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Everything You Need to Know About Chase Ultimate Rewards

Credit card issuers that offer rewards cards often have dedicated programs through which a consumer can accumulate and redeem points. Chase's version is called Chase Ultimate Rewards, and it's one of the most competitive programs out there when it comes to point values and redemptions.

How Do Rewards Programs Work?

When you use a rewards credit card to make purchases, you typically accumulate points or rewards for each dollar you spend. Some cards give you the option to earn points for using your card for travel and dining, while other cards offer rewards for spending in other categories, such as gas or groceries. As you rack up points, you'll be able to redeem them in different ways depending on the rewards program.

Some rewards programs, like those associated with a specific airline, offer limited redemption options for your points, such as using them on travel expenses only with that airline. But Chase Ultimate Rewards and other programs are much different and offer more options for cashing in your rewards.

Which Cards Give You Chase Ultimate Rewards?

To get Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you'll need a credit card that works with the Ultimate Rewards program. Here are the personal credit cards you can use to earn Ultimate Rewards (UR) points:

These cards offer rewards in different spending categories, and depending on what you use the card for, the earnings can vary as well. For example, the Chase Sapphire cards offer the most lucrative rewards for travel and restaurant spending.

Best Ways to Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards

The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is great because it gives you the flexibility to redeem your rewards for various things like travel, cash back and merchandise—and it offers extra value (depending on which card you have) when you redeem points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

Here are some of the different redemption options offered by the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal:

  • Gift cards. This option allows you to redeem your points for gift cards with popular merchants. Gift cards can be redeemed at a rate of 1 cent per UR point.
  • Cash back. This option allows users to redeem their points for cash back in the form of a statement credit. Points can be redeemed at a rate of 1 cent per point.
  • Travel. You can redeem points through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal for hotel rooms, plane tickets and travel experiences at a rate of 1 cent per point. Chase Sapphire cardholders can redeem UR points through the travel portal with a 25% bonus (1.25 cents per 1 point) if they have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or a 50% bonus (1.5 cents per 1 point) if they hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
  • Direct purchases. Points can be used to make direct purchases from Apple and Amazon. Each retailer has a section within the Ultimate Rewards portal that allows you to shop for products and pay using points at checkout. Points redeemed for Apple products are worth .8 cents per dollar. Redemption values for Amazon purchases vary.
  • Experiences. Your Chase UR points can be used to purchase a variety of experiences offered through the Chase portal, including concerts, sporting events and more. Points are valued at 1 cent each when redeemed this way.
  • Transfer partners. Chase UR points can be transferred to partner programs, such as United MilagePlus, Marriott Bonvoy and others. Points are transferred to partner programs at a 1-to-1 ratio.

Once you begin accumulating points with your Chase card, you can sign in to your Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to see how many points you've earned with each card and browse your redemption options. If you have multiple cards that earn Chase UR points, all your points will appear in your Chase Ultimate Rewards portal but will be associated with each individual card you used to earn the rewards.

Most redemption options through the Ultimate Rewards portal allow you to redeem UR points for 1 cent per point. But if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® card, you'll earn 1.25 and 1.5 cents per dollar, respectively, when redeeming points earned with those cards through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. If you carry at least one of the Chase Sapphire cards, you'll also have the option of transferring UR points earned from other cards (like the Chase Freedom®) to your card from Chase Sapphire family, allowing you to benefit from the amplified redemption option the card has when redeemed for travel.

Transferring Ultimate Reward Points to Partner Programs

Another benefit of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program is the possibility of transferring your points to partner programs, like those offered by popular airlines and hotels. This option allows you to earn points by using your Chase card and then redeem the points in a separate program that may have better redemption options—which may be extra valuable, depending on how you want to spend your points.

The value of transferring points to another program really depends on whether you have existing points with a partner program, or whether the partner has a redemption option that makes transferring worth it. Say, for example, you've been accruing miles through an airline's frequent flier program. By transferring points from your Ultimate Rewards account to the partner airline, you'll be able to pool all those points together, possibly giving you enough for a flight or other redemption.

In addition, some airline frequent flier programs have flash sales or variable award charts that allow you to get good deals on flights using your miles, or points. Having the option to transfer UR points to partner programs allows you to take advantage of these good deals without requiring you to have earned the points in that specific program. And in some cases, the redemption options offered through these partner programs can be more valuable than the options offered through the Chase travel portal.

Transfers happen on 1-to-1 point ratio—meaning that 1 UR point converts to 1 point from the partner program. The redemption value of the points in other programs will vary, so make sure to do proper research on the transfer partner and their redemption options before moving your points.

How to Maximize Chase Ultimate Rewards Earnings

Understanding the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards and knowing how to earn them is the first step. The next, and most important, step is learning how to maximize your rewards earnings to accumulate as many UR points as possible. Having more than one Chase credit card is not unusual, and the more cards you have that earn Chase UR points, the more opportunities you have to redeem your rewards.

The key to maximizing your credit card spending is to have cards that offer rewards for different types of spending. Take a look at what you spend on each month, and then get the card or cards that offer extra rewards earnings for things you spend the most on.

If the bulk of your spending is done at restaurants and for transportation, for example, consider getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which offers 2 points per dollar spent at eateries and 2 points per dollar spent on travel. For general purchases, like retail spending, consider using the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which offers 1.5% cash back.

If your spending is varied and each month you spend on travel, eating out and retail goods, consider adding a Sapphire and Freedom card to your wallet—choosing the appropriate card based on what you're using it for. By earning UR points for all of your various purchases, your end-of-year point earnings will be significantly greater than if you only had one card. And if you transfer UR points from one card (like the Chase Freedom®) to a card in the Sapphire family, you'll get the extra 25% or 50% value when you redeem points through Chase's portal—making it that much more worth it to have both cards in your wallet.

How to Get a Chase Credit Card That Offers Ultimate Reward Points

Getting a Chase credit card is just like applying for any other card, but there is one thing to consider before sending in your application. Chase's 5/24 rule is an informal rule that restricts consumers from getting approved for a new Chase card if they've opened five or more credit cards in the past 24 months.

Before applying for a new Chase card, consider finding out where your Experian credit score stands so you'll have a better idea of whether you'll qualify. You can also get a free copy of your credit report from Experian so you can check how many credit cards you've opened in the past 24 months.

If you want to apply for a Chase card, or want to browse other cards that might be right for you, check out Experian CreditMatchTM, which will show you specialized card offers based on your credit profile.

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