Chase Ultimate Rewards Review: Tips, Transfer Partners & More
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Ultimate Rewards is the name of Chase’s rewards program, having replaced “Flexible Rewards” a few years ago. The Ultimate Rewards program features some of the most popular cards on the market, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Plus for Business.
You can learn everything you need to know about Chase Ultimate Rewards below. This includes tips for how to get the most value when you redeem, a list of Ultimate Rewards transfer partners and WalletHub’s picks for the best Ultimate Rewards credit cards. You can also see where Ultimate Rewards ranks among the major credit card rewards programs.
Best Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards
WalletHub’s editors regularly compare 1,200+ credit cards to identify the best offers in the most popular categories. These Chase cards have been named to one or more of our “best” lists.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – Known for its big initial bonus, this Chase gem is among WalletHub’s picks for the Best Travel Credit Cards, Best Rewards Cards and Best Credit Cards Overall.
Read WalletHub’s full Chase Sapphire Preferred Review.
Ink Plus® Business Credit Card – One of WalletHub’s Best Business Credit Cards, Ink Plus has a big initial bonus as well as great rewards on gas and hotel stays.
Check out the full list of 2017’s best credit cards for business.
If you’re in the market for a credit card and aren’t sure which offer is best for your needs, sign up for a free WalletHub account. We’ll give you a personalized credit card recommendation, plus your latest credit score and report.
Ultimate Rewards Eligibility
Not every rewards card from Chase gets to participate in the Ultimate Rewards program. For example, Chase’s co-branded credit cards, for instance, are not eligible. Plus, some eligible cards don’t receive all of the program’s perks. More specifically, cards with “partial Ultimate Rewards rights” do not allow you to transfer points to one of Chase’s travel partners.
Here’s a breakdown:
|Full Ultimate Rewards Rights||Partial Ultimate Rewards Rights*|
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
J.P. Morgan Select
How To Maximize Your Ultimate Rewards Earnings
Irrespective of which Chase credit card you have or how you use it, the points system that the rewards program operates on guarantees you at least one point in return for every dollar you spend. However, in addition to this basic rate, there are other ways you can increase your rewards earnings.
Given that there is no maximum cap on how many points you can earn, taking advantage of these ways could very well be the difference between earning enough to redeem a trip for one versus a trip for the entire family:
Picking the Right Card & Using It Correctly: Some Chase cards offer bonus points as part of their initial sign up terms. Sometimes these additional points will even be given for adding an authorized user within a limited amount of time.
Furthermore, certain Chase cards yield higher returns in particular expense categories. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card provides 2X points for every dollar spent on dining at restaurants.
- Using the Ultimate Rewards Booking Tool: If possible, try to use the Ultimate Rewards booking tool for airfare, car rentals and hotel accommodations as every dollar you spend there provides 2X the earnings. However, note that this augmented earning rate is only available through December 31, 2015.
Using “Shop Through Chase”: Try to take advantage of Chase’s online shopping portal when purchasing merchandise, as each dollar spent through one of the participating merchants can yield up to 10X the earnings in return. This means that you could potentially receive 10 points per dollar spent, instead of the one point you originally would have received if you were to purchase the same merchandise elsewhere.
When you log into your Chase Ultimate Rewards account to use the shopping portal, you will be given a list of retailers you can shop at. When you click on them, the portal merely takes you to the merchant’s website. Thus, you’ll get the same prices you would have gotten by going directly to these online retailers – while also earning additional rewards points.
Other Earning Perks:
- No Minimum Spending Requirement: There is no minimum amount you need to spend on your card in order to earn points.
- No Expiration Date: Your Chase Ultimate Rewards points never expire as long as your account remains in good standing, so it’s important to ensure that you make your monthly minimum payments and never become delinquent.
- Ability to Combine: You can also combine your points from multiple Chase credit cards free of charge, as long as they are participants in the Ultimate Rewards program.
Earning Restrictions to Watch Out For:
- Confusion With Rewards Currency: Ultimate Rewards is a purely points-based rewards system. You cannot earn miles or cash back with any of the participating cards, even though some – the Freedom Card, for example – advertise the ability to do so. You can, however, redeem your points for travel or cash back.
- Rotating Bonus Categories: Certain Chase credit cards – such as Chase Freedom – have revolving categories for earning bonus points. For example, during one quarter you might be able to earn 5X the points on dining while next the quarter might yield 5X the points on gas. However, this can be tricky because you have to sign up for or “activate” these categories in order to earn bonus points, which many people forget to do.
- Rewards Vary By Amount Spent: Select Chase cards, such as the Ink Bold Business Card, have variable earning rates depending on how much money you spend. For example, the first $1,000 spent might give you one point per dollar, but the amount spent after that threshold might give you two points per dollar.
How to Redeem Ultimate Rewards
The Chase Ultimate Rewards gives you a number of redemption options. But which is best, offering the most value per point? See below.
How Much are Ultimate Rewards Points Worth?
And here’s a breakdown of how those figures were calculated:
|Redemption Options||Dollar Cost||Points Needed||Points Valuation|
|Car Rental||$25.00||2,500||1 cent|
|“Shop With Points” at Amazon.com|
|$50 Item||$50.00||5,000||1 cent|
|$100 Item||$100.00||10,000||1 cent|
|$200 Item||$200.00||20,000||1 cent|
|$300 Item||$300.00||30,000||1 cent|
|Statement Credit||$20.00||2,000||1 cent|
|Cash Back||$20.00||2,000||1 cent|
|$50 Amazon Gift card||$50.00||5,000||1 cent|
|$50 Macy's Gift card||$50.00||5,000||1 cent|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards||$250.22||13,692||1.79 cents|
|Hotel Average (Marriott, Hyatt, Ritz)||$927.19||107,625||0.92 cents|
As you can see, Ultimate Rewards points are worth a penny apiece in most cases. Chase Ultimate Rewards all yield similar point values, averaging 1 cent per point. The only possible exception is when you transfer points to an Ultimate Rewards travel partner. For example, an Ultimate Rewards point translates to 1.79 cents if transferred to the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program. But you only get an average of 0.92 cents per point if you transfer your earnings to one of the hotel partners.
Other Redemption Perks:
- Fair Travel Prices & No Date Restrictions: Chase’s travel booking tool has , there are no blackout dates or restrictions. Prices forMoreover, the hotels, flights and, car rentals and other travel-related amenities featured in the booking tool are frequently priced at the same amount asalso tend to be similar to those on other travel booking websites, though there may be slight variations. Plus, Additionally, select cards such as the—including Chase Sapphire Preferred – get a 20% discount on the prices listed in the booking tool, which means that you’d be getting more value for your rewards earnings.
- Featured Experiences : You can redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for things like music festival packages, yoga lessons and backstage meet-and-greets at concerts. Dollar prices for these experiences often aren’t available. So we did not include them when calculating point values.
Redemption Restrictions to Watch Out For:
- Minimum Threshold: You need at least 2,000 points to redeem for cash back.
- Limitations on Items: When you “Shop With Points” on Amazon.com, Mp3’s, Kindle downloads, games and software downloads are off-limits.
How to Earn More Ultimate Rewards
No matter which Chase credit card you have or how you use it, you’ll get least one point in return for every dollar you spend. But there are many ways to earn more. And there’s no limit on how many points you can earn.
In other words, following these tips could mean the difference between earning a free family vacation and only getting enough for a one-way flight:
- Pick the Right Card & Using It Wisely – Some Chase cards offer bonus points if you spend a certain amount within a few months of account opening. Others reward you more for purchases in certain spending categories. Your job is to find a card that complements your particular needs.
Using “Shop Through Chase” – Each dollar spent through one of the participating merchants can yield up to 10X the points. In other words, you could get 10 points per dollar spent as a base rate.
When you log into your Chase Ultimate Rewards account to use the shopping portal, you will be given a list of retailers you can shop at. When you click on them, the portal merely takes you to the merchant’s website. So Chase isn’t trying to scam you by offering raised prices. You’re simply paying the prices set by the merchants themselves.
Other Earning Perks:
- No Expiration Date – Your Chase Ultimate Rewards points won’t expire as long as your account remains in good standing. In other words, you have nothing to worry about if you pay your monthly bills on time.
- Pooling Possibilities – You can transfer points from one Chase Ultimate Rewards card to another, free of charge.
Earning Restrictions to Watch Out For:
Rewards Currency Confusion – Ultimate Rewards is a purely points-based rewards program. You will not earn miles or cash back with any of the participating cards, even though some – the Freedom Card, for example – advertise the ability to do so.
You can, however, redeem your points for travel or cash back. Travel redemptions can be done either through Chase’s booking tool or by transferring your points into the loyalty program of one of Chase’s transfer partners. Cash back redemption can take the form of either a statement credit or a deposit directly into a bank account.
- Rotating Bonus Categories – Certain Chase credit cards – such as Chase Freedom – offer bonus points in spending categories that change on a quarterly basis. For example, you might get 5X the points on dining one quarter and 5X the points on gas the next. This can be tricky because you have to sign up for or “activate” these categories in order to earn bonus point.
- Rewards Vary By Amount Spent – Select Chase cards, such as the Ink Bold Business Card, have varied earning rates depending on how much money you spend. For example, the first $1,000 spent might give you one point per dollar, but the amount spent after that threshold might give you two points per dollar.
Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners
Chase Ultimate Rewards has 11 transfer partners, to which certain cardholders can send their Ultimate Rewards earnings for direct booking. Transfers are done at a 1:1 ratio – one Chase rewards point for one United Airlines mile, for example. But you can only transfer 1,000-point increments.
Transfers are generally processed in one business day, but it can take up to five business days in some cases. All transfers are irreversible.
|Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners||Transfer Ratio|
The Pros & Cons of Ultimate Rewards
Now that you know the details, it’s time to put everything in perspective. Here are the Ultimate Rewards program’s strengths and weaknesses, as WalletHub’s editors see things. You can also see what they consider marketing “fluff,” which you can pretty much ignore.
- Transfer Partners – 11 travel partners give the Ultimate Rewards program added versatility.
- No Earning Cap or Expiration Date – Your points don’t have an expiration date or a maximum earning ceiling.
- Fair Cash Back Redemption Rates – Ultimate Rewards gives you one cent per point.
- “Shop Through Chase” – This can yield up to 10X the points. Plus, prices are pretty similar to what merchants charge.
- 20% Travel Discount for Select Chase Credit Cards – Chase Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire, Ink Plus, Ink Bold & Ink Classic give you a 20% discount on travel booked through Chase. That means each point is worth 1.25 cents, instead of just one cent.
- Limitations on Travel – To redeem for travel, you must either use Chase’s booking tool or transfer your points into a frequent travel program (if you are eligible). Some of the best travel credit cards let you pay for any travel purchase with points or miles once it posts to your account.
- Restrictions on Transferring Points - Points can only be transferred to cards within the Ultimate Rewards program (your own or your spouse’s) or to travel partners’ loyalty programs. They cannot be transferred to friends or non-Ultimate Rewards cards.
- Cash Back is Earned in the Form of Points – You never truly earn cash. You can only redeem for it. This puts you at risk of rewards devaluation. For example, one point might yield one cent now, but later on it might only yield 0.9 cents.
- No Extra Value for Gift Cards or Shop with Points – You get the same dollar value for your points when you redeem them for cash back, gift cards and merchandise from Amazon.com. But cash is inherently more value because you can use it for anything, even to shop on Amazon.com or purchase gift cards later on. So when in doubt, redeem for cash back.
Rewards Program Power Rankings
Now that we’ve shown how Chase Ultimate Rewards scored with our grading criteria, let’s take a look at where it stands in comparison to the other rewards programs on the market today. Well, judging from our table of rankings below, it looks like Chase comes in at fifth place.
Note that we will keep adding to our rankings list as long as we continue to review more programs.
|4||Bank of America
Scoring & Competition
Chase Ultimate Rewards received 13.51 points out of a possible 22 in WalletHub’s review. You can find the rubric we used below. These same criteria have been used to evaluate all of the major credit card rewards programs.
|Qualifying Factors||Maximum Points That Can Be Awarded
||Points Awarded To Chase|
|Category 1 - Product Inclusion and Registration – Max 6 points|
|All of the Rewards Credit Cards From the Issuer are Eligible for the Program||2||1.43|
|Offers Automatic Program Enrollment||2||2|
|Program Coverage Extends To Products Other Than Credit Cards (i.e. checking or savings accounts)||2||0|
|Category 2 - Earning Capabilities – Max 6 points|
|Offers Program-Wide Ways to Earn Extra Points (i.e. by using the internal booking tool, online shopping portal, etc.)||1||1|
|No Minimum Spending Requirement To Earn||1||1|
|No Earning Limit||1||1|
|Earning Rate Does Not Vary Depending On Amount Spent or Time Limit||1||0.6|
|No Rotating Bonus Categories||1||0.9|
|Ability to Combine & Share Earnings||1||1|
|Category 3 - Redemption Value – Max 3 points|
|No Minimum Threshold To Redeem For Rewards||1/2||0|
|Internal Booking Tool Has Fair Travel Prices (Compared to other major booking websites)||1||1|
|Gift Cards, Cash Back & Merchandise Are Redeemable at a 1 Point/Mile : 1 Cent Ratio||1||1|
|Ability to Garner More Than a 1:1 Ratio in Value||1/2||1/2|
|Category 4 - Redemption Options – Max 3 points|
|Having Transfer Partners||1||2/3|
|All Cards Can Transfer To Transfer Partners for Free||1/2||1/4|
|Ability to Use Earnings To Offset Any Travel Purchase||1||0|
|Statement Credit Can Be Applied To Full Balance (instead of matching to specific charges)||1/2||1/2|
|Category 5 – Additional Perks & Restrictions – Max 4 points|
|Transparency In Displaying Program Details For Non-Members||1||0|
|There Is A Separate Customer Service Phone Line Dedicated to Rewards Program Members||1/2||0|
|Earnings Can be Reinstated if Confiscated or Expired (Free of Charge)||1/2||0|
|Does Not Falsely Advertise Cash Back Products||1||0|
|Earnings Do Not Expire By Date, From Account Inactivity or Missed Payments||1||2/3|
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