This is one of my favorite rewards programs due to its awesome flexibility. You can earn Ultimate Rewards points using the following cards:
- Sapphire Reserve
- Sapphire Preferred
- Freedom/Freedom Unlimited (when paired with a CSR or CSP)
- Ink Preferred
With so many popular cards, you’ll find yourself racking up UR points in no time. This is a great program because you’re able to redeem in several ways that allow you to maximize value.
Redeeming via the Travel Portal
Powered by Expedia, the Travel Portal enables you to redeem UR for flights, hotels, rental cars, and cruises. This is the easiest and most flexible way to redeem UR since you can use points towards any form of “travel” found on Expedia. Sapphire Reserve holders have the ability to redeem at 1.5 cents per points (cpp), while Sapphire Preferred holders redeem at 1.25 cpp.
For example, a quick search for a night in Kauai at the Grand Hyatt shows that the daily rate in cash is $520 / night. However, since I have the Sapphire Reserve, I can instead choose to redeem 34,666 UR points. That’s a redemption value of 1.5 cpp. If you want to do the math: ($520 / .015 cpp) = 34,666. If you have the Preferred, you would substitute 1.25 cpp and thus your total would be 41,600 points.
Not a bad use of points for one of the best hotels in Hawaii! You’ll be able to redeem in a similar manner for other things like rental cars and flights as well. With the Portal, you can also elect to use partial redemptions, i.e. choose to pay a certain amount of the daily rate in points and cover the rest with cash. This is useful when you don’t have enough points, but still want to use them anyway. Access the Travel Portal through your Chase account login or this link here.
Transferring to Travel Partners
Another feature of the UR program is the ability to transfer to hotel and airline reward programs at a rate of 1:1, meaning 1 UR = 1 point in the redeeming awards program. Here’s a list of all Chase’s partners:
Through these airlines, you can book award seats through all three major airline alliances, including Oneworld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance, which means you should be able to redeem UR points for almost any flight in the world!
- Aer Lingus
- British Airways
- Flying Blue (loyalty program of Air France and KLM)
- Singapore Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
You’ll find the most value through premium tickets such as business or first class, but I’m often able to find good value redeeming economy as well. Here’s an example via United and Star Alliance.
Round trip flights to Japan in the summer start around ~$1,500.
A similar itinerary on points? 35,000 points. That’s a redemption value of 4.2 cpp!
In this example, we transferred points from UR -> United Airlines. Then, we booked an Asiana Airlines operated flight since it’s part of Star Alliance. That’s the power of transfer/alliance partners right there.
In general, you’ll get a better deal redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points with airline partners, but Hyatt is the exception. I’ll show you why in a minute read more.
Recall the Grand Hyatt example earlier. For the same night, Hyatt only charges 25,000 points per night through their World of Hyatt rewards program. If you had transferred your UR points directly to Hyatt, you’re now able to redeem a night for 25,000 points vs. the 34,666 points via the Portal. That’s a redemption value of 2 cpp! Obligatory math: ($520 / 25,000 points) = 2.0 cpp.
To price out awards like these, you’ll have to conduct a search on the program website itself. In this example, I used the Hyatt website.
You can transfer your UR points to airline and hotel partners in your UR dashboard.
Redeeming for Statement Credit / Gift Cards / Apple Products
I’d advise you to never redeem your UR points via this method, but life happens and you may find yourself not traveling often. In this case, you’ll be able to redeem your UR points at a redemption value of 1 cpp for direct statement credit, retail gift cards, or Apple products.
That wraps up the Ultimate Rewards redemption overview. Remember to price out your desired redemption and optimize the value! Next time, I’ll walk through American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou points.