Chase Ultimate Rewards is a very flexible reward program that competes with American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Diners Club Rewards. There are several ways you can use Chase Ultimate Rewards points, but the two most valuable, at least for frequent travelers, are transferring them to airline partners and booking travel through the Ultimate Rewards website.
Here’s a rundown of your redemption options:
- Transfer points to airlines: Points transfer to airline partners at a 1:1 ratio, giving you a lot of redemption options.
- Book travel through the Ultimate Rewards website: You’ll get a 20 percent discount, so a $500 flight costs only 40,000 miles instead of 50,000.
- Gift cards: Members get a penny per point. A $100 gift card costs 10,000 points.
- Statement credits: Points are redeemable for credit toward your statement, at the same rate of a penny per point.
- Transfer points to hotels: This can be a good option if you book an expensive hotel. Otherwise, the discount for booking through the Ultimate Rewards website will typically get you a better deal.
Six Chase credit cards earn Ultimate Rewards points: Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, Ink Cash Business and Ink Plus Business. Only the Sapphire, Reserve and Ink Plus cards allow points transfers.
Airline Transfer Partners
While Chase has fewer airline transfer partners than its major competitors, the program’s strength lies in the quality and flexibility of its partners. These are the Ultimate Rewards partners:
- United Airlines: Star Alliance member
- British Airways: oneworld alliance member
- Korean Air: SkyTeam member
- Southwest Airlines: The largest low-cost carrier in the world
- Virgin Atlantic: Has 12 airline partners
- Singapore Airlines: Star Alliance member
With this one program and its six airline partners, you’ll get access to all three of the major alliances, a low-cost carrier and a variety of non-alliance airlines.
When Should You Transfer Ultimate Rewards Points to an Airline Program?
You can get good value for your points by transferring them to an airline and redeeming for an expensive flight.
Long-haul routes aren’t the only expensive flights. Nonstop round-trip flights between New York and Bermuda are only about two hours long, yet they usually cost $400 to $600.
Since British Airways is a oneworld partner, you can buy an American Airlines award ticket for only 15,000 British Airways Avios. British Airways is a Chase partner, so you can transfer your points from your Chase Ultimate Rewards account at a 1:1 ratio.
For the AA ticket to Bermuda listed above, your points will be worth 2.5 to 3 cents each after paying airport taxes. That’s a much better deal than getting cashback for your points, or even booking travel on the Ultimate Rewards website.
The best value, though, can be derived from business or first class flights. If you’re craving a private room with a double bed, impeccable service and unbelievable food, you can fly from New York to Singapore for 93,500 miles one-way in the carrier’s First Suite class, after the 20 percent discount for booking through Ultimate Rewards.
If you paid cash, the suite would cost around $9,000. That gives you a value of almost 10 cents per point.
Transfers are usually instantaneous, so you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to your frequent flyer program right away. You can either call the Chase customer service number on the back of your card, or transfer points online.
How to Transfer Ultimate Rewards Points
Go to the Chase Ultimate Rewards website, and log in.
Hover your mouse over “use points,” and click “transfer to travel partners.”
Choose the program you want and click “transfer points.”
Enter your frequent flyer program information, and click “add member ID.”
Enter the number of points you want to transfer, and hit “continue.”
After reviewing the transaction, click “confirm and submit.”
Important Points Transfer Considerations
Since all transfers are final, find the ticket you want first and make sure that it’s available. It’s better to keep your points in your Ultimate Rewards account until you’re ready to redeem and book, since you can use them with a variety of programs. Transfers are immediate, so there’s no reason not to wait.