How to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for maximum value
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There are a few facts of life — never wake a sleeping baby, always say yes to homemade cake, you can never have too much cash in the bank and you can never, ever have too many Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
This transferable points currency gives you access to some of the best hotel and airline transfer partners in the business, as well as an easy-to-use portal that allows you to cover a wide variety of different travel costs, including car rentals, hotels, flights, tours and activities, as well as some everyday expenses.
Despite increasing competition from American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou and Capital One miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards maintains its place as one of the most valuable points on the planet. Plus, thanks to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card’s current welcome bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening, it’s extremely easy to earn a hefty stash of these points right now.
If you’re ready to get serious about traveling more for less, here’s how to earn and maximize Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
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How to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points
As you can see, there are many ways to earn Chase points at rates of anywhere from 1 – 10x points per dollar at a time, but how you use them is critical to their actual value toward your travel. TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at two cents each, but your value can be lower or higher, depending on how you redeem your points.
You have three basic options for redeeming Ultimate Rewards:
Transfer to travel partners
This is, in our opinion, the best way to redeem your hard-earned points. It’s certainly your best shot for getting maximum value. You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to 11 airline programs (British Airways, Flying Blue, JetBlue, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Air Canada, Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic, Aer Lingus and Iberia) and three hotel programs (Hyatt, IHG, and Marriott).
All transfer ratios are 1:1, and you must transfer in 1,000-point increments. Note that Chase has only ever had a handful of transfer bonuses — a 30% bonus on transfers to British Airways Avios in 2019, a 60% transfer bonus to IHG Rewards Club in August 2020 and a 30% transfer bonus to Avios at the end of 2020.
Related: Current transfer bonuses
If you want to learn some tips about redeeming them, you can check out our guide on Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots.
We’ll break down how to maximize transfers to travel partners below.
Book travel via Chase
You can book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal and redeem points for your plane tickets, hotel stays, rental cars or experiences at a fixed cash value per point. If you only hold a Chase Freedom Flex, Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card, Ink Business Cash Credit Card or Chase Freedom Unlimited, all points are worth one cent each.
If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, your points are worth 1.5 cents each toward travel redemptions through the portal.
If you hold multiple cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points, you can combine your points in the account of whichever card makes points the most valuable. For example, all of your points earned with the Chase Freedom can be moved to your Sapphire Reserve account, thus increasing their value from 1 to 1.5 cents apiece. It’s probably worth getting into the habit of combining your points every month or so, just in case Chase decides to change this policy in the future.
You might also consider the travel portal option if you only have a handful of Ultimate Rewards points left since Chase lets you redeem points to cover the trip cost partially and then you can cover the remaining balance with cash.
Finally, it’s a decent option for car rentals, non-branded lodging or when cash rates make spending points through transfer partners a bad value. The hotel options presented are quite varied.
Cash back or gift cards
Theoretically, you can earn credit on your statement or even have the points deposited into your bank account at a flat rate of 1 cent per point if that’s your goal. With Chase Pay Yourself Back, you can redeem points for cash back at a rate of 1.25-1.5 cents each, depending on the card you have on select categories.(until March 31, 2022).
You can also redeem points for gift cards at a rate of 1 cent per point. You can do better, assuming you like to travel. However, we know that needs can change, so these non-travel redemptions remain fall-back options when needed.
Top Ultimate Rewards transfer partners
We’ve mentioned that transferring your Chase points to a travel partner is often your best bet if you want to get the most value out of your points, but now we’re going to show you why that’s true in many situations.
Here are some of the best ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards with airline and hotel transfer partners:
United no longer publishes an award chart for its own operated flights, which can be good or bad news, depending on your situation. Thankfully, awards on partners still follow an award chart and United does not pass along fuel surcharges. You can book domestic one-way United awards starting at 5,000 miles each way, business-class awards to Europe start at 60,000 – 70,000 miles each way and award flights to Australia and New Zealand start at 80,000 – 90,000 miles each way.
If you are booking a trip that transits different zones (like North America to Europe), you can also build in a free flight (known as the Excursionist Perk) when redeeming United miles. A round-trip economy itinerary from Newark (EWR) to London (LHR) in this example is 60,000 miles plus taxes:
Adding in a flight from London to Brussels and spending another week in Belgium cost the same number of miles (with fewer taxes) thanks to the Excursionist Perk:
Transfers to United MileagePlus are popular among those savvy with Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
TPG values Southwest Rapid Rewards points at 1.5 cents each, so in some ways transferring to Southwest isn’t a great way to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points. You can also use your Chase points to book a “paid” Southwest flight by calling Chase Travel and booking over the phone, as the flights are not listed on the Chase Travel site. However, there are a couple of scenarios where we transfer our points to a friendly carrier with no change or baggage fees.
First, for inexpensive fares ~$100 or less, Rapid Reward points can be worth as much as 1.7 cents per point, which beats the value you get when booking through the portal. Second, if you have a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass and are really getting two flights for the price of one award, then your points become worth as much as 3.4 cents per point for inexpensive fares.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Singapore has a few things going for it as a potential airline transfer destination for your Ultimate Rewards. First, Singapore is one of the best airlines in the sky, with tremendous service and luxurious onboard products and experiences. Second, there is fantastic value in Singapore’s KrisFlyer program, with reasonable award charts, low fuel surcharges, routing rules that allow stopovers and the ability to combine multiple partners in one award.
Finally, transfers from Chase to Singapore are instant and the online award booking is intuitive and easy to use.
Here are some of our favorite KrisFlyer redemptions when using Chase Ultimate Rewards:
17,500 miles each way from the U.S. to Hawaii in economy
55,000 miles round-trip from the U.S. to Europe in economy on Star Alliance partners
72,000 miles Houston to Manchester one-way in business on Singapore’s own fifth-freedom route
85,000 miles Sydney to Singapore one-way in the new A380 Suites
95,000 miles Los Angeles to Singapore one-way in business for 17 hours on the new A350
Spain’s national carrier remains a mystery to many Chase cardholders, despite the significant value Iberia Plus can offer U.S.-based flyers. The carrier offers cheap economy and transatlantic flights on its own metal and routinely has promos making Iberia Plus practically irresistible for a quick hop across the Atlantic.
Without promos, transatlantic business is priced based on a distanced-based award chart. One-way flights from Miami to Madrid cost 35,000 Avios in economy and 62,500 Avios in business class. There can be less than $100 in surcharges, depending on the class of service you book:
Prices get even more attractive, however, for shorter routes (based on distance in miles). For example, Boston to Madrid is only 17,000 Avios in economy and 34,000 Avios in business one-way:
The magic continues when looking to book domestic American Airlines itineraries. Although these awards were recently devalued, you can still book short-haul domestic flights for as low as 6,000 miles each way — often less than what American charges through its own program.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
There are multiple ways to use Virgin Atlantic’s loyalty program to unlock incredible value. You can redeem miles to fly Delta domestic itineraries here in the U.S. for 7,500-15,000 miles per segment, potentially saving you thousands of miles compared to what Delta is asking for the same flight.
Delta One flights to Europe (excluding the U.K.) are a flat 50,000 miles for nonstop itineraries.
Other partners, like ANA, have award charts so attractive they almost seem like a mistake. You can use 110,000 Flying Club miles to fly ANA First class round-trip from the West Coast to Japan and 120,000 miles round-trip from the central and eastern U.S. to Japan. Here is Flying Club’s award chart for ANA-operated flights:
Other partners such as South African, Air China, Singapore and Hawaiian offer niche routes that provide a great use of your miles. Overall, Flying Club presents a lot of different options to yield significant value from your Ultimate Rewards.
British Airways Executive Club
If you need a short-haul nonstop flight on a Oneworld partner, British Airways Avios can give you tremendous savings. Short-haul flights outside of North America less than 650 miles in length will cost you only 6,000 Avios. This is great for exploring Japan on partner Japan Airlines, where last-minute domestic ticket prices can be rather hefty. Using this chart, Tokyo to Osaka costs only 6,000 miles and $4.96:
In North America, short-haul flights start at 7,500 Avios for American Airlines-operated itineraries and can give you significant mileage savings over booking the same flight through American AAdvantage. Atlanta to Dallas costs only 9,000 Avios on a day when American may charge between 12,500 and 20,000 miles in its new dynamic pricing model:
There are itineraries you don’t want to book with Avios, like long-haul British Airways flights or partner-operated flights that incur significant fuel surcharges of hundreds of dollars. Stick to short hops on partner airlines or fifth-freedom routes in the Caribbean (such as Antigua to St. Kitts) and you’ll get great use of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points with British Airways.
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