Best Use of Chase Ultimate Reward Points

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Awhile back I wrote an entire series on the Chase Ultimate Rewards program (which you can read in detail here if you’d like), but with the current Chase Ink Plus credit card offer, I wanted to point out the best redemption options when transferring your points to a partner loyalty program.

Overall, I believe the best all-around partners to redeem your points are Hyatt, United, and British Airways. You can read in detail the valuation of the other partner Hotels and Airlines in these previous blog posts.

Hotel Partners: Hyatt, Marriott, InterContinental Hotels Group, Ritz Carlton. All points transfer at a 1:1 ratio and here 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 25k – 30k 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!
    • 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. Other great value category 4 hotels include the Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar, Grand Hyatt Seoul, Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort. You can read more about the great value of Category 4 Hyatt hotels here.
    • Suburbs of Chicago: There are many Hyatt hotels right outside of Chicago (Naperville, Schaumburg, Warrenville, Hoffman Estates). This is an expensive area where hotels are at least $120/night, however, there are 7 category 1 hotels in this area! That means those hotel only require 5,000 points a night. There are many corporations in those locations, so hotels can charge a premium even though they aren’t in the city. At these hotels you can get about a  2.4 cents per point valuation, which is great! 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 some of those high level categories.

Airline Partners: United, British Airways, Korean Air, Southwest Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines. All points transfer at a 1:1 ratio and here are some of the best redemption opportunities.

  • United – Not nearly as good as it used to be due to United’s devaluation earlier this year, but there are still some good opportunities.
    • Southeast Asia: 1 round-trip economy class ticket will cost 80,000 points. This is giving you a redemption value of 1.8 cents/point. Unfortunately, this isn’t nearly as good as it used to be prior to United’s devaluation. Or, if you prefer business class, just a little more spend on your card can get you the 140,000 points needed. A paid ticket will cost about $5,000. This is giving you a redemption value of 3.5 cents/point (and this is being pretty conservative).
    • Europe: 1 round-trip economy class ticket will cost you 60,000 points. Depending on where you are going and the time frame, this can save you anywhere between $700 and $1,300. I’ll average it out and put a redemption value of 1.6 cents per value – not a great redemption value, but still free. A business class ticket will give you a better redemption value, but requires 115,000 points for a round-trip ticket (and this is for United metal, partner flights are even more). Since paying for this ticket will cost about $4,000, the redemption value is 3.5 cents/point.
    • Hawaii: 2 round-trip economy class tickets will cost you 90,000 points. I was once able to get a flight from JFK for $600 round-trip, but this is rare. Typical price is probably more around $900/person. This redemption value is about 2 cents/point.
    • Domestic: 100,000 points can be used for 4 round-trip tickets from New York to California (or really from any two domestic cities). While this is the worst redemption value, it really depends on what works best for you and your family. If your goal is to travel around the US for free to visit friends and family members, then that’s great, and these points can save you about $1,400! Assuming a $350 ticket normally, this is giving you a 1.4 cent/point redemption value. *Just make sure the cost of each ticket is more than $315, or you might as well use the “pay for points option” instead of transferring to this partner airline.
  • British Airways – Your travel style will depend on whether or not this program works for you, most of the positives being for domestic travel, to South America, and to specific locations in Europe. Typically, you will actually end up redeeming your points for a partner airline, i.e., American Airlines. You can look up the number of points needed for a free flight here – this is given as a one-way redemption and per segment. However, if you need to go to a city that does not have a direct route, you will need to essentially redeem two awards, one for each segment – this is when Avios points might not be worth it. You can check out this prior post on the Top 10 Redemption Opportunities for British Airlines Avios Points.
    • Short haul flight: 4,500 points one-way. Many times these short haul flights can run about $200 each way. For only 4,500 points, this is an awesome redemption! A great example is between NYC and Toronto or Montreal. If used properly, this can give you about 4.5 cents per point.
    • Medium haul flights: 7,500 points one-way.
    • Long haul flights: 12,500 points one-way. This comes out to the same 25k points needed for a round-trip flight which is comparable to all other airlines.
    • Europe: Redeeming BA points for flights via Europe typically will not be the best value. They tack on HUGE fees when redeeming awards to London, which can many times cost close to the same as just paying for the ticket outright. However, you can fly to Ireland on Aer Lingus for only 25,000 points roundtrip from Boston to Dublin! And on Iberia from JFK to Madrid for only 40,000 points roundtrip! These two examples have relatively low fees!
    • South America: If you can fly non-stop, you can redeem only 50,000 points for a round-trip flight (or 100,000 in business class). Although BA has hefty fees for many international destinations, currently South America does not face those same high fees. You will only pay taxes which should be less than $100 per ticket. Paying outright could cost you over $1,200. Redeeming your points will give you a decent value at 2.4 per point.

Of course you can still get a decent value with the rest of the transfer partners and always use the “pay for points” option through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal (where 50,000 points = fixed $625 towards travel). But the top three are where I think you’ll get the best bang for your buck. If redeeming your points for some of the “sweet spots” in those award charts, with the 50,000 point sign up bonus you could potentially get anywhere between $1,000-$1,400 in value! 

Key Links:

  • Ink Plus® Business Credit CardEarn 50,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $5,000 on the card within the first three months. $95 annual fee waived the first year.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As always, thanks for supporting the blogs and enjoy traveling on a deal!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. I’m surprised you didn’t mention Korean Air. They are by far the cheapest (fewest miles) option to get to Asia in first class, and they have excellent award availability.

  2. With the cheap fares to Miami right now, one of the best uses of 9k Avios is for a flight from MIA to basically anywhere in the Caribbean/Cancun/Cozumel.

  3. Are you aware of other Chase Ink Plus card holders who own 2 businesses that have successfully applied for 2 Chase Ink Plus cards and (most importantly) receiving the Ultimate Rewards signup bonus points on the 2nd card?

    • @Nathan – I do have a few friends that were able to get multiple Chase Ink Plus credit cards, one for each business that they have. And yes, they received the sign up bonus.

  4. @dealswelike
    UA, SE asia, RT, econ… 60k?? sure about that?
    award chart shows 40k, 1-way
    maybe i missed something?
    thanks

  5. A much better writeup than Gary’s particularly with your focus on business class awards on UA and BA, which provide much better value than economy.

    But disappointing to see people keep touting Maldives and Bali (unrealistic for most people) instead of expensive city properties like Paris, NYC, Tokyo, etc.

  6. at least do minimal research before your ink bold sales presentation.

    Bali hyatt is closed for over a year for major renovation, exits a regency and will never be cat 1 (or 2 or 3) again. ever.

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