Chase Ultimate Rewards: Our guide to getting the most value from your points

Two smiling young women reading a map while traveling in Italy Two smiling young women reading a map while traveling in Italy Image:

In a Nutshell

The Chase Ultimate Rewards® program features some of the most valuable and versatile credit card rewards opportunities available to consumers. Points can be redeemed for such rewards as cash back, gift cards and Apple products. But it’s travelers willing to put in a little extra effort who can get the most value out of Chase’s program. Cardholders looking for a less labor-intensive rewards program might do better with another option.

Editorial Note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors' opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when it’s posted.
Advertiser Disclosure

We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.

Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.

Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.

Chase Ultimate Rewards is one of the most valuable credit card rewards programs — as long as you don’t mind putting in the time to search for good deals on travel.

We’ll show you some of the best ways to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, going beyond typical credit card sign-up bonuses and rewards rates to focus on lesser-known point strategies that can be just as valuable. We’ll also lay out your redemption options and explain how to get the most bang for your buck.



Who is Chase Ultimate Rewards good for?

The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is great for experienced travelers who don’t mind putting in a little elbow grease to get a good deal. If you’re willing to search for the best airline and hotel rates through Chase’s travel portal or to transfer your points to airline partners, you’ll appreciate the potential added value from Chase. That’s especially true if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® as your primary rewards card, because it offers the program’s highest rewards rate (at 1.5 cents per point) on travel redemptions through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

But if you prefer hassle-free redemptions, you might be better off with another travel rewards program where you don’t have to search for the best value.

What are your Chase Ultimate Rewards points worth?

Method of Redemption Point Value (in cents)
Travel As much as 1.5 (depending on your card)
Gift cards As much as 1.11 (depending on the gift card)
Cash back 1
Apple products 1
Amazon 0.8


Travel:
When you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders will get a 50% bonus (the highest rate available via the program, though it can vary by card). We used it as our point value, but you might get a different rate depending on how you redeem and what card you use.

Chase Ultimate Rewards allows you to transfer your points at a 1-to-1 rate to more than a dozen travel partner programs, including United MileagePlus and Southwest Rapid Rewards.

Read more: The best travel credit cards for 2019

Gift cards: Chase Ultimate Rewards offers a handful of gift cards that you can redeem at a rate of up to 1.11 cents per point (depending on the gift card), but most gift cards it offers are worth 1 cent per point. Those discounted gift cards change on an ongoing basis, so it might be helpful to wait for the best deal on a particular redemption. 

Cash back: When you redeem for cash back, your points are worth 1 cent each. Chase Ultimate Rewards gives you the option to choose a statement credit or a deposit directly into a U.S. bank account.

Apple: You might be able to turn your points into a new iPhone or iPad. Your points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed through Chase’s shopping portal for Apple products.

Amazon: When you shop on Amazon, you can link your Chase Ultimate Rewards account and pay points. But keep in mind that your points redeemed here are worth less than 1 cent a piece, which is lower than all the other forms of redemption mentioned above.

3 cards that offer Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Great for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

From our partner

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® features enhanced rewards for the money you spend on travel and dining. But it comes with a serious annual fee.

Sign-up bonus 

  • 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after opening your account

Rewards rate

  • 3 points per $1 spent on travel (after earning a $300 travel credit) and on dining purchases
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases 

Point value

  • Points are worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards 

Annual fee 

  • $450

Good for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

From our partner

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

For a more affordable annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives you a little extra for travel and dining purchases.

Sign-up bonus

  • 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases during the first 3 months after account opening

Rewards rate 

  • 2 points per $1 spent on travel and dining
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Point value

  • Points are worth 1.25 cents each when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Annual fee

  • $95

If you’re interested in a similar business version of this card, check out our review of the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card.

Can’t decide between the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card? Read our comparison

Good for earning Chase Ultimate Rewards with a low annual fee: Chase Freedom®

From our partner

Chase Freedom®

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

Thanks to its quarterly rotating categories, the Chase Freedom® features the highest available earnings rate of any Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card on certain purchases. Chase typically advertises it as a cash back credit card, but you’ll still earn points.

Sign-up bonus 

  • $150 bonus after spending $500 on purchases during the first 3 months after the account is open

Rewards rate

  • 5 points per $1 spent on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in rotating bonus categories each quarter you activate (then 1 point per $1)
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Point value

  • Points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Annual fee:

  • $0

If you’re interested in a similar business version of this card, check out our review of the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card.

More ways to earn points

There are three more ways you can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards.

1.  Shop with certain brands through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

2. You may be able to earn a referral bonus for a friend who gets a Chase credit card. Check with the card issuer for details.

3.  If you add an authorized user to your account, you’ll earn bonus points for the money that person spends. But adding an authorized user comes with risks, so make sure you’re on the same page before going through with it.

4 of the best ways to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points 

1. Travel redemptions through the Chase portal

Chase Ultimate Rewards can offer the best value when you redeem your points for travel through its portal, depending on your card. This includes redemptions for airfare, hotels, cruises, rental cars, vacation rentals and things to do on your trip. 

Your points are worth 50% more on travel redemptions through the portal with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which also offers an $300 annual travel credit for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year that you can pair with your rewards to save money on your next trip. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card’s 25% boost on travel redemptions through Chase Ultimate Rewards could add to your value too.

But keep in mind that it can take some work to find the best deals through Chase’s portal. If you’re looking for more straightforward redemption options, you might want to go with another rewards program. 

2. Gift cards that are on sale

Chase Ultimate Rewards offers a 10% discount on a handful of gift cards on a rotating basis. Your points are worth 1.11 cents apiece when you redeem this way, so there are opportunities to get nice discounts at certain stores and retailers. 

3. Combine Chase Ultimate Rewards points from different credit cards

Because Chase Ultimate Rewards allows you to transfer points between cards, you can maximize your value by spending with the card that earns the most points in particular categories and then moving those points to another card that offers a higher redemption value.

For example, the Chase Freedom® offers five points per $1 spent on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in rotating bonus categories each quarter you activate (then one point per $1), which is the highest earnings rate of any credit card in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

But the value of those points all depends on how you redeem them. With the Chase Freedom®, each point is typically worth 1 cent.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, on the other hand, gives you 1.5 cents for every point redeemed for travel through Chase’s portal. But the card’s top earnings rate is three points for every $1 you spend on travel and dining purchases (and then one point per $1). 

If you have both cards, you can make purchases with the Chase Freedom® to get your five points per $1 spent in certain categories and then transfer those points to the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, where you can earn a 50% redemption bonus when redeeming for travel through the Chase portal.

For more on transferring points between accounts, check out our article on maximizing the Chase Freedom®’s cash back categories. 

Read more: The best Chase credit cards of 2019

4. Use the program’s transfer partners

You might be able to top the 1.5-cent value per point for the Chase Sapphire Reserve® if you use one of Chase’s travel transfer partners wisely.

Instead of redeeming through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you could transfer your points to more than a dozen airlines and hotels and redeem through their programs. 

We found at least two transfer partners in March 2019 that offered more valuable points: Southwest Rapid Rewards, where points were worth 1.81 cents on average, and Hyatt, where points were worth an average of 1.62 cents.

The actual value you receive varies each time you redeem your points. Generally speaking, you’ll get a better value on more expensive flights and hotels that have a high dollar cost but don’t require as many points or miles to redeem. You can learn more about how this process works from our article on point valuations.