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How to earn and use Ultimate Rewards points

Want to maximize your Chase rewards points? Try these strategies

Summary

With the right credit cards, you can rack up plenty of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Here’s how to earn those points and redeem them for the greatest value.

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Want to turn your credit card points into free travel? Applying for a Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card should be one of the first items on your to-do list.

The Chase Ultimate Rewards loyalty program is one of the most valuable and flexible credit card rewards programs. Not only do you have several options for redeeming credit card rewards, including cash back, gift cards and travel, but you can also easily transfer points to certain Chase cards (and, from there, on to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners at a 1:1 rate).

The Chase Ultimate Rewards program can take you practically anywhere you want to travel, and at a great value. Here’s how to earn and use Ultimate Rewards points.

How to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards

Whether you just opened your first Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card account or have had your card for years, you can use your everyday spending to rack up Ultimate Rewards points and earn a discounted — or even free — getaway. Here are six ways you can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Earn a Chase credit card sign-up bonus

All of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards-earning cards offer generous sign-up bonuses to new enrollees who manage to meet the card’s spending requirement within a designated time period. Since many of these bonuses are worth the price of a plane ticket, this is one of the fastest ways to earn a free trip.

Chase Freedom cards

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited are two popular no-annual-fee cash back cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Essentially, rewards will appear in your account as Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which can be redeemed for cash back (and at a 1:1 rate).

The Chase Freedom Flex earns 5 percent cash back (or 5X points, for example) in quarterly, rotating bonus categories after activation (up to $1,500 per quarter, then 1 percent). Additionally, cardholders earn 5 percent back on travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards, 3 percent on dining and drugstore purchases as well as 1 percent on everything else. Currently, the Freedom Flex also offers a $200 cash back welcome bonus (or 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $500 in the first three months of account opening.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited, on the other hand, earns 1.5 percent cash back (1.5X points) on general purchases, 5 percent back on travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards, 5 percent on Lyft rides (through March 2025) and 3 percent on dining and drugstore purchases. And in terms of a welcome bonus, you can earn an additional 1.5 percent back on everything you buy, on up to $20,000 in first-year spending.

Chase Sapphire cards

The Chase Sapphire card family features some of the best travel credit cards on the market, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 5X points on Ultimate Rewards travel, 3X points at restaurants, on select streaming services and online grocery purchases, 2X points on general travel purchases and 1X points on everything else. The card charges a $95 annual fee and offers a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 10X points on hotels and rental cars purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5X points on Ultimate Rewards air travel, 3X points on general travel and restaurant purchases as well as 1X points on all other purchases. The card also offers attractive benefits like a $300 annual travel credit (note, the travel rewards rates mentioned above kick in after you’ve earned this travel credit), up to $100 in credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and free access to airport lounges. For a $550 annual fee, you’ll also get a 60,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Chase Ink Business cards

If you’re a small-business owner, one of Chase’s Ink Business credit cards can be a good option. And similar to the Freedom cards, the cash back Ink Business cards technically earn Ultimate Rewards points that can be easily redeemed for cash back.

Perhaps the most exciting Ink card available is the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, which earns 3X points on travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone services and advertising purchases (on up to $150,000 combined purchases each year) and 1X points on everything else. You’ll pay a $95 annual fee and get a sign-up bonus of 100,000 points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card earns 5 percent cash back (or 5X points) on the first $25,000 in combined purchases each year at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services. You also get 2 percent back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and on dining each year as well as 1 percent on all non-category purchases. There’s no annual fee, and you can earn a $750 sign-up bonus (worth 75,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $7,500 on purchases in the first three months.

Lastly, with the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card, you can earn 1.5 percent cash back (or 1.5X points) on all purchases. The card has no annual fee and offers the same introductory bonus as the Ink Business Cash — $750 (worth 75,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $7,500 on purchases in the first three months.

By the way, you aren’t limited to earning the bonus on just one card. You can sign up for multiple Ultimate Rewards cards, for example, and pool the bonuses together to pay for airfare (though Chase may limit how many cards you can qualify for in a particular time period). You also can have your spouse and other members of your household sign up for the same Chase card and pool all your points together.

In regards to potential limitations, keep in mind Chase’s 5/24 rule when applying. Chase is likely to deny your application if you’ve opened at least five accounts in the past 24 months. This applies to any account that shows up on your credit report, not just Chase credit cards. If you intend to collect sign-up bonuses, you’ll need to carefully consider the order of cards that you apply for and hold off on applying for cards from other issuers. Further, make sure you’re not applying for multiple cards at once.

Get a referral bonus

Once you’ve signed up for your Chase credit card, you can earn up to 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points a year by referring your friends and family to Ultimate Rewards cards. If your friends open and use these cards, you can earn between 10,000 and 20,000 points per application.

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: 15,000 points for each friend who is approved for a Sapphire Preferred card; up to five referrals per year, for a total of 75,000 points
  • Chase Freedom Flex: $100 for each friend who is approved for a Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited card; up to five referrals per year, for a total of $500 cash back
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited: $100 for each friend who is approved for a Freedom or Freedom Unlimited card: up to five referrals per year, for a total of $500 cash back
  • Ink Business Unlimited: 20,000 points for each business owner who is approved for any Chase Ink card; up to five referrals per year, for a total of 100,000 points
  • Ink Business Cash: 20,000 points for each business owner who is approved for any Chase Ink card; up to five referrals per year, for a total of 100,000 points
  • Ink Business Preferred: 20,000 points for each business owner who is approved for any Chase Ink card; up to five referrals per year, for a total of 100,000 points

Use the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal or Chase Offers

You can stack 1 to 5 additional bonus points onto each dollar you spend by shopping through the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal, Shop Through Chase.

Shop Through Chase includes direct links to many major retailers’ websites, where you can shop as usual, apply discounts and promo codes and receive the same prices and shipping benefits.

This method works particularly well with the Chase Freedom Flex, which often includes retailers such as Amazon and Walmart in its quarterly Chase Freedom bonus categories, as well as the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which offers at least 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase.

Additionally, all Chase cards come with access to Chase Offers, a program that awards you cash back when you pay with your card at participating merchants. Check your Chase mobile app regularly for promotions to add to your card.

Take advantage of limited-time promotions

Occasionally, Chase will offer limited-time promotions that allow you to earn additional rewards or redeem rewards at a discount. View our limited time-promotions page for a list of current offers.

Pair Chase Ultimate Rewards cards

We recommend signing up for multiple Chase Ultimate Rewards cards (though not at once) — not just to earn the sign-up bonuses, but because you can strategically spend based on each card’s categories. Each Chase card offers unique earning and redemption opportunities, so stacking them together is even more lucrative.

For instance, if you combine the Freedom Flex, Freedom Unlimited and Sapphire Reserve, known as the Chase trifecta, you would earn 5 percent back on the Freedom’s rotating categories (on up to $1,500 in activated quarterly category purchases, then 1 percent), 5 percent on Ultimate Rewards travel with either the Freedom Flex or Unlimited, 3 percent on dining and drugstore purchases and 1.5 percent back on the rest of your purchases. Plus, you can transfer all your rewards to the Sapphire Reserve to get the 50 percent bonus redemption value on Ultimate Rewards travel purchases.

Buy gift cards

We offer this final suggestion with a caveat — not every retailer offers gift cards or allows you to buy gift cards with a credit card. However, many Ultimate Rewards cardholders successfully purchase gift cards to earn bonus points on purchases that would not otherwise earn a bonus. For instance, you might use your Ink Business Cash card to purchase an Amazon gift card from an office supply store and earn 5 percent back.

How to use Chase Ultimate Rewards

Once you’ve successfully racked up Ultimate Rewards points, Chase offers several ways to redeem them.

One of the greatest benefits of the Ultimate Rewards program is its variety of redemption options: You can redeem your points for cash back, gift cards or merchandise, or you can purchase travel from any service or website and redeem your points for statement credits. If you own a premium rewards card, you can redeem points for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal for a 25 percent to 50 percent bonus or transfer points to one of Chase’s 14 travel partners.

Though the value of a redemption option ultimately lies in the eye of the beholder, there are certainly some preferable — and some not-so-preferable — ways to redeem your points.

As you can see from the values in the chart below, signing up for a premium Chase rewards credit card (such as the Sapphire Reserve, Preferred or Ink Business Preferred) and redeeming your points for travel is generally the best way to use your Ultimate Rewards points.

Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption options

Redemption optionPoint value
Travel purchase through Ultimate Rewards portal
  • 1.5 cents (Sapphire Reserve)
  • 1.25 cents (Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred)
  • 1 cent (all other cards)
Travel purchase (not Ultimate Rewards)1 cent
Statement credit1 cent
Direct deposit1 cent
Gift cards1 cent
Apple product purchases1 cent
Amazon.com purchases0.8 cents

Use Ultimate Rewards points for cash back

Chase offers a lot of flexibility in its cash back redemptions. You can redeem your points for cash back at any time starting at 1 point for 1 cent of cash back. You can redeem your points as a statement credit or as a direct deposit into your checking or savings account. This is a nice option to have if you at any point want to close your cards and cash out your rewards or don’t want to use your points on travel.

However, we strongly recommend transferring your points to a premium Ultimate Rewards card, which can get you a much better value for travel redemptions.

Use Ultimate Rewards points for gift cards

You can redeem your points for gift cards from a variety of retailers at a value of 1 cent per point. Given that this is the same value as a cash back redemption, it makes little sense to choose this option when you can just take the cash back and then buy the item directly from the retailer — unless you take advantage of a special promotion in which the points required for gift cards is lower. Even then, you’ll likely get a better value by transferring your points to a premium card and using them for travel.

Use Ultimate Rewards points to buy merchandise through Amazon

Chase makes it simple to use your points for purchases on Amazon. You can link your Amazon account to your Chase account and then redeem your points for purchases at checkout. However, we don’t recommend this. As you can see from the chart above, the value for your points is quite low — only 0.8 cents per point. If you want to redeem your rewards for merchandise, you’ll get a much better value by using the cash back option to pay for the merchandise directly.

Use Ultimate Rewards points for travel through the Chase portal

If you own the Sapphire Reserve, Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, booking travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal is one of your best options. The value of your points is completely transparent at 1 cent per point, and, as noted earlier, you receive a 25 percent to 50 percent bonus depending on which premium rewards card you own. This means your rewards are worth 1.25 to 1.5 cents per point toward travel through the portal.

The Ultimate Rewards portal is extremely flexible, as you have a wide number of airlines, hotels, airfare, car rentals and more to choose from. And in terms of airfare, there are no blackout dates or seat restrictions — as long as a seat is available, you can book airfare using your rewards. And if you don’t have enough points for the airfare, you can cover the difference using cash.

Use Ultimate Rewards points for Apple products

Chase cardholders can also redeem points for Apple products through the Apple Ultimate Rewards Store. Points have a solid value of 1 cent apiece when redeemed this way, making it a valid redemption option for Chase cardholders.

Transfer points to an Ultimate Rewards travel partner

You can often get an even better value on your points by transferring them to one of Chase’s airline and hotel transfer partners. Points transfer at a 1:1 rate, which means your points maintain their value, and you can look for sweet spots in each loyalty program’s rewards charts to maximize your points’ value.

Note, you’ll need to be flexible in your travel times and preferences to get the best value out of these transfers. Not only can rewards charts be complicated, but loyalty programs often impose blackout dates and seating restrictions that can make it difficult to locate a rewards seat.

Chase Ultimate Rewards point transfer options

Transfer partnerEstimated point value
Singapore Airlines1.3 cents
World of Hyatt1.7 cents
Iberia Plus1.5 cents
Southwest Airlines1.5 cents
JetBlue Airways1.3 cents
United MileagePlus1.2 cents
British Airways1.5 cents
Emirates Skywards1.2 cents
Air France/KLM1.2 cents
Aer Lingus1.5 cents
Air Canada Aeroplan1 cent
Virgin Atlantic1.5 cents
Marriott Bonvoy0.8 cents
IHG Rewards Club0.5 cents

Should I transfer my Ultimate Rewards points or redeem through the Chase portal?

In general, deciding whether to use the Ultimate Rewards portal or transfer your points to an outside loyalty program comes down to how flexible you are and how much effort you want to invest in locating a rewards seat. Though you can get a much better value (in most cases) by transferring your points, rewards seats are limited and can be difficult to find.

In the end, how you spend points earned with your Chase credit card comes down to your personal preference. If you don’t have a trip planned in the near future, you might get more value from cash back or merchandise redemptions. Just be sure to consider how far your points take you any time you redeem.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

Credit Card Rate Report
Reward
17.72%
Student
18.28%
Airline
17.51%
Business
16.01%
Cash Back
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