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How to Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

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Chase Ultimate Rewards stands out as one of the most valuable and flexible points programs currently available to consumers. Chase offers five separate credit cards which all earn points in the Ultimate Rewards program. You can earn points in multiple ways, including spending in specific categories, referring friends and using the Chase Online Shopping Portal. The first and easiest way to earn Ultimate Rewards points is simply by signing up and spending a set amount in your first three months.

Methods for Earning Ultimate Rewards Points

Earning Ultimate Rewards Points Through Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses

Often, the quickest way to earn a ton of Ultimate Rewards points is through credit card bonuses. All five cards which earn Ultimate Rewards Points all come with welcome offers, which award points if you spend a set amount in the first three months of your account opening.

TypeCardAnnual FeeSign-up Bonus
Personal Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ $450 100,000 points after $4,000 spent in first 3 months
Personal Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card $95, waived first year 50.000 points after $4,000 spent in first 3 months
Personal Chase Freedom® $0 15,000 points after $500 spent in first 3 months
Personal Chase Freedom Unlimited® $0 15,000 points after $500 spent in first 3 months
Business Ink Plus® Business Credit Card $95 60,000 points after $5,000 spent in first 3 months
Business Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card  $0 30,000 points after $3,000 spent in first 3 months

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is the optimal choice for consumers looking to earn the most points quickly. However, you should only apply if you already plan to spend at least $4,000 over your first 3 months with the card. The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ will deliver more points, but requires a serious investment due to the annual fee. Otherwise, you may prefer the low $500 spending requirement of Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

For business owners, the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card offers the biggest Ultimate Rewards bonus. However, it also charges an annual fee of $95. Therefore, you should weigh that before signing up. If your business doesn't spend enough annually to justify the higher annual fee, the extra points won't matter.

Among personal cards, the Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Unlimited® are the most economical. You need to spend just $500 in 3 months for the 15,000 bonus points. That works out to a ratio of 30 points per $1. This in addition to the points you earn as part of the cards' categorical spending bonuses. However, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, whose sign-up bonus ratio works out to just 12.5 points per dollar, allows you to earn more bonus points in total, albeit at the cost of a spending requirement 8 times greater than the other two cards.

If You Missed Out On A Better Bonus, Call Chase

Sometimes, new cardholders discover that the sign-up bonus for their card has increased shortly after they enter the Ultimate Rewards program. In cases where 90 days or fewer have passed between your sign-up and the bonus increase, a simple phone call to request an adjustment to the discrepancy can net you the higher bonus. This isn't a guarantee, but it never hurts to call and ask.

Spending to Earn Category Bonuses

The best way to earn Ultimate Rewards in the long-term is through using the affiliated credit cards. All five earn at least one point per dollar spent. With all of these cards, however, certain bonus categories allow you to earn points at a much faster rate. We break this down by card below.

You can get more than one card and combine your accounts. This allows you to pool your points together. A popular combination among credit card aficionados is to get both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Freedom® -- the two complement each other nicely.

Note: Even though some of these are marketed as cash back credit cards, they do in fact reward you Ultimate Rewards points. For example, a card that says 5% cash back, really means 5 points per $1.

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠

The Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ is luxury travel credit card with a $450 annual fee. As the most expensive Ultimate Rewards credit card, it earns cardholders the most points. You get 3x reward points on travel and dining at restaurants, and 1x points everywhere else. Plus, there is a 100,000 bonus points available up for grabs. To qualify, you must spend at least $4,000 within the first 3 months of account opening. This is the largest Ultimate Rewards bonus we’ve seen.

Because of its annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ won’t be for everyone. The card is best suited for individuals who travel frequently and call the airport their second home. It comes with airport lounge benefits and a $300 annual travel credit – together these are valued at $699. Anyone who can take full advantage of these two benefits will be coming out ahead by using this card.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is geared towards earning bonuses on travel and dining expenses. It awards 2 points per dollar in those categories with no limit. The travel category covers not only airfare and hotel reservations, but also public transport, taxis and services like Uber, car rentals, parking fees and tolls. Dining includes both sit-down and take-out food, so you will earn double points from casual eats just as easily as with fine dining. 

Because of the wide range of purchases associated with travel spending, we suggest you call an Ultimate Rewards representative whenever you have a question of whether a given transaction will earn you double points. 

Chase Freedom®

The Chase Freedom® can earn you 5 points per dollar on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter. After that, it gets you just 1 point per $1 for the rest of the quarter. This is by far the most complicated card in terms of earning rewards. You need to keep track of the rotating categories throughout the year if you hope to maximize your rewards. Those who put in the extra legwork, however, are awarded one of the best rates on earning Ultimate Rewards.

You should review the categories selected by Chase at the start of each quarter and consider how much you will be able to spend in those categories. Keep in mind that you must visit the Chase Freedom calendar to activate your card and begin receiving bonus points. 

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Unlike the Chase Freedom®, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® is extremely simple to use. You get 1.5 points per dollar spent in any category, and no limitation on that rate, this card is a great option if you would prefer not to invest any additional time in keeping track of what you buy and when you buy it, as you do with cards like Chase Freedom®. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is also best for people who do not spend heavily in any one category, like travel or dining, but rather find that their budget is fairly evenly spread across a wide range of different expenses.

Ink Plus® Business Credit Card

One of two cards geared towards business use, the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card has bonuses focused on office supply stores, telecommunications services, and ground travel. The largest bonus earnings come from the 5 points per dollar you gain from money spent at office supply stores, including Staples, Office Max and Office Depot. The same bonus rate applies to services like Internet, TV, mobile phones, and landlines. Keep in mind that these 5-point-rates are capped at the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases each year. Gas station purchases and hotel bookings earn 2 points per dollar, although you must book directly with the hotels to qualify for the bonus. Likewise, the 2-points-per-dollar categories are capped at the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases each account anniversary year.

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card allows you to earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year. The spending cap is significantly lower than what we saw on the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card. Because the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card charges no annual fee, it does represent a more economical points-earning option than the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card. You don't have to spend money to make up for the $95 deficit.

This card also offers a rate of 2 points per dollar for combined gas station and restaurant purchases, on that same $25k annual limit. If your small business expenses involve restaurant-based meetings or events more often than traveling and staying at hotels, you may want to consider the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card as a means of earning extra Ultimate Rewards points.

How to Choose the Right Credit Card for Earning Ultimate Rewards Points

We built a tool that allows you to compare multiple credit cards at a glance. We reduced all the points down to a dollar value, which allows you to make more of a apples-to-apples comparison. Input your spending below to view our estimated value for each card.

Edit Monthly Spend: $1,430
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Card Annual Fee 2-yr Net Rewards Rate

The Net Rewards Rate is equal to the Rewards Value over two years divided by the total spending. The total spending is equal to the values entered into the tool and multiplied by 24 months. See the Rewards Value note to see details on how it is calculated.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Bonus Value

The bonus field shows our estimate for the value of the card’s sign-up bonus. If the bonus is point or mile based, we multiply the total bonus points/miles by our estimate for their value to arrive at a dollar equivalent. We display $0 if there is no bonus or if the user doesn’t qualify for the bonus based on the current spending entered into the tool.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

2-yr Rewards Value

The Rewards Value is calculated by adding together the rewards earned from charging purchases to the card over two years and any sign-up bonuses (if applicable). They are then multiplied by our estimated point/mile value, with any annual fees (if applicable) subtracted. All values are based on our own estimates for the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using a card.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95 2.86%
$625
50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
$1,028
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
APR 16.99% - 23.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 39,840 x $0.013 = $498
Bonuses
50,000 x $0.013 = $625
Less Annual Fees -$95
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 1,028
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
$0 1.85%
$150
Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening;Earn a $25 Bonus when you add your first authorized user and make a purchase within this same 3-month period
$665
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee $0
APR 15.99% - 24.74% Variable

Card Details

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase — it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 51,480 x $0.01 = $515
Bonuses
0 x $0.01 = $150
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 665
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
$0 1.79%
$300
Earn $300 bonus cash back when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
$643
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee $0
APR 14.24% - 20.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn $300 bonus cash back when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Named "A Great Card for Small Businesses" – Kiplinger's Personal Finance, September 2016
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No Annual Fee

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 343 x $1 = $343
Bonuses
0 x $1 = $300
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 643
Chase Freedom®
$0 1.37%
$150
Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
$493
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee $0
APR 15.99% - 24.74% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter like gas stations, restaurants and drugstores
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 343 x $1 = $343
Bonuses
0 x $1 = $150
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 493

Other Ways to Earn Ultimate Rewards Points

Beyond the sign-up bonuses, Chase has established multiple avenues for credit card holders to build up Ultimate Rewards points, with only slight differences from card to card. 

Referral Bonuses and Authorized Users

Chase maintains a bonus of either 5,000 or 10,000 points per referral. All you have to do is get a friend to sign-up for a card through a special link you send them. Capped at 50,000 points per year, the referral bonus is subject to change in amount and availability; not all cards are eligible, but that can change on occasion. If you don’t qualify at first, check Chase’s Refer-a-Friend site from time to time to see if your card becomes eligible. 

Some cards will also award you for adding an authorized user to the account. For the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase offers a 5,000 point bonus if you add an authorized user to your account and make your first purchase within the first 3 months. This can be useful if you are already interested in adding another trusted user, like a spouse or other family member, whose purchases with the card will earn points under the same terms as your own.

Staying Up-to-Date with Special Promotions

In addition to the usual bonus earning rates we have covered, Chase will offer new promotions and points-earning rates from time to time. These temporary promotions may not catch your attention on their own, so if you wish to truly maximize your Ultimate Rewards points, call in periodically to check for anything you may have missed.

One important but simple example is to keep an eye on the sign-up bonus for your card for the first 90 days after you sign up. If it increases from the bonus you signed up for, you can call in to request the new bonus amount, which Chase will often grant. 

Buying Gift Cards to Translate Spending Across Categories

Many retailers carry a selection of gift cards that can be spent with other merchants, both online and brick-and-mortar. These can provide a means of translating your purchases under a bonus category into a less points-friendly expense. For example, Staples, an office supply store which yields 5 points per dollar with the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card and the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, offers gift cards to places ranging from Starbucks to Home Depot, which are not bonus categories for either of those cards.

Warning: Sometimes, the purchase of a gift card may be flagged as a cash advance. This is an extremely expensive transaction that comes with fees and higher APR attached. After purchasing a gift card, make sure it registered as a purchase. If it went through as a cash advance, you will not receive any points, and will only end up losing money. You can read more about these types of transactions in our detailed guide here.

Using the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall

The Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall is another easy way to earn points. If you have a big purchase coming up you can get anywhere between 1 extra point per $1 to 25 points, depending on the store. The most common bonuses range between 1-2 points. As of August 2016, the mall includes 242 stores. The brands range from Apple to Rite Aid and REI. When we examined prices on the Ultimate Rewards mall we didn’t find any price discrepancies. The dozen-or-so websites we checked had prices that matched up with the original website. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about being up-charged.

Clicking through to one of the stores takes you to their respective online portals where you can complete the purchase. Be careful that you don’t close the merchant’s website. If you do, you will have to go through the Chase portal once again to get the extra points.

Comments and Questions

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program. 

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products. For more information please see our Advertiser Disclosure.