Chase Ultimate Rewards Guide

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Chase Ultimate Rew=ards is arguably the most popular and flexible travel rewards program on the planet, and it’s easy to see why. Rewards credit cards that operate within this dynamic program let you rack up points good for cash back, statement credits, gift cards or travel. You may even be able to turn your Chase Ultimate Rewards points into other rewards currencies using the 1:1 point transfer option, although this option depends on the card you have.

If you’re in the market for a new rewards credit card and you’re curious how a flexible card might work in your favor, you can use this Chase Ultimate Rewards guide to learn more. Keep reading to find out how points you earn in this program work, how you can earn them and the best ways to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards for superior value.

How to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points

The easiest way to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points involves making purchases with your Chase credit card. You can, however, rack up more points if you’re strategic with your purchases and the Chase credit cards you sign up for.

For example, you could sign up for the Chase trifecta—which includes the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card.

From there, you could use the Freedom Unlimited for most purchases and transfer all points to the Sapphire Reserve for a redemption bonus. With the Ink Business Preferred in your wallet, you would also be earning Chase rewards on your business-related purchases.

Another way to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points involves clicking through the Chase portal before you shop online. You can access Shop Through Chase by logging into your Chase credit card account and visiting the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

You’ll see a list of retailers and special offers, such as “2X points/2 percent cash back at Office Depot.” Select a special offer and you’ll be taken to the retailer’s website, where you can make your purchases and earn your rewards.

Finally, don’t forget about Chase Offers, which are additional add-on rewards opportunities you can use at participating stores. While stores that work with Chase Offers vary, it’s not uncommon to see deals from popular national brands like Staples and Airbnb.

Chase credit cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points

Chase provides a variety of credit cards that come with access to Chase Ultimate Rewards, including both personal and business credit cards. Here’s a quick overview of each Chase credit card and any corresponding important features.

Card name Rewards earned New cardmember offer Redemption bonus Annual fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 3X points on dining
  • 3X points on select streaming services
  • 3X points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • 2X points on all other travel purchases
  • 1X points on all other purchases
  • Plus, 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022)
60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening (worth $750 when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards)
  • Point value increases by 25% when redeemed for travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 10% Anniversary Point Bonus each cardmember anniversary
$95
Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • 10X points on Chase Dining purchases through Ultimate Rewards
  • 10X points on hotel stays and car rentals purchased through Ultimate Rewards
  • 5X points on air travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards
  • 3X points on general dining and travel
  • 1X points on all other purchases
  • Plus, 10X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022)
50,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months Point value increases by 50% when redeemed for travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards $550
Chase Freedom Flex℠
  • 5% cash back on activated bonus category purchases each quarter (up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1%)
  • 5% back on travel purchases via Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases; at least 1% back on other purchases
  • Plus, 5% cash back on Lyft rides (through March 2022)
$200 cash bonus after you spend $500 in the first 3 months N/A $0
Chase Freedom Unlimited
  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% back on dining and drugstore purchases
  • At least 1.5% cash back on other purchases
  • Plus, 5% cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 2022)
$200 cash bonus when you spend $500 in the first 3 months N/A $0
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
  • 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • 2% back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • 1% back on everything else
$750 bonus cash back when you spend $7,500 in the first 3 months N/A $0
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card 1.5% cash back on all purchases $750 cash back when you spend $7,500 in the first 3 months N/A $0
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
  • 3X points on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • 1X points on all other purchases
100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening Point value increases by 25% when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards $95

Best credit cards for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards

Any Chase credit card can work well if you want to earn points in this program, yet some of their offerings are considerably more popular than others. The following Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards could be the best for you depending on your spending habits and goals.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Best for luxury travel perks

The Chase Sapphire Reserve does come with a pricey $550 annual fee, yet you’ll get plenty of luxury travel benefits in return. Beyond the sign-up bonus and exceptional earning categories this card offers, cardholders receive an annual $300 travel credit, a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership and Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership.

Also, note that points earned with this card are worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, which makes it possible to get exceptional value from your rewards when you book flights, hotels, rental cars and other types of travel.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is also a premium travel credit card from Chase, so you can transfer your points to Chase transfer partners for even more value.

Chase Sapphire Preferred: Best for occasional travelers

The Chase Sapphire Preferred has long been hailed as one of the best travel credit cards because it’s friendly for both seasoned points and miles pros and beginner travelers.

The annual fee is reasonable, and, thanks to an August 2021 upgrade, the rewards system offers plenty of opportunities to earn boosted points on everyday purchases as well as travel. You’ll earn the most rewards using this card to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards (which earns 5X points), but you’ll also earn 2X points on travel booked outside of the Ultimate Rewards portal.

The Sapphire Preferred comes in handy even when you’re not traveling, offering 3X points on dining, select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs).

Last, you can look forward to your Anniversary Point Bonus each year, which will be equal to 10 percent of your total purchases made the previous year. For example, $25,000 in spend will earn an additional 2,500 bonus points.

Chase Freedom Unlimited: Best for flat-rate rewards

The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great option for all your everyday spending since you earn at least 1.5 percent back for each dollar you spend. However, you’ll also earn 5 percent back on travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal with this card, as well as the same 5 percent cash back rate on Lyft rides through March 2022. Interestingly, this card also gives you 3 percent back on all dining and drugstore purchases, and there’s no annual fee.

Just remember that you’ll have to pair this card with a travel credit card (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve) if you want to be able to transfer your points to Chase airline and hotel partners.

Chase Freedom Flex: Best for rotating categories

The Chase Freedom Flex is a good option if you want to earn bonus rewards in categories that change every three months. On top of the $200 in bonus cash back you can earn when you spend $500 within three months of account opening, you can also earn 5 percent back on up to $1,500 spent in activated rotating bonus categories each quarter (then 1 percent). Other categories you can earn more points in include 5 percent back on Lyft rides through March 2022 and 3 percent back on drugstore and dining purchases.

Cardholders also earn at least 1 percent back on all regular, non-bonus spending, and there’s no annual fee. Like the Chase Freedom Unlimited, you do have to pair this card with a premium travel credit card from Chase if you want to transfer your points to Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners.

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best travel credit card for business

If you are looking for a business credit card that lets you earn rewards for travel on all your business purchases, look no further than the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.

Not only do you earn exceptional rewards in an array of business-related categories, but you can also start off with 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (worth $1,250 when redeemed for travel via the Ultimate Rewards portal) when you spend $15,000 on your card within three months of account opening.

The annual fee on this card is only $95, and you can transfer your points to Chase airline and hotel partners as well.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points value

Generally speaking, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for gift cards or statement credits. There are many exceptions, however, that vary by card as well as redemption options that can help you get significantly more value.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 25 percent more value for your points when you redeem them for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve gives you 50 percent more value with this option.

Which card is the better deal? That’s up to you to decide.

Also, note that when you transfer points to Chase airline and hotel partners, you can typically get more than one cent in value per point. Currently, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth up to 2 cents per point according to monthly points and miles valuations by The Points Guy. In the end, it all depends on how you redeem your rewards after you transfer them to another program.

How to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points

To redeem your Ultimate Rewards points, log into your Chase credit card account and access the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. From there, use the menu to select how you’d like to use your points.

Here’s a rundown of the redemption options you can look forward to:

Gift cards, statement credits or cash back

Chase Ultimate Rewards lets you redeem your points for statement credits or cash back at a rate of 1 cent per point. An array of gift card options is also available, generally at 1 cent per point in value.

Chase sometimes offers special deals, however, on gift cards that can net you more than 1 cent per point in value, although these offers change all the time. If you want to get the most value out of your points when redeeming for gift cards, check the Chase portal options once per week to see which offers come around.

Merchandise

Chase Ultimate Rewards also lets you redeem your points for purchases made through Apple.com or Amazon.com. These options make it easy to redeem your points for pricey electronics, like a smartphone or a new computer, or for almost any type of merchandise delivered directly to your doorstep.

Travel through the Chase portal

In addition to redeeming for gift cards, merchandise and statement credits or cash back, all Chase credit cards let you use points to book travel through the Chase portal, even though only a few cards let you get a value of more than one cent per point when you do.

If you want to redeem your points for travel, you can search for available flights or hotels through Chase Ultimate Rewards, which partners with Expedia.com. Choose your destination and dates to get a list of options as well as how many points each option requires. If you don’t have enough points, you can make up the difference in cash.

The Chase Ultimate Rewards portal is intuitive and easy to navigate, so take some time to explore all of the different ways you can redeem and spend your Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Also, be aware that you can redeem points in the portal for cruises, vacation rentals, rental cars and experiences or activities.

Chase Sapphire Dining

Sapphire-branded Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards also let you redeem your rewards for Chase Sapphire Dining options. These redemptions let you use points for curated dining experiences, home meal kits and more. Redemption values vary and options change all the time.

Chase Ultimate Rewards partners

If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, you’ll see the option to “transfer to travel partners.”

Chase transfer partners, all of which let you transfer points at a 1:1 ratio, include:

Airline partners

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

Hotel partners

  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • World of Hyatt

How to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points

If you’d like to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to hotels or airlines, log into your Chase credit card account and access the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. The menu gives you the option to transfer points to travel partners, and from there you can select your preferred airline or hotel and transfer your points. Points transfer at a 1:1 value, so if you’re turning your points into airline miles, 1 point will equal one mile.

Once you decide on a transfer partner, you’ll be required to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points in increments of 1,000. This can sometimes mean you have to transfer more points than you actually need, but it’s still mostly a fair way to make point transfers happen. You shouldn’t wind up wasting too many points when you transfer in increments of 1,000, and you can always transfer more points to use toward another redemption later.

Chase Ultimate Rewards FAQ

Do Chase Ultimate Rewards points expire?

One added perk of Chase Ultimate Rewards points is the fact that, provided you keep your account open, your rewards will never expire. This is unlike some other rewards currencies that let your points expire after 12 or more months of inactivity.

What are the Chase Freedom Flex bonus categories for 2021?

The Chase Freedom Flex 2021 bonus category for Q4 (October through December) includes Walmart and PayPal purchases.

The bottom line

Many of us automatically default to a specific reward, and if you’re the type of person who always requests a statement credit, you might be missing out on the chance to turn your points into airline miles. Then again, you can use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points however you want. Treat yourself to a gift card, plan a future vacation or consider one of Chase’s exclusive experiences.

Before you redeem your points or cash back through Chase Ultimate Rewards, take some time to explore the portal and all of its reward options and benefits. Once you know which options are available based on the card you have, you’ll be better equipped to make informed choices and get the most out of Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson writes expert content on personal finance, credit cards, loyalty and insurance topics. In addition to writing for Bankrate and CreditCards.com, Johnson does ongoing work for clients that include CNN, Forbes Advisor, LendingTree, Time Magazine and more.
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