Ultimate Rewards is the points currency used by Chase for its awards-earning credit cards. These cards are separate from the Chase co-brand credit cards from Hyatt, Southwest, United, Disney, etc. While co-brand cards earn points directly in their sponsor’s loyalty programs, Ultimate Rewards are stored with Chase until you want to redeem them.
Your redemption options depend on which Chase credit card you hold. You’ll have several choices if you have one of their no-annual-fee cash-back cards, such as the Freedom Unlimited.
The most basic redemption is cashback, where you’ll earn 1 cent per point. Ten thousand points will get you $100. You have other ways to use your points with Apple or to redeem them for gift cards. There’s also an option to use your points to “Pay Yourself Back” for specific purchases while getting an extra 25% value for your points.
If you have one of these premium cards, you can unlock a “hidden” menu on the Ultimate Rewards website for more options.
- Chase J.P. Morgan Reserve
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Chase Ink Business Preferred
Suppose you have one of these cards and log into the Ultimate Rewards website. In that case, you’ll see an option not available to other cardholders—the opportunity to transfer points to travel partners.
This allows you to turn your Chase Ultimate Rewards points into one of many other currencies. All of which may unlock a fantastic travel opportunity previously out of reach.
Here are the programs Chase partners with for Ultimate Rewards transfers:
- AerLingus AerClub (Avios)
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- British Airways Executive Club (Avios)
- Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM
- Emirates Skywards
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Iberia Plus (Avios)
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- IHG One Rewards
- Marriott Bonvoy
- World of Hyatt
Points in some hotel programs, like Marriott Bonvoy and IHG Rewards Club, are worth less than 1 cent each. Transferring points only makes sense if you must top up your account for a big redemption.
The World of Hyatt is a unique hotel program that offers great value for points. It’s easy to earn over 2 cents per point for everyday redemptions. If you choose wisely, it’s even possible to earn 5 cents per point or more
Some airline options, such as Southwest and JetBlue, run cash-based loyalty programs. Transferring points to them will limit the value of your points, but they’re still worth more than 1.5 cents each in either program. So it’s not a bad deal, but it’s not the great one you can get with other programs.
For example, we transferred points to Singapore KrisFlyer to book two tickets from JFK-FRA in business class on an A380. We also used Ultimate Rewards to transfer points to Flying Blue to get home from FRA-JFK in Delta One business class.
That’s the start of what you can do when you learn the frequent flyer programs and their alliance partners.
Articles have been written about the best ways to use points in every one of the programs mentioned above. Want to arbitrage Avios between British Airways and Iberia? How to use Virgin Atlantic points to book flights on Delta. Or maybe you want to use United MileagePlus miles to book a flight in business class with ANA to Tokyo. All of those are possible if you have a stash of Ultimate Rewards and a premium card from Chase. In addition, there are numerous uses for Aeroplan points, including booking short-haul flights on Singapore Airlines.
And if you’re wondering how to transfer points from your cashback card to your premium card, we’ve got a step-by-step tutorial.
The main reason to earn transferrable points is to have the flexibility to send them to the most lucrative program at the best time. That would usually be right before you’re ready to book an award ticket. By keeping your options open, you hedge your bets against a program devaluing. While it’s disappointing when it takes more points to book the same trip, at least you’re not locked into that program and can see if there’s another way to book the same ticket for fewer points.
Chase’s transfer partners have a limited focus on Oneworld and Skyteam for transatlantic flights, which may disappoint those seeking more options. Conversely, those interested in transpacific flights will find more favorable options with Star Alliance partners such as Aeroplan, United, and Singapore. In addition, outside of World of Hyatt, the hotel options available are rather limited.
However, the ability to earn 5x points with an Ink Cash card on cable/phone expenses and office supply stores, 3x on travel expenses, and 1.5x on all charges with Freedom Unlimited always leaves me with a nice stash of points that I’m looking for a way to spend on our trips.
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