Chase Ultimate Rewards: Earn and Maximize

by John Terry | Last Updated:  April 22, 2020
Chase Ultimate Rewards can take you to the other side of the world.

Understanding how to earn and redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards with maximum value is crucial to being successful with points and miles. Chase’s transferable-point currency is one of the most powerful out there thanks to the many different ways to use them.

Along with American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points, Ultimate Rewards provide more lucrative bonuses to earn points as well as flexibility when redeeming for travel.

By the end of this article, you’ll know all of the ways to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards and the best way to maximize their use.

How to Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards?

You can’t use Chase Ultimate Rewards for free travel if you don’t have them. So, let’s learn about the many different ways to earn them.

Go Get Yourself a Chase Credit Card

In our Beginner’s Guide, we tell you that the easiest way to earn points and miles is through credit card spending. The same is true with Chase Ultimate Rewards.

There are many different credit cards that will earn Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Similarly, the following credit cards earn cash back, however, when paired with one of the above Ultimate Reward earning card, the points and can transferred to Ultimate Rewards.

As you can see, there are a number of different credit cards that earn different amounts of bonus points for different categories of spending. Go get yourself one of these credit cards (or three!) and start earning Ultimate Rewards.

Use Shop through Chase

Using Shop through Chase is very similar to many of the airline shopping portals. Access whatever online store you want to shop at through Chase and they will award you bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards. However, the one difference is that in order to use the shopping portal you must have a Chase credit card and use it for the purchase

You can see just a peek at the many different online stores that are associated with Chase’s shopping portal. The other thing to remember is the shopping portals bonus is in addition to the credit card bonus.

Using the Shop through Chase feature on Chase.com is an easy way to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards.

For example, if you shopped at the Nike online store using your Chase Freedom Unlimited card, as long as you used the above link, you would earn three points per dollar (seen above) in addition to the 1.5x points you will earn by using your credit card.

Take Advantage of the Chase Trifecta

We cover the Chase Trifecta in more detail here, however, the Chase Trifecta is the best way to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards. By strategically using different credit cards, you can earn at least 1.5x points for every dollar you spend.

Pick up the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Freedom card, and you’ll be getting a really good return for your spend.

The Chase Trifecta has been the reason I’ve been able to take many trips, including my honeymoon to Jamaica.

Tracking Bonus Categories Online

For the Chase cards that have a maximum bonus limit, tracking your bonus categories online is important. For example, the Chase Freedom card only allows you to earn 5x points on the first $1,500 spent per quarter.

As you can see, the website shows the cardholder where they are on quarterly spending. In this case, the entire $1,500 allotment is left.

The two Chase Ink business cards are the other cards that have limits on bonus earnings.

The Chase Ink Cash card has two limits. First, it has a $25,000 annual limit on earning 5% cashback at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services. Secondly, there is a $25,000 annual limit on combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each year, as well.

The Chase Ink Preferred card has one limit: A $150,000 annual limit on combined purchases on earning 3x on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines.

It’s a little harder to know the amounts with the Chase Ink business cards as there isn’t a specific bonus tracker, but Chase does have a category spending breakdown on the spending dashboard.

Earn Points With Chase Refer-A-Friend

Earning points isn’t limited to spending money, but Chase allows you to earn referral bonuses if your friends or family get a credit card and apply through your link.

What does this mean? It means that if you apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card using THIS LINK, I’ll earn $100 cashback (or 10,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards). By the way, if you’re in the market for a Chase Freedom Unlimited card, we would really appreciate you using that link.

Using the Chase Refer-A-Friend page can help you earn large amounts of Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Now, unfortunately, Chase doesn’t allow you to earn referral points for every card. For instance, if you get the “We are unable to locate any offers for you at this time” message, it means that you can’t currently earn a referral bonus for that card. Also, there is a limit per card, per calendar year. For this card, the limit is five referrals per year ($500 cash back, $100 cash back per referral).

Finally, while we’re at it, Chase also issues other co-branded credit cards that don’t earn Ultimate Rewards. Examples of these cards are the World of Hyatt Credit Card or the IHG Rewards Club Credit Card. You can earn referral points or miles (dependent on the co-branded company) for some of those as well! Oh, that link works too!

Ways to Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards

Now for the fun part – let’s learn how to redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards for free travel. The reason why Ultimate Rewards are arguably the best transferable-point currency out there is because of the many different ways to redeem them.

The two most popular ways to redeem those points are through the transfer partners or through the Chase Travel Portal. However, there are other ways to redeem as well, albeit not nearly as lucrative. Cardholders are also able to redeem points for gift cards (don’t do this!), using points when shopping at Amazon (don’t do this!) or even cash back (don’t do this!).

Chase Transfer Partners (Airline & Hotels)

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards with the many airline or hotel transfer partners is a great way to get good value. All of the transfer partners have 1:1 ratios meaning one Ultimate Reward equals one point of a transfer partner.

Chase Travel PartnerEstimated Transfer Time
Aer LingusInstant
British AirwaysInstant
EmiratesInstant
Flying BlueInstant
HyattInstant
IberiaInstant
IHG1-2 days
JetBlueInstant
Marriott1-2 days
Singapore Airlines1-2 days
SouthwestInstant
United AirlinesInstant
Virgin AtlanticInstant

Before transferring points, you must be sure you want to transfer those points. Once they’re transferred, they’re transferred. There’s no going back. If you have your eye set on a specific redemption, it can be worth calling the hotel or airline to confirm availability and transferring the Ultimate Rewards while you are on the phone.

We even put together an article of our favorite Chase Ultimate Reward airfare redemptions!

How to Transfer Points from Chase to Partners

When you go to your Chase Ultimate Rewards dashboard, you’re looking for the Transfer to Travel Partners button.

After clicking that, you will see all of your linked frequent travel programs. As you can see, I have just two saved frequent travel programs: World of Hyatt and Southwest Rapid Rewards. There’s another option of this screen to add frequent travel programs, as well.

Once you click the frequent travel program you want to use, you will net be asked how many points you would like to transfer. It will also allow you to confirm you are transferring your points to the correct account.

Finally, clicking continue will bring you to a confirmation screen before the points are instantly transferred. Remember, you are unable to get these points back once you transfer them!

Transferring Ultimate Rewards to Someone Else’s Account

Here’s a question that always comes up: Are you able to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards to a friend’s frequent traveler account?

Short answer is no, however, there is one exception.

If your spouse or domestic partner is an authorized user living at the same address, you are able to make the transfer. For example, if you want to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to your spouse’s World of Hyatt account, your spouse must be listed as an authorized user on one of your Chase credit cards.

Chase Travel Portal

Alternatively, Chase Ultimate Rewards can also be redeemed through the Chase Travel Portal. The portal is very similar to an online site such as Expedia.com. In fact, the Chase Travel Portal is actually powered by Expedia so it’s very similar to Expedia!

Points can be redeemed at different values. As you can see, holding the Chase Sapphire Reserve gives cardholders the most value – 1.5 cents per point!

The best part about the Chase Travel Portal is that you can use both Chase Ultimate Rewards and money to book flights. As you can see here, I booked a hotel in Whistler, BC and covered the entire stay using points.

Cardholders are able to choose how much of the flight or hotel stay they want to cover with Chase Ultimate Rewards.

We planned an entire trip to Thailand and used the Chase Travel Portal to book many of our hotels.

Things to Consider When Using Chase Travel Portal

There are several things to keep in mind when using the Chase Travel Portal to book your travel.

First, when booking hotels, keep in mind that you will not receive benefits of your hotel elite status OR earn any nights and points toward elite status. The portal is treated as a third-party site. If you want elite benefits, it would be best not to use the Chase Travel Portal. You can typically earn redeemable airline miles and elite-qualifying miles when you book airfare with Chase.

Secondly, make sure it’s cheaper to use the travel portal instead of transferring points to an airline or hotel transfer partner. For example, if a flight on United Airlines costs 22,000 points via the travel portal, but costs only 17,500 United MileagePlus miles, it would make more sense to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards to United Airlines instead.

And, finally, check prices before booking. From time to time, prices can be higher on the portal than on other places on the internet. Just don’t make sure you’re getting ripped off!

Other Redemption Options

There is also an option to redeem points for gift cards, using points when shopping at Amazon or even just straight cash. However, these typically aren’t great ideas as you are going to get no more than .01 per point.

Redeeming for Gift Cards

There are many different gift cards that you can redeem points for. In general, this isn’t going to be a great option as you’re going to be getting around or less than one cent per point of value.

With that said, if your account is closing, if you can get more than one cent per point, it’s better than not getting anything for your points.

Instead of earning Chase Ultimate Rewards, you could get gift cards. But don't - it's not a great value!

Shopping at Amazon

Cardholders can also use their Chase Ultimate Rewards with Amazon. Similar to gift cards, this typically isn’t a good value. However, from time to time, Amazon and Chase will run deals and give 20% off an entire purchase if Ultimate Rewards are used. When this happens, you can use just a single Chase Ultimate Reward (.01 cents worth) and get 20% off the order.

Earning Cashback

As we covered, several of the Chase credit cards that we suggest are cashback credit cards. Only when paired with a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards, are Ultimate Rewards possible. However, all of the Chase credit cards we mentioned are eligible to earn cash back.

Instead of earning Chase Ultimate Rewards toward free travel, you can use them to get cash back.

This isn’t a great option, though, as the cardholder will get just one point per dollar. For each card, you can access the cashback option under the dashboard.

Strategies to Maximize Chase Ultimate Rewards Redemptions

Combine Ultimate Rewards Between Different Cards

If you have multiple Ultimate Reward-earning credit cards (like the Chase Trifecta!), you need to combine your points to your Sapphire card. As we mentioned above, cards like the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited technically earn cashback.

Unlike when transferring Ultimate Rewards to partners, you aren’t restricted to 1,000-point increments. You are able to transfer exact amounts in order to clear out your entire balance from certain cards.

Combining your Chase Ultimate Rewards can help optimize maximum redemption value.

However, if you have an Ultimate Reward earning card like the Sapphire Reserve, you can combine your cash back into Ultimate Rewards taking it’s the value from 1 cent per point to 1.5 cents per point (or 1.25 cents if you have the Sapphire Preferred).

In other words, this can give you 50 percent more when redeeming travel through the Chase Travel Portal. More on that next.

Transferring to Another Person’s Account

Believe it or not, Chase allows you to transfer Ultimate Rewards to one member of your household. For example, if you’re married, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards (or cashback) to your spouse.

It isn’t worth risking this either. If someone isn’t actually a member of your household, Chase could close all of your account and take all of your Ultimate Rewards. Don’t mess around.

Transferring Ultimate Rewards to your spouse works the same way as combining points. Your spouse’s card would go in the right column and you would transfer those points to their card.

Doing this could make sense for several reasons.

Get Top Value in Chase Travel Portal

This one is pretty simple. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, each Chase Ultimate Reward is worth 1.25 cents. However, if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, each point is worth 1.5 cents.

To put this in perspective, if you’re redeeming Ultimate Rewards for $1,000 worth of hotel stays, it would cost the following:

As you can see, there’s a lot of value to be had there. With all that said, if you aren’t planning to utilize the travel portal to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards, it shouldn’t be that much of a factor in your decision.

Take Advantage of High-Value Transfer Partners

As mentioned above, Chase has a number of different airline and hotel transfer partners. To get the maximum return from your Ultimate Rewards, it’s important to use the high-value transfer partners.

To start off, Hyatt is one of the best transfer partners mostly due to their reasonable redemptions rates. Hyatt’s award rates are broken down by categories. Category 1 properties at just 5,000 points, while category 8 properties cap out at 40,000 points.

In other words, Hyatt’s highest redemption rate is half of the high redemptions of IHG or Marriott. This makes it a great value to those who want their Chase Ultimate Rewards to go further.

Because British Airways still operates with a distance-based award chart, there are some sweet spots here. As a result, for flights under 1,151 miles within North America, you can get a one-way flight for just 9,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards. Once your points have been transferred to British Airways Avios, you can get use them to book flights on American Airlines through British Airways.

Finally, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles are a great way to redeem flights on Delta.

Go Earn and Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards

So, there you have it. That’s the best guide we could put together about Chase Ultimate Rewards. Now that you know how to earn them – and spend them – start thinking about your next travel destination! And be sure to let us know if you have any questions!