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Rewards Programs

How to earn and use Ultimate Rewards points

Your guide to maximizing Chase Ultimate Rewards

Summary

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.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired. Please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

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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.

What is Chase Ultimate Rewards?

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.

Basically, 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.

Chase Ultimate Rewards program overview

Type of currencyFlexible points
Average point value 1.26 cents
Credit cardsChase Freedom FlexChase Freedom UnlimitedChase Sapphire Preferred Card*Chase Sapphire ReserveInk Business Preferred Credit Card, Ink Business Cash Credit Card, Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card
Redemption optionsStatement credits, direct deposit, gift cards, travel, Amazon.com and Apple purchases
Minimum required to redeemRedeem any number of points at any time
Do rewards expire? No
Blackout dates/travel restrictionsNone. If a flight or a hotel room is available, you can book it with your rewards.
Point transfer optionsOther household members, certain Ultimate Rewards cards, 13 airline and hotel partners
Is there a fee to transfer points? No
Best for
  • A variety of redemption options
  • High value on cash back
  • Flexible points that give you the widest variety of travel options
  • The ability to maximize the value of your rewards points

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 so that you can earn a free or nearly free getaway sooner. Here are six ways you can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards.

1. Sign up for a Chase card to earn a 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 Ultimate Rewards sign-up bonuses

CardBonus
Chase Freedom Flex20,000 points if you spend $500 in first 3 months
Chase Freedom Unlimited20,000 points if you spend $500 in first 3 months
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
Chase Sapphire Reserve50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card100,000 points if you spend $15,000 in first 3 months
Ink Business Cash Credit Card75,000 points if you spend $7,500 in first 3 months
Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card75,000 points if you spend $7,500 in first 3 months

Since Chase points can be worth up to 1.5 cents per point depending on the card you carry, we estimate these bonuses can have values up to $1,200 when you spend your rewards on travel.

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.

Top Chase Ultimate Rewards cards

No annual fee

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Premium travel

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Luxury travel

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

5x points on travel purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal

3x points on dining and drug store purchases

1.5x points on all other purchases

20,000 points if you spend $500 in first 3 months

2x points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide

1 point per $1 on all other purchases

60,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months

3x points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide

1 point per $1 on all other purchases

50,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 in first 3 months

2. 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 Ultimate Rewards referral bonuses

CardReferral bonus
Chase Freedom Unlimited$100 for each friend who is approved for a Freedom Unlimited card (up to 5 referrals per year)
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card15,000 points for each friend who is approved for a Sapphire Preferred card (up to 5 referrals per year)
Chase Sapphire ReserveNone
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card20,000 points for each business owner who is approved for an Ink Business Preferred card (up to 5 referrals per year)
Ink Business Cash Credit CardNone
Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card$150 for each business owner who is approved for an Ink Business Unlimited card (up to 5 referrals per year)

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Juggle 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 combine 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.

6. 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 values in the chart below, signing up for a premium rewards card (Chase Sapphire Preferred CardChase 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.

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

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.

Redeem 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 partnerEstimated point value
Singapore Airlines2.36 cents
World of Hyatt2 cents
Iberia Plus1.7 cents
Southwest Airlines1.6 cents
JetBlue Airways1.53 cents
United Airlines1.52 cents
British Airways1.4 cents
Emirates Skywards1.1 cents
Air France/KLM1 cent
Aer Lingus1 cent
Virgin Atlantic0.8 cent
Marriott Bonvoy0.8 cent
IHG Rewards Club0.55 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.

*Information about the Chase Sapphire Preferred card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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.

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