Chase Ultimate Rewards points are arguably the most valuable credit card points out there. In our opinion, you can never have enough of them.
From booking flights and hotels through a special Chase travel portal to the ability to transfer points directly to airline and hotel partner programs, Chase offers almost unparalleled flexibility and value to travelers looking to use points to fly or stay somewhere free or nearly free. And despite an all-out arms race with other major banks like American Express, Citi, and even Capital One, Chase has continually evolved and made these points even more valuable over the years.
But let's back up to the basics. We'll walk you through everything you need to know about the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, including how to earn points, use them for maximum value, and all the little nuances you should be aware of along the way.
- The Best Credit Cards to Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
- The Basics of Using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
- Important Restrictions on Getting Chase Credit Cards
- Do Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Expire?
- Transferring Chase Points to Different Accounts
The Best Credit Cards to Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
The easiest way to quickly earn a stash of Chase Ultimate Rewards points is from Chase credit cards. And whether you're looking for a personal or business credit card, there are plenty of options.
First and foremost, there is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. In our opinion, it's the best card out there for beginners and one of the best all-around travel credit cards, period. You'll earn 3x points per dollar spent on dining and 2x points per dollar spent on travel, 5x points spent on Lyft rides through March of 2022, and 1x point per dollar spent on everything else.
Make sure to read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Annual Fee: $95
Next, there's the bigger sibling of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, and it's called the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
The card launched back in 2016 and provides tons of travel-focused benefits like lounge access, an annual $300 credit for travel expenses, travel insurance, and much more. But those benefits come at a cost – the annual fee on the card clocks in at $550.
Make sure to read our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.
Annual Fee: $550
Then there are the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited® and Chase Freedom Flex cards. While Chase markets these as no annual fee cashback cards, they get infinitely more valuable if you hold pair them with either Chase Sapphire card. That's because you can transfer your cashback into Chase Ultimate Rewards – each cent of cashback gets you 1 point. And since both cards earn bonuses in a number of categories not covered by the Sapphire cards, it's a powerful tandem.
Just what you get with each Freedom Card varies, so make sure to read our post comparing them to help make the decision on which is right for you.
Annual Fee: $0
Chase also offers a suite of small business credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. And if you're a small business owner, they're an easy way to bolster your Chase balance.
To start, there's the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. You'll earn 3x points per dollar spent on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories like social media advertising each year.
Annual Fee: $95
They technically earn cashback, but if you hold them with a card that earns Chase points, the cashback can be turned into points.
Both cards have no annual fee and can be another great boost to your Chase balance.
Annual Fee: $0
Earn More Points with Shop Through Chase
Another easy way to keep earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points is by using the Shop Through Chase portal in your Ultimate Rewards account.
If you hold either the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you will have access to the Shop Through Chase portal. And that means you can earn bonus Chase points for shopping you are already doing at hundreds of online retailers.
All you need to do to start earning is log into your Chase account and click through the Shop Through Chase portal on your way to the retailer of your choice.
By doing so, you can earn tons of additional points than if you were to just visit the retailer directly. There are literally hundreds of retailers available, and it is one of the easiest ways to earn additional points.
Make sure to read our full guide to Using the Shop Through Chase Portal.
The Basics of Using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Now that we've covered how you can earn Chase points, it's time to dive into exactly how you can use the points. You'll quickly see that there isn't a shortage of options.
But before we dive into more specific details on how to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points towards travel costs (or other expenses), let's back up even further. Among the hundreds of Chase point redemptions at your disposal, they all fall into four basic categories:
- You can book flights, hotels, car rentals, and more through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal
- You can transfer your points to airline and hotel partner programs
- You can use the Chase Pay Yourself Back feature to cover everyday expenses
- Or you can redeem points for statement credits or gift cards
Let's delve into each option.
How to Book Travel Through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal
In many ways, the simplest option to use your Chase points is by booking travel through the Chase portal.
Redeeming your points this way feels a lot like buying a flight (or hotel, rental car, or cruise) with cash – how many points you need to book travel is based upon the cash price. But with Chase, you get a bonus when using your points to book travel.
If you hold the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, your Ultimate Rewards points will be worth 1.25 cents each when used through the Chase travel portal. But if you hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve, your points will be worth 1.5 cents each when used through the travel portal.
There's no need to worry about blackout dates or award availability. Since the Chase travel portal is powered by Expedia, the pricing you find will generally match what you can find elsewhere – though many budget airline carriers will not be available in the Chase travel portal.
This means you can book almost any flight, hotel, or other travel using Chase points and get a bonus when doing so. A stash of 80,000 points on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card gets you $1,000 in free travel. That same sum of 80,000 points on the Chase Sapphire Reserve would be worth $1,200.
Here's an example. Using our favorite flight search engine Google Flights, I found a cheap flight from my home airport of Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Vail, Colorado (EGE) for $194 roundtrip.
But you can book this flight for free using your Chase points – and it gets even better. Simply log in to your online Chase account, navigate to the travel portal, and search for your fare. Once you’re logged in, select the “Travel” button on the Ultimate Rewards homepage top navigation bar.
As you can see below, that same $194 fare can be booked for only 15,496 points if you hold either the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
And if you hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve, it will require even fewer points. Because these points are worth more, this same flight can be booked for only 12,880 points.
One of the best parts of booking flights through the Chase travel portal is that you will also earn airline miles and elite status credits when you actually take your flight.
That’s not the case for normal airline award redemptions you might book with American Airlines AAdvantage miles, Delta SkyMiles, or United MileagePlus miles. And unlike those redemptions, booking with Chase points this way makes your flight completely free. It covers any taxes and fees you’d otherwise have to pay using miles.
Make sure to read our full guide to booking travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal.
Transferring Points to Chase Partners (& The Best Ones…)
Want to get even more value out of your Chase points? Maybe even fly business or first class?
Another great option for using your Chase Ultimate Rewards points is transferring them to 13 different hotel and airline transfer partners. This option allows you to turn your Chase points into United MileagePlus Miles. Or Southwest Rapid Rewards points. Or Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles. Or even World of Hyatt points.
You get the picture. No matter which transfer partner you choose, these transfers occur at a 1:1 ratio. So for every 1 Chase point you transfer, you'll end up with 1 airline mile or 1 hotel point. You can transfer points in minimum increments of 1,000.
Here's a full list of the Chase transfer partners. As you'll see, most transfers are instantaneous.
|Program||Type||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Airline||1:1||Instant|
|Singapore Air||Airline||1:1||12-24 hours|
|World of Hyatt||Hotel||1:1||Instant|
|Marriott Rewards||Hotel||1:1||2 days|
A few of these transfer partners stand out more than others.
- Iberia has one of the cheapest ways to get to Europe in either economy or business class. For just 34,000 miles, you can get to Madrid (MAD) and back almost any time of the year. Iberia’s business class starts at only 68,000 miles round trip, which is about what most airlines charge for economy. Iberia is also a great way to book round-trip domestic flights on American Airlines.
- British Airways offers one of the best ways to get to Hawaii. For just 26,000 miles, you can fly from Los Angeles (LAX) or Phoenix (PHX) direct to the islands on American Airlines – when American itself charges 45,000 miles for the exact same flights.
- Virgin Atlantic is one of our favorite ways to save SkyMiles and book flights on Delta. Their partnership allows you to book even Delta One suites for as low as 50,000 miles each way – when Delta often wants $5,000 or 200,000 SkyMiles or more for a trip to Europe in business class. Read our guide on how to book Delta One Suites for cheap by transferring Chase points!
- Want to fly in serious style? Transferring points to Emirates is easily the best way to book Emirates first class, whether you want to fly from the U.S. to Dubai (DXB) or hop on a fun fifth-freedom route to Europe instead! Read more on booking with Emirates miles.
- Singapore Air’s KrisFlyer Miles program is a strong option because it is so easy to pile up points. American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Marriot Bonvoy all transfer to Singapore, too. Transferring miles to Singapore is your only way to book business or first class on one of the world’s best airlines.
- Hyatt is far and away one of the strongest Chase transfer partners. That’s largely because the hotel chains low award rates make it easy to get an outsized value on amazing hotels worldwide. Check one of our favorite ways to use Hyatt points for all-inclusive resorts!
From tons of free flights to business class redemptions, read up on some of our favorite ways to spend Chase points.
But there's one important principle to keep in mind: These transfers are a one-way street. Once you make a transfer to an airline or a hotel program, you cannot send them back to your Chase account. So make 100% sure you have a plan to use those points before you initiate any transfers.
Need to know more? Check out our post walking through how to transfer Chase points to hotel and airline partners.
Cover Everyday Purchases Using Pay Yourself Back
Another great option for using your Chase Ultimate Rewards is a fairly new benefit: It's called Pay Yourself Back.
As coronavirus put travel on hold, Chase added this brand new feature. Through at least April 2021, you can use Chase points to pay yourself back for purchases at grocery stores (including Instacart grocery delivery), home improvement stores, restaurants and delivery platforms like DoorDash and Uber Eats, and even Target stores.
Here's the kicker: When you do so, your points will have the same value as they do through the Chase travel portal. Sapphire Preferred cardholders will be able to use their points at a rate of 1.25 cents each (25% more), while Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can redeem points for 1.5 cents each (50% more).
To use the benefit, all you need to do is make a purchase at a store in one of the designated categories. Once that purchase posts to your credit card account, you can log in and choose to erase it with your Ultimate Rewards points. You will have 90 days from the day the charge hits your statement to remove it with Chase points.
For example, I made a purchase at Home Depot for $47.90 on my Chase Sapphire Reserve. Because I hold the Reserve, my points are worth 50% more (1.5 cents each) with the Pay Yourself Back benefit. So I could cover the entire purchase using 3,193 points.
This new feature offers a lot of interesting opportunities for using your points, especially at a time when many people are still not ready to travel. You can even get creative with store gift cards, and use the benefit to pay for an Airbnb or many other things outside of the standard redemption categories.
Chase’s Ink small business cards are also eligible for the Pay Yourself Back benefit. But you’ll find some drastically different categories for which you can use points.
Through Dec. 31, 2020, the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and Chase Ink Business Plus can use Ultimate Rewards points on shipping expenses and online advertising, as well as charitable donations. Just as with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, each point is worth 1.25 cents toward these expenses.
Make sure to watch our YouTube video below to learn more about this new feature, and read our full guide to taking advantage of this benefit.
Redeem Points for Statement Credits or Gift Cards
We've reached the final way to use your Chase points. And in our minds, it's the worst opportunity.
You can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for gift cards from over 175 different retailers, redeem them for cash back, or connecting your account to Amazon and using them for Amazon purchases.
When you are redeeming Chase points for gift cards, they will typically be worth 1 cent each. That means a $25 store gift card would cost you 2,500 points. From time to time, you may see promotions on gift cards from certain stores.
Take for example this gift card to Gap Brands below. They are currently offering 10% off, which means buying one will require 10% fewer points. Just keep in mind that using the Chase Pay Yourself Back feature to buy that gift card may be an even better deal.
The same goes for requesting cash back. Your points will be worth 1 cent each, so to receive $100 cash, you would need 10,000 points. And if you elect to go this route, Chase will actually make a deposit into your connected bank account.
But if you're considering it, I would encourage you to look into the Pay Yourself Back feature discussed above. Your points will be worth more and it is very likely you'll have purchases on your card account that are eligible.
Lastly, you can connect your Chase Ultimate Rewards account to Amazon and use your points for purchases. But this is a very poor value as your points will only be worth 0.8 cents each. That means a $100 purchase on Amazon would cost 12,500 Chase points.
You would be better off requesting cash back for $100, which would cost 10,000 points. Or better yet, buy an Amazon gift card at a grocery store. You could then use the Pay Yourself back feature to remove it: A $100 Amazon gift card would cost you just 8,000 points (if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred) or 6,666 points (if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve).
Important Restrictions on Getting Chase Credit Cards
As you can tell by now, Chase points are insanely valuable and versatile. That's a big part of the reason why we always tell newcomers to points and miles to focus on getting Chase credit cards first.
But the other half of that equation comes down to the major restrictions Chase places on its credit cards that can make it much harder to get approved. There are essentially three important rules to keep in mind:
- The Chase 5/24 Rule: If you’ve applied for five or more credit cards (from any bank, not just Chase) in the last 24 months, you won’t get approved for any Chase card.
- You can only hold one Chase Sapphire card at a time, so if you’ve got a Chase Sapphire Reserve you’ll need to get rid of it – or downgrade it.
- You can’t stack welcome offers by opening both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve. Chase requires you to wait a whopping 48 months after receiving one Sapphire card bonus to be eligible for the other.
Do Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Expire?
As long as you have a credit card open that earns Chase points, your points will never expire. But if you close your card account and still have a balance of points, they will be forfeited and you will not be able to use them.
However, there are a few ways around this if you decide to close your Chase credit card account.
- You can transfer your points to one of the Chase transfer partners discussed above. Once those points arrive in your account with any of the hotel or airline options, they are yours to keep – at least according to that airline or hotel's expiration policies kick in.
- Instead of closing your card, you can downgrade (or what is called a product conversion) to a no annual fee card like the Chase Freedom Flex or the Chase Freedom Unlimited. By doing this, your point would be converted to cashback, but you would not lose them altogether.
- If you have another member of your household who has a Chase account, you can transfer your points to their account before your close your card (keep reading for more).
Make sure to read our guide on what happens to your credit card points if you close a card, and watch our YouTube video explaining all the things to consider before you close a card.
Transferring Chase Points to Different Accounts
Chase Ultimate Rewards is arguably the best credit card points program for traveling families. That’s because as long as you share the same billing address on your Chase account with another cardholder, Chase allows you to transfer Ultimate Rewards points between two accounts.
This means spouses, partners, and even roommates can earn the same sign-up bonus on the same card, then pool those bonus points together under one account. So as long as you have the financial responsibility to have multiple credit cards, you can double your impact and earn twice as many points.
Make sure to read our guide on How to Transfer Chase points between accounts.
Chase Ultimate Rewards are some of the best points out there to travel more for less. And that's true even if travel isn't your top priority right now.
They are relatively easy to earn through spending and sign-up bonus offers on credit cards. And went it comes to redeeming them, you'll have hundreds of options. The flexibility they provide means you've got more options and better value.