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!
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 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.
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)
- 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)
- Marriott (remember they also own Starwood now)
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.
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.
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!
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! :)