How to maximize your Chase Ultimate Rewards points


There are a few facts of life — never wake a sleeping baby, always say yes to homemade cake, you can never have too much cash in the bank and you can never, ever have too many Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

This transferable points currency gives you access to some of the best hotel and airline transfer partners in the business, as well as an easy-to-use travel portal that allows you to cover a wide variety of different travel costs, including car rentals, hotels, flights, tours and activities.

Despite increasing competition from American Express Membership Rewards and Capital One miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards maintains its place as one of the most valuable points currencies on the planet. If you’re ready to get serious about traveling more for less, here’s how to earn and maximize Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Best cards for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards:

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How to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points

You can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points with several Chase credit cards. Stick with us for a second, as this next part is a little confusing at first if you are new to these Chase cards.

The first three cards we are going to mention below earn fully-transferable Ultimate Rewards points all by themselves, while the remaining four are technically billed as cash-back credit cards.

However, the points earnings from those cash-back cards can be combined with the points from the top three cards to essentially “convert” the points earned to full Ultimate Rewards points. For this reason, it can make sense to have more than one Chase card in the family to maximize your earning and redeeming potential. For complete details on how this can work, check out TPG’s guide to transferring Chase points between accounts.

With that out of the way, here are the seven cards that allow you to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
  • Welcome bonus: 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Why you want it: This card is a fantastic all-around travel credit card. It offers 5x points on Lyft, 2x points on all travel and dining purchases and 1x on all other purchases. The Sapphire Preferred has no foreign transaction fees and conveys a multitude of travel perks including delayed baggage insurance, trip interruption/cancellation insurance and primary car rental insurance. (Find out how that can save you from a surprise last-minute $1,000 hotel bill.) To top it all off, Chase generally offers great customer service; it’s very easy to reach an agent (instead of going through a long phone menu) when you call the number on the back of the card.
  • Annual Fee: $95

Read the full card review.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Read the full card review.

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
  • Welcome bonus: 100,000 points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
  • Why you want it: This is a great credit card for small-business owners that earns 3x points on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, advertising made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. You earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases, and points don’t expire as long as your account is open. Like the two cards above, points earned on the Ink Preferred can be transferred to multiple airline and hotel partners.
  • Annual Fee: $95

Read the full card review.

Ink Business Cash Credit Card

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
  • Welcome bonus: $500 cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. This can be the same as 50,000 points.
  • Why you want it: Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. These earnings can be converted to Ultimate Rewards points if you have one of the three cards above.
  • Annual Fee: $0

Read the full card review.

Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)
  • Welcome bonus: $500 cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
  • Benefits: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase. These earnings can be converted to Ultimate Rewards points if you have one of the three top cards listed above, which means your small business can essentially earn 1.5 points per dollar on all charges made with this card.
  • Annual Fee: $0

Read the full card review.

Chase Freedom

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
  • Welcome bonus: $150 (15,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $500 in the first three months of account opening.
  • Benefits: The card earns 5% back/5x points on select bonus categories which rotate on a quarterly basis, up to $1,500 per quarter (activation required). Common past bonus categories include gas stations, supermarkets, restaurants, warehouse stores and department stores. These earnings can be converted to valuable Ultimate Rewards points if you have one of the top three cards listed above.
  • Annual Fee: $0

Read the full card review.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Read the full card review.

How to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points

As you can see, there are many ways to earn Chase points at rates of anywhere from 1 – 10x points per dollar at a time, but how you actually use them is critical to their true value toward your travel. TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, but your value can be lower or higher, depending on how you redeem your points.

You have three basic options for redeeming Ultimate Rewards:

Transfer to travel partners

This is, in our opinion, the best way to redeem your hard-earned points. It’s certainly your best shot for getting maximum value. You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to 10 airline programs (British AirwaysFlying Blue, JetBlue, Emirates, Singapore AirlinesSouthwestUnitedVirgin AtlanticAer Lingus and Iberia) and three hotel programs (HyattIHG, and Marriott).

All transfer ratios are 1:1, and you must transfer in 1,000-point increments. Note that Chase has only ever had one transfer bonus — a 30% bonus on transfers to British Airways Avios in 2019.

If you want to learn some tips about how to redeem, you can check out our guide on Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots.

We’ll break down how to maximize transfers to travel partners below.

Book travel via Chase 

You can book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal and redeem points to for your plane tickets, hotel stays, rental cars or experiences at a fixed cash value per point. If you only hold a Chase Freedom, Ink Business Unlimited, Ink Business Cash or Freedom Unlimited, all points are worth one cent each.

As a holder of the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Ink Business Preferred, each point is worth 1.25 cents (so a $100 hotel room would only cost 8,000 points).

If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, your points are worth 1.5 cents apiece toward travel redemptions through the portal.

If you hold multiple cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points, you can combine your points in the account of whichever card makes points the most valuable. For example, all of your points earned with the Freedom can be moved to your Sapphire Reserve account, thus jumping their value from 1 to 1.5 cents apiece. It’s probably worth getting into the habit of combining your points every month or so, just in case Chase decides to change this policy in the future.

Book inexpensive fares with points

If you can find inexpensive fares in the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, it can make sense to use your points for these flights if you don’t want to spend cash. In the eyes of the airline, the tickets are the same as a paid fare. This means you’ll earn elite and redeemable miles. Be careful to avoid basic economy tickets, unless you are OK with those restrictions.

In this case, spending 3,220 Ultimate Rewards points from a Sapphire Reserve (points worth 1.5 cents each) to fly from Houston to Las Vegas, isn’t too shabby.

You might also consider the travel portal option if you only have only a handful of Ultimate Rewards points left, since Chase lets you redeem points to partially cover the trip cost and then you can cover the remaining balance with cash.

Finally, it’s a decent option for car rentals, non-branded lodging or when cash rates make spending points through transfer partners a bad value — the hotel options presented are quite varied.

Cash back or gift cards

Theoretically, you can earn credit on your statement or even have the points deposited into your bank account at a flat rate of 1 cent per point if that’s your goal. You can also redeem toward third-party gift cards at a rate of 1 cent per point. You can do better, assuming you like to travel. However, we know that needs can change, so these non-travel redemptions remain fall-back options when needed.

Top Ultimate Rewards transfer partners

We’ve mentioned that transferring your Chase points to a travel partner is often your best bet if you want to get the most value out of your points, but now we’re going to show you why that’s true in many situations.

Here are some of the best ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards with airline and hotel transfer partners:

United MileagePlus

United no longer publishes an award chart for its own operated flights, which can be good or bad news, depending on your situation. Thankfully, awards on partners thus far still generally follow an award chart, and United does not pass along fuel surcharges. You can book domestic one-way United awards starting at 5,000 miles each way, business-class awards to Europe start at 60,000 – 70,000 miles each way and award flights to Australia and New Zealand start at 80,000 – 90,000 miles each way.

If you are booking a trip that transits different zones (like North America to Europe), you can also build in a free flight (known as the Excursionist Perk) when redeeming United miles. A round-trip economy itinerary from Newark (EWR) to Paris (CDG) in this example is 60,000 miles plus taxes:

Adding in a flight from Paris to Frankfurt and spending another week in Germany cost the same number of miles (with additional taxes) thanks to the Excursionist Perk:

Transfers to United MileagePlus are popular among those savvy with Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards

TPG values Southwest Rapid Rewards points at 1.5 cents each, so in some ways transferring to Southwest isn’t great way to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points. You can also use your Chase points to book a “paid” Southwest flight by calling Chase Travel and booking over the phone, as the flights are not listed in the online Chase Travel site. However, there are a couple of scenarios where we transfer our points to the friendly carrier that has no change fees or baggage fees.

First, for inexpensive fares ~$100 or less, Rapid Reward points can be worth as much as 1.7 cents per point, which beats the value you get when booking through the portal. Second, if you have a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass and are really getting two flights for the price of one award, then your points become worth as much as 3.4 cents per point for inexpensive fares.

Southwest makes it easy to island-hop in Hawaii. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

Singapore has a few things going for it as a potential airline transfer destination for your Ultimate Rewards. First, Singapore is one of the best airlines in the sky, with tremendous service and luxurious onboard products and experiences. Second, there is fantastic value to be had in Singapore’s own loyalty program, called KrisFlyer, with reasonable award charts, low fuel surcharges, routing rules that allow stopovers and the ability to combine multiple partners in one award.

Finally, transfers from Chase to Singapore are instant and the online award booking is intuitive and easy to use.

Here are some of our favorite KrisFlyer redemptions when using Chase Ultimate Rewards:

17,500 miles US to Hawaii one-way in economy:

55,000 miles US to Europe round-trip in economy on Star Alliance partners:

72,000 miles Houston to Manchester one-way in business on Singapore’s own fifth-freedom route:

85,000 miles Sydney to Singapore one-way in the new A380 Suites:

95,000 miles Los Angeles to Singapore one-way in business for 17 hours on the new A350:

Iberia Plus

Spain’s national carrier remains a mystery to many Chase cardholders despite the significant value Iberia Plus can offer U.S.-based flyers. The carrier has cheap economy and transatlantic flights on its own metal and routinely has promos making Iberia Plus practically irresistible for a quick hop across the Atlantic. Without promos, transatlantic business is priced based on a distanced-based award chart. One-way flights from Miami to Madrid cost 35,000 Avios in economy and 62,500 Avios in business class. There can be less than $100 in surcharges, depending on the class of service you book:

Prices get even more attractive, however, for shorter routes (based on distance in miles). For example, Chicago to Madrid is only 17,000 Avios in economy and 34,000 Avios in business one-way:

Iberia A330 business class. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

The magic continues when looking to book domestic American Airlines itineraries. Iberia Plus charges its number of Avios based on the total length of your itinerary, whereas British Airways Avios charges based on segments. It is often cheaper to book American Airlines tickets, especially on connecting flights, via Iberia compared to either American AAdvantage or British Airways.

Itineraries up to 4,000 miles in total length would cost only 23,000 Avios, and short hops in the U.S., with stops allowed at each transfer point, could cost between 11,000 – 17,000 Avios in economy, based on the AA Avios chart in the Iberia program:

Finally for Iberia, you can book Royal Air Maroc (not yet a Oneworld member) using Avios for very reasonable prices. The one-way New York to Casablanca route is 3,609 miles in length, which will cost you only 23,000 Avios in Economy or 46,000 Avios in business for the Dreamliner-operated flight.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

There are multiple ways to use Virgin Atlantic’s loyalty program to unlock incredible value. You can redeem miles to fly Delta domestic itineraries here in the U.S. for a flat 12,500 miles per segment, potentially saving you thousands of miles compared to what Delta is asking for the same flight.

Delta One flights to Europe are a flat 50,000 miles for nonstop itineraries and 60,000 miles to Asia.

Other partners, like ANA, have award charts so attractive they almost seem like a mistake. You can use 110,000 Flying Club miles to fly ANA First class round-trip from the West Coast to Japan and 120,000 miles round-trip from the central and eastern U.S. to Japan. Here is Flying Club’s award chart for ANA operated flights:

Other partners such as South African, Air China, Singapore and Hawaiian offer niche routes that provide a great use of your miles. Overall, Flying Club presents a lot of different options to yield significant value from your Ultimate Rewards.

British Airways Executive Club

If you need a short-haul, nonstop flight on a Oneworld partner, British Airways Avios can give you tremendous savings. Short-haul flights outside of North America less than 650 miles in length will cost you only 6,000 Avios. This is great for exploring Japan on partner Japan Airlines, where last-minute domestic ticket prices can be rather hefty. Using this chart, Tokyo to Osaka costs only 6,000 miles and $4.96:

In North America, short-haul flights start at 7,500 Avios for American Airlines operated itineraries and can give you great mileage savings over booking the same flight through American AAdvantage. Atlanta to Dallas costs only 9,000 Avios on a day when American may charge between 12,500 and 20,000 miles in its new dynamic pricing model:

There are itineraries you don’t want to book with Avios, like long-haul British Airways flights or partner-operated flights that incur significant fuel surcharges of hundreds of dollars. Stick to short hops on partner airlines or fifth-freedom routes in the Caribbean (such as Antigua to St. Kitts) and you’ll get great use of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points with British Airways.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

World of Hyatt

One of the best uses of Ultimate Rewards points is to transfer them to World of Hyatt and redeem them at low category or high-end properties. Generally speaking, Hyatt points are worth more than Marriott Bonvoy and IHG points, so Hyatt is often your best hotel transfer partner within Chase Ultimate Rewards.

The hotel program offers an extremely reasonable award chart for free nights, with standard award nights ranging from 5,000 – 40,000 points per night, and the World of Hyatt elite status perks are considered the best of any hotel loyalty program.

Grand Hyatt Kauai (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
Grand Hyatt Kauai. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

If you’re looking at standard award nights, the program has value across the spectrum of properties. Category 1-5 properties, in particular, can offer some fantastic awards.

Examples include the Grand Hyatt Kauai (25k points per night), Hyatt Regency Maui (25k points per night), Hyatt Grand Cypress Orlando (12k points per night), Grand Hyatt Washington D.C. (15k points per night) and Hyatt Regency Aruba (25k points per night).

Even several Category 1 properties sell for over $100 a night (excluding taxes), so redeeming 5,000 points for these is usually a simple decision. An example is the Hyatt Regency Albuquerque in New Mexico, which is bookable for just 5,000 Hyatt points per night — the same as 5,000 transferred Chase points into Hyatt.

Even the higher tiers of the program have solid value. For example, redeeming 30,000 points at the ski-out Park Hyatt Beaver Creek, Park Hyatt Sydney or even the Park Hyatt Maldives can make a ton of sense, since rooms at these luxury properties routinely sell for over $1,000 a night.

Park Hyatt Maldives.

You also now have over hundreds of additional properties at which you can redeem your Hyatt points through the Small Luxury Hotels of the World partnership and the addition of the Thompson, Alila and Joie de Vivre brands. This opens up more redemption options in the Caribbean, Europe and beyond.

Image courtesy of Sailrock Resort in Turks and Caicos
(Photo courtesy of Sailrock Resort in Turks and Caicos)

If you want to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points and really protect your cash, you can book all-inclusive resorts with Hyatt points in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. These resorts start at 20,000 – 25,000 points per night for double occupancy, and using points in this manner gets you not only a room, but also your food, beverages and some on-resort entertainment (and even kids clubs at the family-friendly resorts).

Here’s TPG’s guide to making the most of your Hyatt awards.

Less-desirable Ultimate Rewards partners

While there are no “bad” redemptions if your points allow you to go somewhere you want to go while keeping your cash safely tucked in your wallet, some ways of using Chase points aren’t as mathematically rewarding as others.

The following transfer partners would require a unique circumstance in order for us to transfer Ultimate Rewards, such as needing to top off an existing account balance or a one-off example of where the program provides value. For these programs, there are typically much better ways to earn the points or miles — like cobranded cards or other transferable points programs — instead of transferring Ultimate Rewards. Here is a quick synopsis of each:

Air France-KLM Flying Blue

The current version of the program has become too illogical to ever plan on using it consistently. You can certainly get lucky and find a good redemption — for example, TPG Editor Nick Ewen snagged three one-way, business-class awards from Miami (MIA) to Venice (VCE) this November for 53,000 miles and ~$235 in taxes and fees. However, it’s generally just too variable. If I did need Flying Blue miles — perhaps to take advantage of the program’s monthly, discounted Promo Rewards — I would probably transfer the points from American Express. Make sure before you transfer you do not fall victim to phantom award space the Flying Blue website often shows; call and confirm with a phone agent first.

Related: Transferring Ultimate Rewards points to Flying Blue

Aer Lingus AerClub

There’s another version of an Avios program here, but nothing really enticing that’s worthy of an Ultimate Rewards transfer.

Related: Transferring Ultimate Rewards points to Aer Lingus

JetBlue TrueBlue 

TrueBlue points are redeemed for JetBlue flights at pretty much a fixed rate 1.3 to 1.4 cents per point. With that fixed redemption rate, there are just too many other valuable destinations for your Ultimate Rewards points unless you are topping off an award. You can also book JetBlue flights through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal and get a guaranteed 1.5 cents per point if you have the Sapphire Reserve in your wallet.

Related: Transferring Ultimate Rewards points to JetBlue

IHG Rewards

Top-tier properties have typically required 70,000 points per night, but we’re starting to see examples of even higher pricing. It simply costs too much to book award nights in this program using Ultimate Rewards points. We generally believe that any other transfer partner is a better destination for your Ultimate Rewards than IHG, especially since IHG sometimes sells points for just 1/2 a cent each.

Marriott Bonvoy

On a case-by-case basis, it could potentially make sense to transfer Ultimate Rewards to Marriott to redeem for an award night. However, these awards can be quite pricey, and with a plethora of different Marriott cobranded cards, it’s too easy to earn the Marriott points you need without transferring them in from Chase Ultimate Rewards.

How TPG readers use their Ultimate Rewards points

There are numerous ways to redeem your points, but we compiled some of TPG readers’ own best favorite Ultimate Rewards redemptions below.

Singapore business class

“Just cashed in 118,000 points for [a flight from] Bali to Singapore in business and Singapore to LAX in first on Singapore Airlines. It would have cost about $8,500 but was a great deal with points, plus, I can’t wait to try Singapore Airlines! Thanks TPG for all the insightful tips!” — Anthony M.

Hawaii on points

“We just planned a trip to Hawaii and used all our points. Tickets from LA to HNL [Honolulu] were about $700 nonstop or about 48,000 UR points. We needed four tickets and a friend reminded me that TPG wrote about transferring points to BA to book award flights on AA. We did exactly that and scored four nonstop flights to HNL for just 100,000 UR points! On the hotel side, we transferred points to Hyatt and booked for 12,000 UR points a night.” — Cindy C.

Upgrade to a Hyatt suite

“Currently my favorite is to buy a (relatively) cheap standard room at a Park Hyatt, upgrade to a premium suite for 9k points.” — George S.

Tokyo in style with ANA business suite

“EVA 80k one way from NYC – TPE, but transferring to Virgin for a 95k round-trip to Tokyo in the new ANA biz suite is going to take the cake in October.” Wallace C.

Lufthansa to Europe via United

“Transfer to United for tickets on Lufthansa for a better product than United, no fuel surcharge using United points and can use the Excursionist perk.” Esther H.

Lufthansa First Class (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Lufthansa First Class. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

The above strategies are just a sampling of the many redemptions available through the Ultimate Rewards program. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, booking through the travel portal at a rate of 1.25 – 1.5 cents per point will be a solid, baseline redemption for many travelers. However, to really get maximum value, look to transfer your points to the program’s litany of travel partners and book the flights and hotel rooms that otherwise would be outside of your means.

In any case, the Ultimate Rewards program provides a wide range of options to maximize your points and save you money — you just have to decide which redemptions are personally the most worthwhile.

If you’re new to the points and miles game, check out our Beginner’s Guide to learn more.

Additional reporting by Victoria Walker.

Featured photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.

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