The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is, in our opinion, one of the best value and most flexible schemes around. In this article we will look at the several options available for redeeming points, including for cash, spending on travel or transferring to another program. It is not always obvious which is best value when redeeming points, but we’ll pick out the best options, and share some ideas to help you get the most from your points.
Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards – top choices for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Photo: Simple Flying
Chase Ultimate Rewards – a flexible program
There are many good things about the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. Points can be combined from multiple points earning Chase cards that you may hold – including, for example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. We discuss the highlights of the Sapphire Preferred and the Sapphire Reserve card here.
Points also do not expire as long as the account remains active. There is no deadline to spend your points once earned, which is very useful if you want to save up for a high value reward!
Redeeming points – different options for different card types
There are essentially four different ways you can redeem Chase Points:
- Convert points to cashback
- Gift card or specific shopping purchases
- Redeem points for travel booked through the Chase portal
- Transfer points to airline or hotel loyalty programs
The first two of these are possible with any card, although the value you get for travel bookings depends on the card you hold. And transfer to other loyalty programs is only possible if you hold a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred card.
With this is mind, we will look at each of these options in turn!
Redeeming points for cashback
The simplest, but not the best value, way to redeem Ultimate Rewards points is for cash. This is at a fixed rate of one cent per point, with no minimum amount. It can be set up as a statement credit or transfer to an account.
This is not, in our opinion, the best value use of points. Although it does set a minimum level you should ever receive for your points, and also gives a good option if for some reason you don’t want to use points for travel.
Redeeming for gift cards or shopping
Chase has a number of partnerships where points can be redeemed with retailers. The value here is around one cent per point, though a few are slightly higher or lower.
- Gift cards are available with over 150 retailers. Most are at the same value as cashback, one cent per point, but there are sometimes small discounts for higher value cards.
- Points can be used to pay for purchases with Amazon. This however is at a poorer rate of 0.8 cents per points, and should be avoided!
- Points can also be used for Apple products purchased through the Chase portal. This is a new option from late 2018, but makes little sense at a rate of one cent per point.
Redeeming points for travel
To instantly get better value, redeem points for travel purchases instead of getting them transferred to cashback. Points can be spent on a wide variety of flights, hotels and packages through the Chase travel booking portal. This is a standard style travel booking portal (run in partnership with Expedia).
The value here depends on the cards you hold:
- With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, you will receive 1.25 cents per point. This is instantly 25% better value than redeeming for cashback or gift cards!
- With the top level Chase Sapphire Reserve® this increases further to 1.5 cents per point.
- With any other card, the value is the same as cashback – one cent per point. Remember though, if you hold multiple cards you can transfer points to those cards and receive the higher value.
Airline transfer partners
Transferring to other partners is where Chase Ultimate Rewards points really have value. Once transferred to miles in the airline scheme, points can then be used to book awards directly through that program. They can also be combined with any other miles you have collected in those programs.
There are currently nine airline partners, all offering an excellent 1:1 transfer rate:
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- British Airways Executive Club
- Iberia Airlines Iberia Plus
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- United Airlines MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Airline transfers – some great value opportunities
Redeeming via airline programs offers the best value redemption opportunities. If planned carefully, value significantly in excess of one point per cent (when compared to the cash price of tickets) can be obtained. There are countless possibilities here – depending on where you want to fly and which schemes you already use.
A few of our favorite high value options include:
Redeeming for premium cabin travel with Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines has market leading Business and First Class products. And award tickets on the best are only possible through their KrisFlyer program. From 125,000 miles you can fly First Class from London to Singapore, or from 132,000 miles from New York to Singapore.
Flying within US or to / from Hawaii with United
The best value way to do this is not through United themselves, but via KrisFlyer. United is a Star Alliance partner, and awards can be booked from just 23,000 miles each way in Business Class within the US, and 34,500 miles to / from Hawaii.
Short haul flights with British Airways Executive Club
One of the unusual aspects of the Executive Club is that it prices awards based on flight length and not origin / destination zone. Redemptions are possible with all Oneworld airlines. The shortest flights (up to 650 miles) are just 4,500 Avios each way in economy (7,500 within the US). Beyond this, it’s just 7,500 Avios for up to 1,151 miles and 10,000 Avios for up to 2,000 miles.
This can create some great value redemptions where short haul flights are expensive. International flights within Asia or South America in particular are often very good value.
Hotel transfer partners
In a similar fashion, Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to hotel loyalty schemes – again all at a 1:1 transfer ratio. Transfers are possible to the following programs:
- IHG Rewards Club
- Hyatt, World of Hyatt
- Marriott Bonvoy
Again, when used carefully and in comparison with alternative cash prices, some excellent value can be obtained here. For example, the top end Hyatt properties can be great value on points. The luxurious Park Hyatt Maldives regularly sells rooms for in the region of $1,000 per night, but is just 25,000 points.
The Park Hyatt Tokyo is another stunning property with very high room rates – but is available with World of Hyatt for 30,000 point a night.
There are many great value options when you get to know these programs. For example, IHG run a regular ‘PointBreaks’ offer where a number of hotels are reduced to 5000, 10000 or 15000 points a night, including many properties across the US.
There is excellent value to be obtained from the Chase Ultimate Reward points program if used right. Exchanging for cash at one cent per point, or travel at up to 1.5 cents per point is a useful baseline, and a realistic alternative for some.
But the real value comes through transferring to other hotels and airlines, and seeking top value there. Chase offers a strong set of partners, which together offer some excellent value redemptions all over the world. And to make it even better, the transfer rates of 1:1 for all partners are better than you will find with most other points schemes.