I often talk about transfer partners when redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points, but when fares or rates are low, it may make more sense to redeem in the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points have been incredibly valuable to us over the years. It is important to understand that not all Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the same when it comes to redeeming. The value and redemption options vary depending on which Chase Ultimate Rewards card or cards you hold.
I want to keep this post simple, but distinguishing between the different types of Chase Ultimate Rewards is so important that we need to briefly discuss it first.
Not all Chase Ultimate Rewards points are created equal
On this site, anytime I discuss Chase Ultimate Rewards points, I’m usually referring to transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points. The ability to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel partners is important, because that’s how we’re able to redeem for higher cents per point values.
There are 3 cards that earn transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points:
There are two ways to redeem transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel
- Redeem miles/points at a fixed value for travel purchases via the Ultimate Rewards redemption portal. This is what I’m discussing in this post.
- Transfer to airline or hotel partners. Chase Ultimate Rewards points become airline miles or hotel points. You can redeem them according to the rules and redemption prices of the airline or hotel program to which you transfer.
Redeeming Ultimate Rewards points for travel via the Ultimate Rewards redemption portal is a good option if paid fares/rates are low. Transferring to airline partners is how you can get even more value out of Chase UR points, though.
If you have transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points, it’s always a good idea to check both redemption options because the redemption cost difference can be huge. Click here for more information about Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer partners.
You can read more about why transferable Ultimate Rewards points are so much more valuable to us here.
Although Chase’s popular cash back credit cards such as Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited may sometimes refer to the points earned as Chase Ultimate Rewards points, the points earned from these cards are essentially redeemable as cash. Points earned from these cards cannot be transferred to airline and hotel programs unless you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Business preferred card. I actually suggest keeping a Freedom card and one of the 3 Sapphire cards. Click here to find out how this pair accelerates your earn rate.plus gives you access to the best and most valuable redemption options.
Today, I’m talking about a way to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points via Chase’s redemption travel portal, the first option in the box above. You can also redeem points earned from the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited for travel in the redemption portal.
What is the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal?
This is Chase’s booking system that allows you to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for travel. This portal is powered by Expedia, so they should have the same options for flights, hotels, rental cars, and tours as what Expedia.com offers. You can use your Ultimate Rewards points to ‘pay’ for all or part of your airfare or hotel stay by booking through the Ultimate Rewards redemption portal. You can also book travel and pay with your Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve credit card (as opposed to redeeming), and you’ll earn bonus points per dollar. But for now, we’re talking about the portal in the context of redemption.
Redeeming Ultimate Rewards points for travel through Chase’s redemption portal is a good idea when fares or rates are low. When fares or rates or higher, you’re going to have to redeem more points. This is when it helps to have transferable points. If the cash rates are high, you can sometimes get a better value with transfer partners. Transferring Chase UR to airline or hotel partners is how you can potentially get more value out of your points than 1.25-1.50 cents per point. Remember, you have to have a card that earns transferable points to use this option.
The advantage to this (as opposed to transferring to hotel or airline partners) is that you have lots of options. You aren’t limited to Chase’s transfer partners. You can book any flight or hotel the same way you would if you were booking on Expedia. Also, you will receive airline miles the same way you would if you were paying for the ticket. In contrast, when you book an award ticket with airline miles with a frequent flyer program, you are not eligible to earn miles on that flight.
The disadvantage is that you will be redeeming the points at a fixed rate. Sure, there are no blackout dates to worry about. You also don’t have to worry about award availability. The problem is, a more expensive plane ticket or hotel stay is going to require more miles/points. This can be a problem if you’re trying to book travel on peak dates such as holidays.
Here are some helpful posts that highlight the redemption portal vs. transfer partners. The basic principal is this: low airfare/low hotel rates-use the portal; pricey airfare/hotel rates- a transfer partner may require less points.
- This post explains how you can usually redeem less Chase Ultimate Rewards points by transferring to Hyatt rather than by booking Hyatt stays through the Chase portal.
- For Marriott stays, this post explains why using the Chase redemption portal may result in a lower redemption cost than transferring Chase UR to Marriott Bonvoy,
- If you’re trying to book business/first class flights, transfer partners are usually going to be a better way to book. Booking through the redemption portal often requires significantly more points since the paid fares are going to be high. Here are some posts that help to explain:
- How to book Delta flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards points
- How to book American Airlines flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards points
- Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for Emirates business class
How much are points worth in the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal?
When you redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points through the redemption portal, the value of your points is fixed and it depends on which card you hold.
Because the value of your points is fixed, your cents per point value will always be the same. Remember, the best way to get more value is to accumulate points that can also transfer to airline or hotel programs (that would be points earned from CSP, CSR, or CIBP).
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: 1.25 (50,000 points are worth $625)
- Chase Ink Business Preferred: 1.25 (50,000 points are worth $625)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: 1.50 (50,000 points are worth $750)
- Chase Freedom Flex: 1 (50,000 points are worth $500)
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: 1 (50,000 points are worth $500)
Do you have multiple Chase cards? Make sure you pool all of your points to the card with the best redemption rate!
If you have a Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited plus a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Business Preferred card, this is important:
You can combine the points on the Freedom card with points on your CSP, CSR, or CIBP. Then, you can redeem those points the same way you would redeem the points earned from your CSP, CSR, or CIBP. This is important for 2 reasons:
1.) Points are more valuable when they’re tied to a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Business preferred card than Freedom points are when you’re redeeming via the redemption portal.
2) Chase Ultimate Rewards points that are earned with a Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited are not transferable to airline or hotel programs. But if you have a CSP, CSR, or CIBP, you can move your points earned from the Freedom card to your Sapphire card. Once the points are tied to your CSP, CSR, or CIBP, you can transfer the points to airline or hotel programs. Transferring points is how we’re often able to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards at a rate of 2 cents per point or more.
I won’t get too much into the math of potential savings with transfer partners, but this post breaks down the math in greater detail.
How to book travel with Chase Ultimate Rewards points
1. Login to your Ultimaterewards.com account using your Chase account information.
2. Click Earn/Use in the upper left hand corner, then click Travel.
3. This screen will probably default to flights. If you need hotels, select the hotels tab
Type in your airport/destination, dates, and number of passengers/guests.
4. You will see a list of available hotels or flights as well as pricing.
I am under my Chase Sapphire Reserve account, so the rate is 1.50 cents per point. Other cards are 1 cpp or 1.25 cpp as stated earlier in this post.
5. Select the hotel property or flight to see more details or to book.
When you’re ready to book, you’ll need to enter passenger/guest details and you’ll have the options to pay for all or some of the total with your Ultimate Rewards points.
That’s it, but I do want to point out how important it is to check with transfer partners also. Remember, it is only possible to use transfer partners if you have one of the 3 transferable Ultimate Rewards earning cards (Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Business Preferred)
If you have a transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards earning card, it’s always a good idea to check for availability and pricing with transfer partners
This is how you can sometimes save a significant amount of points.
Using the redemption portal to book a roundtrip AA flight from DFW to Vail:
To find this itinerary, I searched using the steps described above. This was the lowest fare for DFW to Vail at $352 for basic economy or $442 for economy.
- With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, points are worth 1.5 cents each which means you would need to redeem:
- ~23,500 points for basic economy or
- ~29,500 points for economy
- If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred, points are worth 1.25.
- Basic economy would be ~28,200 points.
- Economy would be ~35,400 points
- If you have the Chase Freedom Flex or the Chase Freedom Unlimited, points are worth 1 cent
- Basic economy would be ~35,200
- Economy would be ~44, 200
I was able to book this exact roundtrip itinerary for 18,000 points
Chase Ultimate Rewards points do not transfer to American Airlines. But they do transfer to British Airways and Iberia, both of which can be used to book AA flights. You can read more about how to book AA flights with British Airways Avios here.
So your options to book AA flights with Chase UR points are to use the portal (as above) or to transfer to British Airways or Iberia. This post about booking AA flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards points explains your options in greater detail.
You may be able to save lots of points on free hotel nights, especially at Hyatt properties
Chase has three hotel transfer partners: Hyatt, Marriott, and IHG. Transferring points to Hyatt can often make a significant difference in the amount of points required. You can read a complete guide to booking Hyatt stays with Chase Ultimate Rewards points here.
Here are some options I found for Big Sur using the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal. There were several other options available in the portal because you aren’t limited to Chase’s transfer partners, but I’m focusing on Hyatt properties.
All three of these properties are in the Hyatt portfolio which means you can book them with World of Hyatt points. Chase UR transfer to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio. When you book a free night with Hyatt, the redemption price is fixed. This means that no matter how expensive (or inexpensive) the room is, the amount of points required remains the same. This will change slightly next year when Hyatt introduces peak, standard, and off peak pricing, but even then, you’ll have a range to go by. For now, all free nights are subject to standard pricing.
- Ventana Big Sur (World of Hyatt category 7-30,000 points per night)
- Carmel Valley Ranch (WOH category 6-25,000 points per night)
- Hyatt Carmel Highlands (WOH category 7-30,000 points per night)
Compare those redemption prices with that of the redemption portal prices above. As you can see, this is a significantly better deal on points than the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal. That Ventana room for $1725 isn’t a fluke, this is a typical rate at that property. If you try to book via the Ultimate Rewards portal, the redemption price will be 115,000 if you have Chase Sapphire Reserve. If you have one of the other cards, it would be even more. This makes 30,000 points seem like an absolute steal.
If you do the math, that’s a value of 5.75 cents per point. But it would actually be more because that rate would be over $2,000 after taxes and fees. When you use World of Hyatt points to book a Hyatt stay, you do not have to pay taxes and fees.
- .0575 X 100=5.75
Remember, the fixed rate when redeeming through the portal is 1, 1.25, or 1.50, depending on which card you have.
The catch is that Hyatt award stays are subject to availability. The general rule of thumb is that if a standard room is available on a paid rate, it should be available to book with WOH points. This is not always the case, though, as some properties get creative with manipulating award night availability. The bottom line is, always check for availability, and do not transfer any Chase points to Hyatt until you have confirmed availability.
There are 2 ways to redeem transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel:
- Redeem miles/points at a fixed rate for travel purchases.
- Transfer to airline or hotel partners. Chase Ultimate Rewards points become airline miles or hotel points. You can redeem them according to the rules and redemption prices of the airline program to which you transfer.
Redeeming points through the portal is a good option when paid fares and rates are low. When rates are higher, it’s good to have transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
In many cases, the best way to get the most value out of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points is to utilize their airline or hotel transfer partners. This is one of the most misunderstood topics, even for those who are somewhat familiar with award travel and credit card rewards.
For more info about booking flights with airline partners of Chase Ultimate Rewards, click here.
Earn your first 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points by opening a Chase Sapphire Preferred card*
Current offer: Earn 100,000 Chase UR points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.
The annual fee is $95.
Important: Cards such as the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, but they aren’t the same as transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points. They are basically cash-back cards. Points earned from these cards cannot be transferred unless you also have a CSP, CSR, or CIBP. With that said, pairing the no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited with a CSP, CSR, or CIBP is a great way to boost the amount of Ultimate Rewards points you earn on everyday spending. Click here for more information.
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