Using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points – A Beginner’s Guide

One of my favorite types of points to collect are Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. Not only are they easy to earn, but they can be used in a wide variety of ways–something I find very important! If you’ve got a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards, you’ll definitely want to learn the best ways to maximize those points.

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Earning Points

Before we can spend our points, we need to earn them! There are four personal credit cards that you can get from Chase that earn Ultimate Rewards. Let’s take a quick look at those cards:

  1. Chase Freedom:  Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Even those this card brands itself as a cash back card, you’re actually earning 1 or 5 points per dollar on spend, depending on what you buy. You can click here to learn more about the Chase Freedom card and what the 2018 categories are.
  2. Chase Freedom Unlimited:  Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase – it’s automatic. No minimum to redeem for cash back. Even those this card brands itself as a cash back card, you’re actually earning 1.5 points per dollar on spend.
  3. Chase Sapphire Preferred:  Earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants, and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
  4. Chase Sapphire Reserve:  Earn 3 points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants, and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

Using Points

Once you’ve earned points, it’s time to spend them! There are many way to spend your points, but the focus of this article is how to redeem them for travel, so we’ll only be looking at two options:  the Chase Travel Portal and transferring points to partners.

The Chase Travel Portal

This is going to seem like a very “no duh” tutorial, but there are a few things that I wanted to highlight. Note that depending on which personal Chase card you have, the value of your points changes. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Chase Freedom:  points are worth 1 cent each, so 10,000 points would pay for a $100 ticket.
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited:  points are worth 1 cent each, so 10,000 points would pay for a $100 ticket.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred:  points are worth 1.25 cents each, so 10,000 points would pay for a $125 ticket.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve:  points are worth 1.5 cent each, so 10,000 points would pay for a $150 ticket.

First, log-in to the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal. You should see a blue bar at the top with all the different options you have for your points. Select “Travel.”

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A booking screen will appear, and you will enter information exactly like you would on Expedia or Kayak. You’ll see a little circle that says “When redeemed for travel, your XXX points are worth $xxx.” Once you’ve completed entering your information, press “search.”

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Next, just like a booking website, you’ll pick the flights you want. They’ll tell you on the right-hand side how many points it will cost to take that flight. What’s a little misleading is that below, you’ll see the flight costs 9,493 points. That’s showing you the roundtrip cost. If you pick a more expensive return fare (on a roundtrip booking), the price will change. Once you’ve selected the flight you want, press “select.”

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Once you’ve selected all your flights, you’ll review your information. If everything looks good, press “Begin Checkout.”

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Next, Chase will ask you to enter any promo codes you might have. If you don’t have enough points to cover the entire trip, Chase lets you pay for the difference.

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After you’ve settled the price, you’ll be asked to enter your information. I’ve highlighted a box below–even though you’re using points to pay for this trip, Chase is treating your points like cash, which means the airlines will let you earn frequent flier miles. Always remember to enter your frequent flier number!

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Once you’ve entered all your information, you’ll go to screen to confirm all your information. If everything looks, go ahead and submit!

Transferring to Partners

NOTE: This only works if you have one of the Chase Sapphire cards.

First, log-in to the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal. You should see a blue bar at the top with all the different options you have for your points. Select “Transfer to Travel Partners.”

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Next, you can scroll through all of Chase’s partners. Currently, their partners are:

  • Airlines:  Aer Lingus, Air France/KLM, British Airways, Iberia, jetBlue, Singapore, Southwest, United, and Virgin Atlantic
  • Hotels:  Hyatt, IHG, and Marriott.

Find the partner you want to transfer points to, and click “Transfer points.”

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Next, you’ll need to select your name (or someone in your household if you’ve added them to your account) and then the frequent flier number you have for that program. Once those fields are complete, press “Continue.”

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Next, enter the amount of Chase Ultimate Rewards points you want to transfer to the partner account. This is on a 1:1 transfer ratio, and more transfers as instantaneous. Once you’ve calculated how many points you want to transfer, press “Continue.”

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Finally, review the transfer information. If everything looks a-OK, select “Confirm and submit.”

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After that, your points should show up in your frequent flier account, and you can book an award trip using that website.

Conclusion

I always like to compare the Chase Travel Portal to transferring points to partner airlines outright–you always want to use the fewest points possible!

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It’s easy to use your Chase Ultimate rewards points for travel–where will your points take you?

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