10 Common Mistakes Folks Make With Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards and Points

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We answer a lot of reader questions about Chase Ultimate Rewards points and credit cards.  And Chase Ultimate Rewards points are our favorite points currency for getting Big Travel with Small Money!  Because overall, they’re easy to use, flexible, and quick to collect.

Our #1 travel credit card for beginners to using points instead of money for travel is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

I’ve kept this fantastic card for many years!

Now here’s what to watch out for so you get to traveling faster!

Here I Am With My Chase Sapphire Preferred Card While Traveling With Chase Points in Europe.  They Must’ve Known I Was Coming and Raised the Visa Flags.

Get these 10 rules down and you’ll be good to go!

1.   Understand the “Chase 5/24” Rule and Sapphire Rule so You Don’t Miss Out on the Best Travel Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Rule

Note:  Never had a Chase Sapphire card?  Skip this little section.

In short, the most powerful Chase Ultimate Rewards points cards meant for regular consumers (not small businesses) are the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®

1. You can’t get a new Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card if you already have a Sapphire card.  Pretty simple.

2. Also, you can’t earn the sign-up bonus on a Sapphire card if you’ve earned the intro bonus on any version of the Sapphire card within the past 48 months.

Chase Sapphire Reserve is awesome if you absolutely know you’ll use all its travel perks.  But if you’re not sure, go for the Chase Sapphire Preferred.  I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred and I love it.  Everyone on our team has either the Preferred or Reserve.

Chase 5/24 Rule

All the credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points are subject to this dreaded rule.  So you’re locked out of getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Freedom®, Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card, Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, etc. IF… you have been approved for 5+ credit cards from any bank within the previous 24 months.

Luckily, there are exceptions:  business credit cards from these banks do NOT count as part of your 5 credit cards: American Express, Bank of America, Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo.

Therefore, Apply for the Most Valuable Credit Cards First!

Go ahead and get your Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards before you dive into cards from other banks.

2.   Don’t Be Afraid of Applying for Chase Small Business Credit Cards to Support Your For-Profit Side Hustles

Chase WANTS small business owners to use their business credit cards.  So don’t be shy.  I’ve directed my friends who are real estate agents, franchise restaurant owners, private practice doctors, independent contractors, and tutors to the Chase Ink Business Preferred and Ink Cash credit cards.

Keith and Jasmin on our team have side hustles re-selling products on sites like eBay.  And they have Chase Ink cards to earn points on their expenses.  Meghan on our team rents out vacation properties and that has qualified her for business credit cards.  I got approved for my Ink Cash using my social security number (no business tax ID needed) for my sole proprietorship.

The Ink cards are designed to help you grow your business.  I’m using my Ink Cash to earn an awesome 5X points on my monthly internet bill and 2X points at restaurants.

I Flew in Business Class bed to Europe using Chase points from my Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card
That’s Me Enjoying My Business Class Bed on the Way to Europe. I Used Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Instead of Money!

I could of course take the easy cash back and I have friends who do just that.  But I love to travel.  So I move the points to my Chase Sapphire Preferred because then Chase allows me to transfer the points to travel partners.  And THAT’S the way I flew round-trip to Europe in a Business Class bed this past summer!

Note:  While there is a rule against having multiple Sapphire credit cards, there is NO rule against owning multiple Ink business credit cards!  So you could get yourself the Chase Ink Business Preferred AND the Chase Ink Business Cash if you want them both.  Don’t apply for them on the same day though.

3.   Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Are Worth Different Values Depending on Which Cards You Have

Let’s clear this up right now.

1. In order to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to their partners like United, Southwest, British Airways, Hyatt, etc., you must have at least one of the following cards: Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Ink Business Preferred.

2. If you want to select any flight with no blackout dates in the Chase Travel portal (it’s just like Expedia and has the same prices), here’s how much your points are worth with each card:

Chase Freedom 1 cent

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 1.25 cents

Chase Sapphire Reserve 1.5 cents

Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card 1 cent

Chase Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card 1 cent

Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card 1.25 cents

Basically, 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth $625 for any flight you want with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred.  And those same 50,000 points are worth $750 for any flight with Chase Sapphire Reserve.

With Freedom, Ink Cash, or Ink Unlimited those 50,000 points are worth $500.

Now you see why I move the points I earn with Ink Cash over to my Chase Sapphire Preferred! 🙂

4.   You Can Book Nearly Any Airline Through the Chase Travel Portal at a Nice Discount

People seem to forget this.  This is NOT the way to best book fancy Business Class flights and luxury hotels — that’s when you’ll want to transfer your points.  But say you want to book a discounted coach flight on the exact date you want — go for it!  There’s no shame in using YOUR points the way YOU want to!

5.   The Cards Are Workhorses — Use ALL Your Benefits

I’m not going to go through all the card benefits here, check out our full travel credit card reviews for that.  But I will say that, hey, these cards all have mega-perks!  Use them!

For example, booking cruises can sometimes be better through a travel agent.  Did you know that using some of these cards for travel agencies will earn you bonus points?  Same for your subway pass!

I never buy the extended warranty in the store because some of these cards give that to you for free!  That’s another reason I love my Ink Business Cash.

Some of these cards have fantastic rental car protection that saves you money.  For instance, the rental car company was trying to charge Harlan on our team an outrageous $700 for a little ding in the door.  Really!  Thankfully he booked with his Chase Sapphire Reserve and he didn’t have to pay that ridiculous bill.

6.   Know All the Chase Transfer Partners

After you get your credit card, come back here to Million Mile Secrets and we’ll show you how to use the transfer partners!  We’ve got step-by-step articles and videos!  It’s actually pretty straight-forward for many of the partners.

Scott in Sintra, Portugal, just outside Lisbon. This is an amazing yellow castle. It looks like Disney World but it's real!
I Flipped My Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Into United Airlines Miles. And That’s How I Flew on Their Partner TAP Air Portugal to Visit These Amazing Mountaintop Castles!

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

  • United Airlines (You can get nearly anywhere in the world with this program!  I mainly fly to Europe this way on their partners such as Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, LOT Polish, etc.)
  • Southwest (No blackout dates + 2 free checked bags)
  • Singapore Airlines (you can use this program to fly to Australia too!)
  • Aer Lingus (Ireland is wonderful.  Dublin has incredible seafood.  And the countryside is a must-see.)
  • British Airways (This is how you book cheap flights to Hawaii from the West Coast and cheap flights within Europe and Asia)
  • Flying Blue (KLM & Air France)
  • Iberia
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • JetBlue (No blackout dates + the most legroom in coach + Cheez-It crackers)

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to these hotel programs:

  • Hyatt (the BEST use of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for hotels)
  • Ritz-Carlton
  • Marriott (remember they also own Starwood now)
  • IHG

7.   You’ll Usually Want to Avoid Transferring to IHG

Do what makes you happy.  But you’ll find that IHG points don’t go very far and because Chase points are so valuable, you’re usually better off using other partner programs.  I love IHG and their hotels!  But I use IHG points I earn from stays and their credit card instead of Chase points.

8.   Sorry, “No Backsies!” When Transferring Your Points Out

This is a common misconception we get from newbies.  You can’t put the ketchup back in the bottle once it’s on your burger.  You can’t take the letter out of the mail box once you’ve mailed it.  And you can’t reverse Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfers.

Actually, here’s a prettier analogy: once a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, that’s it.  It can never go back to being a caterpillar.  And once you make your Chase points into, say, United Airlines miles, that’s it.  They are now beautiful United Airlines miles ready to fly you away around the world.

So don’t transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points out until you’re ready to use them.

9.   Know How You’ll Meet the Minimum Spending Requirement

Definitely go in with some kind of plan.  Each of these credit cards offers you a sign-up bonus.  To get the bonus, you’re required to spend a certain amount on purchases, usually within the first 3 months of being approved for the card.  So be sure you have upcoming expenses that you’d be making anyway.

For instance, this time of year you might know you’ll be buying a bunch of Christmas gifts, Black Friday sales items, making year-end charitable contributions, and maybe you have birthday and anniversary gifts coming up too.  And of course you’ll have your usual grocery shopping and other expenses.

I Earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards Points on All My Business Meals With My Chase Ink Cash.  Pay Your Restaurant Checks With Your New Credit Card to Help Meet the Spending Requirement to Unlock the Big Bonus!

Basically put all your expenses on the card until you’ve unlocked the bonus!  If you get stuck, check out our resource full of ideas to help you meet your spending requirement.  Get your bonus because that’s the fastest way to start traveling!

Currently the Chase Ink Business Preferred offers the biggest sign-up bonus opportunity to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  But the intro bonus offers on all these cards are very generous, which is a major reason we recommend them.

10.   Don’t Fall in the Interest Trap!

I want to sleep well at night.  So please, please, please do NOT get into this hobby if you’re the kind of person who will fall behind on your bills.  The interest charges on these cards are very high.  I don’t want that to happen to you!

Folks who follow Million Mile Secrets already know this and are the type of people who pay their bills on time.  If you pay your bills on time and can handle credit, you’ll be rockin’ this miles and points hobby!

My credit score is still 800+ and I’ve been doing this for years.  I love using Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards to earn the points that I turn into airline miles and hotel points.

That’s how I’ve had a blast exploring Europe from Edinburgh to Estonia each year.  And with Chase points I’ve indulged myself a time or two at a luxury all-inclusive resort right on the soft white sands of the Caribbean sea.

Bottom Line

Now that you know what mistakes to avoid, enjoy yourself!

Chase Sapphire Preferred is our #1 pick for anyone new to using travel points.  I have it and have used it happily for years.

Chase Sapphire Reserve is great for folks who will make use of the great benefits to offset the higher annual fee.  Keith uses his card all the time.

Everyone on our team has one of the two cards above.

Chase Freedom® is a great no annual fee card.  I’ve had this card for many years and still use it.

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card has the best sign-up bonus of all these cards.  Definitely get this one if you’ve got a small business!

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card has no annual fee and a strong sign-up bonus

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card also has no annual fee and a big bonus.  I have this card and I use it all the time because of the 5X bonus points you earn at office supply stores and on phone, internet, and cable bills.  And I like the 2X points at restaurants.  See the offer page for all the details about the categories.

Now get to collecting your points and planning your next trip!

Million Mile Secrets features a team of points and miles experts who have traveled to over 80 countries and have used 60+ credit cards responsibly to accumulate loyalty points and travel the world on the cheap! The Million Mile Secrets team has been featured on The Points Guy, TIME, Yahoo Finance and many other leading points & miles media outlets.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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