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The ultimate guide to Chase pay with points

April 27, 2020
7 min read
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Chase Ultimate Rewards have been near the top of TPG's monthly valuation of points and miles for as long as I can remember, earning the lofty valuation of two cents apiece. Much of that value is derived from the flexibility of the 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners, spanning all three major airline alliances as well as a number of great non-alliance airlines. However, transfer partners are only useful if you can actually find award space.

Delta, Alaska and American jets on a taxiway at Seattle/Tacoma International Airport. (Image courtesy of the Port of Seattle)

If you're flying on a competitive, premium route, traveling during peak holiday times, or simply don't have the time, energy or comfort level needed to find award space with an airline partner, booking your tickets directly through your credit card's travel portal may be a more appealing option. Not only do most issuers allow you to redeem points for these travel portal redemptions, but some also even give you a bonus or rebate for doing so.

Today we're going to take a look at everything you need to redeem Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase travel portal.

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Which cards offer a pay with points bonus?

If you have any Ultimate Rewards earning credit card (or even cash-back cards such as the Chase Freedom® (No longer open to new applicants) or Chase Freedom Unlimited®) you can redeem your points at a rate of one cent each directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal -- but since that's much lower than TPG's valuation of Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents each, this isn't usually the best option.

However, three of Chase's top credit cards offer bonuses that can help sweeten the deal:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®: 50% bonus when redeeming through the Chase travel portal
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: 25% bonus when redeeming through the Chase travel portal
  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: 25% bonus when redeeming through the Chase travel portal

The information for the Chase Freedom has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Unlike the pay with points rebates you'll find on certain Amex cards, these bonuses apply immediately at the time of purchase, with no annual caps or limits. In fact, you'll see the pay with points bonus reflected in your search results so there's no ambiguity. It's also worth noting that unlike Amex, Chase doesn't limit this bonus to specific, eligible flights. You can receive your pay with points bonus any time you book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, whether it's flights in any cabin with any airline, hotels, rental cars, excursions and more.

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Thanks to my Chase Sapphire Reserve, my points are worth 50% more when redeeming for travel through the Chase portal

When should you pay with points?

Pay with points can be a great option if your desired flight doesn't have any award space available, but it can also be a great deal if you find a cheap fare sale that you want to take advantage of without actually spending any cash. Flights booked through the Chase portal code as revenue flights, meaning you'll earn both elite and redeemable miles on them -- unlike on standard award tickets.

Further Reading: How to get more than 1.5 cents in value from ultimate rewards points

Even if you can find award space, you'll want to check the cash price as well to see whether you would come out ahead transferring points to a partner or booking directly through the Chase portal.

While we don't yet know when it will be safe to travel again, there's no harm in exploring future flights to see what's out there. I was able to find a one-way ticket from Boston (BOS) to Frankfurt (FRA) with a stop in Lisbon (LIS) on Star Alliance carrier TAP Portugal for just $186.83, or 12,455 points if you hold a Chase Sapphire Reserve (about ~15,000 if you have a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Preferred).

Your cheapest option for a one-way economy flight to Europe on Star Alliance carriers would involve transferring 30,000 points to United MileagePlus. Booking through the Chase portal gives you the same ticket for less than half as many miles, and you'll earn miles on this flight.

This strategy can also be great for travelers looking to qualify for airline elite status but still enjoy a comfortable seat on longer trips. Korean Air has some pretty decent business-class fares to southeast Asia, including a ~$3,000 round-trip ticket from Los Angeles (LAX) to Singapore (SIN). This certainly isn't the world's cheapest ticket ever, but at just over 200,000 Ultimate Rewards points, it's not a bad deal, either, especially since you can pick almost any dates on the calendar without hunting for award space.

Further Reading: Complete guide to airline elite status during the coronavirus outbreak

What makes this redemption even sweeter though is the incredible return you'd get on a flight like this. This trip covers about 17,700 flight miles, and if you credited it to Delta SkyMiles you'd earn the following:

  • Redeemable miles: 35,444 (worth $425 based on TPG's latest valuations)
  • Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs): 26,583 (enough to earn Silver Medallion status)
  • Medallion Qualifying Dollars (MQDs): $7,088 (enough to meet the revenue requirement for Gold Medallion status)

So while you'd be spending a massive amount of points, this single trip would earn you $425 worth of redeemable SkyMiles and Delta Silver elite status, which TPG values at $750. Not a half-bad return!

Bottom line

While leveraging high-value transfer partners is the key to unlocking some of the most aspirational redemptions in the sky, Chase's pay with points bonus on select cards should not be overlooked. At the very least, this option adds an incredible amount of flexibility to your redemption strategy, and you may even find a number of times where it's cheaper to book a flight directly through the Chase portal instead of transferring.

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

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