My Review of Chase Ultimate Rewards (Hint: It’s Awesome!)

by Jason on April 2, 2012

in Chase Ink Bold,Chase Sapphire Preferred,Double Dipping,Travel Credit Cards,Travel Shopping Malls,Ultimate Rewards

Chase ultimate rewards logoTwo of my newest cards are the Chase Sapphire Preferred (personal) AND the Chase Ink Bold (business). I’m a big fan of both cards and do most of my personal and business spending on them. The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is designed to attract good credit borrowers and compete with American Express in the “upscale credit card” market. Amex is still great and will always be great. But Chase is definitely offering some solid competition with their new Ultimate Rewards program. Here’s my review of the program so far…

What Is Ultimate Rewards?

Just like Amex’s “membership rewards” program, Ultimate Rewards to gives Chase customers points for making purchases. Those points can then be transferred to travel, hotel, and airline partners at a 1:1 ratio. You can also use those points *like real cash* to book travel via the Ultimate Rewards travel booking system.

Chase values Ultimate Rewards points at $0.0125 per point. So the 50,000 points equals $625 towards hotel rooms, airfare, etc. Personally, I value Chase points between 3 cents and 4 cents each since I prefer to apply points towards high-value hotel rooms and business class flights. Points values are always subjective, but the smarter you get about how you use points the more value you can get.

Still, it’s nice to know that at the very least you can always turn points into travel booking cash direct on the Ultimate Rewards website.

How You Earn Ultimate Rewards Points

My bonus for the Sapphire Preferred was 50,000 points. I also got another 50,000 points for the Chase Ink Bold card. Just like most travel credit cards, each card has its own points-earning formula.

Chase Sapphire Preferred:
-2 points for travel & dining
-1 point for everything else
-7% dividend on ALL your annual points earned (I love this!)

Chase Ink Bold:
-5 points for office supplies & internet/phone
-2 points for gas & hotels

Double Dipping In the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall

Another excellent way to earn Ultimate Rewards points is by double-dipping to get 2x, 3x, and up to 10x the points inside the Chase Ultimate Rewards Shopping Mall. You can access the shopping portal by logging into your chase account and then clicking through to Ultimate Rewards. From there, you can browse by product, merchant, or special offers to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Transfer Points From Ultimate Rewards To Your Favorite Travel Programs

Since Ultimate Rewards is still fairly new, there aren’t quite as many travel partners as longer-running programs like AMEX. But the current list of partners is pretty darn good. Southwest, United, British Air, Korean Air, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club, Amtrak, and The Ritz-Carlton are all currently listed as 1:1 transfer partners.

Chase ultimate rewards travel transfer partners

The big standouts here are United and Hyatt. For 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points, you can book a business class flight from the US to Singapore. For 20,000 to 30,000 points, you can book a high-category hotel room at a Hyatt collection hotel.


Transfer to united from chase ultimate rewards

The Final Analysis

I love Ultimate Rewards. I’ll definitely be holding onto both these cards. I like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for the 2 points on dining. Plus, any points I earn with the Sapphire Preferred get an additional 7% bonus with my cardholder points dividend each year.

And I’m a big fan of the 2x points for hotels on the Ink Bold. The 5x points for office supplies with the Ink Bold is nice, but probably not going to amount to much since I don’t purchase too many office supplies each year.

I’d love to see the Ink Bold get more travel points advantages. I’ll probably be adding the American Express Gold Business card to my mix soon since it gives a 3x points benefit for all airfare purchases. Combining that with the Ink Bold hotel benefit and the Sapphire Preferred dining benefit will make a great triple threat.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica May 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Hi Jason,

I just received my 50,000 bonus points. Need some help now — I can’t tell if it’s better to book a flight through the Chase UR mall or transfer my points to another travel program (i.e. United). I feel like every flight I’ve searched for in the UR mall is way overpriced. Maybe I should just cash out the $500? Please advise! Thanks.

Reply

Jason May 10, 2012 at 8:31 am

Hi Jessica,

I definitely think you’ll get more bang for your points if you transfer them into another program. It’s definitely a lot easier to just cash in the face value of Chase UR points by applying them to your statement as a credit, etc. BUT… you’re only going to get *some* of the total potential value.

Check out this post I wrote for more help: How To Value Your Points

My favorite transfer partner in Chase UR is United. For 60,000 points you could get a roundtrip economy class flight from San Francisco to Tokyo, Japan. (Each leg will run you about 30,000 points for saver fares so you need to be flexible on travel dates to make this work.)

A flight like this would normally run you about $1,000 to buy yourself. So using 60,000 Chase points puts your per point value at $0.017 cents each.

But if you really wanted to get the most VALUE for your points, you’d need to save your points until you have enough for a business class flight.

For example, this exact same San Francisco to Tokyo flight in business class would run you $5000 to $7500 on United. But you can book this flight for just 60,000 points each way or 120,000 points total. In this scenario, your points are worth $0.04 cents to $0.06 cents per point or more.

VALUE is a tricky thing, but you get the idea. :-)

Hope this helps!

Jason

Reply

Christine August 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Here’s a total newbie question, as I have just received my new Sapphire card. Excited.

If I book a flight through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal– can I also apply separately to have miles/points for that flight added to a loyalty program like Virgin’s Elevate or Lufthansa’s Miles & More?

I’ve done this with tickets purchased through third party sites before, but am just curious if Chase’s site is any different in the eyes of the airlines’ programs.

I mostly travel for non-profit work, and so am getting the cheapest, non-refundable tickets and am looking to see how to maximize the situation. Thanks!

Reply

Jason August 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Hi Christine,

Yes, that should work out fine. I personally booked a flight on Chase’s travel portal with Virgin America and was still able to earn points with Virgin. Hope this helps!

-Jason

Reply

Jackie January 3, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Hi Jason,

I am planning a year long around the world trip beginning Winter or Spring 2014. I am trying to decide which credit card will save me the most money. My top two right now are the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Capitol One Venture Rewards card (the blue one.) I am not a frequent flyer right now (3 to 6 flights per year, mostly domestic) but I do have the Chase Southwest card. (Honestly I don’t fly often enough to really love its rewards.) Because I would like to use my points/miles/etc mainly in the year 2014, which card best suits my needs? FYI, I plan to do my trip cheaply, so I won’t be staying at hotels or eating out much, and since I am saving for my trip now, I don’t spend a lot on luxuries. I want to refer you to this article. Please tell me if you think they got it right. Thank you!!!
http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/compare-credit-cards/capital-venture-rewards-chase-sapphire-preferred/

Reply

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