive events. You must book using the Visa Infinite Concierge.
- $120 Peloton credit: Enroll to get up to $120 back for an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership (through 2021). No fitness equipment is required.
- Visa Infinite Concierge: Call 1-877-660-0905 for non-emergency help of all kinds, like making dinner reservations or finding good tickets to a show. You can also ask for travel recommendations, for flights, tourist attractions, the best shopping spots, restaurants, night clubs, etc. This benefit is probably most useful when visiting a new city.
- Special car rental privileges: You can access your special car rental privileges by logging in to Chase Ultimate Rewards and following the instructions to enroll. You’ll get perks at Avis, Silvercar, and National Car Rental like rental upgrades, discounts, and occasional promotional offers.
- Lyft Pink membership: One-year exclusive saving opportunities with Lyft Pink membership, providing 15% off rides, relaxed cancellation fees, priority dispatch at airports, and more
- DoorDash membership, $60 annual DoorDash credit: Chase will pay for a DoorDash subscription for two years (a DashPass). You’ll also get $60 in DoorDash credits in 2020, and $60 in 2021 (learn more about Chase DoorDash benefits).
- Shopping protections: Purchase Protection; Extended Warranty Protection; Return Protection
- Travel protections: Primary Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver; Roadside Assistance; Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance; Baggage Delay Insurance; Travel Accident Insurance; Trip Delay Reimbursement; Lost Luggage Reimbursement; Travel and Emergency Assistance; Emergency Evacuation & Transportation
- No foreign transaction fee
- Annual fee: $550
This card rules the Chase Ultimate Rewards kingdom, and deservedly so. Frequent travelers will quickly make up for its annual fee with the $300 travel credit and excellent perks.
- Annual fee: $95
- Introductory bonus: 100,000 bonus points for spending $15,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
- 5X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides
- 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel; shipping purchases; internet, cable, and phone services; advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines (on first $150,000 of combined purchases annually)
- 1X Ultimate Rewards point per dollar on everything else
- Perks: No foreign transaction fees, 25% point bonus when redeeming for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, primary car rental insurance
- Purchase APR: 15.99%-20.99% Variable
In addition to one of the cards above, you might also consider a Chase business card if you’re an entrepreneur. This one has an amazing introductory bonus.
You don’t need an official business to get a biz card — you just need to earn money outside of a regular job. Dog sitting counts. And so does driving Uber. Here’s more information about applying for a business card.
Cash Back Ultimate Rewards Cards
- DoorDash membership: A free membership (DashPass) for three months, and a 50% discount for the next nine months; a DashPass provides free delivery and reduced service fees on orders over $12.
- Shop through Chase/Chase Offers: Earn extra cash back or find discounts with the Shop through Chase and Chase Offers programs.
- ShopRunner membership: Get free two-day shipping at a wide selection of retailers.
- Lyft credits: Once per month you can earn a $10 Lyft credit for every five rides you take.
- Boxed rewards: 5% cash back rewards on Boxed Wholesale orders to be used for future purchases
- Fandango discount: $5 off every two tickets you buy
- Shopping and travel protections: Cell Phone Protection, Purchase Protection, Extended Warranty Protection, Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
- Purchase APR: 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months, then 14.99% - 23.74% Variable
- Annual fee: $0
|Quarter||2021 Categories||2020 Categories|
|January – March||
|April – June||
|July – September||
|October – December||
If you don’t travel a few times a year (or even if you do), this card is worth a look. You’ll earn 5% cash back in bonus categories that rotate each quarter; they often include heavy hitters like gas stations, department and grocery stores, and Amazon.
- Annual fee: $0
- Introductory bonus: $200 bonus for spending $500 in the first 3 months
- 5% cash back on:
- Travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Lyft rides (through March 2022)
- 3% cash back at:
- 1.5% cash back on all other purchases
- 5% cash back on:
- Purchase APR: 14.99% - 23.74% Variable
If keeping track of bonus categories sounds like too much work (I don’t blame you!), this card offers an easy breezy 1.5% cash back on every single purchase.
How Can You Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points?
Now for the fun part! What do you do with all those points? There are a variety of ways to redeem your UR points — some fantastic, some not so fantastic.
In general, here’s the approximate value you can expect with each redemption option:
- Transfer to travel partners: As much as 2–4 cents per point, depending on the partner and specific booking
- Chase travel portal: 1-1.5 cents per point, depending on your card
- Statement credits or gift cards: 1 cent per point
- Shop with points at Amazon: 0.8 cents per point
The cash back Ultimate Rewards cards do not come with the ability to transfer points to travel partners — unless you also have a premium card. We’ll explain more in the next section.
As you can see, the values vary widely; here’s a rundown of redemption strategies, starting with our favorite.
1. Transfer Points to Travel Partners
For the highest redemption value, we recommend transferring UR points directly to one of the program’s 13 airline and hotel partners, which include:
|Airline Travel Partners|
|Aer Lingus AerClub||British Airways Executive Club||Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM||Iberia Plus||JetBlue TrueBlue|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards||United MileagePlus||Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||Emirates Skywards|
|Hotel Travel Partners|
|IHG Rewards Club||Marriott Bonvoy||World of Hyatt|
The points transfer ratio is 1:1, so your 50,000 UR points can become 50,000 Southwest Airlines miles or 50,000 Marriott points — whatever strikes your fancy.
The transfer process is super easy, too: All you have to do is log in to the Ultimate Rewards portal and select how many points you’d like to move (in increments of 1,000).
With several partners, the transfer is virtually instantaneous; with others, it takes 24 to 48 hours. (In the past, I’ve transferred UR points after I’ve already had a United Airlines flight in my cart!)
Once you transfer your UR points to a travel partner, you can’t undo it. So be super duper sure before you click that button.
If you don’t see your favorite airline on the list, keep in mind that you can use one airline’s miles to fly with another airline in the same alliance. The three main alliances are oneworld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance — and luckily, UR has transfer partners in each.
Here’s how that works: Say you find a flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo for 80,000 miles round trip on Delta Air Lines, which is in the SkyTeam Alliance.
Although Delta’s not an Ultimate Rewards partner, KLM/Air France’s Flying Blue program is. So you could transfer your 80,000 UR points to Flying Blue, then use those miles to book the flight on Delta. Nifty, huh?
2. Book Travel Through the Ultimate Rewards Portal
If you can’t find the rewards flight or hotel stay you want — either because you’re booking with a small chain, you can’t find availability, or you simply don’t want to bother searching — using the Chase travel rewards portal is another good option.
Chase’s travel portal is powered by Expedia, and works very similarly: Once you’re logged in to your UR account, you can search for flights, hotels, car rentals, activities, or cruises. To complete your booking, you can pay with your card, UR points, or a combination of the two.
When booking travel through Chase’s portal, the value of your UR points will vary from 1–1.5 cents, depending on your credit card:
|Card||Redemption Rate||Value of 10,000 UR Points|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||1.5 cents/point||$150|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||1.25 cents/point||$125|
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card||1.25 cents/point||$125|
|Chase Freedom Flex℠||1 cent/point*||$100|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||1 cent/point*||$100|
|Ink Business Cash® Credit Card||1 cent/point*||$100|
|Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card||1 cent/point*||$100|
*Unless transferred to a premium card — more on that in the next section.
Although redeeming through the travel portal generally won’t yield as high of a point-per-dollar value as transferring directly to travel partners, it does have a few perks.
You don’t have to know anything about frequent flyer programs, you don’t need to worry about awards availability, you can book with a combination of cash and points, and, on flights, you’ll earn miles with the airline’s loyalty program.
The Chase portal generally doesn’t offer the lowest prices on travel purchases, so we always recommend shopping around — especially when it comes to hotels and car rentals.
3. Get Cash Back or Gift Cards
If you’re not interested in redeeming your points for travel, I’ll be honest: You might be better off with a different card. (The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is a great option.)
Redeeming your UR points for cash back (through statement credits or direct deposit), gift cards, or credits at Amazon or Apple isn’t a great value. We’d only recommend it as a last resort.
You can also redeem points for Chase Experiences; things like a concert, athletic event, or dinner with a celebrity chef. Though far from cheap, it might be worth it if it’s an experience to which you otherwise wouldn’t have access.
How to Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Another Account
Remember when we alluded to the differences between premium and cash back cards? And how it might behoove you to have both? Here’s what we meant.
As noted above, the cash back cards actually earn UR points (1 point = 1 cent). If you earn 1% cash back on a $100 purchase, for example, you’ll earn 100 UR points. You can redeem those points through the Chase portal but you can’t transfer them directly to travel partners.
Luckily, there’s an easy way around this.
You can transfer your cash back card’s UR points to the account of a premium card like the Sapphire or Reserve. The points will then have the privileges of the premium card.
You could then transfer them to travel partners, or use them to book through Chase’s portal at an elevated redemption rate.
Confused? This example should clear things up:
- Say you have the Chase Freedom Unlimited card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.
- You’ve earned 20,000 UR points with the Freedom Unlimited and 60,000 UR points with the Reserve card.
- You could redeem your Freedom card’s points through the Chase travel portal, earning a value of 1 cent per point.
- But you want to make the most of them, so you transfer the 20,000 points to your Sapphire Reserve. Now you have 80,000 UR points to transfer directly to a travel partner.
- Or, if you’d rather book through Chase’s travel portal, you’ll now be able to take advantage of the Reserve’s higher redemption rate (1.5 cents per dollar).
Besides transferring between your own accounts, you can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to “one member of your household” at the same address (or, in the case of business cards, to an “owner of the company”).
If your family member is an authorized user on your card, you can also transfer UR points to one of their loyalty accounts at another rewards program. If your boyfriend is an authorized user on your Sapphire Preferred card, for example, you could transfer points directly from your UR account to his JetBlue frequent flyer account.
FAQ About Chase Ultimate Rewards
What’s the deal with Chase’s 5/24 rule?
If you’re considering applying for a new credit card to earn UR points, you should be aware of Chase’s 5/24 rule. Basically, if you’ve opened five personal credit cards in the past 24 months — from any issuer — Chase will usually deny your application. If you’re within that window, you can either wait until you’re out of the 24-month period, or you can apply for a rewards card from another issuer.
How many Chase Ultimate Rewards cards can you have?
As long as your applications don’t exceed the 5/24 limit, you could conceivably have six out of the seven UR cards we listed above (and get the introductory bonuses for each). The only exceptions are the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card; you can only have one at a time, and can’t get one if you’ve received a Sapphire card’s signup bonus within the past 48 months.
Can both my partner and I get Chase’s signup bonuses?
Yes! But if you’re an authorized user on your partner’s Sapphire card — and are applying for another Sapphire card — you should remove yourself before applying. According to a phone representative, Chase will automatically deny your Sapphire card application if you “have access” to any other Sapphire card (this rule may apply to other cards as well).
Will I lose my UR points if I close my Chase card?
Unfortunately, yes. Since Chase points are attached to Chase cards, you’ll say goodbye to your UR points if you close the associated card. (That’s in contrast to co-branded hotel and airline cards, whose points you’ll typically keep even if you close the card.) If you’re sick of paying an annual fee, you can keep your points by downgrading to the Chase Freedom Flex℠ or Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which both have a $0 annual fee. Just keep in mind you’ll lose your ability to transfer points to travel partners with those cards.
Do Chase points expire?
Nope! As long as your Chase UR card stays active, so will your points.
How to Get Started With Chase’s Ultimate Rewards
As we noted above, if you have the Sapphire Preferred — or used to have it, and got the signup bonus within the last four years — you cannot qualify for the Reserve. (And vice versa.)
You could ask Chase to switch cards (a “product change”), but if you go that route, you will not be eligible for the introductory bonus.
If you’re an avid traveler, and can qualify for the card, we’d say the Chase Sapphire Reserve is an unmatched choice for its excellent perks. But if you just travel a few times a year, and are intimidated by the Reserve’s annual fee, the Preferred is a wonderful alternative.
To round out your earning, you could also apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. Since it has no annual fee and offers 1.5% cash back on everything, it’s a great complement to one of the premium cards above.
A smart strategy would be to use the Freedom Unlimited for all of your purchases in non-bonus categories (everything other than travel and dining), and then transfer the points to either the Preferred or Reserve to take advantage of its superior redemption options.
Susan is a freelance writer who specializes in turning complex financial topics into engaging and accessible articles. She's been writing about personal finance for six years, and was previously the senior writer at The Penny Hoarder and a staff writer at Student Loan Hero. Her personal finance writing has also appeared in publications like MarketWatch and Lifehacker.
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