Chase Ultimate Rewards points are a flexible, transferable points currency earned by using Chase Ultimate Rewards points-earning credit cards. These points are not connected to a particular airline or hotel loyalty program.
On the contrary, Ultimate Rewards (UR) points are extremely valuable because they can be used for a variety of airline and hotel travel rewards.
This is similar to Citi ThankYou points, Marriott points (formerly SPG points), and Amex Membership Rewards points who all have their own set of travel transfer partners where their flexible points currency can be used for award flights and nights.
What You Need to Know About
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Estimates done by The Points Guy and others value Chase UR points around 2.1 cents per point. But, these versatile travel rewards points can return an even higher value when used the right way.
Travel hacking beginners and pros, alike, just can’t have too many UR points!
The quickest, but certainly not the only, way to accumulate a large amount of Chase UR points is through credit cards with attractive sign-up bonuses.
But, before heading over to the Chase website to apply for any, it’s important to understand Chase’s application rules and restrictions, as well as the differences in the travel rewards cards they offer.
Most importantly, especially for miles and points beginners, is Chase’s 5/24 rule.
Essentially, the rule says Chase will deny you for nearly all of their travel rewards credit cards if you have 5 or more new credit cards from ANY bank in the last 24 months.
The most common mix-up is the difference between your 5/24 “count” and which cards are “subject to” 5/24. Let me explain the difference.
All Chase travel rewards cards are subject to 5/24 with very few exceptions. This means Chase will look at whether or not you’ve opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months to determine approval regardless of how amazing your credit score is.
There USED TO BE exceptions to the rule but the credit cards listed below are now also subject to 5/24.
- Hyatt Credit Card
- IHG Rewards Club Premier Card
- IHG Rewards Club Traveler Card
- British Airways Visa Signature Card
- Iberia Visa Signature Card
- Aer Lingus Visa Signature Card
- Marriott Rewards Premier Business Card
So, if you’re someone who has opened 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months from ANY bank and you apply for one of the cards listed above, you will be denied no matter how stellar your financial history is or what your credit score is.
In addition, all credit cards, except for most business credit cards, will add to your overall 5/24 count.
Let’s say you’ve applied for 2 personal credit cards from ANY bank in the last 24 months. Chase sees you as 2/24. Then, you decide to apply for (another) Chase personal credit card, like the Hyatt Credit Card. Assuming all is good to excellent with your credit and financials, you’d be approved.
Chase will consider their 5/24 rule in approving you and you’ll now be considered 3/24, assuming you’re approved. You’d have 1 less “slot” for valuable Chase travel rewards credit cards.
Therefore, when starting out with travel rewards credit cards, it’s important to choose which Chase cards will help you with your long-term travel goals. Likewise, it isn’t a good strategy to start with credit cards from other banks, as you’ll lose valuable slots for Chase credit cards.
However, let’s say you’re someone who’s 4/24 and applies for the Chase Business Ink Preferred. Your application will be subject to 5/24 which would get the all clear at 4/24. But because it’s a business card, the Chase Ink Preferred won’t add to your 5/24 count. After being approved, Chase will still think of you as 4/24.
Typically, Chase can see that you have business credit cards with them, but won’t count them towards your 5/24 status.
Are all UR points created equally?
No. So, let’s be clear. There are several credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
- Some of them earn UR points that CAN be transferred to any of Chase’s 13 airline and hotel transfer partners, as well as can be used in the Chase travel portal for upwards of 1.5 cents per point.
These cards include the:
- Sapphire Reserve,
- Sapphire Preferred,
- Ink Business Preferred, and,
- Ink Business Plus (no longer available, existing cardholders only).
- While other cards earn UR points that can be redeemed as cash back rewards or in the Chase travel portal for a fixed value of 1 cent per point. But, on their own, these UR points CAN’T be transferred to any of Chase’s 13 airline or hotel transfer partners.
These cards include the:
- Freedom Unlimited,
- Ink Cash, and
- Ink Unlimited.
Credit cards that earn both of these UR points are valuable. But, in order to truly maximize the value of UR points, you must have the ability to make use of Chase’s 13 airline and hotel transfer partners.
Why are these 13 airline and hotel transfer partners so valuable?
There’s a lot to unpack with that, but quite simply, it gives you the ability to redeem travel rewards and have a much wider array of flight and hotel night possibilities. The next posts in this series will go into greater detail about how to best use Ultimate Rewards transfer partners.
Having options means being able to choose the best value for your travel plans and (likely) a greater degree of award availability than points and miles that are limited in their use or just for a specific airline or hotel.
This doesn’t mean UR points earned with a Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Ink Cash, or the Ink Unlimited are not useful!
As long as you have 1 of the more premium travel rewards credit cards like the Sapphire Reserve/Preferred or the Ink Preferred/Plus, you can **still** merge the Ultimate Rewards points earned with a Freedom and/or Ink Cash card into your more premium UR points account.
So for example, if you have a Freedom and a Sapphire Preferred, both credit cards will earn UR points. But, only your Sapphire Preferred points will have access to the 13 airline and hotel transfer partners.
To get around this, merge your Freedom UR points with your Sapphire UR points. (More on how to combine UR points below.) Your Freedom UR points will now have all the same benefits as your Sapphire UR points.
**Note my use of the word still in the paragraph above. Rumors have swirled about Chase restricting the ability to merge points. To be safe, merge your points frequently so as not to get stuck with points stranded in different accounts and keep an eye out for any changes!**
If you’re just getting started and would like to apply for Chase travel rewards credit cards or if you’re thinking about how to formulate a successful credit card strategy in light of 5/24, stop reading now.
Head over to Travel Rewards Credit Cards for Beginners: The First 5 to Get for more info on Chase travel rewards credit cards and my application strategy recommendations.
How to Earn Boatloads of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Once you understand these Chase Ultimate Rewards basics and have 1 or more UR earning credit cards, the key is to keep growing your UR points balance. After all, you want to have enough points for the trips you want to take!
Chase’s travel rewards credit cards come with attractive sign-up bonuses where you’ll earn X number of UR points after meeting a specific minimum spending requirement. And, you’ll likely have used your regular bills and everyday expenses to meet this requirement. Services like Plastiq can even help you pay bills that normally can’t be paid by credit card.
Yet, once this is complete and the sign-up bonus earned, you want to continually earn more and more UR points. Here’s how.
1. Use your UR credit card(s) for all your bills and everyday expenses and pay the balance off each month just as if you had deducted these expenses from your bank account with an auto-pay or a debit card.
If you’d like to learn more about how successful travel hackers maximize their everyday spending and bills, stop reading now.
2. Use the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal which you can access once you log into your Ultimate Rewards account. From here, you can choose from hundreds of merchants where you likely already shop and earn additional UR points for purchases you were going to make anyway.
To get to the UR shopping portal, log into Chase Ultimate Rewards. Click on “Earn Bonus Points” at the top left.
The shopping portal screen will appear next.
You’ll be able to see featured merchants, all stores, or search for a particular merchant by typing it in the search field. As you can see above, for example, shopping at Groupon will earn 4 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent. This is in addition to the 1 UR point per $1 for you’ll earn for using your Ultimate Rewards credit card.
Once you find the merchant where you’d like to shop, click on it and then confirm by clicking on the green “Shop at..” button. You’ll be redirected to Groupon and you can shop normally.
Not sure what a shopping portal is or how to use them to earn thousands of miles and points? Stop reading now.
Head over to The Wonders of Shopping Portals and learn all about the bank, airline, and hotel shopping portals and how to use them to your advantage.
The bottom line is:
When you use your Chase UR credit card(s) to pay your bills and everyday spending and make use of the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal, you spend the same as you would’ve normally. But, you’re making the money you spend work harder for you.
Instead of getting nothing by paying from your bank account, you’re earning a return value in the form of UR points to be used for travel rewards.
3 Actions all Chase Ultimate Rewards
Cardholders Need to Know
Congratulations on making it this far! You’ve gotten your UR credit card(s) and you’re earning thousands of UR points from sign-up bonuses, everyday spending, and the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal.
Now comes the fun part! Redeeming those Ultimate Rewards points for an incredible trip!
But first, before diving into how to fly to Europe with an extra city for 0 extra points or how to use UR points for first class to Hawaii, make sure you understand how to use your UR rewards account effectively.
1. Know how to combine Ultimate Rewards points and do it often. Merge your points from a Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Ink Cash, and/or Ink Unlimited with a premium UR account for one points balance and access to Chase’s 13 airline and hotel transfer partners.
Here’s what you need to know.
With personal UR credit cards, Chase says,
“You can move your points, but only to another Chase card with Ultimate Rewards belonging to you, or one member of your household.”
With business UR credit cards, Chase says,
“You can move your points, but only to another Chase card with Ultimate Rewards belonging to you, one member of your household, or your joint business owner, as applicable.”
It’s super simple to combine UR points. Follow along with these account screenshots.
From your Ultimate Rewards dashboard, click on “Combine Points” from the top right of your Ultimate Rewards home screen. You’ll arrive at a series of screens where you’ll be asked which points you’d like to combine, where you’d like them to go, and how many you’d like to combine.
You’ll select which UR earning credit card to move the points from and which credit card to move your points to. If you plan to combine your UR points into a household member’s UR account, you’ll see the option to add that person and their account information.
After continuing to the next screen, you’ll be asked how many UR points you’d like to combine. Select all your points or type in a specific amount.
You’ll be prompted to review and confirm. Once you do, voila! Your UR points are combined with the account you selected.
2. Know how to transfer your UR points to one of those 13 airline and hotel transfer partners I keep talking about!
We’ll go into more specifics about each partner in the following posts in this series, but here are some basics to know about Chase’s transfer partners.
Chase’s airline transfer partners are:
- Singapore Airlines
- British Airways
- KLM/Flying Blue
- Virgin Atlantic
- Aer Lingus
Chase’s hotel transfer partners are:
You should also understand:
- Ultimate Rewards points transferred to any of these partners must be done so in 1,000-point increments.
- All transfers are 1:1, meaning 1,000 UR points equals 1,000 points in the program to where you moved the points.
- All transfers are final, so look at all the details before submitting a transfer request and be sure the award space you want is available!
- Most points transfer instantly. But, IHG, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and Singapore Airlines can take 1-2 business days.
- You can transfer UR points to your airline and hotel loyalty accounts. But, in order to transfer UR points to 1 other person’s loyalty account, she/he must live in the household (i.e. spouse or domestic partner) AND be an authorized user on the card. This last requirement is not the case when just combining UR points.
Follow these tutorial screenshots to see how to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to an airline or hotel partner.
From your Ultimate Rewards home panel, click on “Transfer to Travel Partners.”
You’ll arrive at a screen listing the airline and hotel transfer partners. Select which one you’d like to transfer your UR points to.
Then, enter the requested member name and member ID information for that loyalty program. In this example, you’d need to enter your KLM/Flying Blue frequent flyer number. Note the specific information telling you whose loyalty account you can transfer UR points into.
After that, continue to the next screen where you’re prompted to enter the number of UR points you’d like transferred. Remember, points transfers can’t be undone. Make sure the details are correct and you’ve already checked for the award availability you need.
If everything looks good, submit the transfer request and wait for the transfer confirmation screen.
3. Understand how to find and book travel directly from Chase’s travel portal and that this is DIFFERENT from transferring UR points to an airline or hotel transfer partner.
There are times when it doesn’t make sense to transfer UR points to a partner but to instead use them in the Chase travel portal. For now, it’s important to know where to find the travel portal and how to book award travel this way.
Here are a few quick screenshots to show you.
To access the Chase travel portal from your Ultimate Rewards account, select “Travel.” Again, this is a DIFFERENT option than transferring your UR points to a transfer partner.
From here, you can search for flights, hotels, cars, and activities. The results will show the dollar amount and the number of UR points you’d need to book that travel. You have the option to pay, use UR points, or select a combination of cash and points.
If you have a Sapphire Reserve, it’s best to book travel through this account because of the 50% bonus that comes with this card compared to other Ultimate Rewards earning cards. This means, your Ultimate Rewards points are worth more with a Sapphire Reserve than they are with a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Preferred, for example.
The biggest perk to booking within the travel portal, aside from maybe finding cheaper pricing, is even though you’re paying with points, you’ll earn miles on the airline with whom you’re flying. The airline sees your ticket as a “cash” ticket.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are arguably the most valuable travel rewards points. Understanding the basics and how to use your Ultimate Rewards credit cards and account effectively is key to your success.
Now that you know these fundamentals, you’re better positioned to take full advantage of your Ultimate Rewards account and maximize your UR points for award nights and flights!
Which Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards do you have? What are your questions about these basics?
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