This is post #5 of a series regarding the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
- Introduction to Chase Ultimate Rewards Program
- Maximizing Chase Ultimate Rewards with Chase Freedom
- Maximizing your Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire, Chase Ink Classic, and Chase Ink Cash Points
- Downgrading your Chase Ultimate Rewards Card to Avoid the Annual Fee
- Best Redemption for Chase Ultimate Reward Points – Hotel Stays
- Best Redemption for Chase Ultimate Reward Points – Air Travel
- Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire
- Chase Ultimate Rewards: Sapphire Preferred vs. Ink Bold
- Comparison of Four Chase Ink Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards
- Difference Between the Chase Ink Bold and Chase Ink Plus
- Top 10 Chase Ultimate Reward Questions
As I mentioned in the Introduction post, you have many options when redeeming your points (hence, why I love the flexibility of the program!):
- Transfer to a partner loyalty program (hotel/air/train)
- Pay for travel
- Cash Back
- Gift Cards/Entertainment
While everyone’s travel needs are different, typically the best redemption is to transfer your points to a loyalty program. For the purpose of this post, I am going to discuss transfer option #1 and more specifically, hotel options. Remember though, only three of the many Chase Ultimate Reward cards allow you to transfer directly to partner loyalty programs: Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, and Chase Ink Plus.
Currently, Ultimate Rewards has partnered with these hotel loyalty programs:
- InterContinental Hotels Group
Ultimate Reward points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to all programs, but each program values their points quite differently. After all, you want to stretch those bonus points from the sign up offer as much as possible! So let’s see which hotel option makes the most sense.
Below are some of the best redemption opportunities
- Hyatt – This program has 7 categories ranging from 5,000 points to 30,000 points needed for a free night. This is by far the best usage of your Ultimate Rewards points for hotel redemption as a top top hotel will only cost you 25,000 – 30,000 points. Here are some examples:
- Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa: A category 6 hotel and one of the most expensive Hyatt hotels available. The average rate I found when poking around different dates was about $800/night, but over Christmas time can cost you over $1,700/night! Since the number of points needed to redeem is the same regardless of time of the year, using points during a holiday time period can be huge! This 25,000 point/night hotel has a redemption value of 3.2 cents per point, and during Christmas a whopping 6.8 cents per point! **This hotel is going up to a category 7 hotel in a few weeks.
- Hyatt Escala Lodge – Park City, Utah: This is a category 4 hotel, so requires 15,000 points for a free night. During ski season, regular rates are about $425/night. This is a great value at 2.83 cents per point.
- Bali Hyatt: This is a category 1 hotel, so requires only 5,000 points for a free night. Regular rate is about $120/night, thus a redemption value of 2.4 cents per point. This is a reminder that sometimes those low category $100/night+ hotels can actually be a decent value with points, and even a better value than Hawaii, for example.
- **Note: These hotel categories were from 2012. In the Hyatt program, categories can change on an annual basis, so you might notice that these hotels are now in different categories, thus costing more or less points.
Ultimate Reward value: Based on the scenarios above, if you average it out, 50,000 Ultimate Reward points should be worth at least $1,000. This is assuming 2 cents per point, and for many that is the pure minimum. For those redeeming at the most high end hotels, for example, Maldives, Paris, Tokyo, 50,000 points could save you about $2,000 (if not more)!
- Marriott – While Hyatt will definitely get you a better redemption value (typically), they have very limited locations. Unlike Marriott, you can typically find one of their brands everywhere! Marriott requires about double the amount of points per free night, but has the same 1:1 transfer ratio as all of the other partners. Also, Marriott gives you your 5th night free on award redemptions, so remember to factor that into your calculations. Marriott ranges from Category 1-8 hotels. Here are some examples:
- JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa: Category 6, thus requiring 30,000 points for a free night. A 5 night stay will require 120,000 points. To pay for your 5 night stay will cost about $1,000, giving you a redemption rate of 0.83 cents per point – even with the 5th night free!
- Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe Hotel, Paris: Category 7 hotel that cost about $400/night in the summer. This will give you a redemption rate of 1.1 cents per point.
- Courtyard Los Angeles Marina del Rey: Category 4 hotel right near the beach. Typical rates are over $150/night, or costs 20,000 points for a free night. This is a pretty bad rate at 0.75 cents per point.
- **Note: These hotel categories were from 2012. In the Marriott program, categories can change on an annual basis, so you might notice that these hotels are now in different categories, thus costing more or less points.
Ultimate Reward value: When transferring to Marriott, you want to ensure that the value you are getting is more than if you were to use the “pay for travel” option – this is another way to redeem your Ultimate Reward points (and will be discussed more in a future post). From the calculations above, you will ONLY want to transfer your Ultimate Reward points to Marriott if your redemption rate is at least 1.3 cents per point. This will value 50,000 points at $650. Unless redeeming during a holiday time, you will rarely see the value in transferring your Ultimate Reward points to Marriott.
- InterContinental – This value is pretty equivalent to Marriott, so again, not really recommended. There is also a loophole to purchase discounted IHG points, so this is not a great transfer value from Chase Ultimate Rewards.
- InterContinental Thalasso Bora Bora: Requires 50,000 points a night and rooms typically go for about $1,000. This is one of the best places to redeem your Priority Club points. This is a redemption value of 2 cents per point and probably the best value you’ll get at an InterContinental hotel.
- PointBreak list: Every so often, IHG lists a a bunch of hotels on the PointBreak list, which means you can redeem a free night for only 5,000-15,000 points. This can be an amazing deal! Typically, you will only find the lower level hotels listed and for off peak season, but nonetheless, they are a great value. Many times hotels on this list can go for well over $100/night which is giving you a minimum value of 2 cents per point.
- Loophole: As long as you have 5,000 points in your account, you can essentially “buy” points for 0.7 cents a point. Priority Club allows “point and cash” reservations and at a low level hotel, this requires 5,000 points + $70 in cash. So ultimately you are purchasing the difference of points (10,000 points) for $70 as the “cash” piece. However, if you need to cancel your reservation, they will not give you back the cash portion, but instead redeposit the points as if it was a points only reservation. This means that you can “purchase” points for .7 cents per point. Going to Bora Bora, for example, will cost you go to Bora Bora for $350. A PointBreak hotel will cost you $35.
Ultimate Rewards value: If you use your points at high end hotels or on PointBreak promotions, 50,000 points can be valued at about $1,000. Chances are, you will not see a higher value than this, if anything, it will be much lower.
Moral of the story – 99.9% of the time, only transfer your points to Hyatt if looking for a hotel redemption! For the other two hotels, use the “pay for travel” option, or wait a little to see if there is a better usage for your Ultimate Reward points. The next post will discuss the value of transferring your points to partner airlines. The value will be similar to redeeming at Hyatt.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links where I get paid a small 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!