A Review of the Most Useful Points for Budget Travelers OR First Class Jetsetters
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Earning and redeeming miles & points is the secret way lots of folks save money on airfare, hotels, and rental cars. But if you’re new to the miles & points hobby, it can feel overwhelming at first to figure out which travel rewards credit cards to get and how to start your journey toward Big Travel with Small Money!
Typically, I recommend beginners start by earning valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points! These flexible points are easy to earn and redeem. And you can use them for many different types of travel, including quick weekend getaways or to fly in Business Class or First Class!
You do NOT have to be an expert to make the most of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Because you can access the Chase travel portal to quickly book flights and hotel stays like you would through Expedia, Priceline, or any other online travel agency.
And if you don’t have upcoming travel plans, you always have a fall-back option of redeeming points for cash back.
I’ll share highlights of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program and explain why these points are so valuable!
6 Reasons Why Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Are the Best for Travel!
Million Mile Secrets team members and readers love earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Team member Jason recently shared how 3 of the 5 cards he’s using the most earn Chase points.
Here are 6 reasons why folks looking to save on travel can do well with Chase Ultimate Rewards points!
1. Transfer Points Directly to Terrific Airline and Hotel Partners
There are a dozen transfer partners in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, including Hyatt, Southwest, and United Airlines. This means you can transfer points directly to your frequent flyer account or hotel loyalty account. And then book award travel.
You’ll typically get the most value for your points by using them this way. Just take a look at these success stories from team members and readers that were made possible thanks to Chase Ultimate Rewards points:
- 6 Business Class Award Flights From Australia worth $45,000 for only $540!
- ~$66,000 Worth of Travel to New Zealand and Australia
- $20,000+ Saved on a Family Vacation for 5 to Europe!
- A Luxury Hawaiian Honeymoon for Nearly NOTHING (Really!)
- Transcontinental Business Class award flight worth ~$1,647
- Only ~$80 Out-of-Pocket for a $2,000+ All-Inclusive Vacation to Los Cabos, Mexico!
Million Mile Secrets team member Scott loves transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt or United Airlines for easy, yet valuable awards. Because Hyatt has no blackout dates — even at their ~$500 per night all-inclusive hotels on the beaches of Cancun, like the Hyatt Zilara Cancun! And Scott uses United Airlines miles on their partner airlines to fly to Europe.
But you can only transfer points directly to airline and hotel partners if you have certain credit cards. Folks with no annual fee cards (like the Chase Freedom) must move points to a different card account (like the Chase Sapphire Reserve) in order to transfer points directly to Chase travel partners.
Here’s a handy chart showing all of the Chase airline and hotel partners!
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Note: Chase Ink Plus and Chase Ink Bold cardholders can also transfer points directly to airline and hotel partners. But these cards are no longer available to new applicants.
And here’s a helpful step-by-step video guide to learn how to link your loyalty accounts and book award travel.
2. Get Access to Other Indirect Airline and Hotel Partners Too!
Thanks to airline alliances and partnerships, you can sometimes redeem miles or points with one airline to book travel on a completely different partner airline. This means you can indirectly access dozens of global airlines with the 8 partners available through Chase Ultimate Rewards! For example:
- British Airways is part of Oneworld (including American Airlines, Air Berlin, and Finnair)
- Korean Air is part of SkyTeam (including Delta, Air France, and KLM)
- United Airlines is part of Star Alliance (including ANA, Lufthansa, and SWISS)
For example, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Air for a round-trip award flight from the continental US to Hawaii.
And some airlines have their own partnerships:
- British Airways partners with Alaska Airlines
- United Airlines partners with Aer Lingus
- Virgin Atlantic partners with Air New Zealand
The same goes for hotel stays! Because of the Marriott-Starwood merger, you can instantly transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to your Marriott or Ritz-Carlton account. Then, convert Marriott points to Starwood points at a 3:1 ratio.
3. Book Airfare, Hotels, and Rental Cars Without Blackout Dates
For a hassle free way to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to save on travel, you can book airfare, hotel stays, and rental cars through the Chase travel portal. There are no blackout dates when you book this way! And you’ll usually earn points or miles booking flights through the portal as if you were paying cash.
The prices you see through the Chase travel portal are usually the same (or even cheaper!) than booking through other online travel agencies like Orbitz and Expedia. Check out this video guide to learn how to book airfare through the Chase travel portal.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth:
- 1 cent each when you book through a Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Sapphire, or Chase Ink Cash
- 1.25 cents each when you book through Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Business Preferred, Chase Ink Bold (no longer available), or Chase Ink Plus (no longer available)
- 1.5 cents each when you book through Chase Sapphire Reserve
4. Combine Points With a Household Member or Spouse
Unlike the American Express Membership Rewards Program, you’re able to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to someone else, like a spouse or family member in your household. This makes it easier to manage points and book award travel. But there are rules and restrictions.
For personal cards, like the Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Sapphire Preferred, and Sapphire Reserve, Chase says:
You can move your points, but only to another Chase card with Ultimate Rewards belonging to you, or one member of your household.
The rules are slightly different for small business cards like the Ink Business Preferred, Ink Business Cash, and Ink Plus (no longer available). Chase says:
You can move your points, but only to another Chase card with Ultimate Rewards belonging to you, one member of your household, or your joint business owner, as applicable.
So the main difference with small business cards is you have an added option to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly to joint business owners who do NOT reside in your household.
5. Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Earning Credit Cards Get You Access to Useful Bonus Spending Categories!
Cards earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points have different bonus spending categories, which makes it easy to quickly earn points!
Here are a few examples:
- Chase Freedom – Rotating 5X bonus categories on things like Amazon, grocery stores, restaurants, ground transportation, etc. (up to $1,500 each quarter after activation)
- Chase Freedom Unlimited – 1.5X points on all purchases
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – 2X points on travel and dining
- Ink Business Preferred – 3X points on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites, and search engines (up to a maximum of $150,000 in combined purchases per account anniversary year)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – 3X points on travel and dining
6. Points Never Expire as Long as You Have an Active Chase Ultimate Rewards Card
I never suggest hoarding your points. Because rules and award charts are always changing, which means a good deal today can be gone tomorrow!
That said, you don’t have to be in a rush to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points because they NEVER expire as long as you have one active card.
Note: If you have multiple Chase Ultimate Rewards points earning credit cards and plan to cancel one, be sure to move points to an account that will remain open. Because you’ll lose points linked to a card if you cancel it.
Folks starting their journey to getting Big Travel with Small Money should begin by collecting Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly to travel partners like Hyatt, Southwest, and United Airlines. Or you can easily and quickly book airfare, hotel stays, and rental cars through the Chase travel portal without having to worry about blackout dates!
There are several fantastic Chase Ultimate Rewards points earning credit cards to choose from. And these cards get you access to useful bonus spending categories! So you can accumulate points quickly!
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! :)