Best Ways to Use Chase Ultimate Rewards Points in 2018

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There’s a reason why so many fans of credit card rewards go out of their way to rack up Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. Aside from being versatile and easy to use, the points can be very lucrative — especially if you know how to use them properly. We tend to recommend Chase credit cards as our top picks because they usually have the best rewards earning potential and the best rewards redemption opportunities.

But, exactly how much are Chase Ultimate Rewards® points worth? Unfortunately, the best answer we can give for this question is “it depends.” If you’ve never had a Chase credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, it can be difficult to understand that their value can vary. While Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are worth one cent each most of the time, there are situations were you can redeem them for significantly more value. At the end of the day, the value you get in return for your points depends on the type of travel you redeem them for. 

We’ll dive into some of the best ways to redeem Chase points in a minute. In the meantime, let’s talk about the best ways to earn them. With that in mind, here are the top Chase cards to sign up for:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Best Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Highlights
  • 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 Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Freedom®
Best Cash Back Credit Card

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Highlights
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee

Best Ways to Use Chase Ultimate Rewards in 2018

  • Book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  • Transfer 1:1 to popular Chase transfer partners
  • Cash in your points for statement credits or gift cards

How to Earn the Most Chase Ultimate Rewards® Points

One of the fastest ways to build a stash of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points is to sign up for a Chase credit card that offers a sign-up bonus after you meet a minimum spending requirement. The top example is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which doles out 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

In addition to pursuing signup bonuses, you’ll also want to make sure you are optimizing the cards you have by using them for regular purchases and any purchases you make in eligible bonus categories. Since the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card offers 2x points on travel and dining purchases, for example, it would be a shame if you didn’t use this card any time you bought an airline ticket or took your spouse out to dinner. 

Also keep in mind that some cash-back cards from Chase can also help you earn more travel rewards. That’s because Chase makes it easy to pool all your points in one account and score optimal travel redemptions in the process.

Let’s say you also sign up for the Chase Freedom®. In addition to the signup bonus, you’ll also earn 5x points on the first $1,500 you spend in categories that rotate every quarter. By maximizing these rotating categories, you can drastically increase the amount of points you earn over time. 

Plenty of Rewards Redemption Options

Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards® points is pretty straightforward, but redeeming them takes more to explain. Let’s say you signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and met all the conditions in order to earn the sign-up bonus of 50,000 points. If you don’t like to travel and want to keep things simple, the easiest way to redeem your points would be to cash them in for a statement credit. Since points are worth 1 cent each, your 50,000 bonus points are worth a cool $500.

If you want to try something new or treat yourself in a different way, you can also redeem your points for high value gift cards for the same 1 cent per point. In other words, a $200 gift card for Carnival Cruise Lines would cost you 20,000 UR points, a $25 Home Depot gift card would cost 2,500 points, and so on.

Save on Travel

The Chase Ultimate Rewards® program offers a wide range of options when it comes to redeeming your points directly for travel or transferring them out to one of your favorite airline or hotel loyalty programs. I love to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal whenever possible. Here’s why:

  • Using the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal is easy. The Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal works a lot like any other online travel booking site (e.g. Expedia.com). You simply enter your dates, destinations, and travel desires, and your options appear in seconds.
  • There are no blackout dates. Airline miles can be difficult to use if you have specific dates in mind or want to travel during peak times. However, booking through the Chase travel portal lets you book your flights without being tied down to a specific airline or rewards chart. You choose your dates and pick from the available flights at that time.
  • Get a 25-50 percent more value with your points. When you book travel with points you earned from an Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card, you get 25-50 more value out of your points. Your discount depends on the card you have, however.

While the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal makes booking travel easy, some of the most lucrative redemption options become available when you’re willing to transfer your UR points into one of the brand’s partner loyalty programs. Because Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are so valuable, they transfer out to the following hotel and airline programs at a 1:1 ratio:

Airlines

  • British Airways
  • Air France/Flying Blue
  • JetBlue
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Aer Lingus
  • Iberia

Hotels

  • World of Hyatt
  • IHG
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Ritz-Carlton Reward

If you belong to any of these programs, you’re probably aware of how valuable 50,000 points (or more) can be. Here are a few of your options if you choose to transfer your points out of Ultimate Rewards and into one of these programs:

  • United Airlines: A Saver Level flight anywhere in the continental United States costs 25,000 United miles. In other words, you could redeem 50,000 United miles for two round-trip domestic flights.
  • Southwest Airlines: Southwest flights are usually inexpensive, with one-way flights often on sale for 6,000 points or less. You could easily redeem 45,000 points for two round-trip flights anywhere in the continental U.S., or between the U.S. and the Caribbean.
  • Hyatt: A standard room in a Category 1 Hyatt property costs only 5,000 points per night. So those 45,000 points could net you nine free hotel nights at certain properties worldwide.
  • Air France/Flying Blue: If you want to try something different, you can transfer 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to Air France/Flying Blue for a round-trip flight to almost anywhere in Europe.

Also, don’t forget that you can cash in Ultimate Rewards for statement credits or gift cards. Both of these options are offered at a rate of one cent per point, meaning that 50,000 point is worth $500. In the event you can’t travel for any reason, this is an excellent backup option.

Ways to Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® Points: Summed Up

The Best Cards to Earn Chase Ultimate Reward Points Top Feature
1 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $625 in travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
2 Chase Freedom® Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
3 Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Best Redemptions for Chase Ultimate Rewards® Points

There is no “right way” to use these rewards. It all depends on your specific goals.

Just make sure you understand what you’re getting into before you jump into the credit card game for the first time. Before you sign up for any credit card, make sure you understand the terms and conditions and take special care to read all the fine print. Figure out what it will take to meet the minimum spending requirement without putting your other financial goals at risk and make sure you can pay your bill in full and on time.

Earning free travel or cash back is never worth sacrificing your financial well-being, and if you are hesitant to pursue credit card rewards, you might be better off avoiding them. The best redemptions for Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are only valuable to your family if they don’t put you at risk.

Have you ever earned any Chase Ultimate Rewards® points? If so, how did you redeem them?

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