How to Maximize Your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

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If you're thinking about getting a Chase rewards credit card, there are quite a few options. But what you may not know right away is how you can maximize your rewards. Many of the rewards cards Chase offers talk about cash back rewards, but what they don't tell you until you read the fine print is that you may also redeem your rewards for various other options available through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program. In this article, we'll explain the nuances of the program and offer some advice on how to maximize your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points.

How to Get Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

You may earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points by signing up for one of the following Chase credit cards:

Here's the Secret...

Each of the cards listed above fall into one of two tiers in terms of the amount of rewards you're going to receive. In the first tier, you'll earn the same number of points. However, when you redeem points, it'll be at one cent per point, or $1 for every 100 points. The cards in this tier include the Chase Freedom®, Chase Ink Cash®, and Chase Sapphire®.

The higher tier rewards cards include the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Ink Plus®. With these cards, you'll earn the same number of points as you would with the lower tier cards. However, when you redeem your points for travel rewards using the Chase Ultimate Rewards website, you'll get $1.25 for every 100 points. So your points are worth more! Plus, you can transfer your points to Chase rewards partners on a 1:1 basis.

A Special Note - you may also earn rewards points with the Chase Palladium Card, Ink Bold®, and J.P. Morgan Select. However, the first is only available to Chase private banking clients, and the latter two are no longer offered to new applicants.

How to Get the Best Chase Ultimate Rewards Cards

The type of credit card you can qualify for will depend on your credit score. The highest reward tier is, of course, reserved for those with excellent credit. If you have good credit, and you're looking to improve your credit in order to qualify for higher rewards cards, LendingTree offers a 7-step guide to improving your credit. You may also be interested in getting your free credit score. When you do, LendingTree will offer you advice and tips for improving your credit score.

How to Spend Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

You may spend your reward points in a variety of ways, including cash back, gift cards, travel rewards, including airfare, hotels, rental cars, travel activities, and cruises. All travel rewards may be booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program with a travel agent. You may also choose to transfer your points to a travel rewards partner program on a 1:1 basis.

Rewards Categories

Chase Ultimate Rewards categories include:

  • Cash Back
  • Gift Cards
  • Travel Rewards
    • Airline tickets
    • Hotel Reservations
    • Travel Actives (like helicopter rides or jeep tours)
    • Cruises
    • Rental Cars
  • Point Transfer to Partner Programs

Cash Back

You can redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for cash back—one dollar for 100 points. It may take up to three business days for your cash to post to your account.

Gift Cards

You can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for gift cards at a variety of stores at various points intervals. For example, you could redeem 1,000 points for a $10 gift card at Best Buy, AMC theaters, or iTunes. Or you could redeem 2,500 points for $25 at Amazon.com, Bed Bath & Beyond, Pier 1 Imports, Starbucks, The Limited, Applebees, or your choice of over 77 other partners.

Gift card categories include:

  • Department Stores
  • Electronics
  • Gas Stations
  • Office Supplies
  • Restaurants
  • Shopping
  • Travel
  • Entertainment

Travel Rewards

You can redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for airline tickets, hotel accommodations, car rentals, and cruises. When booking flights, hotels, rental cars, activities and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can pay with your points, your Chase card, or a combination of the two.

Airlines include:

  • British Airways
  • Korean Air
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic Airlines

Hotels include:

  • Hyatt
  • IHG
  • Marriott
  • Ritz-Carlton

Transfer Partners

The last option for using your points is to transfer your reward points to one of the Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners. Partners include:

  • Amtrak
  • British Airways
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • IHG
  • Korean Air
  • Marriott
  • Ritz-Carlton
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic Airlines

Points can be transferred on a 1:1 basis, but the value of your points will depend on the value of the travel partner's points.

Other Travel Options

If you're an avid fan of United Airlines or Southwest Airlines, Chase offers two other rewards programs that may be worth considering instead of the Ultimate Rewards Program. Chase also offers a hotel rewards credit card if you're interested in that. Just keep in mind that these options are different rewards programs from the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program, and the redemption of your points/miles will not be as flexible.

United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card

United MileagePlus® Explorer Business Card is a strong contender for travel rewards, since it offers 2X reward miles per dollar for business expenses at restaurants, gas stations, and office supply stores. It also has a signing bonus and annual reward bonus that allows you to earn 60,000 in your first year when you meet the minimum spending requirements.

Southwest Airlines® Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card

The second option is for Southwest Airlines diehards. Here, you have the same opportunity to earn double miles on every dollar you spend with Southwest. And you have an opportunity for 56,000 bonus points in the first year when you meet the minimum spending requirements.

Marriott Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card

The Marriott Rewards® Premier Business credit card offers you the option to earn five points per dollar on every dollar you spend on Marriott hotel reservations. With over 4,000 hotel locations worldwide, that's a lot of points you could earn! In addition, you'll earn two points per dollar on airline tickets, car rentals, restaurants, office supply stores, and telecommunication services, including Internet, cable, and phone services. Plus, you could earn up to 70,000 bonus points when you meet the minimum spending requirements. That could be a whole lot of free hotel stays!

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