Why Chase Ultimate Rewards Is My Favorite Points Program

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If I had to pick 1 points program as a favorite, it’d be Chase Ultimate Rewards.

They’re valuable because they:

And that’s why Chase Ultimate Rewards is the best for beginners in the miles and points hobby, too!

Why Chase Ultimate Rewards Is My Favorite Points Program

Chase Ultimate Rewards Is My Choice for Best Points Program! I’ll Show You Why!

I’ll go over the highlights of Chase Ultimate Rewards.  And compare it with other transferable points programs.

My Favorite Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to the following partners:

 Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Transfer Partners 
British AirwaysFlying Blue (Air France/KLM)Korean Air
Singapore AirlinesSouthwestUnited Airlines
Virgin Atlantic
 Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners 

You can transfer points directly to travel partners, like British Airways, United Airlines, Hyatt, and Southwest for Big Travel!  There are never any transfer fees and most transfers are instant.

Note that, effective December 8, 2015, you’ll no longer be able to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Amtrak.

1.   United Airlines

I like to book award flights on United Airlines because they have low fees on their own flights, and on partner airlines, like Brussels Airlines, LOT Polish AirlinesLufthansa, and Turkish Airlines.

Why Chase Ultimate Rewards Is My Favorite Points Program

You Can Book Award Flights on Nearly 30 Partner Airlines With United Airlines Miles

In fact, you have access to award seats on over 2 dozen Star Alliance partner airlines with United Airlines miles!

There are lots of ways to earn and redeem United Airlines miles.  And if you need more, you can instantly transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to your United Airlines account.

2.   Hyatt

Hyatt is great because they have a very generous award chart.

Why Chase Ultimate Rewards Is My Favorite Points Program

Award Nights Start at Only 5,000 Hyatt Points per Night! Even the Most Expensive Hotels Are 30,000 Hyatt Points for a Standard Room

Hyatt Category 1 hotels are only 5,000 Hyatt points per night for a standard room.  There are lots to choose from in the US, and many of them are great deals!

Even the most luxurious Hyatt Category 7 hotels (like the Park Hyatt Paris – Vendome) top out at 30,000 Hyatt points per night for a standard room.

Why Chase Ultimate Rewards Is My Favorite Points Program

We Loved Our Stay at the Park Hyatt Milan!

Emily and I stayed at the Park Hyatt Milan, and had a terrific time!

Why Chase Ultimate Rewards Is My Favorite Points Program

Rooms Start at Over $1,200 a Night!

The nightly room rate is ~$1,262 in November, so you’ll save a lot of money by using Hyatt points instead!

We also stayed at the Park Hyatt Goa in India, the Hyatt Regency in Maui, and the Grand Hyatt in Kauai!

Hyatt has hotels all over the world at all award levels and price ranges, and many of them are a terrific value with points.  If you need more Hyatt points, you can transfer them at a 1:1 ratio from Chase Ultimate Rewards.

3.   Southwest

I love the Southwest Companion Pass, which is the best domestic travel deal!

With the Southwest Companion Pass, your partner or friend travels with you for almost free on paid and award tickets for up to 2 years.  It’s like buying 1 ticket, and getting another 1 (almost) free!

Why Chase Ultimate Rewards Is My Favorite Points Program

I Love to Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Southwest, and Then Use My Southwest Companion Pass!

Emily and I always have enough points to fly on Southwest because of Chase Ultimate Rewards transfers.  And then we get double the value with the Southwest Companion Pass!

Note:   Chase Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Southwest do NOT count towards the 110,000 Southwest points required in a year to earn the Companion Pass!

4.   British Airways

British Airways Avios points are excellent for Big Travel within the US and abroad!

That’s because you can use them for award flights on oneworld partner airlines like American Airlines and Air Berlin, or other partners like Aer Lingus or Alaska Airlines!

Why Chase Ultimate Rewards Is My Favorite Points Program

Say Aloha to Hawaii! Fly from the West Coast Round-Trip in Coach to Any Hawaiian Island for Only 25,000 British Airways Avios Points

Be sure to check out my series about the best deals with British Airways Avios points!

And, if you need more, you can always transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards, and then book your award flight!

The Other 3 Programs

I like Chase Ultimate Rewards because their transfer partners tend to match the most with my travel goals.  That said, I like to use Starwood points and AMEX Membership Rewards points whenever I get the opportunity!  As always, choose the 1 that works best with your plans. 🙂

I recommend starting out with Chase Ultimate Rewards, and then branching out to the other programs, especially for beginners.

1.   Starwood

I like Starwood a lot (Cash & Points is my favorite!), but if I had to choose 1 program, I’d still pick Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  That’s because Chase Ultimate Rewards points are much easier to earn and most transfers are instant.

There are lots of ways to redeem your Starwood points once you have them.  You can enjoy perks of Starwood points, like:

Why Chase Ultimate Rewards Is My Favorite Points Program

Use Starwood Points for a Beach Vacation at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort in Miami

Aside from stays at Starwood hotels, you can earn 1 Starwood point per $1 spent on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express cards.  And you’ll earn 2X Starwood points per $1 spent on Starwood hotels.

These cards are great for everyday spending in categories that don’t earn bonus points!  Otherwise, use a card that WILL earn bonus points.  For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred earns 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining.

2.   AMEX Membership Rewards

American Express Membership Rewards points are especially good to transfer to Delta and Air Canada for award flights.

Delta miles are great to use for award trips to Europe!  But keep in mind you’ll pay an excise fee to transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to US-based airlines.

Why Chase Ultimate Rewards Is My Favorite Points Program

AMEX Membership Rewards Has Lots of Airline Travel Partners

AMEX Membership Rewards also transfer to these hotel partners:

 American Express Membership Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners 
Choice HiltonStarwood

There’s a lot of value in this program, but I find myself using Chase Ultimate Rewards points much more often.  Depending on your travel goals, some folks might prefer to stick with this 1 as their primary program.

Here are the cards that earn AMEX Membership Rewards points:

Personal CardsBusiness Cards
Premier Rewards Gold Card From American ExpressThe Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
American Express® Mercedes-Benz PlatinumThe Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressThe Enhanced Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN
AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
AMEX EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
American Express® Gold Card
American Express® Green Card
Blue from American Express® Note: These are the ONLY AMEX cards that earn Membership Rewards points that can NOT be transferred to airline & hotel programs. But you can use these points on the Membership Rewards website for other redemptions. Includes personal AND small business versions of the card.

3.   Citi ThankYou Points

Update:   Beginning July 23, 2017, Citi ThankYou points with the Citi Prestige card will be worth 1.25 cents each toward flights. 

Citi ThankYou points added lots of transfer partners recently but it’s not yet up to the level of the others.  Although I like the ease of redeeming each Citi ThankYou point earned with Citi Prestige for 1.6 cents each on American Airlines flights and its codeshare partners for international flights.

Citi ThankYou points transfer to these partners:

 Citi ThankYou Points Airline Transfer Partners 
Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific)EVA AirEtihad
Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)Garuda Indonesia Malaysia Airlines
QantasQatar AirwaysSingapore Airlines
Thai AirwaysVirgin AmericaVirgin Atlantic
 Citi ThankYou Points Hotel Transfer Partners 
Hilton Hotels

That said, I’m excited to see where this program will go because it’s fairly easy to earn points.

I like that I can transfer Citi ThankYou points to Singapore Airlines.  Because that allows me to save my Chase Ultimate Rewards points, AMEX Membership Rewards points, and Starwood points to transfer to other airline programs.

Singapore Airlines miles are a great choice to book United Airlines flights.  That’s because you’ll pay fewer miles than United Airlines charges, depending on the route.  You’ll save 10,000 miles on a coach award flight, and 20,000 miles for First and Business class.  Those discounts can add up, especially if you’re booking multiple award tickets!

Be sure to read my reviews of Citi Prestige and the Citi ThankYou Premier card.

Earn More Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred

Link:   Chase Freedom

Link:   Chase Ink Plus

Link:   Chase Ink Cash

You can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points with these cards:

Personal CardsBusiness Cards
Chase Sapphire ReserveChase Ink Plus
Chase Sapphire PreferredChase Ink Bold (No Longer Available to New Applicants)
Chase FreedomChase Ink Cash
Chase Freedom Unlimited
Chase Sapphire (No Longer Available to New Applicants)
Note: Points earned from the Chase Freedom, Sapphire, and Ink Cash cards can only be transferred to travel partners if you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Bold card.

And keep in mind you can transfer points between your accounts.

For a limited time, you can earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you sign-up for the Chase Ink Plus, and 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you sign-up for the Chase Ink Cash and complete the minimum spending.  Read my review of both cards! (EXPIRED.)

They both offer 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 you spend (5% cash back) at office supply stores and on cell phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services. The Chase Ink Plus has a limit of $50,000 per year in these categories combined.  And the Chase Ink Cash has a limit of $25,000 per year in these categories combined.

The Chase Freedom earns 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points in quarterly categories, like gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores.  And because it’s a no annual fee card, you can keep this card forever to build your relationship with Chase.

Finally, the Chase Sapphire Preferred always earns 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel and dining.  Because those are such strong categories, and very popular ones, this is the card I recommend to beginners and old-timers alike!

And because Chase Ultimate Rewards points are easy to earn, especially on spending within certain bonus categories, I always have plenty to transfer when I get ready to take a trip!

Remember, points you earn with the Chase Freedom and Chase Ink Cash can NOT be transferred to airline and hotel partners unless you have the Chase Sapphire PreferredChase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold.

Bottom Line

Chase Ultimate Rewards are my favorite transferable points program.

That’s because I can use them for Big Travel on United Airlines, Hyatt hotel stays (like at the Park Hyatt Milan), in conjunction with the Southwest Companion pass for flights on Southwest, or for flights within the US and abroad on British Airways.  Between those options, I find myself turning to Chase Ultimate Rewards a lot.

The other programs (Starwood, AMEX Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou) all have their perks, too.  But if you’re new to miles and points, Chase Ultimate Rewards are a great place to start.

And the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the 1st card I recommend for beginners.

You can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points with:

Which of the 4 programs do you recommend to a friend just starting out in our miles and points hobby?

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4 responses to “Why Chase Ultimate Rewards Is My Favorite Points Program

  1. Hi, thanks for the comprehensive post on points. The thing about partmer airlines like Singapore is that they do not have standard UA award space available. If this is incorrect, please tell your readers that the awards you write about are saver awards, and depend on availability. If I am in correct, please tell us how for example to book a SFO-EWR or SFO-EWR award on the Singapore website (flying UA) for a std award. Every time I try, it says there are no awards (I tried calling also).

  2. if i transfer UR to Hyatt, when do the hyatt points expire?

  3. Feel like I’m missing something here.. It seems like UR values the points at $0.01/point, since they’ll convert to cash at that rate. Transferring to a partner such as Southwest or United makes them more valuable. Is there more to the story?

  4. Pingback: Getting to Europe on Points: American Express Membership points vs. Chase Ultimate Rewards points – dinapaul1