The real value of Chase Ultimate Rewards points comes from their ability to transfer to multiple travel partners. Transferring your UR points to a partner is BY FAR the best value you’ll get out of your Ultimate Rewards points.
First, let’s take a look at all the transfer partners and then talk about the two specific partners that you’ll get the most value from.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to the following airlines:
and the following hotels:
In addition, points can be transferred to Amtrak (although I don’t know anyone who has done this).
The two most valuable transfer partners for most people will be United and Hyatt. Of course, in certain circumstances, you may want to transfer to other programs (discussed below), but United and Hyatt are generally your two best options.
United are some of the most valuable airline miles out there, so having them as a transfer partner is quite the coup for Chase.
Basically, if you want to fly internationally, you’ll always want to transfer to United (with a few exceptions when BA might be better).
The only time United might not make the most sense is if you are going to fly domestically, in which case you’d want to look at BA and Southwest to compare which would be cheaper.
Hyatt is the first place to consider when looking to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to a hotel because they give you the best bang for your buck. Let’s compare:
The top category Hyatt costs 22k points a night
The top category Marriott costs 40k/night
The top category Priority Club (Intercontinentals) costs 50k/night.
Since all hotels transfer 1:1, your UR points will go much further when transferred to Hyatt than to Marriott or Priority Club. You’ll get 2 nights in a top category Hyatt for every one night in an Intercontinental!
The only problem with Hyatt is that they are not near as plentiful as Marriott or Priority Club (which includes Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza among others). So while transferring to Hyatt may give you the best bang for your buck, make sure to look at where you are headed first and see what hotels are available in the area.
If there isn’t a Hyatt, or if there is a cheaper end Marriott or Priority Club, than consider transferring to one of the other chains.
My suggestion would be to hold off transferring you UR points to a hotel until you know for sure where you are going and what is available. Since transfers happen instantly, there is not point to make the transfer until you need to, and the worst thing you can do is get stuck with points in a hotel chain that you don’t need!
Some Other Good Options
While United and Hyatt will probably be your go-to transfer partners for airlines and hotels, respectively, other partners can also offer some great value in more specific situations:
Transferring to British Airways will offer really good value if you are taking any of these 5 specific trips (because you won’t pay a fuel surcharge).
If flying domestic, consider transferring to Southwest. Every 1 Southwest point is worth 1.6 cents in Wanna Get Away Fares, so if the ticket is a cheap one to buy on their website, it will be cheap in points as well!
Luckily, the transfer process is super easy. How easy? I show you exactly how to do it in the video tutorial in UNDER 2 MINUTES!
A Few Rules About All Chase Ultimate Reward Transfers
All points transfer at a 1:1 ratio, meaning that 1,000 Chase points will get you 1,000 points in ANY of the above programs.
All transfer must be done in increments of 1,000.
All transfers are supposed to occur instantly. Sometimes, there may be a few hour lag, but most of the time, the transfer is very quick. This is a huge perk, especially if you are trying to get something done last minute! (Compare this to American Express and SPG, whose transfers can take days!)
Only “premium” Ultimate Rewards Points can be transferred to travel partners. “Limited” Ultimate Rewards Points can not be! If you’re unsure about what is premium and what is limited, check out the first post in the series. To find out how to turn limited points in to premium points, check out my awesome video tutorial in post 3.
It’s official that I love United, but what’s your favorite Ultimate Rewards transfer partner? How have you used UR points to take dream vacations? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
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:
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 Ink Classic
Chase Ink Cash
So does this make cards that offer you limited points worthless?
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.
Chase Ink Classic: 25,000 “limited” Chase UR points
Chase Ink Cash: 25,000 “limited” Chase UR points
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.
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!