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Normally with the Freedom card, your Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed for travel or cash back – or if you have the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold and/or Ink Plus card, you can combine the Ultimate Rewards you earn on the Freedom card with those from your premium Ultimate Rewards cards accounts to transfer them to any of the program’s 10 travel partners or redeem points directly for travel at 1.25 cents apiece
However, per the card’s T&C relating to Ultimate Rewards, there’s actually another way to book your travel using Freedom Ultimate Rewards points where you can get even more value out of your points. The terms stipulate:
“Redemptions may be made in 1 point increments for each $0.0100 incremental ticket value. For example, 20,000 points can be redeemed for a $200 airline ticket.”
However – and this is where it gets interesting – the terms go on to say: “In addition, credit card customers may redeem 25,000 points for one round-trip scheduled airline ticket valued at up to $335 through our toll-free number, where permitted by law. Redemptions for this specific item have the service fee waived.
If you book a ticket with a value greater than $335, the additional amount over $335 must be paid for using either a Chase card with Ultimate Rewards and/or additional points.”
So if you are redeeming for a ticket at the $335 mark, you’re maximizing your points’ value at 1.34 cents each. That’s even better than the rate you get with the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus and Ink Bold.
The toll-free number you call is 1-866-951-6592. Per Chase, in order to redeem your points like this, travel must be booked at least 24 hours in advance and it must be for roundtrip travel.
Although you can often get more value from your Ultimate Rewards points by transferring them to an airline or hotel partner like British Airways or United and then redeeming for premium travel, sometimes it makes sense to pay with points for airfare instead of booking an award. Doing so is basically like paying for an airline ticket as normal then redeeming your points for it, so you can find better availability generally, and you also earn miles and elite qualification credit for tickets you book this way, so it can make sense if you’re sitting on a lot of points and need elite status credit, or if you find that the value of your points is higher this way than it would be if redeeming for a regular award ticket – for instance if that United ticket you want to book costs much less than $335.
And for folks who just have the Freedom card and not one of the more premium Chase cards, this makes a whole lot of sense if you were planning to redeem your points for travel since you are getting up to 34% better value than you would otherwise.
The trick, of course, is finding redemptions as close to $335 as you can to get the maximum per-point value from this redemption. It’s kind of like with the FlexPerks Visa from US Bank where you can redeem 20,000 points for airline tickets up to $400 in value so that your points are worth up to 2 cents each. You get the most value from your points when your ticket costs as close to $400 as possible since you still have to redeem the same amount of points whether that ticket is $200 or $400.
If you need ways to top up your Chase Freedom account for one of these redemptions, always keep those quarterly rotating 5X categories in mind. The current ones where you can earn 5X per dollar are gas stations, movie theaters and Starbucks.
Freedom cardholders also have access to the Ultimate Rewards online shopping portal where you can earn bonus points per dollar you spend at various merchants. Right now, there are Valentine’s Day specials including 15X points per $1 at ProFlowers, as well as travel bonus merchants including Holiday Inn, IHG, Hotels.com and Marriott.com where you can earn up to 5X points per $1 right now, so it’s always worth checking out.
Even if you do have a more premium Chase card, it’s a good idea to check out the current merchant spending bonuses through the Freedom Ultimate Rewards portal as well since bonuses vary depending on what card you have, and you might be able to earn more Ultimate Rewards points with your Freedom card instead of another, and then you can always combine your Ultimate Rewards balances later.
Have any of you taken advantage of this Freedom card phone booking benefit? If so, share your experience in the comments section.