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TPG reader Sofia tweeted me this week to ask:

@thepointsguy When I buy a ticket with points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, do I still earn miles?”

The answer is yes, and that’s one of the beauties of using Ultimate Rewards’ Pay With Points option. If you have the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold or Ink Plus, you get a value of 1.25 cents per point when booking airline tickets. To put that in context, the 65,000 points you’d earn from spending 5,000 on a new Ink Bold or Ink Plus card with the current 60,000-point sign-up bonus promo would be worth $750.

Let’s say you use those 65,000 points to buy two roundtrip economy tickets from NYC to San Francisco aboard American Airlines’ new A321. You’d get 5,172 base miles, plus any elite-status miles; in my case, as an Executive Platinum, that’s 100%  – another 5,172 miles per round-trip. In addition, the fare is upgradeable because it’s a paid fare – Chase buys the ticket for you directly from American Airlines – so I could use one of my systemwide upgrades on it.

chase-ultimate-rewards

So two round-trips for a base member would be 10,344 AAdvantage miles (or 20,688 for an Executive Platinum), plus 10,344 elite-qualifying miles. I value AAdvantage miles at about 1.9 cents a piece, so 20,688 = $393 in value. This means that from one credit card bonus you could get $750 in flights plus more than 10% of the elite-qualifying miles needed for Executive Platinum status, which I believe is the most lucrative elite status out there.

Before you just go using Pay With Points all the time, though, I would suggest you do a cost/benefit analysis of transferring points to a partner and booking flights as awards versus using Pay With Points.

For instance, let’s say you wanted to fly American Airlines roundtrip economy from San Francisco to New York. You’d have the option of transferring Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways Avios and redeeming 25,000 of them for this trip. By contrast, using Pay With Points and getting a value of 1.25 cents per point, 25,000 Ultimate Rewards points would be worth $312.50 toward airfare – so if there’s award availability for the flights you want, that would be your break even point. If airfares are above that, then transfer to BA and book the award, but if they are below that, you’re better off using Pay With Points and earning miles and elite status on your itinerary.

I would also keep in mind that if airline elite status is important to you, while Pay With Points is a good option, you may want to consider just buying tickets for your flights outright and saving your Ultimate Rewards points for expensive premium international airline and hotel redemptions, or high-priced Amtrak tickets instead.

For more on Ultimate Rewards and great travel redemptions, check out these posts:

Chase Ink: Which Card Is Best For You

Can You Get Both The Ink Bold and Ink Plus?

Ranking the Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

Top 10 Ways To Maximize Each Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner

Why I Love Chase Ultimate Rewards

Have any other questions? Let me know by messaging me on Facebooktweeting me or emailing me at info@thepointsguy.com.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
5.00%
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.