What’s the Best Way to Redeem Ultimate Rewards for Travel?

Jul 13, 2014

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.


This past week, TPG reader Hareesh tweeted me to ask:

@thepointsguy Is it better to redeem Ultimate Rewards directly through the Chase portal, or should you transfer points to a partner and then redeem?”

When you redeem Ultimate Rewards (earned from Chase credit cards like the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold Ink Plus, Chase Freedom, and Sapphirethrough the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, your points are generally worth 1.25 cents apiece towards airfare and hotels. I wouldn’t recommend redeeming Chase points this way, considering that you can get much more value by transferring to Chase travel partners like Hyatt or United. (The Chase Freedom is no longer open to new applicants)

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards directly through the travel portal doesn't provide the best value
Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards directly through the Chase travel portal doesn’t provide the best value.

Note that even The Platinum Card from American Express will give you 1 cent per point – or 1.25 cents if you have The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. You may instead want to use a card like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, which gives you 2.2% back for every dollar spend, since you get 2 points per dollar spent on every single purchase and a 10% rebate when you redeem points for travel.

The glory of the points and miles game is learning how to leverage transfer partners for amazing redemptions. For instance, you might find a $5,000 business class award for only 100,000 miles, which gives you 5 cents per point in value. (Of course, you may not receive that full 5 cents in value, because you wouldn’t actually have spent the $5,000, but that doesn’t make the reward any less sweet!) Most frequent flyer awards are still based on regions, which means (for example) that you can fly from anywhere in America to anywhere in Europe for the same set amount of miles.

Chase Ultimate Rewards offer a better value when first transferred to a travel partner
Chase Ultimate Rewards offer the most value when transferred to a travel partner.

Learn how to leverage all of the travel partners for Chase Ultimate Rewards, and I can almost guarantee you’ll end up getting 2 cents per point in value. It’s a lesson that’s well worth your time!

I hope this answered your question, Hareesh. If anyone has additional questions, please message me on Facebook, tweet me @ThePointsGuy, or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the 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.