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The Ultimate Guide to Chase Ultimate Rewards Program and Credit Cards

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Objectively speaking, few credit-card companies have built a stable of high-quality credit cards as deep as Chase.

More important to credit-card consumers, few credit-card companies have built a rewards point ecosystem as beneficial as Chase’s Ultimate Rewards.

This article will cover:

So, given that Chase offers a large collection of cards that turn your spending into Ultimate Rewards, let’s take a deep dive into the cards, what they offer, and how best you can use them to maximize your collection of Ultimate Rewards points.

Why Should I Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points?

In short: Because they’re some of the most valuable credit-card rewards you can accumulate.

Too many credit cards these days offer rewards that are limited to spending at a specific retailer, that offer coupons instead of cash back, or that offer minimal or no signup bonuses. Basically, they benefit a retailer more than they benefit the consumer.

Chase Ultimate Rewards, in comparison, offers an abundance of options: from travel to shopping to cash back. As well, you can transfer points to airline and hotel partners (check out this detailed list) where you have frequent flyer/frequent guest accounts to help you earn free flights and free nights quicker.

Moreover, Chase offers some of the largest signup bonuses in the industry – so large, in fact, that a single signup bonus in some instances will afford you a free flight or free hotel nights. 

Finally, spending on Chase credit cards offers some of the largest points accumulation opportunities available today – as much as 5 points per dollar spent.

And, as I said, Chase Ultimate Reward points are valuable.

Each point is worth 1 cent if you’re looking for cash back or statement credit. So, for instance, if you earn an 80,000 signup bonus currently available with the Chase Ink Business Preferred card, you’re looking at $800 worth of cash back or statement credit. 

And if you go through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal to book airfare or a hotel, you’re getting a spending bonus of between 25% and 50%, meaning that $800 is worth between $1,000 and $1,250. That’s real value. 

However, the best part is that you can go over one of 18 Chase’s Ultimate Rewards transfer partners and get up to 10 cents a point. Sweet!

What Credit Cards Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points?

In all, Chase issues seven credit cards through which you can collect Ultimate Rewards points. But there is a hitch you need to understand: Only three cards offer Ultimate Rewards points directly, while four offer generic points that you can then transfer to Ultimate Rewards points.

The three that offer Ultimate Rewards points directly are:  Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Business Preferred

The four that offer generic points that can be converted to Ultimate Rewards points are: Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Ink Business Unlimited, Chase Ink Business Cash

Each card provides something a little different to help you better match your typical spending profile with a card that allows you to maximize the points you earn.

So, let’s consider each one separately:

Credit CardRewards RateSignup BonusAnnual Fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve®Unlimited 3x points on dining and travel
Up to $300 annual statement credit for travel costs, such as baggage fees and the like
Priority Pass membership (you and up to two guests)
Points are worth 1.5 cents each when purchasing travel through Ultimate Rewards travel portal
Statement credit of up to $100 once every four years for TSA Pre✓ or Global Entry
Primary Collision Damage Waiver for car rentals
Premium travel benefits, including access to Priority Pass airport lounges
No foreign transaction fees
50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months$450 annual fee.
Chase Sapphire Preferred®Unlimited 2x points on dining and travel
Points are worth 1.25 cents each when purchasing travel through Ultimate Rewards travel portal
Primary Collison Damage Waiver for car rentals
No foreign transaction fees
60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months$95 annual fee.
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card3x points on the first $150,000 of combined purchases per cardmember year on travel, shipping purchases, Internet/cable, phone services and advertising through social media sites and search engines
Points are worth 1.25 cents each when purchasing travel through Ultimate Rewards travel portal
Primary Collision Damage Waiver for business car rentals
Up to $600 in cell-phone coverage to protect against covered theft or damage for you and your employees listed on your monthly cell phone bill
No foreign transaction fees
80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first three months$95 annual fee.
Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit CardUnlimited 1.5 points for $1 spent on all purchases
0% APR for the first year
Can convert points to Ultimate Rewards points
No annual fee
50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three monthsNo annual fee.
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card5x points on the first $25,000 of combined purchases per cardmember each year on office supply stores, Internet/cable TV, mobile phones and landlines
2x points on the first $25,000 of combined purchases per cardmember per year on restaurants and gas stations
0% APR for the first year
Primary Collision Damage Waiver for business car rentals
Can convert points to Ultimate Rewards points
No annual fee
50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three monthsNo annual fee
Chase Freedom®5x points on spending of up to $1,500 per quarter in rotating
0% APR for the first 15 months
Can convert points to Ultimate Rewards points
20,000 bonus points after spending $500 in the first three monthsNo annual fee
Chase Freedom Unlimited®Unlimited 1.5x points for $1 spent
0% APR for the first 15 months
Can convert points to Ultimate Rewards points
No annual fee
20,000 bonus points after spending $500 in the first three monthsNo annual fee

How Do I Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

The signup bonuses Chase offers with its various cards serve as an excellent base from which to begin accumulating Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

On top of that, the various Chase cards also offer those different spending bonuses, such 3x points on dining and travel when using the Chase Sapphire Reserve, or 5x on rotating categories with Chase Freedom. That helps you collect Chase points even quicker on your everyday spending.

Additionally, you can earn Ultimate Rewards bonus points shopping online with the Shop through Chase program (more on this in a moment).

Basically, you have several ways to maximize and supercharge your collection of Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Which Chase Ultimate Rewards Cards Earn the Most Points?

Which Chase card gives you the most Ultimate Rewards points depends largely on what you’re buying.

All the cards offer 1x points on every thing you purchase, but some goose the points higher depending on the category. 

So, for instance, if you’re heavy into eating out, then Chase Sapphire Preferred is a solid selection because you’ll pick up 2x points on dining and only pay $95 a year in an annual fee. If you don’t mind paying $450 a year (with all the other benefits included) Chase Sapphire Reserve gives you 3x points on dining.

But if you spend broadly across a lot of categories, then Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited might be a better choice.

Chase Freedom will give you as much as 5x points on up to $1,500 in spending in every quarter in a rotating list of categories. And those categories are were most consumer do the bulk of their credit-card spending: department stores, gas, groceries, streaming entertainment services and the like. Chase Freedom Unlimited, conversely, just gives you a flat 1.5x miles on unlimited spending in any category.

Then you would use your Sapphire Preferred for dining and travel, as well.

So, really, the best card for earning the most Ultimate Rewards points depends entirely on what spending categories are most relevant in your life.

The trick to maximizing your points is mixing and matching cards. 

For instance, during a quarter in which Chase Freedom’s 5% bonus has rotated to department stores, you’d use that card to make whatever department store purchases are on your spending plan.

Then, you might use your Chase Sapphire Preferred to grab 2x points on all your dining and travel spending, and whip out your Chase Freedom Unlimited for 1.5x points on gasoline, supermarket and entertainment.

All your Ultimate Rewards points aggregate in the same account, so my choosing the right credit card for the right spending category, you’ll see your points balance grow rapidly.

And it’s the same with Chase Ink Business cards. Where does you’re company spend the most money, and how much is it spending?

If your company is spending more than $25,000 a year on travel, shipping purchases, Internet/cable, phone services and advertising through social media sites and search engines, then Chase Ink Business Preferred is clearly the best bet, because you’re going to get 3x points on everything you spend in those categories, up to $150,000 per year per cardholder.

But, if your business spending is focused largely on office supplies, Internet/cable and telecom, as well as taking customers and clients to dinner, or racking up gasoline expenses driving around to visit customers and suppliers, then Chase Business Cash probably makes more sense. You’ll pick up 5x points on the office supplies, Internet/cable and telecom, and another 2x points on restaurants and gas stations.

What is “Shop Through Chase?”

Shop through Chase is Chase’s online portal in which you can accumulate bonus points for shopping you’d otherwise do at a large variety of retailers, including Apple, Staples, Walmart, Macy’s, Walgreens and hundreds of others.

The idea here is that you log into your Chase Ultimate Rewards account, then select the retailer where you want to shop. Whatever you buy online through that retailer will then earn bonus points based on the retailer. Shop at Apple, for instance, and you’ll earn 2x points for every $1 you spend. At Neiman Marcus, you earn 6x points per $1 spent. At L’Occitane, it’s 4x points per $1.

In short, Shop through Chase is simply a way to ramp up your collection of Ultimate Rewards points when making purchases you otherwise would make anyway.

How Many Chase Cards Can I Have?

At most, you can have six of Chase’s seven cards that offer Ultimate Reward points – and the only reason it’s six is that Chase will not allow you to have both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Sapphire Preferred cards. So you have to choose which of those two cards is best for your needs.

If you’re a frequent traveler, particularly jetting overseas, I would argue Chase Sapphire Reserve is the better option, even with the $450 annual fee. Access to airport lounges on layovers, the $300 annual statement credit for sundry travel costs, and statement credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck easily covers the cost of the card and provides a great deal of convenience when traveling.

But if traveling isn’t such a big deal in your life, then there’s no reason to shell out that hefty annual fee, In that case, Chase Sapphire Preferred, at $95, is a savvier choice.

Can I Switch From Chase Card to Another?

If you’ve had a particular Chase card for at least a year, you can switch that card out for another Chase card.

For example, maybe you currently have the Chase Sapphire Preferred but your lifestyle or your job has changed so that you now do a great deal more traveling. You can call Chase and swap your Preferred card for the Reserve card, since it will be a better fit for you. You won’t pick up the signup bonus with the Reserve card, but you will still gain the travel-heavy benefits that come with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

What are the Rules for Applying for Chase cards?

Because Chase Ultimate Rewards offer some of the richest rewards among credit cards, Chase doesn’t just dish the cards out like candy. The company has several rules you should be familiar with before you begin applying for Chase credit cards the offer Ultimate Rewards points.

First: Theoretically, Chase doesn’t limit the amount of credit cards you can have. Rather, the company is more focused on how much credit it will extend you. And that is a function of income, credit score, existing debt, repayment history, etc. So you need to beware of those numbers by keeping track of your credit score, which takes into account those factors.

Second: Don’t expect Chase to approve more than two personal credit cards in a 30-day period, or more than one business card. So if you’re looking to build a portfolio of Chase cards, you will have to stretch out the application process over several months.

Third: Unlike American Express, which imposes a once-in-a-lifetime rule of collecting signup bonuses, Chase imposes a so-called 24/48 rule. Basically, this means you’re not eligible to collect a signup bonus on a card you currently have if you received a signup bonus on that card within the past 24 or 48 months, depending on the card. The 24-month limit typically applies to the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards. The 48-month wait applies to Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Finally: Be aware of how many other credit cards you have applied for recently, because Chase is certainly aware of, which gets us to Chase’s so-called “5/24” rule.

Understanding the Chase “5/24” Rule

Simply put: Chase will generally not issue you a new card if you have opened five or more credit card accounts over the past 24 months  Not just Chase credit-card accounts … any credit card accounts, including cards from American Express, Citi, Capital One, etc. 

Some business cards – including all from American Express – do not fall under the rule, but every Chase card does, as do Capital One business cards. More on this rule and some exceptions. So you have to plan your portfolio of cards with this restriction in mind.

You can determine your 5/24 status by signing up for a free account at Credit Karma. You would then be able to view all your open credit accounts, noting the date each was opened.

Are you Eligible for a Chase Business Credit Card?

Probably … and Chase Ink Business cards are among some of the best to possess because of the hefty signup bonuses.

If you are a freelancer of any type, if you run an eBay business or sell on Etsy as a side-hustle, or you own a rental property or whatever then you’re likely eligible for a Chase Ink Business card. Moreover, don’t be intimidated by some of the information you’ll need to supply. In this detailed post we explained how you can get approved for business credit cards. 

In practical terms, having a Chase business card or two can help you accumulate Ultimate Rewards points substantially quicker, since paying for phone, gas, Internet and other such expenses will generate bonus points you wouldn’t otherwise receive from Chase Sapphire cards or Freedom cards.

How Do I Combine Chase Ultimate Rewards Points?

As I noted above, there is a hitch to collecting Ultimate Rewards in that four Chase cards offer generic points that you then have to convert into Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Here’s how that process works:

1. Combine Chase Credit Cards Under One Account. 

First, make sure that all your Chase cards have the same login information so that when you log into your account online you see each of your Chase cards. 

A snafu here is that you cannot include a Chase business card in your personal login … however, you can include personal cards in your business login. So, assuming you have a Chase Ink Business card (or more than one) you will want to set up everything under your business login. And it that gets tricky, just call Chase’s help desk and they will walk you through it.

2. Transfer from No-fee cards to Premium Cards

Once everything is peachy-keen, you just log into your account and select a card with points to transfer, and you will be led through the process of transferring them to whatever other card you wish. To maximize the value of the points you’re transferring, you will want to transfer points from no-fee cards to premium cards.

For instance, it’s savvier to transfer points from Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited to Chase Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred because with those premium cards you can buy travel with bonuses of 50% and 25%, respectively … meaning 100,000 points become 125,000 or even 150,000 points, and that can mean the difference between affording an upgraded airline ticket or not.

Can I Transfer Chase Points to A Friend Or Family Member?

To a degree, you can transfer points. But be careful. If Chase suspects fraud – meaning that if you’re selling points to someone or using your account in any way that Chase deems fraudulent – Chase can close your credit card account and revoke your points.

But, yes, you can transfer to a family member or a business associate tied to a Chase Ink Business card.

To do so, you would login to your account and head for the “Combine Points” link. There, you will see another link to “Add household member/company owner.” Once you click on that link, you would follow the instructions for entering the cardholder’s name and account number … and then just complete the transaction.

Seriously, though: Be warned that if you’re linking to several different accounts and transferring points, Chase will quickly suspect fraud and you can lose all your points and your credit cards.

Can I Transfer Points To Someone Else’s Loyalty Account?

Again, yes, this is possible. But you can only transfer to the frequent-flyer/frequent-hotel-guest accounts of cardmembers and business associates who are authorized users on your account.

Moreover, you can only transfer to one additional household member who is listed as an authorized user, or to one additional company owner listed as an authorized user. You cannot transfer to multiple different people. And when it comes to transfer to a household member, once you complete the transfer, that household member becomes the only person who can receive transfers in the future.

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for Travel

Arguably, travel-redemption options are what makes Chase Ultimate Rewards points so valuable to cardholders. While you can certainly redeem your points for cashback and gift cards, you’re doing so at a 1:1 rate, meaning each point gets you one cent.

But when you redeem Ultimate Rewards points for travel through the Ultimate portal tied to one of Chase’s premium cards (Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Business Preferred), each point is worth between 1.25 cents and 1.5 cents each. In short, you get a meaningful bump-up in value when using your Ultimate Rewards points for travel, including airfare, hotels and other options.

Here’s the breakdown by card in terms of the value received for the points you collect:

  •  Chase Sapphire Reserve: 1.5 cents per point, when redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. You can also transfer points to Chase partners.
  •  Chase Sapphire Preferred: 1.25 cents per points, when redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. You can also transfer points to Chase partners.
  •  Chase Ink Business Preferred: 1.25 cents per points, when redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. You can also transfer points to Chase partners.
  •  Chase Freedom: 1 cent per point. You cannot transfer to Chase partners, unless you have a Chase premium card and you transfer points into Ultimate Reward points.
  •  Chase Freedom Unlimited: 1 cent per point. You cannot transfer to Chase partners, unless you have a Chase premium card and you transfer points into Ultimate Reward points.
  •  Chase Ink Business Unlimited: 1 cent per point. You cannot transfer to Chase partners, unless you have a Chase premium card and you transfer points into Ultimate Reward points.
  •  Chase Ink Business Cash: 1 cent per point. You cannot transfer to Chase partners, unless you have a Chase premium card and you transfer points into Ultimate Reward points.

 The point here is that if you wish to use Ultimate Rewards points to maximize your travel benefits, you will definitely need one of the three Chase premium cards that give you access to Ultimate Rewards points.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline and Hotel Partners

Chase has partnered with several major travel brands to which you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points on a 1:1 basis, meaning one Chase Ultimate Rewards point equates to one loyalty point with the partner.

Chase’s airline partners are:

  •  Aer Lingus Aer Club
  •  Air France / KLM Flying Blue
  •  British Airways Executive Club
  •  Emirates Skywards
  •  Iberia Plus
  •  JetBlue TrueBlue
  •  Singapore KrisFlyer
  •  Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  •  United MileagePlus
  •  Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Chase’s hotel partners are:

  •  IHG Rewards Club
  •  Marriott Bonvoy
  •  World of Hyatt

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for Cashback or Gift Cards

As I noted previously, you have the option to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for cashback or gift cards, or for Amazon purchase.

With cashback and gift cards, you’re getting one cent per point. With Amazon, each Ultimate Reward point is worth 0.8 cents, meaning less than a cent each.

For that reason, it makes much more sense to use Ultimate Rewards points to purchase travel or to transfer to airline or hotel loyalty programs, because you receive so much more value for your points.

If cashback is your real goal, then you should be considering a different portfolio of credit cards, such as those from Capital One, where you will earn bonuses on spending that will generate larger cashback payments.

What’s the Best Starter Strategy for Chase Points?

First, apply for a Chase Sapphire Preferred card. It’s just $95 a year and you will pick up 60,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. That’s basically $1,333 per month, which shouldn’t too hard to do. I would concentrate my spending on this card particularly on dining and travel, because of the 2x points per $1 spent in those categories.

At the same time, I would also apply for the Chase Freedom card. You will pick up another 20,000 bonus points after spending just $500 in three months. After meeting that spending goal, I would then concentrate on spending each quarter on whatever the 5% category is that quarter.

This means that you would also use your Sapphire Preferred card for all spending that’s not within the Chase Freedom 5% category. This will help you more easily meet the spending requirement necessary for earning the Sapphire Preferred signup bonus.

And if you’re eligible, I would apply for a Chase Ink Business card – though you’ll want to wait more than 30 days before you apply.

Which card you choose is going to depend on a couple of factors:

  •  If you are confident you can meet the $5,000 spend necessary for the Chase Ink Preferred card, then go with that one because you will pick up an 80,000 point bonus, one of the meatiest signup bonuses in the credit-card world today.
  •  If, however, you’re not sure you will reach the $5,000 spend, then step down to Chase Ink Business Cash card, which will give you 50,000 bonus points for $3,000 in spending in the first three months. The reason I choose Ink Business Cash over Ink Business Unlimited is because the former gives you 5x points on expenses you will clearly have as a business, namely: telecom, Internet/cable and office supplies. With Ink Business Unlimited, you’ll get just 1.5x points for those expenses. Moreover, if you do any sort of driving or dining with your business, you’ll get 2x points with Ink Business Cash, instead of 1.5x points with Ink Business Unlimited.

With this strategy of building a preliminary Chase credit card portfolio (and assuming you’re eligible for a Chase Ink Business card), you’re looking at accumulating between 137,000 and 169,000 Ultimate Rewards points in the first four months – and that’s not counting any bonus points you’d earn for category spending.

The caveat here is whether you want Chase Sapphire Reserve instead of Chase Sapphire Preferred. If you’re willing to spend the $450, and you see the value in the travel benefits – including airport lounge access and the various statement credits for travel cost and Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fees – then you should apply for Sapphire Reserve. You will get an additional 50,000 point signup bonus.

The Wrap Up

For anyone who wants to play the credit-card points game for earning travel benefits that can steeply reduce or eliminate airline and hotel expenses, there’s no question that Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points are where you want to start the game.

These are easily some of the most lucrative points to collect, and by using the Ultimate Rewards travel portal, you can sharply increase the value of the points you collect when redeeming them for travel expenses.

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