Everything You Need To Know To Earn & Maximize Your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Credit card companies across the board have been stepping up their rewards game recently, but one program has consistently come out near the top. That program is — as you can probably guess by the title of this article — Chase Ultimate Rewards.
With a plethora of redemption options — and bonus rates for travel redemption — Chase Ultimate Rewards makes a great case for being one of (if not the) best rewards program on the market. Most business users shouldn’t have difficulty utilizing the points they earn with one of Chase’s credit cards.
So how does Chase Ultimate Rewards work? We’ll take a peek into the nitty-gritty below, so read on through to find out!
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Chase Ultimate Rewards Basics
There’s not really too much to the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. It’s basically just Chase’s way of marketing credit card rewards. The program enables card users to earn reward points with purchases and then redeem those points for a variety of options. Note that even Chase’s cash back cards earn points usable through Chase Ultimate Rewards — these types of cards are merely marketed as “cash back” earners.
By signing up for a credit card that’s a part of Chase Ultimate Rewards, you’ll be able to access a slew of ways to redeem the points you earn with your card. From travel to cash back to Amazon purchases, there should certainly be a redemption method to suit your fancy.
Chase Ultimate Rewards has been around for over a decade — the New York City-based bank launched the program way back in 2009. Originally kicked off with just two credit cards, Chase Ultimate Rewards now basically touches the entire stable of Chase’s first-party cards.
What Is The Point Value For A Chase Ultimate Reward Point?
The exact point value for points obtained within the Chase Ultimate Rewards program will vary on how you redeem them. However, the general value will range from 1 to 1.5 cents per point.
Let’s take a deeper look at what you can earn through Chase Ultimate Rewards based on the redemption method:
- Travel: Depending on the credit card you have, your points value can equal anywhere from 1 cent to 1.5 cents on travel redemption.
- Gift cards: Gift cards picked up through Chase Ultimate Rewards usually earn 1 cent per point. In some cases, however, you may be able to collect gift cards at a slightly better rate.
- Cash Back: When you redeem your points as cash back in the form of direct deposit or statement credit, you’ll receive 1 cent per point.
- Experiences: Should you book an experience through Chase Ultimate Rewards, the marketed cash value normally equals 1 cent per point. Note, however, that Chase sets the value for these experiences, so the true value of booking experiences with points may be difficult to calculate.
- Apple Purchases: Buying Apple products through Chase Ultimate Rewards will net you 1 cent per point.
- Amazon Purchases: Using your Chase Ultimate Rewards points at checkout on Amazon.com will earn a fairly unimpressive 0.8 cents per point.
Additionally, if you transfer your points to a travel partner outside of Chase Ultimate Rewards, you may be able to redeem points for multiple cents per point.
Is Chase Ultimate Rewards Different For Businesses?
While Chase credit cards marketed towards businesses may earn points at different rates than their consumer counterparts, Chase Ultimate Rewards itself doesn’t really function differently for businesses. You’ll still be able to use the points you picked up with a business credit card for travel, gift cards, cash back, and retail purchases. Transfer of points to partner programs outside of Chase Ultimate Rewards is also possible for business users.
Instead, the primary difference is how fast you collect points and on what purchase categories earn you those bonus points. For instance, the Ink Business Preferred credit card can snag 3 points per dollar spent on shipping purchases. That purchase category is unique to Chase business cards — it’s not possible to specifically earn bonus points by using a Chase consumer card for shipping purchases.
When looking at the benefits outside of Chase Ultimate Rewards, you may notice other differences between Chase’s consumer and business credit cards. This might include stuff like employee cards or cell phone protection — two benefits exclusive to cards within Chase’s business card stable. However, these differences come via the cards’ benefits packages and not from Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Credit Cards Eligible For Chase Ultimate Rewards
Chase has a number of first-party credit cards that dole out points for Chase Ultimate Rewards. To start down this journey, let’s look at Chase’s business-specific cards first.
Ink Business Unlimited
Chase’s unlimited cash back credit card for business use is the Ink Business Unlimited card. With an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, you’ll be earning rewards at a fine clip.
While the card is marketed as a “cash back” credit card, you technically earn 1.5 points for every dollar you spent. Because of this, rewards earned with an Ink Business Unlimited card can be redeemed for the gamut of Chase Ultimate Rewards methods. This includes cash back, gift cards, and travel.
Beyond its base rewards scheme, Ink Business Unlimited features no annual fee and a slew of benefits aimed at businesses, such as free employee cards and an auto rental damage collision waiver.
For more information, read our review.
Ink Business Cash
The second cash back business credit card on offer from Chase is the Ink Business Cash card. You can collect 5% cash back at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases every account anniversary year. Plus there’s an additional 2% back on gas station and restaurant purchases (also with a $25,000 annual cap).
Just like Chase’s other cash back business card, Ink Business Cash technically gathers its cash back in the form of points. As such, you can redeem your rewards for cash back, gifts cards, travel, etc. through Chase Ultimate Rewards’s portal.
For benefits outside of rewards, Ink Business Cash has no annual fee, employee cards at no additional cost, and an auto rental damage collision waiver.
To take a deeper dive, check out the Merchant Maverick review.
Ink Business Preferred
Savvy business travelers may like Ink Business Preferred. That’s because this card dishes out 3 points per dollar spent on travel (as well as shipping, internet/cable/phone services, and select internet advertising). On top of that 3x bonus rate, points are worth 25% more when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Besides travel, you can redeem points for Chase Ultimate Rewards’s other methods. However, booking for travel will likely be the most economical choice. There’s also the option to transfer points to one of Chase’s travel partners on a 1:1 basis — this may see you saving even more money than just cashing in for the 25% bonus rate.
Ink Business Preferred also has no foreign transaction fee, as well as cell phone protection and free employee cards. Note, however, that all these perks come at a cost — Chase requires a $95 annual fee to use the card.
If you’re curious to learn more, our in-depth review has you covered.
Beyond business credit cards, there are plenty of consumer cards that are eligible for Chase Ultimate Rewards. Even though you might be looking at a credit card for your business, a consumer card might work for you. Here are the first-party consumer credit cards that work with Chase Ultimate Rewards:
- Freedom (5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter)
- Freedom Unlimited (unlimited 1.5% cash back)
- Sapphire Preferred (2X points on travel and at restaurants; points worth 25% more when redeemed for travel)
- Sapphire Reserve (3X points on travel and at restaurants; points worth 50% more when redeemed for travel)
Chase’s other, co-branded cards with hotels and airlines don’t use Chase Ultimate Rewards. To see the full list of Chase credit cards, check out our deep dive into Chase’s cards.
How To Earn Rewards
The simplest and most obvious way to earn rewards for Chase Ultimate Rewards is by spending money with your Chase credit card. Depending on the credit card you have, you can earn between 1 and 5 points for every dollar spent. Chase’s cash back cards will also earn points despite the “cash back” moniker.
Additionally, all of Chase’s Ink Business credit cards currently earn 5 points per dollar spent on Lyft rides. This limited-time partnership between Chase and Lyft runs through to March 2022. Chase’s array of first-party consumer credit cards can also take advantage of this partnership — the Sapphire Reserve card takes the cake here by earning a whopping 10x points on Lyft rides (the other three Chase consumer cards collect at the same 5 points per dollar rate as the business cards).
Beyond spending cash, there is at least one other way business users can earn rewards to redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards. If you already have an Ink Business Unlimited or Preferred credit card, you can refer your card to up to five other businesses per year. You’ll collect the equivalent of $150 per referral sign-up if you have the Unlimited card (so up to $750 per year) or 20,000 points per referral if you have the Preferred card.
It’s worth noting that the referral program is also available for those with Chase’s Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and Sapphire Preferred consumer cards. If you have one of these cards, each friend referred to the card will net you either $100 cash back (with the Freedom cards) or 15,000 bonus points (with the Sapphire Preferred). You can earn up to $500 cash back (with the Freedom cards) or 75,000 points (with the Sapphire Preferred) annually with this method.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Redemption Options
There are plenty of ways to use your points on Chase Ultimate Rewards. Let’s take a deeper look below.
The most marketed way to utilize Chase Ultimate Rewards is by booking travel. Trip booking options include airfare, hotels, and car rentals.
Chase has partnered with travel booking site Expedia since 2018 to run the back-end of Chase Ultimate Rewards’s travel service. As such, you should generally see similar prices when comparing Chase Ultimate Rewards and Expedia.
If you have a cash back card through Chase, booking travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards offers the standard 1 point equaling 1 cent. Points cards are where things get interesting. Both Ink Business Preferred and Sapphire Preferred users will snag 25% more value out their points when redeeming points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Chase’s premier consumer card, the Sapphire Reserve, garners a whopping 50% more value.
While booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards can be convenient and may save a bit of cash, a major drawback is the fact that you won’t be booking directly with airlines or hotels. This means that if something goes awry with your trip, you’ll need to contact Chase. Chase will then reach out to customer service on your behalf, potentially costing you time and giving you a headache.
If you’d like your points to go to something outside of travel, Chase provides the option to redeem points for gift cards. At the time of writing, Chase advertises that Ultimate Rewards offers “over 195 gift cards” from various brands.
Generally speaking, 1 point equals 1 cent when redeemed for a gift card. However, Chase will occasionally run “sales” on cards from specific brands. For instance, you might be able to get a Lowe’s gift card for 5% off or a Jiffy Lube one for 10% off.
Unless you are snagging a gift card during a sale, getting gift cards through Chase Ultimate Rewards may not be the most economical way to use your points.
The simplest Chase Ultimate Rewards method is to redeem your points for cash back. If you go this route, you have the option to deposit the cash directly into your bank account or receive statement credit. Cash back usually takes three days before being posted to your account.
No matter the Chase credit card, a single point is worth 1 cent. This means that Chase Ultimate Rewards’s cash back isn’t spectacular — however, it does allow you to use your rewards more freely than if you redeemed them for travel or gift cards.
Another redemption method Chase includes with its Ultimate Rewards program is “experiences.” Here you can use your points to book “experiences” from a selection of options, including fine dining, sports games, and music concerts.
During writing (in February — some of these events are seasonal), example experiences redeemable through Chase Ultimate Rewards included:
- Ski lift tickets in California, Colorado, Utah, and Vermont
- Tickets to professional sporting events, including basketball, hockey, and golf
- Music concerts
- High-class dining experiences
In general, these experiences were valued at 1 point equaling 1 cent. However, because Chase sets the “cash value” for each experience, it may be difficult to gauge the true value when redeeming points for experiences.
As far as total value, some packages are as cheap as 13,000 points for a Squaw Valley lift ticket. Others are vastly more expensive: two Saturday-Sunday tickets to the 2020 PGA Championship with access to Chase’s hospitality chalet and three nights at a hotel will run you a cool 265,000 points.
Note that because most available experiences are situated in large cities, you’ll want to live near a highly populated place or be traveling in one to take full advantage of this Chase Ultimate Rewards perk. Card members who live in rural Alaska, for example, may have difficulty finding a local experience to take advantage of.
If you like Apple products, Chase has partnered with the tech company to allow you to pay for all or part of an Apple purchase. To use your points this way, you’ll need to make your purchase through an Apple-branded online store accessed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
While this method does make it easier to buy the latest iPhone or AirPods, you won’t be saving anything extra here: 1 point is worth the standard 1 cent when redeemed for Apple products.
By far the measliest way to redeem your points through Chase Ultimate Rewards is on Amazon purchases. After you link your Amazon account with your card, you’ll be all set to use your rewards at checkout on Amazon.com. However, keep in mind that points redeemed for Amazon purchases are only worth 0.8 cents. As such, we can’t really recommend redeeming points in this way.
If you want to maximize your Amazon rewards and you also want to sign up for a card through Chase, it may be worth going with the bank’s co-branded Amazon credit card. This card, which can earn up to 5% cash back on Amazon purchases, features a rewards scheme that allows you to use rewards at checkout on Amazon.com. Note, however, that rewards obtained through Chase’s Amazon card don’t earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
We’ll go into more depth below, but if one of Chase’s own redemption methods don’t suit your fancy, you can transfer your points out to one of 13 travel partners. These travel partners include both airline and hotel loyalty programs and can be one of the more lucrative ways to use your points.
Additionally, you can transfer points between multiple Chase accounts if you have several credit cards. Consolidating points can be a great way to save a bit extra cash when booking travel or if you’re planning to close a card.
Chase Transfer Partners & Best Ways To Transfer
With 13 different transfer partners, Chase has a nice array of loyalty programs where you can transfer your points on a 1:1 basis. These partner programs include both airlines and hotels.
At the time of writing, Chase’s airline partners are:
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- British Airways Executive Club
- Emirates Skywards
- Flying Blue Air France/KLM
- Iberia Plus
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
For hotel loyalty programs, Chase is partnered with:
- IHG Rewards Club
- Marriott Bonvoy
- World of Hyatt
Because your Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to these loyalty programs on a 1:1 basis, the value of your points will vary depending on where you transfer your points to.
Determining the best loyalty programs to transfer to will often depend on your situation. Generally, however, World of Hyatt delivers the best bang for the buck when it comes to hotels — free nights start low as 5,000 points. For flights, check out British Airlines — its trans-Atlantic flights can be had for as little as 9,000 Avios (what British Airlines calls its points). Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue program can also be a great deal if you snag a monthly promo.
The Best Ways To Use Chase Points
All told, if you have a rewards credit card from Chase, you’ll likely find that redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel (either through Chase’s own booking portal or by transferring out to a partner program) will stretch their value the furthest. This makes Chase’s point cards great options for businesses that require frequent voyages.
If you have one of Chase’s cash back cards, it’s hard to go wrong with redeeming points through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Most methods output rewards at 1 cent per point value. This means that you can be flexible by redeeming your rewards just the way you want to.
This flexibility is probably one of Chase Ultimate Rewards’s strongest attributes and it helps make the program one of the best out there. Whether you are transferring points to one of Chase’s travel partners or redeeming points for the exact gift card you want, Chase gives you the freedom to choose — that’s pretty hard to beat.