The Complete Guide to Chase Ultimate Rewards

The name is fitting. Versatile and valuable, Chase Ultimate Rewards might be the best credit-card points of all.

Last Updated: 01/14/2020


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Ultimate Rewards are some of the most valuable credit card points you can accumulate. Chase’s signature rewards can be transferred to more than a dozen airlines and hotel brands, and if you don’t feel like shopping and swapping around, you can use them to pay for almost anything on Expedia—or trade them for cash. But if you’re not a traveler or you like to keep things super-simple, they may not be the very best option.

What Are Chase Ultimate Rewards?

Ultimate Rewards are the loyalty points that Chase gives to holders of some—but not all—of its credit cards. Depending which card (or cards) you have and what you spend on, you’ll earn a different number of points her dollar spent.

What makes Ultimate Rewards Points so valuable is their flexibility. They’re not tied to any specific hotel, airline, or store program—instead, you use them by transferring them to more than a dozen travel partners, using them to book travel directly, or redeeming them for gift cards or cash.

Which Credit Cards Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards

How to Use Ultimate Rewards

Unlike with many other loyalty programs, there are no “bad” ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards. Most options are worth at least 1 cent per point, and if you use transfer partners wisely, you can squeeze far more value from your rewards.

  • Transfer to travel partners. Move points to 10 airline and three hotel programs. 1 point = 1 point or mile
  • Book travel directly. Almost anything you can buy through Expedia can also be purchased with Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase portal. Depending on the of card you have, you can get anywhere from 1 cent to 1.5 cents per point. 
  • Cash back. 1 point = 1 cent
  • Gift cards. Each point is worth 1 cent of cash back or gift cards from more than 100 merchants, which you can “buy” through the Ultimate Rewards site. 
  • Amazon and Apple. Link your Ultimate Rewards account to Apple or Amazon and use your points to pay for purchases. 1 point = 1 cent. 
  • Experiences. Redeem Ultimate Rewards points for sporting events, concerts, and meals.

Transferring to Travel Partners

You can usually get the most value out of your Ultimate Rewards by exchanging them for points in 13 different travel partners. Point transfers are generally 1:1 and in 1,000 point increments. So, 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points would convert into 10,000 United MileagePlus miles. A limited-time exception: In 2019, Chase started offered a 30% bonus on transfers to British Airways, making 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points worth 1,300 British Airways Avios.

Each partner program has different redemption options, and you can find some serious deals if you’re willing to spend time researching your options. You can also use Ultimate Rewards for many additional airlines; they’re nearly all part of global alliances, so you can use their miles with still other carriers. For instance, because United is Star Alliance partner, United miles can be used to book flights on Lufthansa. Oneworld allows British Airways Avios to be redeemed for seats on American Airlines. You still need to find available seats, which can sometimes be challenging.

Though Chase “only” has three hotel transfer partners, they each own dozens of sub-brands. You may not recognize IHG, but you can use its points to pay for a room at  a Holiday Inn or Crowne Plaza. Meanwhile, Marriott properties range from the pricey Ritz-Carlton to the more affordable Residence Inn.

Current Chase transfer partners:

Airlines

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • British Airways Avios
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Iberia Airlines Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United Airlines MileagePlus
  •  Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Hotels

  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Rewards
  • World of Hyatt

Here’s a real-world example of how to get more value from your points. On a recent weekend, a room at the Hyatt Regency in La Jolla, Calif., cost about $220, including taxes and fees. That same room was going for 12,000 Hyatt points. You could cash out those 12,000 points for $120, a value of 1 cent per point. Or you could transfer them to Hyatt and use them to buy a $220 room, getting $100 more out of them—a value of 1.8 cents per point.

Transfers usually happen within seconds, but they also can’t be reversed—so be sure before you click that button. You can only transfer points to an authorized card user. That means you can send points to your own Southwest account, but not your uncle’s—unless you’ve put him on your credit card account.

Chase Travel Redemptions

It can be time consuming to search for and book travel using airline and hotel points. But through its portal, Chase lets you use points to pay for virtually anything you can buy through Expedia— flights, hotels, rental cars, activities, vacation rentals, even  cruises.

Most Chase cards will net you 1 cent of value per point, basically the same rate as cash back. But certain Chase cards will bump up that rate, making it more interesting. A Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred makes each point worth 1.25 cents on the travel portal. A Chase Sapphire Reserve makes your points worth 1.5 cents each through the portal. Now a $300 hotel room costs only 20,000 points instead of 30,000 points. Pro tip: If you have multiple cards, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards to the one that gets you the most value in the portal.

Besides being straightforward, the portal can sometimes be cheaper than a standard miles booking. It also allows you to use point to pay for, say, a hotel that’s not part of a loyalty program. Four Seasons Paris, anyone?

Cash Back

One of the simplest ways to use Ultimate Rewards is so get cash back. It doesn’t give you the most bang for your points: 1 point = 1 cent. You can receive the cash back as a statement credit or a deposit to virtually any checking or savings account. It’s easy and relatively quick (up to three business days).

Gift Cards

You can also redeem points for gift cards from a wide variety of merchants, including Apple, Bloomingdale’s, and Target. Redemption rates are usually the same as cash back (1 point = 1 cent) but there are occasional sales that may boost your value slightly.

Gift cards have a couple of other disadvantages: you get locked into a specific store, have a fixed amount you need to use and have to wait for delivery. Still, gift cards can still be useful for, you know…gifts.

Amazon and Apple Redemptions

Ultimate Rewards can be used to pay for Apple and Amazon purchases at a rate of 1 cent per point. The main difference between this program and gift cards is that the points are taken out of your account during checkout, and you use any number of points—you’re not limited to increments of 1,000.  

Chase Experiences

Part of the fun of accumulating points is being able to do things that you might not otherwise, whether that’s a trip to Hawaii or an extravagant staycation. Chase gives you the option to redeem your points for an mix of experiences. Some samples:

  • Mixology class: 7,500 Points = $75
  • Private dinner at a Michelin 3-star restaurant: 19,500 Points = $195
  • Broadway musical: 32,500 Points = $325
  • Pre-match field access for a U.S. Women’s Soccer game: 36,000 Points = $360
  • Sundance Opening Weekend package: 140,000 Points = $1,400

Summary

Chase deserves credit (haha) for giving customers an impressive mix of ways to use their points. While many of them offer the same value as cash back, the range of choice lets you optimize for your own preferences. And a few options let you unlock huge value, making Ultimate Rewards an excellent choice.