I’m a Chase credit card guy, there’s no hiding it. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the best premium credit cards out there right now, and I love to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for free flights and hotels.
Just this past month I got a free flight from Chicago to Phoenix, a hotel for 5 nights in Arizona, and two flights back to Chicago for 74,534 points. Here’s how it broke out:
- 35,540 points – 5 nights and 6 days in a 3 star hotel in Arizona
- 9,887 points – 1 American one-way flight to Arizona from Chicago
- 29,107 points – 2 American one-way flights to Chicago from Arizona
Now, some of you Chase Ultimate Rewards connoisseurs may be scoffing at me for not booking a first-class flight to Singapore – which is without a doubt the best value for your points. Some might even say the above point redemptions I made weren’t a good deal because I didn’t efficiently transfer points to the right travel partner!
What if I don’t want to fly to Singapore though? What if I just wanted to go to Arizona without having to go through the hassle of transferring points to various travel partners?
Well, it turns out I can. I used my points to pay for a trip to Arizona and the Chase Ultimate Rewards gods did not strike down upon me.
In fact, I actually got a pretty good deal out of the whole thing. I mean, I did go on vacation for “free” by redeeming my points for all the flights and hotels I needed, turning ~$1,100 in point value (with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card) into a free trip.
Below you’ll see the details of how I was able to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards the easy way. Including an awesome trick to get even more value from your points all while staying within the easy-to-navigate Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
What are Chase Ultimate Rewards?
First, I want to give a quick overview of Chase Ultimate Rewards. These are the rewards, or points, associated with Chase’s credit cards. They are highly regarded as some of the most valuable points in the credit card world today.
Learn More: Best Rewards Credit Cards.
This is a snapshot of what the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal looks like, which is where you go to redeem your rewards:
Ignore the obnoxious Macy’s ad… generally, this is a very easy-to-navigate portal. As you can see, you can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards in several different ways:
- Amazon Purchases
- Apple Purchases
- Cash Back
- Gift Cards
- or, by Transferring to Travel Partners (like airline partners)
In general, each Chase Ultimate Rewards point is worth between 1 cent and 1.5 cents depending on how you redeem the points and which credit card you own.
Credit Cards that Offer Chase Ultimate Rewards
Currently, there are four personal credit cards that have the ability to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards. Details on them are below:
- Earn 5% cash back on rotating categories each quarter
- Earn 1% cash back on everything else
- Can redeem cash back as Chase Ultimate Rewards points when using one of the Sapphire cards (below)
- No annual fee
The 5% rotating bonus on the Chase Freedom makes it a great credit card for executing two-card strategies. Plus, when paired with a Chase Sapphire card, you can redeem that 5% back as Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Earn 1.5% cash back on everything
- Can redeem cash back as Chase Ultimate Rewards points when using one of the Sapphire cards
- No annual fee
The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a high-quality cash back card and is found in many wallets because of it. Plus, when paired with a Chase Sapphire card, you can redeem that 1.5% back as Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- Earn 2 Ultimate Rewards Points on restaurants and travel
- Earn 1 Ultimate Rewards Point on everything else
- Redeem Ultimate Rewards Points with 25% bonus for travel
- $95 annual fee
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a coveted rewards card because of it’s attractive sign-up bonus and point rewards on restaurants and travel. Plus, it gets you access to Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
- Earn 3 Ultimate Rewards Points on restaurants and travel
- Earn 1 Ultimate Rewards Point on everything else
- Redeem Ultimate Rewards Points with 50% bonus for travel
- $550 annual fee
The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is the most premium of the Chase rewards card with a hefty $550 annual fee that is partially offset with an annual $300 travel credit. The card also offers best in class point rewards on restaurants and travel and, as expected, gets you access to Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
You can find and apply for the best rewards credit cards out there, here.
How to Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards the Easy Way
So, how do you redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards the easy way?
In the Chase portal, of course.
As mentioned, you can redeem your rewards for a variety of options, but the best option is to redeem the points for travel. Instead of a 1x redemption value, you’ll get:
- 1.25x with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- 1.50x with the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
So, let’s say you sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card tomorrow and take advantage of the 60,000 sign-up bonus they are offering (as of November 2019) by spending $4,000 in the first 4 months of account opening.
Those 60,000 points would be valued at 75,000 when redeemed for travel in the Chase portal. That’s a $750 value!
If you earned another 15,000 points (which you would be halfway to if you spent the first $4,000 on restaurants or travel), then you could match my free trip to Arizona just by opening the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
The Best Tip for Easily Maximizing Chase Ultimate Rewards
As mentioned earlier, you can redeem cash back earned from the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards if you also carry a Chase Sapphire card. This is a huge perk for amplifying your point redemption.
Here’s a quick example to bring it to life:
Scenario A: You only own a Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.
Scenario B: You own both a Chase Sapphire Reserve Card and Chase Freedom card.
For both scenarios, let’s say the quarterly bonus for the Chase Freedom is on groceries. Typically, you spend $1,000 a quarter on groceries.
In Scenario A, you’d use your Chase Sapphire Reserve Card to earn 1,000 points on those grocery purchases. Those points would be valued at 1,500 when redeemed for travel.
In Scenario B, you could use your Chase Freedom to earn 5% cash back, or 5x points. You could then transfer the 5,000 points you earned to the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. As you may have seen coming, these points can now be redeemed for 1.5x on travel, rendering their value at 7,500.
The difference between Scenario A (1,500) and Scenario B (7,500) is 6,000, or $60! That’s just from 3 months of the year too.
Repeat the same thing every quarter and your additional earnings would be valued at $240 annually.
If you spent $3,000 a quarter in bonus categories instead of $1,000, then your additional earnings would be valued at $720 annually!
This is an easy tip to maximize Chase Ultimate Rewards points without going through the hassle of transferring points all over the place or being limited to where you can travel.
Here’s Exactly How to Transfer Points (Step by Step Guide)
Login to the Chase travel portal, as seen below. Then, click on the “see all” button (outlined in green).
That will expand the menu further displaying a “combine points” option (again, outlined in green below). Click on that “combine points” button.
You will then be taken to the below dashboard to manage transfers. From here, you can choose the card you want to transfer points from and where to transfer them to.
For example, you could transfer points from a Chase Freedom card to a Chase Sapphire Card.
Also note, Chase gives you the option to transfer points to another member in your household! This is an extremely beneficial perk offered by the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
So if you’re spouse owns a Chase Sapphire Reserve Card but you only have a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you could transfer all of your points to them so that you can redeem the points at a 1.5x value vs just a 1.25x value.
How to Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards the Hard Way
I’ll be the first to admit, this is not the most efficient way to redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards. As I joked about at the beginning, strategically transferring points to various travel partners is the best way to truly maximize rewards (like flying first class to Singapore).
However, that takes time and effort (not to mention it limits your travel options), and redeeming through the Chase travel portal is the easiest and most flexible way to get the most bang for your buck.
Anyway, if you want to maximize your points the hard way, I don’t blame you. Here are some resources from other sites that we follow:
- The Points Guy
Summary: Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards the Easy Way
Chase Ultimate Rewards are valuable and versatile credit card points. Redeeming these rewards through the Chase portal for travel is better than most other ways of redemption (like the gift card, Amazon, Apple, and statement credit options).
Apply Today: Best Rewards Credit Cards.
Plus, when pairing a Chase Sapphire credit card with another Chase credit card (like the Chase Freedom card), you can maximize the redemption value of each purchase you make.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to directly book your next trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards!
Just Start Investing is a personal finance website that makes investing easy. Learn the simple strategies to start investing today, as well as ways to optimize your credit cards, banking, and budget. Just Start Investing has been featured on Business Insider, Forbes, and US News & World Report, among other major publications for its easy-to-follow writing.