Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card - no annual fee.
If you’ve just picked up 50,000 or 100,000 points from a new Chase credit card, and you’re looking to get the most out of them, you’ve come to the right place. The Chase Sapphire rewards you earn via Chase Ultimate Rewards points are among the most useful and powerful around for travel rewards.
With so many options, from the Chase travel site, to over 10 airline and hotel transfer partners, and even straight up cash back, figuring out how to use your points for amazing trips can be confusing.
This guide will show you some great ways to use your points and walk you through how to book them so you get the most value from the points you’ve earned from your Chase Sapphire Preferred or other Ultimate Rewards card from Chase like the Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred Card. You’ll find that uncovering spectacular rewards that let you take dream trips is easy once you know where to look.
If you’re ever confused, scroll to the bottom and ask for help in the comments section. We’ll answer your questions. And if you see something out of date, let us know. We’re constantly updating and evolving this guide as the rewards landscape changes.
Travel is by far the most valuable way to use your Ultimate Rewards points. But not all your options to book travel work the same way.
There are three different ways to use your Ultimate Rewards points to book travel. Each of them has its own strengths and weaknesses, and to get the most out of your points you should probably check each of the three options before you book, to make sure you’re paying the fewest points possible. Here’s a rundown of each of the three ways to book travel and their pros and cons. You can click on the links to get a detailed view of how each option works.
This lets you move your points from your Chase account to your frequent flyer or frequent guest account with any of over 10 airline mile and hotel rewards programs that partner with Ultimate Rewards, including big programs like United MileagePlus and Southwest Rapid Rewards. You can transfer as few as 1,000 points at a time and there’s no fee for the transfer.
Then, you can book a reward using the prices and rules of the frequent flier program you’ve transferred your points to. For example, United MileagePlus charges 60,000 miles roundtrip for an Economy Class award to Europe on many flights. By transferring to United you can take advantage of that award price if you see a flight that works for your plans.
This can often be the cheapest way to book trips, but you’re also then subject to the rules and limitations of regular airline miles, so you may need to be flexible with your plans.
When you login to UltimateRewards.com, you’ll have access to the Chase travel center, which lets you book flights, hotels, and car rentals with cash, points, or a combination of both. It looks and acts a lot like regular travel sites like Expedia.com or Travelocity.com, and when you book this way your points work like cash, so you don’t have to worry about frequent flyer program rules.
The price in points is based on two things:
If you can’t book a flight the other two ways, you can always pay for it with your card using any website you’d like. Then you can request cash back via a statement credit. The downside is your points have the least value this way – with every 2,000 points worth $20 in cash back, so you get one cent per point in value.
Chase Ultimate Rewards has 11 total point transfer travel partners – seven airline partners and four hotel partners. Click on the transfer partner names below to see detailed guides for how to use each program and get the most out of it, and read here for a screen by screen guide to transferring points from your Chase account.
BEWARE: Once you transfer points to a partner like United or Southwest, you can’t transfer them back into Chase. Transferring points to partners is a one way street.
|British Airways Avios|
|Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)|
|Korean Airlines Skypass|
|Singapore Airlines Krisflyer|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club|
|Hyatt Gold Passport|
|Marriott Rewards / Ritz Carlton Rewards|
Each transfer partner has some pros and cons. We’re going to take a look at those pros and cons as well as some good redemption options for each partner.
Best for: Flights to Hawaii from the West Coast for 12,500 points each way on American and Alaska Airlines, American Airlines flights for as few as 7,500 points each way, and short flights outside North America for as few as 4,500 points each way.
Short flights (<1,150 miles) within North America cost only 7,500 miles each way in economy
Even shorter flights (<650 miles) abroad cost only 4,500 miles each way in economy
Flights are subject to fuel-surcharges which can really add up on long-haul flights
Because British Airways charges for flights based on distance for each flight segment, sometimes flying direct costs more than flying with a stop or two, but other times the direct flight might cost more miles
Business and first class awards are very much on the expensive side
Best for: Business Class to Europe for 62,500 miles one way on Delta Airlines, and flights to Hawaii on Delta and Alaska Airlines for 15,000 miles one way.
Delta flights with no fuel surcharges
Some sweet spots for SkyTeam flights
Good prices to the Caribbean and Hawaii on Delta and Alaska
Promo awards to Europe starting at 25,000 miles roundtrip in economy
Sometimes higher award prices than competitors
Fuel-surcharges on non-Delta flights to Europe
Best for: Flights to Hawaii on Alaska, Delta, or Hawaiian Airlines for 25,000 points roundtrip, and Business or First Class flights to Asia on Korean Airlines with good availability of award space
Some great award prices like 25,000 miles roundtrip between the US and Hawaii
Above average premium cabin availability on Korean metal for flights between the US and Asia
Awards can be a little bit time-consuming to book. Korean requires that you prove that you are related to anyone you are booking an award for by faxing them documentation including birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc.
Best for: United Airlines flights for slightly less than what United MileagePlus charges, Singapore Airlines Business and First Class flights
All transferrable points currencies (Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and SPG Points) transfer to Singapore making it a great option to pool points
One stopover allowed on roundtrip award bookings, up to three additional stopovers can be bought for $100 each
Good award chart with multiple sweet spots
Miles expire after 36 months regardless of activity
Fuel surcharges are imposed on some airline partners
Routing rules are relatively strict
Best for: Easy domestic travel and Caribbean / Mexico beach spots with low hassle
Points can be redeemed for any seat that is available for cash at a rate of about 1.4 cents per point
The Southwest Companion Pass presents an option to double the value of your points.
No penalties for canceling your ticket right up until departure
Points are (pretty much) fixed value, so there is little to maximize here.
Few international flights
Best for: Long international trips in both Economy and Business Class on United or its Star Alliance partners like Lufthansa, ANA, Avianca, and Air Canada
Stopovers are allowed on round trip tickets, effectively meaning that you can visit two places for the price of one
Regardless of the partner you redeem your miles on, you don’t need to worry about fuel surcharges
Premium cabin prices are on the high side, and that’s even more true if you want to (or have to) fly on a United partner airline as United has two separate award prices for travel on their own flights and on partners for premium cabin awards
Best for: Delta flights to Europe in Business Class for 100,000 miles roundtrip with no fuel surcharges
Generally lower taxes and miles required for economy redemptions compared with British Airways
Premium cabin awards are expensive both in terms of miles and dollars (you pay hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges for Virgin Atlantic award flights)
Small route network
Best for: Stays at upscale urban hotels that often cost $200 – $300 or more a night
Very nice high-end properties at pretty reasonable points prices like the Park Hyatt Sydney for 30,000 points per night
Can upgrade to a suite starting at 6,000 points
Not many Hyatt hotels around the world
Points are relatively challenging to earn
Best for: Stays in Asia or Europe, and relatively cheap hotels in the U.S.
PointBreaks hotels can be booked for only 5,000 points per night
Hotels located all over the world
Easy to earn more points through promotions
Elite status doesn’t mean much even if you have it
Very little brand consistency
> Award chart (no formal chart – use the hotel search)
Best for: Converting points into Southwest to help earn Companion Pass, or topping off Marriott points you might already have
Hotel + Air Redemptions present great value to get a hotel stay and some frequent flyer miles
A ton of hotels around the world
A very good selection of nice hotels to redeem at
Nights at top-tier properties, especially Ritz-Carlton properties, can be very expensive
Not very many low-category hotels in interesting destinations
Points transfers to different partners take different amounts of times, but most Ultimate Rewards transfers are fairly fast, though officially they can take up to 7 days.
|Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)||Instant|
The best way to use points is for a trip that makes you happy, but here are some ways that will stretch your points the furthest.
For small balances…
Adding to United or Southwest miles you already have. There’s a good chance you’ve flown United or Southwest and have some miles. Topping them up with a transfer from Ultimate Rewards to reach an award is a great way to get value out of your points.
A flight to Cancun on Southwest Airlines for around 6,000 points. Southwest often has great fares to Mexico and the Caribbean, so you can score flights for as few as 6,000 points one way. Imagine being able to take a family of four for just 48,000 points round trip! All it takes is a transfer to Southwest Rapid Rewards to take advantage of its prices. Southwest destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean include…
Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Belize City, San Jose, Liberia, Montego Bay, Aruba, Punta Cana, San Juan, Nassau, and Havana.
When you fly on Southwest your bags are free, and there are no change fees, so transferring your Chase points to Southwest for a ticket to the beach can be a great way to get your vacation for less.
Flights to Hawaii for 12,500 points. You can transfer your points to British Airways Avios and use them to score flights from the West Coast to Hawaii on American or Alaska Airlines for just 12,500 points each way. The catch is the flight needs to be 2,500 miles in distance or less, which is basically the distance from most West Coast cities to Hawaii. An alternative if you don’t live on the West Coast is to transfer to Air France Flying Blue and book Delta or Alaska flights for 15,000 points one way, with no distance requirement.
Short international flights for 4,500 points. With British Airways Avios, you can book short flights that are 650 miles in distance or less for 4,500 points one way. The catch is you can only do this for flights outside North America, but it’s great for hopping around Europe.
International flights on United or its partners. Getting to Europe or Asia can be expensive, often $1,500 or more in cash. But United miles are easy to use for long international flights. And you can for example get to anywhere in Europe for just 30,000 miles one way when you transfer your points to United MileagePlus.
For big balances…
Business Class to Europe for 57,500 miles. United MileagePlus lets you fly United Airlines flights to Europe for just 57,500 miles each way in Business Class, which is a great deal for seats that can cost you thousands of dollars.
First Class to Asia for 80,000 miles. You can fly Korean Airlines in true First Class or 80,000 miles one way to China, Japan, and Korea. Southeast Asia clocks in at 95,000 miles.
Singapore Airlines First Class for 57,375 miles. It’s hard to beat the luxury of Singapore Airlines First Class, and you can fly it from New York to Frankfurt or Houston – Manchester or just 57,375 miles one way.
(Update: This Companion Pass option ends March 31, 2017).
You can transfer your points to Marriott Rewards, and 270,000 points is enough to get you a special ‘Air and Hotel’ package which includes 120,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points, which are more than the 110,000 Southwest points you need to earn Companion Pass status, which lets you bring a companion along on all your Southwest flights for over a year for no additional airfare. You can also use the 120,000 Southwest points to book flights, potentially getting you over $1,500 in airfare value.
The Chase travel portal allows you to treat your Chase Sapphire rewards points like cash and pay for flights, hotels, and other travel related activities. If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred credit card, you will receive a 20% discount when paying with points. This means that each point is worth 1.25 cents versus the one cent if you redeem your points for cash. If you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll receive a 50% bonus, so each point is worth 1.5 cents if you redeem for cash.
The site works like Expedia or Travelocity, and the price you pay in points is based on what the flight would cost in cash. You can choose to use part cash, and part points, charge it all to your card, or all points when you book this way.
This is a good way to redeem points for travel if you can’t be flexible and there is no award space with transfer partners that fits your needs. Before deciding, it always makes sense to check what your options are and what each option would cost, that way you know you are getting the best price and value possible.
Tip: Usually it shows the lowest fares available, but sometimes it might not. There’s no rhyme or reason to this, so it’s a good idea to check the airline’s own website to see if there’s a lower fare. If there is, you might want to wait and check later in case the fare hasn’t yet loaded in the Chase travel center system.
You can earn miles if the fare you purchase is eligible to earn miles in the frequent flyer program you want to credit.
Unfortunately there’s no 100% reliable way to tell what kind of fare you’re getting until after you book the ticket. Sometimes you will be presented with a ‘bulk’ fare, which in some frequent flyer programs doesn’t earn miles the way normal fares do.
Otherwise, you can eyeball your fare type by searching on the airline’s own website and seeing what fare comes up for a similar price. But there are no guarantees, and you might end up with a fare that doesn’t earn miles or elite status privileges.
You can book most of the big traditional airlines via Chase or its website.
Over the phone, by calling 1-866-951-6592, you can book some airlines that are not available on the website, including Allegiant, Gol, Norwegian, and Southwest. You can also book cruises over the phone.
Beware there are some airlines you can’t book at all via Chase, even over the phone. The include Easyjet, Ryanair, Volaris, Wowair, WizzAir, Interjet, IndiGo, Cebupacific, Spicejet, IndiGo, Lion Air, flybe, flydubai, and Monarch.
Tip: An alternative for airlines you can’t book via Chase is to buy the ticket with your card and request statement credit with your points. Every point is worth $0.01, so 10,000 points is worth $100 in statement credit.
Before deciding whether transferring or booking via Chase makes the most sense, you should check for award space with the airline transfer partners.
You might find that transferring and booking via a transfer partner might cost you fewer points than booking via the Chase website.
If space is available, now is the time to compare costs when booking through the Chase portal. Keep in mind that if you book through the Chase portal, you might earn miles on your ticket, so even if it costs more points upfront, you might be better in the long run.
Of course if there is no availability with the airlines that is satisfactory to you, this is a great time to book through the portal or save the points for another trip and pay with cash.
Ultimate Rewards also lets you use points for cash, gift cards, and merchandise.
Cash comes in the form of statement credit, and every 1,000 points is worth $10 in cash. You can choose to redeem for cash anytime, using some or all of your points.
The value you get for gift cards varies, but usually it’s not much better, or sometimes a worse value than cash.
Merchandise is also available on UltimateRewards.com but you’re usually better off redeeming the points for cash and buying the merchandise somewhere else.
You can use your Ultimate Rewards points at Amazon.com by linking your Chase card with your Amazon.com account, and use points to pay at checkout.
Once you link, there’s no need to login with Chase to use points for purchases.
Just enter the number of points you want to use or pay for the whole order with points when you get to the payment page for your Amazon order. You can use as little as 1 point to take dollars off the price of your order, and pay the balance with your Chase card.
As easy as it is, we don’t recommend using your points on Amazon.
That’s because the value for your points is poor when you use them to pay for Amazon purchases. Every point is worth $0.008 each, so 10,000 points gets you $80 worth of Amazon purchases.
Instead, use your points to get statement credit via cash back. When you do that every point is worth 25% more, or $0.01 each. So, 10,000 points gets you $100 in cash back value.
Just pay for the purchase in full with your Chase card and you can request statement credit once it hits your bill. There’s no need to pay 25% more for the convenience of applying your points on checkout from Amazon.
We value Ultimate Rewards at about 1.9 cents each, if you take advantage of transfer partners for flights.
The value of Ultimate Rewards varies depending on how you use them. At a very base level, Ultimate Rewards can be redeemed for one cent each as statement credit.
If you transfer Ultimate Rewards to airline or hotel transfer partners and use them at luxury hotels and for business and first class flights, you could easily get three or four cents per point of value compared to the retail cost of those hotel rooms or flights.
In reality, few people would pay cash out of pocket for thousand dollar a night hotel rooms and international first class flights, so the value of Ultimate Rewards for most via point transfer is going to fall somewhere between 1.5 and 2.5 cents per point.
Unfortunately, no, you can’t buy additional Ultimate Rewards points, though some of the airline and hotel transfer partners let you buy their points.
Quite a few different credit cards earn Ultimate Rewards points. They are:
|Card||Points Earning||Transfers Allowed On Own|
|Chase Freedom||5X points in quarterly rotating categories|
1X points on everything else
|No (need a Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Plus)|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||1.5X points on everything||No (need a Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve or Ink Plus)|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||2X points on dining and travel|
1X on everything else
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||3x points on dining and travel|
1X points on everything else
|Chase Ink Plus Business Card||5X points on office supplies, cable, internet, phone (up to $50k in combined category spending per year)|
2X points on gas and hotels (up to $50k in combined category spending per year)
1X points on everything else
|Chase Ink Cash Business Card||5X points on office supplies, cable, internet, phone (up to $25k combined category spending per year)|
2X points on gas and dining (up to $25k in combined category spending per year)
1X on everything else
|No (need a Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve or Ink Plus)|
Each card has its own earning structure and additional benefits, so consider which card or cards make the most sense for you. You can use our calculator to see which card will earn you the most points based on your spending habits.
Note that you need an Ultimate Rewards card with an annual fee to unlock the ability to transfer miles to airline and hotel partners. These include the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, and Ink Business Preferred. If you hold one of these cards, you can combine points from other no annual fee Ultimate Rewards cards like the Chase Freedom and transfer any or all of them to airline and hotel partners.
Many of the cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points earn bonuses when you spend in certain categories. Here’s a rundown of what you can earn:
The easiest way to earn lots of Ultimate Rewards points in addition to the use of credit cards is by using Shop through Chase on the Ultimate Rewards website.
You do need an Ultimate Rewards earning credit card in order to make use of Shop through Chase. When you shop through the portal, you can earn an extra 1 – 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent on most of your online shopping. That’s on top of the points you earn on the card from your purchases.
Just click the ‘Shop Now’ link from the Ultimate Rewards website to your favorite shopping site, and you’ll earn extra points on your purchases in your Ultimate Rewards account.
You don’t have to shop on a special site – the links on the shopping portal take you directly to the normal site you’d use. And you’re not buying your items from Chase – you’re buying them directly from the website of the merchant you choose.
For example, if you’re shopping at Macy’s, the link will take you straight to the same site you’d see if you went to Macy’s.com directly. All the prices are the same, and you can take advantage of all the promo codes and shipping benefits you’re used to.
Do you have to pay with your Chase card to earn the points? You don’t have to pay with your Ultimate Rewards credit card to earn the points. You just have to click to the merchant’s site using the link you see while logged into the Shop through Chase site.
How fast do points post? Points from the shopping portal post within 3-5 business days after your purchase is completed, so you’ll often see these points post faster than the points you get for making the purchase on your credit card.
You can earn lots of Chase Ultimate Rewards points by referring friends to get their own Chase credit cards. When your friends apply for, get approved, and use a card via the invitation you send them, you’ll earn bonus Ultimate Rewards points.
To see what offers you have, login to ChaseReferAFriend.com with your name and last 4 digits of your card number. If there’s an active offer, you’ll see a form like the one below where you can enter your friend’s names an email addresses.
Once you enter them, they’ll get an email in about a week with the offer.
You won’t hear if they are approved or denied, but if they do use the email to open an account, you’ll receive bonus points about 6-8 weeks after they first use their card and it will be listed as a “Refer-A-Friend” bonus on your statement.
You can combine points across multiple accounts that you own. This is useful if you earned points on a card that doesn’t allow airline point transfer, like a Chase Freedom, and want to move them to a card that does allow airline point transfer, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Here’s how to do it.
It’s also important if you are planning on closing an account or if you have a non-premium Chase credit card. If you are planning to close an account, you must transfer your miles either to another Ultimate Rewards account or to an airline or hotel transfer partner before you close it or you will lose your points.
Yes, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards to other people, by going to the Combine Points feature and choosing ‘Add household member / company owner,’ but you do need to work within some rules.
If you have a personal card, you are allowed to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to other members of your household who have Chase Ultimate Rewards cards. They don’t need to be authorized users.
If you want to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to another person’s airline or hotel loyalty program, they must be a member of your household AND an authorized user of your credit card account.
If you have a small business card like the Ink Preferred, the rules are slightly different. If you would like to transfer Ultimate Rewards to another person’s Ultimate Rewards account, they need to be a member of your household or an owner of the business. If you would like to transfer Ultimate Rewards to another person’s airline or hotel loyalty account, they must be an owner of the company who is also an authorized user of the credit card account.
If you have a non-premium Chase card like the Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, or Ink Cash, you cannot transfer points directly to airline and hotel transfer partners. You must first transfer points to a premium card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Preferred.
Ultimate Rewards do not expire as long as the attached credit card account is open. If you are going to close an Ultimate Rewards earning credit card, and don’t want to lose your points, you could transfer your points to another Ultimate Rewards earning credit card, or you could transfer your points to an airline or hotel transfer partner.
Earning the most from your spending depends greatly on your spending patterns. Many people are going to find the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Freedom Unlimited to be a killer combination. For some, the 5X rotating categories of the Chase Freedom will be more valuable than the 1.5X on everything that the Freedom Unlimited offers.
Those of you that spend a fair amount of money at office supply stores or on cable, internet, and phone bills should definitely consider one of the Chase small-business cards: the Ink Cash or Ink Preferred. Both earn five points per dollar spent on those purchases as well as two points per dollar spent in a couple of other categories.
A helpful tip is to look at your spending patterns from the past six to twelve months and calculate how much you could have earned with various options. Choose the options that will net you the most points for the least cost!
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