Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Kellie Jez
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Without a doubt, the Chase Ultimate Rewards program is one of the most popular travel rewards programs among points and miles aficionados — and for good reason.
With tons of ways to earn Ultimate Rewards points, the program may be the best credit card rewards program currently available, and it should be a top priority for anyone who wants to book award flights.
Once you have tackled earning some points, you can redeem Ultimate Rewards for award flights or hotel award stays across the world.
Let’s dig into what the Ultimate Rewards program has to offer so you can start putting together your next amazing vacation!
Chase Ultimate Rewards is a credit card rewards program that allows cardholders to earn points on every purchase.
To earn Ultimate Rewards, you must hold an affiliated Chase credit card. Once you are approved for a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards, you will be enrolled in the program automatically.
The number of points you earn on purchases depends on which card you use and under what category the purchase will code. Each Ultimate Rewards card has bonus categories that allow you to earn between 2x and 5x points per dollar spent on the card.
These flexible, and therefore valuable, points can be redeemed in a variety of ways, but the best redemption option, by far, is for travel. Other redemption options, such as merchandise, direct statement credits, or gift cards, could result in far less value for your points.
With the right combination of Chase cards, you can earn tons of Ultimate Rewards points and have flexible redemption options.
With each Chase card earning differently based on its own bonus categories, the key to earning the most Ultimate Rewards points possible is selecting the combination of cards that ensures every purchase you make will earn rewards.
The good news is that you can combine Ultimate Rewards points across all Ultimate Rewards-earning cards to maximize both earning and redemption options.
We’ll talk more about redemption options shortly, but these options also vary by card. For example, you must hold at least one premium Ultimate Rewards card to expand your redemption options and be able to transfer your Chase points to airline and hotel partners.
With a collection of Ultimate Rewards earning cards for nearly every consumer, you’re sure to find a match for your spending mix, redemption options that fit your travel objectives, and a card that matches your comfort zone for paying an annual fee.
Let’s get started discussing Ultimate Rewards points and the best cards for earning and redeeming these valuable rewards.
Hot Tip: If you’re ready to get started and earn a ton of points quickly, check out how to earn 100k Chase points in 90 days!
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is one of the most popular Chase cards due to its generous welcome bonus offer and elevated earning on travel, dining, and Lyft purchases.
Holding this card also allows you to redeem your Ultimate Rewards for 25% more in value on the Chase travel portal and the additional option of transferring points to travel partners to receive potentially greater value.
While the card comes with a lower annual fee than most premium travel rewards cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card does not fall short on travel and shopping benefits and protections. In fact, the card has some of the best travel insurance available.
Hot Tip: Each Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards comes with the opportunity to earn an introductory welcome bonus after meeting minimum spending requirements, normally in the first 3 months after card approval. Earning the bonus can significantly jumpstart your rewards earnings. For example, you may be able to get a 80k-100k welcome bonus offer for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is an enhanced version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card with even greater earnings on travel and dining purchases.
With premium travel benefits such as worldwide lounge access via Priority Pass Select membership, hundreds of dollars in potential statement credits, and a long list of travel benefits, the card can earn every penny (and more) of its also-premium annual fee.
The card shines at redemption time as well, when Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for travel at the rate of 1.5 cents per point. You’ll also have the option to transfer to travel partners for potentially greater value.
We consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and The Platinum Card® from American Express to be 2 of the best premium cards for luxury travel benefits.
Hot Tip: Select Chase credit cards are eligible for the Pay Yourself Back feature. This temporary benefit allows you to reimburse yourself for select purchases by redeeming Ultimate Rewards points for a statement credit against those purchases at the rate of up to 1.5 cents per rewards point.
In addition to elevated earning on Chase travel, dining, and at drugstores, the Freedom Flex card is known for its quarterly bonus categories that allow you to earn 5% cash-back per dollar spent on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter.
Quarterly bonus categories change each quarter and have included merchants and services such as supermarkets/grocery stores, transportation, gas stations, warehouse clubs, online shopping, PayPal, restaurants, and more.
The card earns rewards, initially, in the form of Ultimate Rewards points. Those points can then be redeemed for cash-back, travel, shopping, and gift cards, but the true value of the points can be realized when combined with those from one of the premium Ultimate Rewards cards (i.e. one with an annual fee).
We also like the cell phone protection benefit that comes with the card — a valuable perk for a no-annual-fee card.
The no-annual-fee Freedom Unlimited card is the go-to card for earning elevated rewards on every purchase you make, even non-bonus category purchases. Like the Freedom Flex card, rewards are earned in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed for cash-back, travel, or shopping, or transferred to premium Chase cards for up to 50% more in value.
The Ink Business Preferred card is the business version of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, but the card is tailored to business owners. You’ll find similar travel rewards benefits and the same annual fee.
With multiple-times earnings on common business purchases up to the first $150,000 each account anniversary, the card could be a match for the owner of a small to medium-size business.
At redemption time, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you’ll receive up to 25% more value when redeeming for travel via the Chase Portal. You also have the option of transferring Ultimate Rewards to airline and hotel partners for even greater potential value.
The Ink Business Cash card could be an excellent choice for a no-annual-fee business card option.
Tailored to small businesses, its bonus earnings on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores, internet services, cell/wireless, landlines, and cable TV, can result in Ultimate Rewards points accumulating quickly.
Additional bonus earnings at gas stations and restaurants ensure many of your business expenses are earning rewards.
For additional information on the perks associated with this card, read up on our article featuring the many benefits of the Ink Business Cash card.
A busy small business owner may appreciate the simplicity of flat-rate earnings on every purchase. While the Ink Business Unlimited card is a cash-back card, the rewards are initially earned as Ultimate Rewards points that can then be redeemed for cash, statement credits, travel, and more.
This no-annual-fee small business card is also a good choice if you have a major business purchase (or purchases) coming up as you can utilize the introductory 0% APR 12-month period to repay those charges back over time without incurring interest charges. The 12-month period begins at card approval and when it ends, regular APR, as indicated in the table above, will apply. You’ll also be earning 1.5% cash-back on those purchases.
Learn more about the best Chase business credit cards, their earning power, redemption options, and benefits in our comprehensive card comparison.
The primary way you’ll earn Ultimate Rewards points is by qualifying for the initial welcome bonus offered immediately after you’re approved for a card, then subsequently with ongoing spending on the card.
You’ll want to take notice of the card’s bonus categories and be sure to use your card for spending in those elevated earning categories.
There are, however, additional ways to earn Ultimate Rewards points. Here’s a list of additional Ultimate Rewards earning opportunities.
Earn unlimited additional Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent by shopping at the Shop through Chase online mall.
The bonus Ultimate Rewards points you earn are on top of any bonus categories on one of the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards.
Be aware that you must use the link provided in the shopping portal and make your purchases during the same visit in order to receive these points. There are also restrictions on using coupons, discounts, and other offers for your purchases.
With over 240 stores from which to select, you’ll find offers that can range (and fluctuate) from 1 additional Ultimate Rewards point per dollar spent at retailers such as Best Buy, up to an additional 25 points per dollar spent at magazines.com or 20x at restaurants.com.
For step-by-step instructions and tips for using the Chase shopping portal, we’ve put together all the information you need in our article on the topic.
Use the Chase travel portal and earn rewards when you book flights, hotels, cars, cruises, vacation rentals, and activities with your Chase card.
Booking travel-related activities through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal ensures you’ll be earning rewards on every travel purchase.
This means you’ll earn 5x points per dollar spent on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. You’ll earn 10x points when using the Chase Sapphire Reserve card for rental cars or hotels, or 5x points on airfare. The Ink Business Preferred card, meanwhile, earns 3x points on travel.
One advantage of booking through the portal is that your airline loyalty program information can be stored in the system and you’ll automatically earn miles when you book. Practically speaking, Chase buys the ticket on your behalf.
Keep in mind, if you book a hotel stay through the Chase travel portal, it’s unlikely your elite status will be recognized by the hotel and you are unlikely to earn hotel points for your stay.
We all like to share things we like with our friends, but it’s even better to get a reward for it!
When you refer your friends and they’re approved for a Chase card, you can earn tens of thousands of points.
To find your referral link, go to Chase’s Refer-A-Friend page. Just input your details to see if your card has available referrals offers. Note that each of your cards must be input separately but your referral will be able to select from available Chase cards.
If you have difficulty with the referral link, you can call Customer Service for assistance.
Hot Tip: Send your friends the referral link via email and get started to earning your bonus Ultimate Rewards points!
Redemption options and the value you receive for your Ultimate Rewards points will be determined by which card you use to redeem your points, either travel rewards cards or cash-back cards.
Travel rewards cards offer more redemption options, including the ability to transfer points to the Chase travel partners and redeem for travel via the Chase travel portal for up to 50% more in value.
We’ll discuss all the ways you can utilize your rewards, but if you’re looking for specific travel redemption options, check out the best ways to redeem Chase points for travel!
Transferring points to airline and hotel partners will often be the best use of your points, but this redemption is only available with the Chase premium travel rewards cards listed above.
To transfer points, log in at chase.com/ultimaterewards and select Transfer to Travel Partners from the drop-down menu at the top of the home page.
You’ll then be able to select the loyalty program and the number of points you want to transfer. You will need your loyalty program sign-in information to complete the transfer.
The information in your travel profile must match the personal information in your desired loyalty account. In most cases, you can transfer points to accounts of authorized users on your card and members of your household.
Most transfers are completed almost instantly or within 24 to 48 hours but may take as long as 6 to 8 weeks. Minimum transfer amounts also apply.
Once completed, points cannot be transferred back into your Chase account, so make sure you want to transfer the points!
Hot Tip: You don’t need a HUGE chunk of points in order to take advantage of your Chase Ultimate Rewards… check out our guide to the best ways to use 10k (or fewer) Chase Ultimate Rewards points for some ideas!
|Chase Airline Transfer Partner||Min Transfer||Transfer Ratio|
(Chase > Airline)
|Aer Lingus AerClub||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Air France-KLM Flying Blue||1,000||1:1||1 hour|
|British Airways Executive Club||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Emirates Skywards||1,000||1:1||Almost instant|
|Iberia Plus||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1,000||1:1||1-2 days|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|United Airlines MileagePlus||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
When you sign in to transfer points, you’ll be able to select your preferred airline from the transfer partner list.
|Chase Hotel Transfer Partner||Min Transfer||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|IHG One Rewards||1,000||1:1||1 day|
|Marriott Bonvoy||1,000||1:1||2 days|
|World of Hyatt||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
Again, on the following screen select your desired transfer partner.
If you have the Ink Business Preferred card or Chase Sapphire Preferred card, your Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents each when booking travel through the Chase travel portal.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card provides the best deal through the travel portal as each point is worth 1.5 cents each.
When booking an airline ticket or hotel stay, make sure to compare the value of transferring points to travel partners versus booking through the travel portal. Sometimes, the travel portal will actually be the better way to go.
If you have a no-annual-fee Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning card, you can still redeem points via the Chase travel portal, but points will be worth just 1 cent each.
You can purchase travel via the portal, use points, or use a combination of points and cash. Either way, the purchase will be treated as a cash transaction by the airline and you will be eligible to earn the associated amount of frequent flyer miles.
For more details on getting the most value for your travel purchases via the Chase travel portal, check out our step-by-step tutorial.
If you’re looking for alternative ways to use your points, you might try booking experiences. Chase curates exclusive experiences that you would likely not be able to access on your own.
Check back often for exclusive offers and redemption values as they are updated on a regular basis.
You can pay for these offers with cash or points at a value of 1 cent per point.
The Chase Experiences portal is separate from the Chase portal, so you may have to log back into your Chase account after visiting the site.
Cardholders of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, Chase Sapphire Reserve card, Freedom Flex card, or Ink cards receive access to the Chase Dining hub via Ultimate Rewards online.
This program offers benefits like exclusive Chase cardmember table reservations, virtual dining experiences with top chefs, curated meals-to-go, and the ability to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Chase lets you use your points as credits on your statement at 1 cent per point. Simply transfer your cash-back earnings to your balance as a statement credit.
To redeem for statement credit, click the Use Points option on the Ultimate Rewards home screen, and then click Get Cash Back. The minimum redemption amount is $20.00, or 2,000 points. You’ll also have the option on this page to cash out points and transfer funds to your bank account.
Another option for a statement credit is to use Pay Yourself Back which reimburses you for specific purchases.
You can redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for gift cards for merchants where you normally shop such as iTunes, Lowe’s, and many more.
Most options are valued at 1 cent per point, however, some gift cards can offer a better value with 10% or more in discounts.
Redeeming for gift cards may not be the best value for your Ultimate Rewards points.
Chase Ultimate Rewards partners directly with Amazon.com for merchandise redemptions. This means you can shop directly on Amazon’s website, rather than go through the Chase shopping portal.
Your Ultimate Rewards points will only receive a value of 8/10 of a cent per point, however, so it is not a good-value redemption option. You can also combine your points with cash or other payment methods.
Link your Chase and Amazon accounts at any time to use this redemption option, including at the time of checkout.
You cannot use Ultimate Rewards directly at the Apple store but you can redeem Ultimate Rewards for Apple purchases via the Chase portal at a value of 1 cent each.
Your Chase Ultimate Rewards portal allows you to view and manage your points, transfer points between cards, check your category spending, book travel, shop, and redeem rewards.
To manage your account, simply sign-in on the home page of chase.com/ultimaterewards.
Once you log in, select the card you want to view and you’ll be directed to the home page for that card.
The home page screen of any of your credit cards lets you view your earned and available points, your transaction details, and which points will appear on your next statement.
With Chase Ultimate Rewards, it’s easy to check the bonus category spend on Chase credit cards. Plus you’ll have access to all of your current and historical spending data for each card.
You’ll also be able to select options to make redemptions such as shopping, gift card options, or experiences.
From this main screen, you can also combine all of your points onto 1 card. Select Combine Points from the menu at the top of the page and you will be guided through the process.
The value of your Ultimate Rewards points will vary depending on the redemption option you select. As a baseline, however, Chase follows the industry standard with each point worth 1 cent for a basic redemption.
There are ways to secure more value for your points.
When you use your cards to redeem travel rewards via the Chase travel portal, the value of each point can increase when using a Chase premium card to a minimum of 1.25 cents or 1.5 cents per point.
When you transfer points to any Chase reward travel partners, the redemption value of each point can be worth even more with some redemptions resulting in up to 5 to 8 cents per point for international first and business class options. We value Ultimate Rewards points at an average of 2 cents each.
Unlike other rewards programs that cancel your points if your accounts are inactive for 6 to 18 months, your Chase rewards points never expire, as long as your accounts are open and in good standing.
Once you cancel your account, the points are forfeited. However, you can product change your premium Chase card to a no-annual-fee Chase card and keep your points available.
It’s pretty clear you’ll have access to great travel experiences by earning and redeeming Ultimate Rewards points, but how do these rewards compare to other transferable points programs?
Here’s just a snapshot of additional transferrable rewards programs. Click on the included links for additional information on maximizing each of these travel rewards currencies.
Both programs have their pluses and minuses. For example, there are more American Express-issued cards that earn Membership Rewards points than Chase-issued cards that earn Ultimate Rewards.
Membership Rewards also has more travel partners than Ultimate Rewards. However, both programs can cover most airlines and awards through the various partner alliances. Chase also has the advantage of a partnership with the World of Hyatt program.
Both Chase and American Express have shopping incentives that allow you to earn more rewards or receive statement credits for shopping at various merchants. Chase offers a shopping portal and Chase Offers while American Express has Amex Offers.
You will be charged a small fee of $0.0006 per point (maximum of $99 per transaction) to transfer Membership Rewards to U.S. carriers. There are no fees to transfer to international carriers. Chase does not charge a fee to transfer Ultimate Rewards to travel partners.
Capital One miles can be redeemed directly through the card’s travel portal. For this reason, Capital One miles could be more flexible as you can find the best deal from any travel provider and use your miles to receive a statement credit for the travel purchase.
However, you’ll be redeeming miles for 1 cent each versus up to 1.5 cents each via the Chase portal with Chase premium cards.
Both programs allow you to transfer rewards to airline partners for greater potential value although Capital One ratios for doing so can be a lesser value than Chase’s 1:1. When it comes to hotels, Capital One has Accor and Wyndham as partners while Chase doesn’t. Chase’s best hotel partner is arguably Hyatt.
You can receive good bottom-line value with either program but to learn more about the best way to earn, redeem, and transfer Capital One miles, here’s an excellent overview.
While Chase provides several cards that earn Ultimate Rewards, you can earn Marriott Bonvoy points with Marriott Bonvoy-branded cards issued by both American Express and Chase. Transfers from Ultimate Rewards process almost instantly to Marriott Bonvoy in many cases, while transferring Marriott Bonvoy points can take much longer.
There are few cards that earn ThankYou Points and when paired with the Citi Premier® Card, cardholders can maximize transfers to the full suite of Citi travel partners.
When applying for Chase cards, keep in mind the 5/24 rule. If you have opened 5 or more cards from any card issuer, including Chase, (not including most business cards) in the last 24 months, you will not be approved for a Chase card.
For that reason, you want to select the best Chase Ultimate Rewards earning cards when you are just starting out. Ultimate Rewards earning cards allow you to accumulate points that can be used to fly with dozens of different airlines thanks to its airline transfer partners. On top of that, you can transfer to Hyatt for some amazing Hyatt redemptions.
With several cards that can help you earn points quickly and some amazing redemption options, Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning cards deserve a place in every traveler’s wallet.
The information regarding the Chase Freedom Flex℠ was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Chase Freedom Unlimited® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
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