Chase Ultimate Rewards cards
Which Ultimate Rewards card is best for you?
One of the high points of the Ultimate Rewards program is its line of credit card products. The Chase Ultimate Rewards card family encompasses five cards – two no-fee cards, one premium card, one elite card and two business cards – and they’re good products that fit a wide variety of incomes, spending patterns and rewards preferences. The cards all earn Ultimate Rewards points. However, you can’t transfer points unless you own an Ultimate Rewards card with an annual fee.
Also, those cards with annual fees will also give you a 25 to 50 percent bonus on travel redemptions made through the Ultimate Rewards portal. So, before you spring for your first card, you’ll need to think carefully about your travel goals and long-term strategy – a card with an annual fee may score you more free travel in the long run.
Here’s a breakdown of the cards:
Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards
|Credit card||Rewards rate||Sign-up bonus||Annual fee|
|Freedom Unlimited||1.5% all purchases||
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||
50,000 if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
|$95, $0 first year|
|Ink Business Preferred||
points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months
|Ink Business Cash||
if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
|Ink Business Unlimited||
1.5% all purchases
|$500 if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months
No fee Ultimate Rewards cards
The Chase Ultimate Rewards family includes two no-fee cards – the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards – that are a good place to start if you are new to the game and want to begin collecting Ultimate Rewards points.
The Freedom card offers 1 point per dollar on most of your purchases and a 5-point bonus on spending categories that rotate every quarter. The Freedom Unlimited card offers 1.5 points per dollar on every purchase, and is the better way to go if you don’t want to bother with tracking rotating quarterly categories. However, our analysis shows that the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards are actually great cards to own together.
The Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards are marketed as cash back cards. However, they earn Ultimate Rewards points just like other cards in their family and offer the same variety of redemption options, but without the bonus on travel redemptions that the premium cards offer. So, unless you pair these cards with a premium card, your point value is low – only 1 cent per point for most redemption options, including travel.
Premium Ultimate Rewards cards
The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve cards both come with a large sign-up bonus, a high earnings rate on restaurant and travel purchases, a 25 to 50 percent bonus on travel redemptions and a high annual fee. Also, owning one of these cards gives you the option to transfer points. You can transfer your points between other Ultimate Rewards cards, you can transfer points to other members of your household and you can transfer your points to one of Chase’s 13 travel partners, including several major airlines, at a 1 to 1 rate.
The Sapphire Reserve card costs a whopping $450 per year – but don’t let the high fee trip you up. Our analysis shows that the Reserve card is actually a better deal for frequent travelers even on a moderate budget, not just for the lounge access, but because – when you add up the card’s sign-up bonus, higher rewards earning rate, higher bonus on travel redemptions and $300 annual travel credit that applies to most travel purchases, the Reserve card is far more valuable than the Preferred card.
Business Ultimate Rewards cards
The Ink Business Cash and Ink Business Preferred cards are targeted to small business owners. The Business Preferred card offers the same 25 percent redemption bonus and transfer options as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, plus a 3 percent bonus on business purchases and a huge 80,000-point bonus.
For business owners who are averse to the Ink Business Preferred card’s annual fee, the Ink Business Cash card offers a great 5 percent rewards rate on common business purchases, including office supplies and internet services, and a generous $500 bonus. Also, the Ink Business Unlimited card is a new card from Chase -- similar to the Freedom Unlimited card, it allows business owners to earn 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase, and it offers the same $500 sign-up bonus as the Ink Business Cash card.
Bonus tip: You don’t have to be the owner of a brick-and-mortar business to qualify for a Chase Ink card. Independent contractors of any sort may be eligible to apply.
Which Chase Ultimate Rewards card should you apply for?
Probably as many as you can afford to own at once, if you are keen on collecting points for travel rewards. Not only can you collect all the valuable sign-up bonuses, but Chase Ultimate Rewards cards make great companions to one another – you can juggle the cards’ bonus categories to maximize your rewards earnings.
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