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If you travel as often as I do, you start to look for any shortcut that you can possibly take when it comes to planning and booking your next trip. One thing that I have learned over the years is just how valuable rewards points are. Few companies do it better than Chase. With the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program, customers can earn points simply by making everyday purchases.
As great as it is to earn points towards your next vacation by spending money on the things you had every intention of buying anyway, it can be a daunting task for someone who has never used points before.
We are going to map out both how you can earn and redeem your points and put them towards your next vacation with ease.
What is the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program?
To put it simply, Chase Ultimate Rewards is a loyalty program that rewards customers for using their Chase credit cards.
Basically, by using your Chase credit card on a regular basis, you are passively earning points which can be used towards airfare, hotels, restaurants, and other products and services.
You are enrolled in the program from the moment you are approved for a Chase credit card and start earning points the minute you sign up and start spending. As a matter of fact, Chase almost always throws in a “sign up” bonus of sorts to get you started.
The number of points that you earn depends mostly on the category which you are spending, but the majority of categories have a flat 1x earning value.
Which Chase Credit Card is right for me?
Chase offers 6 different credit cards to choose from. It can be difficult to decide which is right for you, so it is important to do a bit of research before committing. Keep in mind that having more than one credit card is always helpful, because you can combine and transfer points from one card to another and earn more quickly and efficiently.
Card #1: Chase Freedom
Although the Chase Freedom card is actually a cash-back card, it can also be used as a Reward card. The best thing about this card is its quarterly rewards. Every quarter, you can earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in various categories. Check out their calendar to see what’s going on this quarter.
The Chase Freedom® earns unlimited 1% cash-back on all other purchases, and has no annual fee, which makes it a great card for anyone not looking to pay too much out of pocket.
Card #2: Chase Freedom Unlimited
Just unveiled in 2016, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is the latest Chase credit card that can be used to earn and redeem rewards points. This card, unlike the rest, offers unlimited cash back at a flat rate of 1.5%.
This is especially great to have to use when your other cards would only earn you 1%. Like the Chase Freedom card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited also has no annual fee.
Card #3: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Far and away the most popular Chase reward card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers its members earnings of 1-2x points on everyday purchases.
2x points redemption can be earned on all travel purchases, such as airfare, hotels, transportation, and dining. All other purchases will earn you 1x points, which still isn’t a half bad deal.
This card does have a $95 annual fee, but it is typically waived in the first year, so you won’t have to worry about it until you have already been earning points for quite some time.
Card #4: Chase Sapphire Reserve
If you are looking for something a bit more “luxury”, look no further than the Sapphire Reserve. The fancier, more expensive version of the Sapphire Preferred card, the Reserve will earn its members 3x points in travel and dining, and 1x points on all other purchases.
In addition, members receive all sorts of perks, from premium lounge access to money towards Global Entry fees.
The annual fee for this card is a bit steep, costing its members $450 per year to keep active, but it is well worth the money if you want to rack up the points quickly.
Card #5: Chase Ink Business Cash
This card earns 1-5% cash-back, depending on the category of spending, and offers 2% cash-back on gas stations. It is Chase’s no annual fee, basic business card.
However, there is a reward cap at a hefty $20,000 per year for each of the bonus categories. This is an especially great card for brand new business owners who need some help keeping themselves afloat without getting saddled with annual fees and charges.
Card #6: Chase Ink Business Preferred
The best way to describe the Ink Business Preferred card is to say that it is a marriage between the Sapphire Preferred and the Ink Business Cash cards.
Tailored specifically for business owners, the Ink Business Preferred carries all the same travel rewards benefits as the Sapphire Preferred card at the same annual fee, but with the first year of charges waived.
It also earns its customers 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in travel, internet, cable and phone, advertising, etc. each account anniversary.
Members also earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Vs. American Express Membership Rewards
Chase’s main competitor in the credit card points circuit is American Express and their Membership Rewards Program.
Because it has been a leader in the credit card business for over 50 years, American Express is a name that people trust and believe in. With that usually comes a price — in this case, it comes with annual fees.
Although AMEX has the most expansive list of hotels and airlines to choose from within their rewards program, other purchases (shopping, cash back, etc.) typically do not fare as well with a points reduction value of 20-30%.
The single best thing about the AMEX Membership Rewards is the fact that customers can transfer their points to partners at a 1:1 value, which is something you can also do through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
Earning Rewards Points Using the Ultimate Rewards Mall
If you are interested in earning points quickly, look no further than the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall. Here, Chase offers its members exclusive points offers for making specific purchases within the online mall.
The best part? These bonuses pile on to any point bonuses your card would already give you. There are several things you can buy in the mall that offer various bonus points, too, which makes the purchases even more valuable.
Let’s take a look at their gift card offers. A $25 gift card will earn you 2,500 points. Not bad!
You don’t just earn points for gift cards, either. If you online shop at any of their approved retailers, you will receive a certain number (typically between 2 and 4) of points back in exchange for each dollar spent.
Perhaps the best deal, however, comes from these specific online purchases, like magazines. I buy all of my magazines through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal because the point earning is so high — 20 points!
How to navigate your Rewards account
Now that you have found the card that works best for you and have started earning points, it’s time to redeem those points through your Chase account.
Even if it seems like a daunting task at first, finding and navigating your way around your Rewards account is a breeze. All you have to do is log into your Chase account to get started.
From here, you will typically be brought to your “My Accounts” page. You are going to want to click on the Ultimate Rewards button as the bottom of the screen, which will tell you not only how many points you have available, but also your transaction details and how many points you will receive during your next statement period.
How to transfer your points
Now that you know how many points you have, it’s time to put your points to good use. Using them to book your next plane ticket seems as good an idea as any, right? So let’s get started.
Once you have made your way to your Rewards Dashboard, you are going to want to hover over the Use Points tab and click on Transfer to Travel Partners. This will allow you to transfer your points to other Reward programs.
You will now be met with your Frequent Travel Programs. For the purposes of this example, I am going to head over to KrisFlyer, which is Singapore Airlines’ rewards program.
Next, you are going to want to enter the number of miles you want to transfer. Keep in mind that point transfers are 1:1 and that all points are transferred in increments of 1,000. So here, for example, I am not transferring 125 miles, but 125,000.
Once you’re finished, click the Continue button, review your order, and confirm the details of your transfer.
The transfer time is almost instantaneous. You will barely have to wait at all before the points are entered into your account and you can book your airfare.
The instantaneous point transfer doesn’t only work for Singapore Airlines, either.
These are all of the airline transfer partners for Chase Ultimate Rewards.
|Chase Transfer Partners (Airline)||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1:1||Almost Instant|
|United Airlines MileagePlus||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Korean Air SKYPASS||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1:1||Almost Instant|
|British Airways Executive Club||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Flying Blue AirFrance / KLM||1:1||Almost Instant|
Chase Hotel Transfer Partners
|Chase Transfer Partner (Hotel)||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Marriott Rewards||1:1||2 days|
|Hyatt Gold Passport||1:1||Almost Instant|
|IHG Rewards Club||1:1||1 day|
|The Ritz-Carlton Rewards||1:1||2 days|