Chase Ultimate Rewards Points: How to Earn Them and Use Them

Here are the best strategies for getting the most value out of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points — so you can book the trip you’ve always dreamed of.
Last updated Feb 10, 2020 | By Lee Huffman
How to use Chase Ultimate Rewards

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Chase Ultimate Rewards points are some of the most desirable rewards in the travel community. These points can be used for a wide variety of flights, accommodations, and experiences, and Chase offers both personal credit cards and business credit cards that earn these rewards. But to get the most out of your rewards, there are some basics you need to know.

In this article, we'll share tips and strategies on how to maximize your points earnings and get the most value for your redemptions when it comes to your Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

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What are Chase Ultimate Rewards?

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the flexible currency points earned by Chase's portfolio of rewards credit cards. Ultimate Rewards points can be earned through sign-up bonuses, credit card spending, and purchases made through the Chase shopping portal. Additional points can be earned when you use your credit cards for purchases that fall under a bonus category. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card earns 3X points for every dollar spent on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and at restaurants.

Your Chase Ultimate Rewards points do not expire as long as your credit card is open. Unlike American Express Membership Rewards points, though, your Chase points are not automatically pooled into one bucket if you are earning them with multiple cards. However, you can easily transfer points earned from one card to another for no fees.

There are three main options for redeeming Ultimate Rewards points:

  • You can book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal
  • You can transfer your rewards to Chase’s airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio
  • You can redeem your points for statement credits and gift cards

What are Chase Ultimate Rewards worth?

The value of any points or miles will vary depending upon how you redeem them, and the same goes for Chase Ultimate Rewards. When redeeming for statement credits and gift cards, you'll receive one cent per point in value. But, depending upon which Ultimate Rewards credit card you have, the value of your points changes when redeeming for travel.

When you redeem your points for travel through the Chase portal:

With the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, and Ink Business Preferred cards, you can also transfer points to a variety of hotel and airline partners. The value received depends on which partner you transfer to and how you redeem your rewards.

How to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points

There are several ways to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Applying for a new credit card, referring people, spending on the card, and online shopping. Let’s look at the details of each of these options so you know which will best fit your needs and goals.

Welcome bonuses

When you apply for a new credit card, banks often offer what’s called a “welcome bonus” or “sign-up bonus” in return for you spending a certain amount of money within a limited timeframe. These bonuses can be quite lucrative and are often the best way to get a lot of points quickly. For example, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

Everyday spending

Once you have a card, you'll earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points on your purchases. Depending upon which card you have, you may earn bonus points when spending in certain categories or you may earn points for every purchase you make.

For instance, the Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3X points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and at restaurants, whereas the Chase Freedom Unlimited earns unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, which can be converted to Chase Ultimate Rewards (more on that later).

Referring a new cardholder

Once you have a Chase card, you can also refer your friends, family, and acquaintances to Chase to earn additional Ultimate Rewards points. The number of points you can earn will vary based on the card the person signs up for, but these are free points for you. In some cases, you can earn more bonus points by referring people than applying for the card yourself. Just be aware that Chase may send you a 1099 form for the value of the points you earn, which basically means you’ll have to pay taxes on those points.

Online shopping

Online shopping is another great way to earn additional points. You'll earn points by shopping at your favorite merchants just by clicking through the Chase shopping portal first. These points are in addition to the rewards you earn from your credit card, so you're double-dipping with these purchases.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Shopping Portal


The number of points available for you to earn varies by merchant, and sometimes there are promotional offers to further increase the number of points you can earn. This usually happens around holidays and other peak shopping periods.

Credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards

Here are some of the Chase credit cards we recommend for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Some of these cards earn Ultimate Rewards and others earn you cash back. But that cash back can actually be converted to Ultimate Rewards.

Welcome bonus Earnings rate
Chase Sapphire Preferred Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months 5X on Lyft rides, 2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases
Chase Sapphire Reserve Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months 10X points on Lyft rides, 3X points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit), 3X points at restaurants, and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else
Chase Freedom $150 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months 5% cash back in rotating bonus categories (up to $1,500 in combined purchases per quarter) and 1% cash back on all other purchases
Chase Freedom Unlimited Earn a $150 cash back bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Chase Ink Business Preferred Earn 100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months 5X points on Lyft rides; 3X points on the first $150,000 spent each year on travel, shipping, internet, cable, or phone services, and advertising purchases with social media and search engines; and 1X points per $1 on everything else
Chase Ink Business Cash Earn $500 bonus cash back after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months 5% cash back at office supply stores and on internet, cable, or phone services (up to $25,000 combined annually); 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $25,000 combined annually); and 1% cash back on everything else
Chase Ink Business Unlimited Earn $500 cash back after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months 1.5% cash back on all spending

Which Chase credit card should you start with?

If you're ready to get started earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points, one of the best cards we recommend is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It's currently offering a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 within first 3 months. That bonus alone could be worth up to $750 if you use those points to book travel through the Chase travel portal.

On top of that, you'll earn 5X on Lyft rides, 2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases.

Because this card earns just 1X per dollar on most purchases, a lot of people also get the Chase Freedom Unlimited. With this card, you'll earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, which translates to 1.5X points per dollar spent. When pairing a Sapphire card with a Freedom card, people typically use the Sapphire Preferred to pay for travel and dining, then the Freedom Unlimited for everything else.

The great part about this is, when you transfer your rewards from your Freedom Unlimited to your Sapphire Preferred, they become worth more. That’s because you can then use those points to book travel through the Chase portal, where all Sapphire Preferred points are worth 25% more. Plus, by putting all your points under your Sapphire Preferred, you'll also have the ability to transfer those rewards to any of Chase’s airline and hotel partners.

What can you do with Chase credit card points?

So, we’ve talked a lot about how you earn all these points — but what now? Your Chase Ultimate Rewards points come with a variety of options for redeeming them, so let’s talk through everything you can do with these valuable rewards.

Transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Chase travel partners

Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel partners is one of the best ways to get the maximum value from your points. Your points transfer to a great selection of hotel and airline partners on a 1:1 basis and without any fees.

Once the points are in your airline or hotel loyalty account, they combine with points and miles you've already earned with that program. Then, you can redeem all those points for flights and hotel rooms. Depending on what you book, you can get a higher value for your points than if you paid cash for the reservations. Booking premium hotels or first-class flights through Chase often provide the highest value when redeeming your points.

For example, the Park Hyatt Sydney is on many traveler's bucket list with its incredible views of the harbor and the Sydney Opera House. Rooms are usually $800 or more per night but can be booked with only 30,000 points. When I checked recently, the rooms were $845 per night. If we do the math — $845 / 30,000 = .0281 (or 2.81 cents) — I can see that I’d be getting a cash value of 2.8 cents per point if I made this reservation, which is a great deal.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points: How to Earn Them and Use Them


Book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal

You can book flights, hotels, rental cars, attractions, and more through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. The value of your points will depend on which card's points you're using to pay for the trip:

Card name Value of points when redeemed in Chase travel portal
Chase Freedom

Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase Ink Business Cash

Chase Ink Business Unlimited

1 cent per point
Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Ink Business Preferred

1.25 cents per point
Chase Sapphire Reserve 1.5 cents per point

Let’s say I'm looking to book a flight from Nashville to Orlando. Since I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve and I plan to pool my points together in my account, then all my Ultimate Rewards points become worth 1.5 cents each. With the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, I could pay $154.20 or use 10,280 Ultimate Rewards points to book the flight.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points: How to Earn Them and Use Them


Even better, when booking flights through this travel portal, you'll earn your frequent flyer miles just as if you were using cash to pay for the flight. Plus, if you don't have enough Chase Ultimate Rewards points to pay for the entire bill (or if you want to save some points), you can put the remaining balance on your credit card.

Use Chase Ultimate Rewards points for cash back or gift cards

Though you won’t get as much value out of them, you can also redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for cash back or gift cards. No matter which Chase card you have, you'll get a maximum value of one cent per point for these redemptions. Because of the low value, you are better off transferring your points to an airline or hotel or booking a reservation through the Chase travel portal.

If you do decide you want cash back or gift cards, you have multiple options. Cash back can be received in the form of a statement credit on your card or a deposit into your bank account. Or there are over 150 different gift cards to choose from, including popular retailers like Amazon, Starbucks, and Best Buy.

Frequently asked questions

Do Chase Ultimate Rewards points expire?

Your points do not expire as long as your account remains open. If you have multiple credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points and you wish to close one, you just need to transfer your points out of that account before you close it if you want to keep them.

How many Chase Ultimate Rewards points do I need for a free flight?

The number of points required for a free flight depends on how you redeem your points. Through the travel portal, points are worth 1 to 1.5 cents each based on which credit card you have. When you transfer to one of Chase’s airline partners, the number of points required for a free flight also varies. For example, a $59 flight on Southwest from Los Angeles to Phoenix cost 3,235 points as of February 2020.

Can you transfer points between Chase credit cards?

Yes, if you have multiple credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you may transfer them between Chase credit cards at no charge. When points are transferred from one account to another, they also acquire the benefits of that credit card.

For example, say you earned 50,000 points with the Chase Freedom Unlimited, but then transferred those points to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. With the Sapphire Reserve, your points are worth 1.5 cents each when you book through the Chase travel portal. That means these points are now worth up to $750, instead of the $500 value they had in your Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Can you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to another person?

Yes, if the person lives in your household and has a Chase credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to that person’s Chase account. You can also transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards directly to another person’s hotel or airline loyalty account, but that person must be an authorized user on your Chase card. You can make this kind of transfer in 1,000-point increments.

Do I lose my Chase Ultimate Rewards if I close my account?

Yes, you can lose your points if you close your account. Before closing your account, you should first transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to another Ultimate Rewards credit card or an airline or hotel partner loyalty account.

If you're closing your account because of the annual fee, consider downgrading the credit card to the no annual fee Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited. This way you can keep earning more points while also preserving the points you've already accumulated.

Who are the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel partners?

As of February 2020, Chase has thirteen airline and hotel transfer partners. Your Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to these partners on a 1:1 basis with a minimum transfer of 1,000 points:

The bottom line on Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Now you can see why Chase Ultimate Rewards points are so popular. You can easily earn points through signing up for credit cards, referring friends, credit card spending, and online shopping. Points can then be transferred to airline and hotel partners to book trips or redeemed in the Ultimate Rewards travel portal to book flights, hotels, rental cars, activities, and more.

The flexibility and power of these points are very appealing. And when you have multiple Chase Ultimate Rewards points credit cards, you can capitalize on your spending to earn more than one point per dollar on every purchase.

Remember that Chase has the unofficial “5/24 Rule,” though. So if you want to get your own Chase Ultimate Rewards points credit card, make sure to apply for these credit cards first so you won't get declined.

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Benefits

  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 5X points on select streaming services (up to $1,500) from July 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020
  • 3X points with Instacart (up to $3,000), and at gas stations (up to $1,500) from July 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits