Maximize Monday: What Will 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Get You?

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Update: The offers mentioned below for the Chase Ink credit cards has expired. View the current offers here – Ink Plus, Ink Bold, Ink Cash.  

To kick off Small Business Week, yesterday, Chase launched lucrative limited-time sign-up bonus offers until Saturday, June 22, on all four Chase Ink cards. Ink Bold and Ink Plus were upped to 60,000 points (instead of 50,000) when you spend $5,000 in 3 months with the $95 annual fee waived the first year and the no annual fee Ink Cash and Ink Classic were up to 25,000 points when you spend $3,000 in 3 months.

What Are 60,000 Ultimate Rewards Points Worth?
Because Ultimate Rewards has such great transfer partners including British Airways, Korean Air, Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club, Ritz-Carlton and Amtrak, I conservatively value them at about 2 cents apiece, so the 60,000 point sign-up bonus alone is worth about $1,200 to me. The actual value you get may be more or less, but the bottom line is that Chase points are valuable because the transfer partners can be leveraged for really valuable redemptions.

Even if you were just to use Ultimate Rewards’ Pay With Points feature to book travel where the Ink Bold and Ink Plus get you 1.25 cents per point in value, you’d be getting a minimum of $750 in value when redeemed for travel – a great deal considering the $95 annual fee is waived the first year and you earn miles/points on these travel redemptions. But chances are if you’ve been considering these cards, you would like to use them for their transferability, so here are a couple redemptions to help you put a value just on those bonus points not taking into consideration any points you would earn by meeting the minimum spending requirement – though depending on what you spent the $5,000 on, you could earn between 5,000-30,000 points on top of it.

1. One-Way Business Class to Asia on United and Star Alliance Partners: 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points transferred to United is enough for a one-way business class ticket from North America to Asia aboard United or its Star Alliance partners.

United will be replacing the current first and business class seats with its BusinessFirst lie-flat product.
United offers its BusinessFirst lie-flat product on most international routes now, but other Star Alliance products can be much better.

I found flights from Chicago to Tokyo aboard United in business class for 60,000 miles and $2.50 on ANA in business class of 67,500 miles in first class.

ANA Chicago to Tokyo
ANA Chicago to Tokyo

To purchase that ticket, you’d need to shell out over $5,000. Even if you’d never spend that kind of cash and thus can’t book the full amount of “value”, the bottom line is that United miles can be extremely valuable for longhaul premium redemptions and have very low fees on most partners. No matter how you look at its shelling out $2.50 in fees and using the points from a single credit card signup bonus (with no annual fee paid the first year) is a much better paying $5,708!

Paying for business class is usually very expensive, but points/miles can make it attainable
Paying for business class is usually very expensive, but points/miles can make it attainable

United is also pretty flexible with routing as well. Let’s say you had some time to kill and wanted to try out a couple different airlines. You could book this ticket from New York JFK to Frankfurt aboard Lufthansa’s business class then take Thai Airways’ A380 to Bangkok from there also in business class for 60,000 miles and $37 (plus a $75 ticketing fee is the flight departs within 21 days like this example below. This fee is waived for some elite status members).

Screen shot 2013-06-16 at 5.34.50 PMThe same ticket would have a face value of nearly $11,000! Again, I seriously doubt anyone would or could pay that much, but just for a fun comparison of what’s possible and out there.

Screen shot 2013-06-16 at 5.38.54 PMI think United miles are one of the most valuable points currencies out there in part because of good award availability (and site award searchability) as well as the fact that you can use them on so many great partners – and that’s a reason that I value the 60,000-point sign-up bonuses on the Ink Bold and Ink Plus so highly.

2. Southwest Awards
Lately I’ve been getting a value of about 1.9 cents each in Wanna Get Away redemptions – so that means the sign-up bonus alone is worth over $1,100. If you are savvy and have the Companion Pass, the sign-up bonus essentially gets you $2,200 in Southwest fares! However, if you had had these points just last week when Southwest was holding a 72-hour sale, you could have gotten even more value from these points by using them on some deeply discounted fares.

Let’s say you live in New England and need to go to a wedding in Austin:

This itinerary from Boston to Austin would cost you $409.

Screen shot 2013-06-16 at 5.48.05 PMOr 21,960 points plus $10.

Screen shot 2013-06-16 at 5.49.40 PM

That’s just under 1.9 cents per point – but with your sign-up bonus alone, you would almost have enough points for 3 of these tickets – almost $1,200 in value.

3. Hyatt Redemptions
One of my favorite other transfer partners of Ultimate Rewards is Hyatt Gold Passport, whose points I also value very highly since you need just 22,000 of them to stay at top-tier Hyatt properties all over the world where room rates can go for well over $1,000.

With 60,000 points transferred to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio, you’d have enough to stay 3 nights in a Category 5 property (18,000 points a night) like the Park Hyatt Shanghai and still have enough points leftover for one more award night at a Category 1 property (5,000 points per night).

If you booked a room at the Park Hyatt Shanghai in September, it would be 18,000 points per night for a Park King.

Screen shot 2013-06-16 at 5.54.36 PMOr $456 per night for the same room.

Screen shot 2013-06-16 at 5.55.58 PMThen let’s say you used your leftover points for an award night at the Hyatt Place in Kansas City near the Overland Convention Center where you’d need either 5,000 points or pay a Hyatt Daily Rate of $134.

Screen shot 2013-06-16 at 5.59.59 PMAdding them all together, you’d have used your points for $1,502 in value – and you’d still have 1,000 points left over!

4. British Airways Short-Hauls
British Airways is another airline transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards, and thanks to its distance-based Avios awards program, there are some amazing values to be had by redeeming a relatively small amount of points for some expensive short-haul routes.

While most US-based airlines will charge you 35,000-40,000 miles to fly from the Mainland to Hawaii, for example, if you are flying there from the West Coast of the US, you’ll only need 25,000 Avios to redeem for a roundtrip economy award American Airlines. Note that British Airways doesn’t always do the best job searching partner availability so for American Airlines flights to Hawaii specifically, you might want to check out AA’s route map here to see which cities it services from each island. If you’re having trouble finding an award on, then do an award search on instead and see which dates have low-level MileSAAver availability for your itinerary at the 17,500-mile level in each direction and you should be able to call up British Airways and book them over the phone.

For example, I found this itinerary from LAX to Maui in September at the MileSAAver level on which would have cost me 35,000 AA miles.


But I called up British Airways and they said they could book it for me even though I wasn’t finding it online and that it would cost only the 25,000 Avios necessary for an itinerary of this distance and the same flights would have cost me $687.

Screen shot 2013-06-16 at 6.17.26 PMSo you could get 2 roundtrip tickets for 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Avios and get a value of $1,374.

You can get even more value out of your Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Avios when redeeming on expensive short-haul routes. My favorite example of this is flying from New York to Montreal, which only requires 4,500 Avios each way. Let’s say you decided to go to Montreal at the last minute for a fun weekend out of New York.

An award ticket would cost 9,000 Avios and $57.

Screen shot 2013-06-16 at 6.23.48 PMOr…a whopping $947!

Screen shot 2013-06-16 at 6.25.21 PMSo the Ultimate Rewards points you transferred to BA would be worth 9.9 cents each! If you were to make such high-value redemptions with all your Ultimate Rewards points, your sign-up bonus of 60,000 points would be worth over $5,900. Granted this is a specific kind of redemption, but it just goes to show you what’s possible.

All in all, the 60,000-point sign-up bonuses on the Ink Bold and Ink Plus are a great value and as high as we’ve seen public offers on these cards go, so if you’ve been thinking about getting them, now is probably the time to do so and you’ll get a lot of great value out of the Ultimate Rewards points you rack up.
More info on the offers: (Relatively) Low Minimum Spend As I mentioned the 60,000 bonus points are contingent upon meeting a minimum spending requirement of $5,000 in 3 months, whereas this number was $10,000 when the cards first launched, so right off the bat this is less of a burden than it used to be. Bonus Spending Categories One of the most compelling reasons to get an Ink card is the extremely lucrative points-earning potential of their bonus spending categories and there are lots of ways to maximize them. Both the Ink Bold and Ink Plus earn 5X points per $1 (up to $50,000 per calendar year) at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services. That means your cell phone, cable and internet bills all count, as do all office supply store purchases, including gift cards to various other merchants. For example, OfficeMax carries gift cards for Southwest Airlines, Home Depot, Lowes, Starbucks, and Amazon. In fact, many of these stores even sell cards from Visa and American Express that can be used anywhere those cards are accepted, so buying these cards is just sort of like pre-paying a credit card you plan to use for purchases…only you’re getting 5x points to do so. The Ink Bold and Ink Plus also earn 2X points per $1 up to $50,000 per calendar year at gas stations and for hotel expenses when purchased directly with the hotel. When you log into the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal using one of these two Ink cards, you will also earn 2 points per $1 you spend on airfare and hotels you book through the travel portion of the site. Ink/Sapphire/Freedom Combination Earning Potential Beyond just the Ink cards’ bonus spending categories, you really up your Ultimate Rewards earning potential by combining them with the Sapphire Preferred and Freedom cards as well. Not only can you max out the Ink cards’ 5X and 2X bonus earning categories, but then you can use the Sapphire Preferred for its 2X category spending bonuses on travel and dining plus take advantage of its annual 7% points dividend, and the no-fee Freedom card’s quarterly rotating spending bonus categories where you earn 5X points per $1 up to $1,500 per quarter (right now the categories are Lowe’s, restaurants and movie theaters) and that card’s 10% annual points bonus – so with some careful planning, you can be earning bonus points on nearly every dollar that you spend on these cards. No Foreign Transaction Fees One of the things I look for in a credit card is that it does not charge foreign transaction fees, which many cards charge on purchases made outside the US, and which can hit 3%. Chase leads the pack of credit card issuers by waiving these fees on many of its cards, including the Ink Bold and Ink Plus. Both are also World Mastercards, so it can also a good idea to carry one of them to foreign countries in case you are at a merchant where neither Amex nor Visa is accepted.

The Ink Bold and Ink Plus come with Lounge Club membership.
The Ink Bold and Ink Plus come with Lounge Club membership.

Lounge Access Both the Ink Bold and Ink Plus give cardholders complimentary Lounge Club membership that works like Priority Pass membership where you pay to join and then pay a fee each time you visit a lounge. Lounge Club has 350 VIP airport lounges worldwide and membership is priced at $150 per person per year. Ink Bold and Ink Plus cardholders get two free lounge passes per year and then after that, they will have to pay the usual $27 per person per visit fee. Small Business Applications Some people hold back from applying for great offers like these because since the Ink cards are business cards, they think they need to have a business in order to apply. While technically credit card issuers do expect you to have a business when applying for cards like these, it is entirely possible to get a business card without having a registered business or LLC. You can apply as a sole proprietorship with your own social security number and still get them. In fact, when I first started The Points Guy, I applied for business credit cards as a sole proprietor and put them to good use before ever forming a corporation. It was always my intention to do so and really make a business out of the site, but before I could formally do so, I still needed credit cards to use for my business and banks are used to dealing with applicants in the same situation. Besides, it’s a great idea for everyone to separate their personal and business expenses on different cards to keep better track of them, and the Ink Bold and Ink Plus are great cards to help you do so. You Can Get Both The Ink Bold and Ink Plus While the bonuses are high on both cards you might consider getting both at once  – especially since the $95 annual fee on each is waived the first year. In fact, I have both cards myself and got the sign-up bonuses on both. Having both cards gives small business owners like me a lot of options for maximizing both my credit and the points I earn with my cards. Although these cards are nearly identical, there is one major difference. The Ink Bold is a charge card while the Ink Plus is a credit card. Charge cards give cardholders a lot more spending power, but require full payment every month or else you get hit with high fees and penalties. Credit cards generally have pre-set limits, but if you need to carry a balance, the cost is less (though still not a bargain) – this is still a good option to have as a small business owner so you have the flexibility to carry a balance if you absolutely must. Chase doesn’t have any published rules on how many cards you can get. You can get more than one Ink card and you will get the sign-up bonus if approved for a card as long as you haven’t had that exact card in the past. If you only want to get one and are trying to decide which Chase Ink card is right for you, check out this post.

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