Our Ultimate Rewards guide gives you the full rundown on earning and redeeming Ultimate Rewards points and helps you figure out which Ultimate Rewards card is best for you.
If you are serious about getting into the game of using credit card points for free travel, then applying for a Chase Ultimate Rewards card or two 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 in existence. Not only do you have a wide variety of options for redeeming rewards points, 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 high 1:1 rate.
The Chase Ultimate Rewards program can take you practically anywhere you want to travel, at a great value. Read on to learn more about the Ultimate Rewards program and how to earn and use points.
See related: Maximizing points with the Chase trifecta
How to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards
Whether you’ve just received your first Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card or you’ve had your card for years, you can use your everyday spending to rack up Ultimate Rewards points and earn a free or nearly free getaway sooner. Here are six ways you can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Earn a Chase card sign-up bonus
All of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards 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 cardsThe Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Chase Freedom Unlimited® are popular cash back cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards.
The Chase Freedom earns 5% back (or 5 points per dollar) in quarterly bonus categories, up to $1,500 per quarter (activation required). Additionally, cardholders earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery services) and 3% on drugstore purchases. All other purchases earn 1%.
Currently, the card offers a $200 sign-up bonus (20,000 in Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $500 in the first three months of account opening.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5% cash back on general purchases, 5% on travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and 3% and drugstore purchases. Through March 2022, you’ll also earn 5% cash back on Lyft purchases.
Like the Freedom Flex, the Unlimited offers $200 (or 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $500 in the first three months of account opening.
Chase Sapphire cards
The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 5 points per dollar for travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3 points per dollar on dining, 2 points per dollar on other travel purchases and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. 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 comes with 10 points per dollar on hotel and car rental purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5 points per dollar on air travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3 points per dollar on other travel purchases (earn elevated rewards on all travel purchases immediately after earning the $300 annual travel credit). Plus, earn 3 points per dollar on dining and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. The card also offers attractive benefits like a $300 annual travel credit, up to $60 in DoorDash credits for 2021, up to $100 in credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and more.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve charges a $550 annual fee and comes with a 50,000-point sign-up bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
See related: Current Chase Sapphire card sign-up bonuses
Ink Business cards
If you’re a small-business owner, one of Chase’s Ink Business cards can be a good option for you.
Perhaps the most exciting one is the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, which earns 3 points per dollar on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, advertising made with social media sites and search engines (up to $150,000 in combined purchases per year). All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar.
The annual fee is $95, and you’ll 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% cash back on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services and 2% on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each year. These rewards can also be converted to Ultimate Rewards points.
There’s no annual fee on this card, and the sign-up bonus is $750 (75,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
With the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card, you can earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases and convert these earning to Ultimate Rewards points. The card has no annual fee and offers an intro bonus of $750 (75,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $7,500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
By the way, you aren’t limited to earning the bonus on just one card. You can sign up for multiple Ultimate Rewards cards and pool the bonuses together to pay for a ticket (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.
However, you’ll need to keep Chase’s 5/24 rule in mind 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.
See related: Guide to the Chase 5/24 rule
If you intend to collect sign-up bonuses, you’ll need to carefully consider the order of cards that you intend to apply for and hold off on applying for cards from other issuers.
Get a referral bonus
Once you’ve signed up for your cards, you can rack up to 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points per year by referring your friends and family to Ultimate Rewards cards. If your friends open and use the cards, you can earn between 10,000 and 20,000 points per application.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – 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 Credit Card – 20,000 points for each friend who is approved for any Chase Ink card – up to five referrals per year, for a total of 100,000 points.
- Ink Business Cash Credit Card – 20,000 points for each friend who is approved for any Chase Ink card – up to five referrals per year, for a total of 100,000 points.
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card – 20,000 points for each friend 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 of spending by shopping through the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal – Shop Through Chase.
The shopping portal includes direct links to many major retailers’ websites, where you can shop as usual, applying discounts and promo codes and receiving the same prices and shipping benefits.
This method works particularly well with the Chase Freedom Flex card – which often includes retailers such as Amazon and Walmart in its quarterly category bonuses – and the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, which offers at least a 1.5% earning rate on every purchase.
Additionally, all Chase cards come with Chase Offers – a program that offers you cash back when you pay with your card at participating merchants. Check your Chase 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 points or to redeem your points at a discount. See our limited time-promotions page for a list of current offers.
Own multiple Chase Ultimate Rewards cards
We highly recommend signing up for multiple Ultimate Rewards cards – not just to earn the sign-up bonuses, but because you can maximize your rewards earnings by rotating cards to earn the most points possible on each category of purchase. Each Chase card offers unique earning and redemption opportunities, so stacking them together is even more lucrative.
For instance, if you combined the Chase Freedom Flex, Freedom Unlimited and Sapphire Reserve cards, you would earn 5% back on the Freedom’s rotating categories, 5% on Ultimate Rewards travel with either the Freedom Flex or Unlimited, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases and 1.5% back on the rest of your purchases. Plus, you can transfer all your rewards to the Sapphire Reserve to get the 50% 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 to earn 5% back on your Amazon purchases.
How to use Chase Ultimate Rewards
Once you’ve successfully racked up Ultimate Rewards points, Chase offers a bounty of different ways to redeem them.
One of the greatest virtues 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 travel site for a 25% to 50% bonus or transfer points to one of Chase’s 13 travel partners.
Though the value of a redemption option ultimately lies in the eye of a beholder, there are certainly some preferable – and some unrecommended – ways to redeem your points.
As you can see from the values in the chart below, signing up for a premium rewards card (Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card) and redeeming your points for travel is generally the best way to go with your Ultimate Rewards points.
Best ways to use Ultimate Rewards
- Using Ultimate Rewards points for cash back
- Using Ultimate Rewards points for gift cards
- Using Ultimate Rewards to buy merchandise through Amazon
- Using Ultimate Rewards for travel in the Ultimate Rewards portal
- Using Ultimate Rewards for Apple products
- Transferring points to an Ultimate Rewards travel partner
Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption options
|Redemption option||Point value|
|Travel purchase through Ultimate Rewards portal|
|Travel purchase (not Ultimate Rewards)||1 cent|
|Statement credit||1 cent|
|Direct deposit||1 cent|
|Gift cards||1 cent|
|Apple product purchases||1 cent|
|Amazon.com purchases||0.8 cents|
Using 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 a checking or savings account. This is a nice option to have in case you decide you want to close your cards and cash out your rewards or in case you decide you don’t want to use your points for travel rewards.
However, we strongly recommend transferring your points to a premium Ultimate Rewards card such as the Sapphire Preferred or Reserve, with which you can get a much better value than 1 cent per point for travel redemptions.
Using 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 buy the item from the retailer in cash, 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 rewards.
Using 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 very 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.
Using Ultimate Rewards points for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal
If you own the Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred card, then booking travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal is one of your best options. The value of points is completely transparent at 1 cent per point, and you receive a 25% to 50% bonus depending on which premium rewards card you own – which means your points are worth 1.25 to 1.5 cents per point when you use the travel portal.
The portal is extremely flexible. You have a wide number of airlines to choose from, and 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.
Redeeming your points for Apple rewards
Chase cardholders can also redeem points for Apple products through the Apple Ultimate Rewards store. Points have a solid 1 cent per point value when redeemed this way, making it a solid option for Chase cardholders.
Transferring points to an Ultimate Rewards travel partner
You can often get an even better value on your points by transferring your points to one of Chase’s 13 travel partners. Points transfer at 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 point value.
You’ll need to be much more flexible in your travel times and preferences to get the best value on your transfers. Not only can rewards charts be very 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 partner||Estimated point value|
|Singapore Airlines||2.36 cents|
|World of Hyatt||2 cents|
|Iberia Plus||1.7 cents|
|Southwest Airlines||1.6 cents|
|JetBlue Airways||1.53 cents|
|United Airlines||1.52 cents|
|British Airways||1.4 cents|
|Emirates Skywards||1.1 cents|
|Air France/KLM||1 cent|
|Aer Lingus||1 cent|
|Virgin Atlantic||0.8 cent|
|Marriott Bonvoy||0.8 cent|
|IHG Rewards Club||0.55 cent|
Using the Ultimate Rewards portal versus transferring Ultimate Rewards points
In general, the decision of 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 better values on your points by transferring them, rewards seats are limited and can be difficult to find.
See related: Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners
In the end, spending your Chase points comes down to your personal preference. If you don’t have a trip planned in the near future, you might get more from cash back or merchandise. Just be sure to consider how far your points take you any time you redeem.
Other things to know about Chase Ultimate Rewards
Want to know more about maximizing Chase Ultimate Rewards? Check out the rest of our guide below.
- Why are Chase Ultimate Rewards points so valuable?
- Ultimate Rewards transfer partners
- Guide to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
- How to book travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards points
- What is Chase’s 5/24 rule and how does it work?
- Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Preferred: Which is better?
- Chase Pay: How to use it and rack up cash back rewards
- Chase Offers program guide