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TPG follower Thomas tweeted me that he had tried to buy Ultimate Rewards points online when logged into his account with Chase but that he got a message saying the functionality was no longer available.
Curious, I logged into my own Ultimate Rewards account and had to search for “buy points” in order to even find the former page where you could do so, and then the following message popped up.
This seemed like an unexpected bit of bad news, but after talking to my contacts at Chase, I found out that you can still buy Ultimate Rewards points by calling the number on your credit card and asking for a representative who can process the transaction for you.
Aside from the change of not being able to purchase them online, nothing else has changed.
-They still cost 2.5 cents each
-You must still purchase them in increments of 1,000
-You can only purchase 5,000 per calendar month
According to the phone rep I spoke with, the online option went away at the end of July. It takes away a big convenience factor – especially when you want to purchase the points, make an instant transfer and book an award immediately before it possibly disappears.
That said, at least points are still available for purchase, and they’re a bargain compared to purchasing United miles or Hyatt points – the two transfer partners of Ultimate rewards that I leverage the most.
United miles, for example, cost 3.5 cents each plus a $30 per transaction fee plus a 7.5% tax. In all, if you were to purchase the full 100,000 miles you’re limited to per calendar year, you’d pay a total of $3,792.50 – or 3.79 cents per mile.
You can purchase up to 40,000 Hyatt points per calendar year, and they cost 2.4 cents each, so if you’re after those, better just to buy directly from Hyatt unless you’ve hit your limit.
In general, buying points is not a great deal unless you know that the value of the redemption you’re going to get by using those points is far higher than the price you are paying for them. Even then, there might be better ways to rake in the points without just paying for them outright, like maximizing category spending bonuses, or even signing up for a new credit card outright. Still, as a quick way to top up your account in a pinch, it’s a nice option to have and I’m glad we will continue to have it, even if we have to call in to make it happen.
Top Ultimate Rewards cards sign-up bonuses for boosting your balance at a much cheaper rate than buying:
Ink Bold: 50,000 points after $5,000 spent within 3 months. $95 annual fee waived the first year.
Ink Plus: 50,000 points after $5,000 spent within 3 months. $95 annual fee waived the first year.
Sapphire Preferred: 40,000 points after $3,000 spent within 3 months. $95 annual fee waived the first year.
Ink Cash: 20,000 points after $3,000 spent within 3 months. No annual fee. Ink Classic: 20,000 points after $3,000 spent within 3 months. No annual fee.
Freedom: 10,000 points after $500 spent within 3 months. No annual fee.