How to Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

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How to earn Chase points

Chase Ultimate Rewards is the universal darling of rewards programs, and for good reason. Ultimate Rewards offers the most versatile rewards system, with an array of high-value redemption options that include flights, hotels, cruises, activities, concerts, gift cards and exclusive experiences. You can even transfer your points to 12 popular travel rewards programs. One could argue that Chase Ultimate Rewards points offer the highest value of any rewards program. At the very least, they're easily in the top three.

To round it all out, it's extremely easy to stack up tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of Ultimate Rewards points. With some of the best rewards credit cards on the market, high earn rates, generous sign-up bonuses and perks like referral bonuses, playing the Ultimate Rewards game could save you hundreds of dollars per year in travel expenses. Here are the best ways to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

What is Chase Ultimate Rewards?

Chase Ultimate Rewards is Chase's credit card rewards program. You can earn Ultimate Rewards points with select Chase rewards credit cards, and those points can be exchanged for travel purchases, experiences, gift cards, cash back, Amazon or Apple purchases, and more. They can also be transferred to a list of travel partners that include both airline and hotel loyalty programs.

How much are Chase Ultimate Rewards points worth?

Chase Ultimate Rewards homepage
Screenshots in this article are taken from the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, August 2019.

A Chase Sapphire cardholder's point value when redeemed for travel:

When redeemed for travel purchases through Chase's Ultimate Rewards portal, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.0 to 1.5 cents each. Their standard value is 1.0 cent each, but owning one of the following Chase credit cards boosts the point value for travel redemptions as follows.

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders: 1.25 cents per point
  • Chase Ink Business Preferred cardholders: 1.25 cents per point
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders: 1.5 cents per point

If you redeem Ultimate Rewards points for Amazon purchases, you'll only get 0.8 cent per point. Gift card and cash-back redemptions typically get you 1.0 cents per point.

Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points

On the other hand, transferring Ultimate Rewards points to one of Chase's airline and hotel partners can get you up to 3.0 or 4.0 cents per point, but this all depends on how they're redeemed. You'll find out how to maximize Ultimate Rewards points redemptions at the bottom of this article.

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners

You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to a list of 12 Chase transfer partners, which includes nine airline rewards programs and three hotel rewards programs. Your points will transfer at a 1:1 ratio, so if you transfer 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points to United, you'll end up with 50,000 United miles in your United MileagePlus account. Transfers usually process instantly, although sometimes they can take 24 to 48 hours.

Airline transfer partners
Hotel transfer partners
Aer Lingus AerClubIHG Rewards Club
British Airways Executive ClubMarriott Bonvoy
Flying Blue Air France KLMWorld of Hyatt
Iberia Plus
JetBlue TrueBlue
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
United Airlines MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Chase's main Ultimate Rewards-earning credit cards

The best way to earn Ultimate Rewards points is through sign-up bonuses and regular spending on one of Chase's three main Ultimate Rewards-earning credit cards.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is an excellent starter credit card for people looking to get their feet wet. The annual fee is reasonable, and the sign-up bonus is worth $750 in travel spending when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Frequent travelers will earn big with this credit card, thanks to the worldwide travel and dining bonus category.

The sticker price on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® might scare you away, but most travelers can easily get more overall value from this card than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. The $300 annual travel credit applies to a wide range of travel purchases, from flights to ferry tolls and parking garages. As long as you use this benefit, the annual fee drops to $150. The bonuses you receive for spending and the airport lounge access make up for the rest.

If you qualify for a business credit card, the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card offers an excellent value. You'll get the same low annual fee that comes with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, but you'll earn a rewards rate similar to that on the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and you'll get the chance to earn the highest sign-up bonus of any Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card. If you spend a lot of money on travel; shipping; advertising purchases; and internet, cable and phone services, you'll earn big with this card.

Chase cash-back credit cards that can earn Ultimate Rewards points

Chase also offers a series of cash-back credit cards. While these credit cards earn cash back by default, they allow you to transfer your cash-back earnings to Ultimate Rewards points as long as you already have at least one Chase credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points.

Every dollar you earn in cash back can be converted into 100 Ultimate Rewards points. This presents better value, as you can get anywhere from 1.25 cents to 4 cents per point through the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

For example, let's say you already have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® credit card. You open the Chase Freedom® credit card and earn the $150 cash-back sign-up bonus, and then convert that bonus to Ultimate Rewards points in your Chase Sapphire Reserve® account. You'll get 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points, which is worth $225 in travel spending for Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders.

With $0 annual fee, there's no reason to skip the Chase Freedom® or Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card to boost your Ultimate Rewards point balance. The deciding factor between the two comes down to your spending habits. The Chase Freedom® offers big bonus points on up to $1,500 per quarter spent in rotating categories when you activate, which have previously included gas stations, streaming services, grocery stores, home improvement stores, drugstores and tolls.

If you max out the bonus category each quarter, you'll earn $300 or 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points per year. This card also comes with a generous sign-on bonus of $150, which can be worth $187.50 to $225 in travel spending when transferred to an existing Chase Ultimate Rewards account.

If you don't think you'll spend much in the bonus spending categories offered by the Chase Freedom®, it's better to go with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. This card features an unlimited 1.5% cash back offer. You can also earn a sign-up bonus of $200 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

If you're in need of a business card, the Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card offers a generous sign-up bonus and the same regular rewards rate as the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. However, if you're able to spend $20,000 in your first year, the current Chase Freedom Unlimited® bonus is worth more.

The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card is the business card version of the Chase Freedom®. For folks who prefer cards with rotating bonus categories, this credit card offers a generous sign-up bonus that's worth $625 to $750 when transferred to an existing Chase Ultimate Rewards account.

How to maximize earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points

There are a number of ways to boost your Chase Ultimate Rewards points balance, from qualifying for sign-up bonuses and juggling multiple credit cards to using Chase's shopping portal and taking advantage of referral bonuses.

Credit card sign-up bonuses

Sign-up bonuses are one of the best ways to quickly boost your points balance, and Chase offers some of the most generous ones on the market. While you'll get the chance to earn 50,000 to 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points through Chase's sign-up bonuses, they do come with hefty minimum spending requirements ranging from $4,000 to $5,000 within the first three months.

The best way to make sure you qualify for a sign-up bonus is to apply for the credit card right before you need to make a big purchase. For many people, this might occur before the holiday season or summer vacations. Timing your credit card application before a major trip will also help you earn more bonus points on travel spending, and if you're applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, it will help you use up your $300 annual travel credit.

There are also a number of purchases you can put on your credit card that you might not know about. Consider putting your bills on your credit card. You can also consider prepaying large expenses, such as car and homeowners insurance premiums or cable and telephone bills, to meet the spending requirement.

However, it's crucial that you only use these methods as long as you're still able to pay off your bill in full every month. Otherwise, interest fees will cancel out any rewards you earn.

Spending in bonus categories

The main way to earn Ultimate Rewards points is through your everyday spending. Each card comes with different bonus categories, so you want to choose wisely according to your spending habits in order to maximize your earnings.

If you spend more on dining, opt for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and if you have a business and spend more on business-related purchases, such as shipping, telecom services and advertising, the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card might be better suited for your needs. All of Chase's Ultimate Rewards credit cards reward travel spending with bonus points, although the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card reward it at a higher rate.

Rotating multiple Chase rewards credit cards

Because you can convert Chase's cash back to Ultimate Rewards points if you have an Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card, combining two or three different Chase rewards credit cards and rotating them based on what you're purchasing is often the best strategy for maximizing your earnings.

The table below lays out the bonus spending categories for each Chase rewards credit card.

Credit cardBonus spending categories
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardTravel and dining worldwide
Chase Sapphire Reserve®Travel and dining worldwide
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit CardTravel and select business purchases
Chase Freedom®Rotates quarterly
Chase Freedom Unlimited®All purchases
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit CardSelect business purchases
Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit CardAll purchases

Note that past quarterly bonus categories for the Chase Freedom have included:

  • Gas stations
  • Streaming services
  • Grocery stores
  • Home improvement stores
  • Drug stores
  • Tolls
  • Department stores
  • Wholesale clubs
  • Lyft
  • Walgreens
  • PayPal
  • Internet, cable and phone services
  • Chase Pay, Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay

For example, you might carry the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, the Chase Freedom® and the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card card. You'll want to pull out the Chase Sapphire Reserve® when you spend money on travel and dining to earn 3 points per dollar spent, the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card when you spend money on select business purchases to earn 5 points per dollar spent, and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® for all other purchases, which will earn you 1.5 points per dollar spent.

Referral bonuses

Many of Chase's rewards credit cards also offer bonus points if you refer a friend who applies for the credit card through your referral link and is approved. Chase calls this its Refer-a-friend program. Referrals can earn you anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points each, although there's a cap on how much you can earn per year. The table below lays out the referral bonuses for each Chase credit card that participates in the program.

Credit cardReferral bonusAnnual limit
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardEarn 15,000 bonus points for each approved referral75,000 bonus points or 5 referrals per year
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit CardEarn 20,000 bonus points for each approved referral100,000 bonus points or 5 referrals per year
Chase Freedom®Earn $50 cash back (5,000 bonus points) for each approved referral$500 cash back (50,000 bonus points) or 10 referrals per year
Chase Freedom Unlimited®Earn $100 cash back (10,000 bonus points) for each approved referral$500 cash back (50,000 bonus points) or 5 referrals per year
Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit CardEarn $150 cash back (15,000 bonus points) for each approved referral$750 cash back (75,000 bonus points) or 5 referrals per year

Chase shopping portal

Earn bonus points

Log in to your Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and select "Earn Bonus Points" from the menu at the top. You will be taken to Chase's shopping portal, where you can earn bonus points by shopping online with select retailers.

While it's not worth spending money you weren't planning to spend in order to earn points, the shopping portal can help you increase your rewards on purchases you already planned to make. Recent bonuses include 2 points per dollar spent at Neiman Marcus, Walgreens and Samsung as well as 4 points per dollar spent at Adidas, Under Armour and Sephora.

Chase shopping portal

Buying gift cards

Using your rewards credit card to buy gift cards that you'll use for purchases you already planned on making can help you boost earnings in two ways. However, you must be able to pay off your bill in full each month to avoid interest fees eating away at your rewards.

This method can help you reach a minimum spending requirement to achieve a sign-up bonus. If you're $500 short of meeting a minimum spending requirement and know you spend money on Amazon regularly, you could purchase a $500 Amazon gift card to get the sign-up bonus.

You can also buy gift cards in order to take advantage of rotating bonus spending categories. If you have the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, for example, and the bonus category for this quarter is grocery stores, you can purchase gift cards to your local grocery store to boost your bonus earnings.

Although it's rare, it's worth noting that some gift card purchases can be coded as a cash advance, which usually result in additional fees and a higher interest rate. To avoid this, make sure you have your credit card set up with a cash advance limit of $0. You can do this by calling Chase.

Combining Chase Ultimate Rewards points across multiple accounts

If you do open multiple Chase rewards credit cards, you'll eventually want to combine your points into one account so you can spend them all together. You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points between accounts in minutes through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

Log in to your account and select "Combine Points" from the top or sidebar menu.

Combine points

Once you've done this, the window will show all of your Chase accounts and the point balance for each account. You'll have to select the account you want to move points from and the account you want to move points to.

Combine Chase points
From there, you'll be asked how many points you want to move. You can transfer any number of points between Chase accounts.
Move Chase points

Turning Chase cash-back rewards into Ultimate Rewards points

The process of moving your cash-back rewards to an Ultimate Rewards-earning account to convert them into points is essentially the same as the process for combining points across multiple Chase accounts explained above. You'll select "Combine points" from the menu, select your cash-back credit card in the "Move my points from" column, and select an Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card in the "Move my points to" column.

As long as you can make use of Ultimate Rewards points for travel-related purchases, they're worth significantly more than cash back.

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Once you've earned a sizable balance of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, it's time to learn about the best ways to redeem those points. The Ultimate Rewards program offers a variety of different redemption options, but they're not created equal.

Redemption methodValue per point
Travel purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal1.25 to 1.5 cents
Transfer to travel partners1.0 to 4.0 cents
Gift cards1.0 to 1.1 cents
Cash back1.0 cent
Amazon purchases0.8 cent
Experiences1.0 cent

By a long shot, you'll get the most for your points by redeeming them for travel purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal and transferring points to Ultimate Rewards travel partners. You'll get the least return on your points if you redeem them for gift cards, cash back, experiences and purchases.

When it comes to redeeming your points for travel, choosing between Ultimate Rewards portal purchases and transferring to travel partners depends on what you're buying. There are certain travel purchases, such as tours, tourist shuttles and cruises, that you can only make through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

However, if you're purchasing a flight or a hotel room, you can sometimes get more value from transferring your points to a travel partner. If booking through one of Chase's travel partners will get you more than 1.25 cents or 1.5 cents per point, depending on which card you hold, then it makes sense to transfer your points. If not, it makes more sense to just book your travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

There are several benefits to booking through the Ultimate Rewards portal. First of all, most airline partners will charge taxes and possibly fuel surcharges on award redemptions, and these can range from $5 to several hundred dollars. On the other hand, when you book through the Ultimate Rewards portal, taxes and fees will be included in your purchase, so you really pay nothing out of pocket. Secondly, when you book through the Ultimate Rewards portal, you'll be earning frequent-flyer miles and credit toward airline status. Most airlines don't let you accrue miles on award flights. Of course, the travel portal also offers a wider range of options, with far more hotels and airlines and more availability.

With the rise of low-cost carriers, low flight prices and the declining value of hotel points, it's becoming less likely that transferring your points will present a greater value than spending them through the Ultimate Rewards portal. However, there are still some hidden gem redemptions that can get you lots of value. It usually makes more sense to transfer your points when you're purchasing business or first-class flights. It's also a great option for booking a last-minute flight or hotel room or when you're booking a popular hotel during a holiday or major event. Transferring points to World of Hyatt to book luxury Hyatt hotels still offers a great value, too.

Do Chase Ultimate Rewards points expire?

Chase Ultimate Rewards points never expire as long as your Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card account remains open. If you cancel all of your Ultimate Rewards-earning cards, or if Chase closes them, you'll lose your Ultimate Rewards points.

To avoid this, make sure your account remains in good standing. Always pay your bill on time, follow the card's terms and conditions, and don't open more cards than you can manage.

Final thoughts

Chase offers a number of excellent Ultimate Rewards-earning credit cards. By achieving the sign-up bonus and maximizing your spending in bonus categories on even one of these credit cards, you could easily collect close to six figures' worth of Ultimate Rewards points after a year or so. If you're comfortable with rotating multiple Chase credit cards, you could earn enough Ultimate Rewards points to cover thousands of dollars in travel expenses. Those are the main methods for earning Ultimate Rewards points, but using strategies such as referrals and Chase's shopping portal can give you a nice boost as well.

Overall, Chase Ultimate Rewards is one of the best rewards programs—not only for its high-value, flexible redemption system but also for the ease with which you can accrue points. Whether you're just dipping your toes into the world of credit card rewards or you're already waist-deep, earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points is a must.

The information related to the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Chase Freedom®, Ink Business Preferred&#8480 Credit Card, Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card and Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Elizabeth is a personal finance writer specializing in credit cards, student loans, financial planning, and small business. Her work has appeared on The Motley Fool, Business Insider, Yahoo! Finance, and Bankrate. She’s an avid credit card points collector and ex-business traveler who now enjoys frequent trips abroad for leisure.

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.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).