05
Oct

How to Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Through Credit Card Signups

Posted By Trav

No mention of the world Ultimate is complete without this guy!

This is part #1 of my The Ultimate Guide to Ultimate Rewards series.  Other posts include:
#2- How to Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Through Online Shopping
#3- How to Combine Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Between Accounts (with video)
#4- How to Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Travel Partners (with video)

Introduction

Chase Ultimate Reward (UR) points are the currency that Chase uses to reward people who use their cards that are not tied to a specific airline or hotel chain.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points offer some incredible value, and if used right, can actually be more beneficial than credit cards that offer miles with a specific airline because they UR points are extremely flexible.

UR points are in direct competition with American Express Membership Rewards points and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points.

This series will explain all the facets of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, including ways to earn them, ways to use them, how to transfer them (both between accounts and to partner airlines and hotels), and lastly, the best ways to maximize them.

By the end, you’ll be a Chase Ultimate Rewards pro and you’ll see why they are my preferred frequent flyer currency!

For now, though, let’s start with how to earn UR points.  You can love them all you want, but if you don’t have any, they aren’t doing you any good!

The absolute easiest way to earn a huge amount of Ultimate Rewards points at one time is through credit card signups.  Luckily, Chase has quite a few good offers out there, so unless you’ve collected them all already, you have some good options to pick from.

Before we start looking at cards, there is one VERY important distinction that you must understand; the difference between “premium” Ultimate Rewards points and “limited” Ultimate Rewards points.  

This is an area that quite a few people get confused on, so its time to set the record straight.

Premium Ultimate Rewards points vs. Limited Ultimate Rewards points

“Limited” UR points vs. “Premium” UR points is just as one-sided!

 As the name implies, premium UR points are much more valuable than limited UR points.  Premium UR points can be used two ways:

  1. To transfer, at a 1:1 ratio, to a range of airline and hotel partners, including United, Southwest, and Hyatt. (a full list of partners can be found here)
  2. To redeem as cash for travel bought through the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall, at a value of 1.2 cents per point.

Limited UR points can only be used as cash for travel bought through the Chase Rewards Mall, at a value of 1.0 cents per point.

And while it is nice that the premium UR points are worth 20% more when redeemed as cash for travel, the MAJOR difference is that premium UR points can be transferred to partners whereas limited UR points cannot be transferred.  

This opens up a range of possibilities and usually gives you much better value than simply redeeming them for 1.2 cents per point.

Now, it’s important to know which Chase cards earn you which type of points, as many people often get confused about this.

What Cards Earn Which Type of Points

The following cards earn you “premium” Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which ARE transferable to partners:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred
  • Chase Ink Bold [No longer available]
  • Chase Ink Plus

The following cards earn you “limited” Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which ARE NOT transferable to partners:

  • Chase Freedom
  • Chase Sapphire
  • Chase Ink Classic
  • Chase Ink Cash

So does this make cards that offer you limited points worthless?

Luckily, no!

Chase allows you to combine your Ultimate Rewards points by transferring between your accounts, regardless of if they are “limited” or “premium” points.  

What this means is that as long as you have one of the cards that earns “premium” points, you can transfer the points you earn on the “limited” cards to “premium” account and VOILA!, those “limited” points are now “premium” points.

Just remember though:  You need to have at least ONE “premium” card to transfer the “limited” points to or else they will remain limited points and have very little value.

To recap:  Premium UR points are great, limited UR points are not that great.  If you have a card that earns limited UR points, get a card that earns you premium points and combine your points in that premium account.

Now that you understand the difference between the two types of UR points, let’s take a look at which cards will earn you what points and how many!

Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Card Signup Bonuses

Below is a list of the cards that earn Chase UR points and the current signup bonus.

Personal cards

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: 40,000 “premium” Chase UR points (full review here)
  • Chase Freedom:  10,000 “limited” Chase UR points
  • Chase Sapphire:  10,000 “limited” Chase UR points

Business cards:

  • Chase Ink Bold:  50,000 “premium” Chase UR points (This card is no longer available)
  • Chase Ink Plus:  50,000 “premium” Chase UR points (full review of the Ink Plus here)
  • Chase Ink Classic:  25,000 “limited” Chase UR points
  • Chase Ink Cash:  25,000 “limited” Chase UR points

My Recommendations

The Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, and Chase Ink Plus my three favorite credit cards.  Yes, they are #1, #2A and #2B in my mind (the Ink Bold and Ink Plus are virtually identical cards).  I use them for all of my everyday spending.

Obviously, I highly recommend all three of the cards.  The signup bonuses for all three cards are substantial (40k and 50k) and because they earn “premium” Ultimate Rewards points, they are super valuable since they can be transferred to many partners, including my favorites, United and Hyatt!

In addition, all three cards also offer some nice category bonuses for spending, which we’ll discuss in a later post.

The Freedom, which offers 5x points on different rotating categories, is another card to consider.  I wouldn’t suggest it right now since the signup bonus is a paltry 10k, but if the bonus gets bumped up to 20k or 30k, then go for it!

Just remember that you’ll need either the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus to turn those “limited” points you earn with the Freedom in to “premium” points.

I’d only recommend applying for the regular Sapphire, Ink Classic, or Ink Cash after you’ve received all the “premium” cards.  The signup bonuses are lower, and unless you have a premium card, you’ll be earning limited points.

If you have exhausted all the “premium” options, wow, good for you!  Then, it’s time to start thinking about nabbing the 25k signup bonus for the Ink Cash or Ink Classic.

Final Word(s)

Signing up for a Chase credit card (or two…or three) is BY FAR the quickest way to build up your Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

However, when signing up, make sure that you applying for cards that earn “premium” points, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, and Chase Ink Plus.

Since these are all different products, you can earn the signup bonus from each.  Opening these three cards would net you a quick 140k Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  Talk about a nice jump-start!

Personally, Chase UR points are my favorite frequent flyer currency and the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, and Ink Chase are three of the best cards out there.  If you don’t already have them, I would strongly suggest you consider getting one and start earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points now!

What Chase signup bonuses have you snagged?  Which ones are you targeting in the future?  Let me know in the comments below!

(photos courtesy of mario zucca illustration, asianboyprodigy)

11 comments

  1. MileHunter says:

    Got approved for the sapphire preferred yesterday- wife is primary on the freedom card and I’m waiting on my sapphire preferred to request chase to transfer our ur points from freedom. Thanks a lot for all the information. Quick question- does it make sense for me together a sapphire preferred card for my wife as well to maximize our UR points in the next year ? Am concerned that would make her ineligible for the sign on bonus when she applies for a card to get the 40,000 UR points. – is that true for this and other card offers out there? Not clear from the fine print on the offers.
    Thanks!

    1. Trav says:

      @MileHunter- I believe what you’re asking is if adding your wife as an authorized user on your Chase Sapphire Preferred account (which means she’d have her own card but it would be tied to your account) makes her ineligible to get her own account later, correct?

      If this is what you’re asking, the answer is no, it shouldn’t affect it. You can add her as an authorized user on your account and then later, she will be able to sign up for her own Chase Sapphire Preferred account and get approved.

      This is true for almost all credit cards, as far as I know.

  2. Virag says:

    Cam I get a Southwest Companion Pass (‘100,000 qualifing points needed’) if I stack up multiple signup bonus points? I don’t really understand yet how the credit card points are translating to airline points/miles….

    1. Virag says:

      Also, the simple Southwest Chase card says the points never expire. But I can’t find info whether they expire (and how)/or not on the Ultimate Chase card

      1. Trav says:

        @Virag- They won’t expire as long as you have your card that earns Chase points open (i.e. Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus, etc.). However, if you close the card, you will lose them. Here’s a post to help you figure that out.

    2. Trav says:

      @Virag – Yes, you can stack them but you have to get the Southwest branded credit cards. This means you have to get a Chase Southwest personal card and a Chase Southwest business card. If you get a card that earns Chase points, this will NOT COUNT towards the Companion Pass.
      See this post for more details.

  3. Rob says:

    Trav, what an amazing blog, I’ve been eating it up and can’t wait to start following your advice. Now would you happen to know why your page says there are 6 comments and we can only see one?
    Thanks!

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