This is post #1 of a series regarding the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

Related Posts:

The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is talked about quite often, but I wonder if everyone really knows what it is. Everyone knows about American Express Membership Rewards – it’s been around for awhile now. But do you fully understand Chase Ultimate Rewards? It is just recently getting the hype and in my opinion is surpassing the Amex Membership Rewards program. While American Express has been cutting the ties with many partners, Chase is on the rise and I foresee many additional partners continuing to be added. My favorite part of the Ultimate Rewards program is the flexibility it allows. You are not pigeonholed into one hotel or airline program. You can use your points to cater towards your travel needs/wants.

1. Earning and Burning

Earning – Ultimate Reward (UR) points are earned when having the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold Business, and Chase Ink Plus credit cards. While there are a few other cards that are part of the Ultimate Rewards program, they do not include the full benefits. Those cards will be covered in future posts in this series.

Essentially Every $1 spent = 1 UR point. You will also receive bonus points with certain purchases:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred:
    • 2x points on airfare, hotels, car rentals, and dinning
    • 7% bonus on all points earned for the calendar year. These points will post at the end of  every January for the prior calendar year. This is for those that were a cardmember prior to 7/20/2014. This benefit for those existing card members will last until 12/31/2015.
    • Detailed blog post
  • Chase Ink Bold: 
    • 5x points on business expenses (wireless communication services, cable and satellite television and radio services, office supply stores and wholesale distributors of office supplies) up to a maximum of 200,000 bonus points (which means $50,000 of spend)
    • 2x points at gas stations, hotels and motels up to a maximum of 50,000 bonus points (which again means $50,000 of spend)
    • Detailed blog post
  • Chase Ink Plus: 
    • 5x points on business expenses (wireless communication services, cable and satellite television and radio services, office supply stores and wholesale distributors of office supplies) up to a maximum of 200,000 bonus points (which means $50,000 of spend)
    • 2x points at gas stations, hotels and motels up to a maximum of 50,000 bonus points (which again means $50,000 of spend)
    • Detailed blog post

Redeeming – You can redeem your UR points four different ways (with transferring to a loyalty program being the best redemption value):

  • Transferring to a partner loyalty program – Points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to:
    • United
    • British Airways
    • Korean Airlines
    • Southwest Airlines
    • Virgin Atlantic
    • Singapore Airlines
    • Hyatt
    • Priority Club/InterContinental Hotels Group
    • Marriott
    • Ritz Carlton
    • Amtrak
  • Pay for travel: You can use your points to redeem free travel with Chase’s travel booking service. This allows you to pay for anything travel related (car rental, cruises, etc.). There are no black out dates and you can earn frequent flyer points as normal. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you will get a 25% bump when redeeming in this type of travel. Therefore, 1 point = 1.25 cent towards the purchase of your travel.
  • Cash Back: Instead of redeeming for travel, you can use your points to receive cash back. 1 point = 1 cent cash back. Not the best redemption or recommended at all!
  • Gift Cards/Entertainment: Again, not a great redemption ratio, but you can redeem your points for various gift cards or entertainment opportunities.

2. Using the Ultimate Rewards online site

Accessing your account information – Once you log onto the Ultimate Rewards site, click the “Rewards Activity” tab. This will show you all the points you have earned (from regular spend and bonuses) during the billing cycle.

Transferring points to a loyalty rewards program – Click the “Transfer Points” tab. This will bring up all the available reward programs where you can transfer your points to. They have added a few loyalty programs recently, so I am really hoping they keep up the pace and continue to add more!

Once you select your desired program, you will need to select the number of points to transfer over along with the program information. For all programs, you must transfer in increments of 1,000 points. Also, currently they will allow you to transfer your points into anyone’s account so the names do not have to match. This is a great way to top off family accounts! Also, unlike American Express Membership Rewards there are no fees to transfer your points! Points typically transfer instantly, but remember, they cannot be reversed! It is always best to put your ticket on hold first and then transfer your points – this will ensure the award ticket you are looking to redeem is available.

Using the Ultimate Reward shopping mall – Earn UR points on many online purchases! For everyone online purchase you make, first go to the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal. On the Ultimate Rewards site click the “Earn Faster” tab. This will bring every online merchant along with the number of points you will earn per dollar spent. Once you select the merchant it will bring up the typical online store you are used to – go shopping and earn points! Your purchase will be tracked via online cookies (if you are not a tech person, Google this). During many times throughout the year, the UR mall has some great bonuses for certain online merchants. Bonus points post pretty quickly.

3. Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card bonus

As mentioned above, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold Business, and Chase Ink Plus credit cards are directly tied to the Ultimate Rewards program. Also, none of the cards have foreign transaction fees! A quick recap:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: 40,000 bonus points with $3,000 spend in 3 months plus an additional 5,000 points when you add an authorized user and the user makes a purchase within the first 3 months; $95 annual fee waived the first year. Application link.
  • Chase Ink Bold card: 50,000 bonus points with $5,000 spend in 3 months; $95 annual fee waived for the first year. Application link.
  • Chase Ink Plus card: 50,000 bonus points with $5,000 spend in 3 months; $95 annual fee waived for the first year. Application link.

If you have any questions let me know!

Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links where I get paid commission if you apply and get approved for a credit card. I will only list the best credit card offers as my goal is for you to travel for free!

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

  • deltagoldflyer said,

    Very very nice post. Only one problem I see. Your UR balance is way to low. Time for a Chase card churn for more! ;-)

  • dealswelike said,

    @DGF – I agree! If only I knew when I will apply for a mortgage!

  • shahab said,

    very informative article. I recently (less than a week ago) got approved for a sapphire preferred and ink bold card. So I am hoping to get 100k (combined) UR points after I fulfill spending requirements in given time.
    Since 50kUR points can be used for booking air-ticket worth $625, my Q is, Can I use 100k points to book an air ticket worth $1250??

  • Nguyen said,

    Great post! I have not had a chance to look it up, but may I ask how would you transfer your Freedom points to Chase Sapphire? Regarding to a mortgage, I still do not figure out how bank approves mortgage :-( Last year, I refinanced and got a rental in the middle of getting credit cards as well. I am in the middle of refinance again since rate drops, and just got the Chase Freedom on the same day of doing the loan app. I did/do not have problem with getting a mortgage… Thanks.

  • dealswelike said,

    @Nguyen – Great question! That is actually in another post for within this series. Be on the look out in the next few days! Or maybe it is such an interest, that will be tomorrow’s post!

  • dealswelike said,

    @Shahab – All the points are essentially combined into one account and are not separated amongst the two credit cards. Enjoy that free vacation!

  • D said,

    Is it possible to get a points advance like one can with Membership Rewards?

  • dealswelike said,

    @D – I do not believe so.

  • ORD-TGU said,

    Any tips for getting BOTH the Ink and Sapphire Preffered at ths same time? Is there a two browser trick?

  • dealswelike said,

    @ORD-TGU – Essentially the two browser trick is to be able to get points for two different cards where you are limited to a one time bonus. So for the AAdvantage card, the two browser trick is great as technically you can only get the bonus points once in the time frame. However, for the Chase Ink and Sapphire you are allowed to get the 50K bonus points per new card application. However, Chase has been controlling the number of applications in a 3 month timeframe, so you will probably have to call the reconsideration line for one of them. Doesn’t matter if you do them on the same day or not (for these cards).

  • Kalboz said,

    @ shahab: you can accumulate a total 140K UR for a RT in first class using Star Alliance Awards flight through United from N. America to SE Asia. See chart: http://www.united.com/ual/asset/United_Star_Chart_eff_after_6_15.pdf

  • tracy said,

    If you book a hotel with UR Points, do you get your hotel program points for the cost of the stay? What about credit toward status?

  • dealswelike said,

    @tracy – If you use your UR points as cash to book travel, you will get points and elite nights for your stay. Essentially, the hotel treats it as a paid stay.

  • Mike H said,

    Are transferred UR points to Southwest RR good toward the companion pass? Hmmm. Me might like.

  • dealswelike said,

    @Mike – Unfortunately transferred points from Ultimate Rewards are not counting towards the Southwest companion pass. However, there is a roundabout way, but will lose some of the value of the points. UR points can be transferred to Hyatt and then Hyatt points can be transferred to Southwest points (which do count towards the companion pass). UR points transfer to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio, and then you can transfer 5,000 Hyatt points to 2,400 Southwest points, so essentially losing half of the value of your points. However, if you transfer all 50,000 points from the sign up bonus to Hyatt and then transfer those 50,000 points to Southwest, you will get a 5K points. Hyatt gives you a 5k bonus when transferring 50k points or more to Southwest. These 50k UR points will ultimately get you 29,000 Southwest points.

  • BML said,

    Is the transfer of points to loyalty programs instant?
    You mentioned “put your ticket on hold first and then transfer your points”? How do you actually do that? Most award programs require you to use points/miles for online redemption right away.
    Thanks so much! First time posting here!

  • dealswelike said,

    @BML – many programs allow you to put your ticket on hold for at least a day or two (some even more). Which program are you looking to transfer your points to? Typically points transfer over instantly, but could potentially take up to a day. Congrats on your first comment!

  • BML said,

    I thought most airlines’ websites take miles off your account right away if you redeem online, but have not gone through the entire process, was thinking about British Airways and United. If you call them, there’d usually be extra fees. Your posts on the Chase Sapphire Preferred really makes me want to get one, along with Chase Freedom, but last time when I tried to apply Chase online, they said I had too many Chase cards (The British Airways Chase and Mileage Plus Explorer) and denied my application (even though I know I have excellent credit score). I wonder how long that period has to be before they’d approve new cards. Thanks again!

  • dealswelike said,

    @BML – that is actually a great post topic – airline hold policies with award redemption. Thanks! I will get those two specifically for you though.

    When you were denied the chase card did you call the reconsideration line? Typically people have had success, including myself, calling this department and having them shift some credit around to eventually approve you for the card.

  • Ken said,

    IS it possible to transfer points from my wife’s Ultimate Rewards account to my Ultimate Rewards account? She doesn’t have the Sapphire Preferred card yet and wants me to manage all points for us both.

  • vince said,

    rewards2cash.com is offering 1.16 – 1.22 cents for each chase ultimate rewards so cashing out seems a great option, too.

  • rich said,

    does this still apply as I do not see transfer points on the ulitmate rewards site anymore.
    thanks

  • dealswelike said,

    @Rich – Yes it does. Which Chase card do you have?

  • rich said,

    I have the chase freedom currently, but am getting sapphire. will mine change once I have the sapphire?

  • dealswelike said,

    @Rich – Yes, the way you can use your points is different for chase freedom card vs. chase sapphire. Once you get your sapphire card, transfer the points from your freedom account to your sapphire account to transfer to airline/hotel partner accounts.

  • SirJim said,

    I had the same experience with the Chase cards(BA & United) on the same day (April 20). After a call to the reconsideration line, I got them both. I also applied for the CITI AMEX Personal and Visa personal on the same day (April 20)and was denied, evan after 2 calls to the recon line. I am going to wait 3 months and try again !?

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