Chase Ultimate Rewards – The Ins and Outs of Cashing In Points

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The Ultimate Rewards® Program from Chase is getting lots of free press these days. Thousands of people are applying for their newest addition to the Chase family of cards – Chase Sapphire ReserveSM.

Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card

We have recommended Chase credit cards as some of our top picks based on their new member sign-up bonuses, the rewards earning potential, and a bevy of rewards redemption opportunities for a long time. Today we are going to focus on the latter. We’ll take a look at the best ways to use your Ultimate Rewards® points, and find out whether they are, in fact, the ultimate value in loyalty rewards.

Cash and Such

Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards® points is pretty straightforward, but redeeming them requires a little more involvement, and is a bit more difficult to explain. First of all, if you don’t want the hassle of finding a free way to travel, you always have the choice of turning your points in for a statement credit. We don’t advocate this as a first choice as it is not as valuable as travel redemption. There are a myriad of cash back credit cards available that offer a better value proposition – even a few in the Chase family. But the option still exists, is readily available, and you should be aware of it. Ultimate Rewards® points are worth 1 cent each when turned into cash so your 100,000 points are worth $1,000.

Gift cards work pretty much in the same way, and can be a nice way of saying thank you to a co-worker or serve as a lovely birthday gift. There are hundreds of gift cards available across many categories. Once again, we don’t think that this is the best bang for your reward point unless you take advantage of promotional Gift Card Discounts, but the choice is still there.

Aruba at the Ritz

The Ritz-Carlton in Palm Beach, Aruba can be booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Center.

Plans, Trains, and Automobiles.

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. Booking through their portal is customer friendly, and makes for a relatively stress-free experience. Here’s why.

  1. It’s pretty easy. The Chase Ultimate Rewards® Travel Center works a lot like any other online travel booking site. You simply enter your dates and destinations, and your options pop up quickly.
  1. 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.
  1. Travel at a 20% discount. When you book travel with points you earned from an Ultimate Rewards® earning credit card, you get 20% discount when paying with points, so each point is worth 1.25 cents. For example, a $500 flight booked through the portal would only cost 40,000 points. What’s more, if you redeem your points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal with your Chase Sapphire ReserveSM, your points are worth 1.5 cents apiece compared to 1.25 center per point with the Chase Sapphire ReserveSM. So your $500 flight would cost 33,500 points.
  1. It’s lucrative. If you choose to transfer your UR points into one of their 11 partner loyalty programs you can reap the rewards of a rather valuable exchange rate. They transfer out to the following hotel and airline programs at a 1:1 ratio:

Airlines

Hotels

If you’re familiar with any of these programs, you know just how much 50,000 points can be worth. Here are a few of your options if you choose to transfer your points out of Ultimate Rewards and into one of these programs:

  • 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. We think that’s a good value.
  • Marriott: Point Saver rewards start at only 6,000 points per night in Category 1 properties. In other words, you could spend nine nights (your fifth night is free) in a Category 1 Marriott property for only 48,000 points.
  • Hyatt: A standard room in a Category 1 Hyatt property costs only 5,000 points per night. So those 50,000 points could net you 10 free hotel nights at certain properties worldwide.

The One Downside of Ultimate Rewards – Finding Flights Through The UR Portal.

Although Chase states that you can book any flight on any participating airline without blackout dates that doesn’t mean that they are all at your fingertips.

Recently we tried to compare using our Mileage Plus miles directly through United with the same flight through Ultimate Rewards. We found that UR does not automatically list all available flights on their sight to determine the point value associated with each. Even by using the advanced search option we were unable to compare apples to apples online. You can, however, call UR directly and provide the actual flight information to the representative. They will verbally provide you with the points necessary, but cannot send you a listing in writing until the ticket has been booked. We found it difficult to compare the overall value of United’s Mileage Plus® Saver Fares to Ultimate Rewards® redemption, and had the same problem when looking into similar comparisons American Airlines Advantage® as well.

That said, we think that UR offers an overall good value as far as loyalty programs are concerned. If you’re a travel junkie, or even if you’re just an occasional traveler, using one or more of the Ultimate Reward earning cards from Chase could be a very rewarding experience.

If you have any stories that you would like to share, we welcome your feedback and input.

Chase Sapphire ReserveSM

Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card

  • New! Earn 100K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,500 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases such as airfare and hotels charged to your card
  • 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus, no foreign transaction fees
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,500 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 900+ airport lounges worldwide with complimentary Priority Pass™ Select membership
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre√®
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions – as long as there’s a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Bonus
100,000 miles

Balance Transfer Fee
5.00%

Ongoing APR
16.24%-23.24% variable

Annual Fee
$450

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