What’s the Best Way to Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points?

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Million Mile Secrets Reader, Ankit, commented:

What is the best way to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points?  Use the Chase portal to book directly using points, or transfer points to travel partners?

Great question, Ankit!

You’ll often get the most value by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners, like Hyatt, Southwest, and United Airlines.

But there are times when using the Chase portal is a better deal when you want a specific flight or hotel because your travel dates aren’t as flexible.

What's The Best Way To Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Knowing How to Use Your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Can Get You More Big Travel!

The best deal depends on several factors, including your travel goals.  I’ll show you how to decide which option is best for you!

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Link:   Chase Ink Plus® Business Card

Link:   Chase Freedom®

Link:   Chase Freedom Unlimited℠

Link:   Chase Ink Cash® Business Card

Chase Ultimate Rewards is my favorite points program.  Their points are valuable because they’re:

And they are the best points for beginners in the miles and points hobby!

You can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points from the following 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 you can combine your points from different accounts!  But you can only transfer points to travel partners if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Ink Bold (no longer available) card.

And if you have one of the above cards, you can redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points through Chase’s portal for 1.25 cents per point.  Otherwise, your points are worth 1 cent each toward paid travel or cash back.

What Are Your Travel Goals?

It’s possible to get a value of more than 1.25 cents per point when you transfer to travel partners.  But it is also possible to get less!

There isn’t one answer for every situation.  The key in deciding how to use Ultimate Rewards is to compare the paid price with the transfer partner price.

Transferring to Airlines

For example, you can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways and fly American Airlines from Sacramento to Los Angeles over 4th of July weekend for 15,000 British Airways Avios points round-trip.

But instead of transferring your points, you could book your round-trip flight through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for ~11,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points!

What's The Best Way To Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Use Your Points With the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal When the Airfare Is Cheap!

Booking through the portal will save you ~4,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  Plus, when you buy your tickets through the portal, you will earn airline miles for your flight.  Award flights do NOT earn miles.

And there are no blackout dates when you book through the portal, so you don’t have to worry about available award seats.

That said, some folks prefer to book relatively cheap flights without using points at all, saving them for expensive flights.

If airfare is expensive (like long-haul or international flights), it’s usually better to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airline partners.

For example, a round-trip coach ticket from Salt Lake City to Athens costs over 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points in October 2016 through the portal.

What's The Best Way To Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Ouch! The Cheapest Options From Salt Lake City to Athens on the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal Are Expensive

By transferring points to airline partners like United Airlines, you can save over 40,000 points for the exact same dates!  But you will have to pay taxes.

What's The Best Way To Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

You’ll Have to Pay ~$115 in Taxes. But Saving 40,000 Points Is a No-Brainer!

40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth $500 when you use them through the Chase portal (40,000 points X 1.25 cents per point = $500).  Deduct the ~$115 you will pay for taxes, and you save $385 by transferring your points to United Airlines.

Ankit can get even more value when he books Business Class or First Class seats by transferring his points!

What's The Best Way To Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Transferring ~58,000 Points to Singapore Airlines Can Get You a First Class Ticket Worth Over $5,000!

If you want to book Business and First Class seats, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, and United Airlines are good transfer options.

Transferring to Hotels

Transferring points to Hyatt can be a terrific way to save money!  Award nights at Hyatt hotels cost 5,000 to 30,000 Hyatt points per night.

I enjoyed my stay at the Park Hyatt Sydney when I visited Australia to surprise my mom on her birthday.  Paid nights here usually cost $750+.

If you booked a room through the Chase Portal in October 2016, you’d pay ~70,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  That’s a lot of points for one night!

What's The Best Way To Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

A 70,000 Point Hotel Night Is Hard to Swallow

If you transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt instead, the same room costs 30,000 Hyatt points.  You’ll save 40,000 points!

What's The Best Way To Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

30,000 Points Is a Great Deal for a Room Going for Over $800

Transferring points to other hotel chains isn’t always as good a deal.

For example, a night at the Intercontinental Dubai Festival City costs ~$250.  But an award night costs 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (transferred to IHG).

That’s worth $625 through the Chase portal (50,000 points X 1.25 cents = $625).

What's The Best Way To Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

In This Case, It’s Not Worth Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to IHG Points

This is NOT a good points transfer option.  Buying through the portal will save you over 30,000 points!

Use the Portal for Other Travel

The Chase Ultimate Rewards portal is very handy for other travel purchases, too.  Like booking non-chain hotels that don’t have loyalty programs.

It can also be an excellent deal for rental cars!  The portal often has the lowest prices.  And the cancellation policy is generous.

Bottom Line

The best way for Ankit to use his Chase Ultimate Rewards points depends on his travel goals.  And the paid price of the flight or hotel he wants to book!

Cheap airfare and hotel stays often cost fewer points when you book directly through the Chase Travel Portal.  Plus, you don’t have to worry about blackout dates.

But it’s usually a better deal to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel partners for expensive flights and pricey luxury hotels.

It’s worth comparing the number of points you’ll need in either scenario to figure out what’s best for your travel plans!

Thanks for your question, Ankit!

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10 responses to “What’s the Best Way to Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points?

  1. What I *personally* like most about the ultimate rewards program is that they have plenty of places to stay that *aren’t* the big mega-chains. In general, I’d much rather stay in a little bed and breakfast, which I just did in Santa Fe last month on UR points (getting the 20% discount over paying cash).

  2. One can also book cruises through Chase, using points or a combination of points and cash, but Chase requires that one phone them to do this. It would certainly add functionality if the cruise option could – like hotels – be booked online so one can leisurely explore costs and options.

  3. all good reminders, yes. To emphasize the Chase travel side of the UR program, I recently was planning a trip to Cabo San Lucas area of Mexico. I’d missed the IHG half price promo for the all inclusive Holiday Inn Resort there, and I wasn’t too keen about unloading 35,000 of IHG points per night. (esp. when cash rates of hotels there in late May are so cheap)… Checked the Chase UR travel site for their best prices — and was astonished to see nights at the same HI Resort discounted down to under $140 or 11k CUR points per night. (to be sure, CUR points worth a lot more than IHG points — but even so, a great deal… ps, the nearby Hyatt Ziva was going for twice that rate)

    Yet another, even high value angle, using chase UR points (or Amex) can at times be a great way to reduce the ever increasing nasty bite of travel taxes (national budget fund-raising), esp. to the Caribbean…. Unlike with reward travel, you CAN pay your all the travel, including taxes, using CUR points. We did it last year from Montego Bay to Fort Lauderdale, on Jetblue — yet paid for full ticket fare (incl. taxes) with CUR points. (and the expense worked out to just a few dollars more than what the taxes would have cost if we’d done the ticket direct with Jetblue — and that’s BEFORE the value of the points)

    And that wasn’t a fluke. I recently priced travel from Cancun to Ft. Myers or Miami that was maybe $20 more than the taxes — and that again, was without figuring in the value of points to be expended. (to be sure, not every day will work out so nicely, and it helps to have date flexibility. Mid-week travel will often be much, much cheaper than weekend travel)

    May sound crazy — but check it out Daraius…. I’ve been asking you for years to do a post on ways to reduce the bite of extortionist taxes being charges on international travel….. (I’m talking about you Jamaica, Bahamas & elsewhere in the Brit. “common-wealth”) Here’s the best angle I’ve come across.

    but don’t tell anybody.

  4. Pingback: MasterCard just lost $26B/yr in debit business to Visa | easyjourneys

  5. Does anyone know if I would have to cancel my chase sapphire card before applying for the preferred version again? I downgraded it about four years ago.

  6. brian you can go ahead and apply for the Preferred.

  7. Thanks Rob, I was approved.

  8. brian – Nice!

  9. Love, love, love Chase and their rewards points! We recently had to cancel a trip the day before we were due to leave due to the death of my father-in-law and we got All our money back within 10 days courtesy of Chase Bank. We used Chase rewards points to transfer to United for our plane tickets and United refunded the points with no fees. We used the Chase United credit card to pay for the cruise portion of our trip and since that card comes with trip cancellation coverage the entire amount we paid (and forfeited) to the cruise line was refunded to us. We booked three excursions through Chase using our Ultimate Rewards and Chase was able to get those points refunded to us too, even though one of the excursion places told us they wouldn’t do it!

  10. BEWARE: With UR hotel awards you can NOT make any changes, NOR refunds so make sure you 100% sure of your plans. Otherwise they are great!