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Your bank or rewards credit card may only be as valuable as the points you earn. The best rewards portals let you redeem your points for cash and travel rewards. In some cases, you may even get a redemption bonus.

best rewards portals
Your bank rewards and credit card points can be most valuable when redeemed for award travel. Find the best rewards portals for you. Photo by Min An from Pexels

Best Rewards Portals

There are several bank rewards portals to consider. You may find that one has better value for you than another. For instance, you may enjoy the flexibility of Chase Ultimate Rewards for their travel transfer partners. Or you may prefer earning cash rewards and want a portal that will give you the most value.

What’s the best rewards program for you? Let’s take a look.

Best Rewards Portals: Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Ultimate Rewards is the best overall bank rewards program for most people. One reason why is that Chase Ultimate Rewards points have some of the highest redemption value for cash, travel, and gift card rewards. Another reason is that you have plenty of ways to earn bonus points.

It also helps that Chase has some of the best rewards credit cards for personal and business purchases.

Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards

You will need to own a Chase Bank-issued credit card from one of these card families:

  • Freedom (Best for cash rewards)
  • Ink Business (Best for cash or travel rewards)
  • Sapphire (Best for travel rewards)

There is also a Chase Sapphire banking account. However, this account earns bank interest–not Ultimate Rewards points.

Which Chase credit card you have determines how much you earn on select bonus categories. For example, the Chase Freedom® earns up to 5 points per $1 on rotating bonus categories to maximize your daily lifestyle. In the first quarter of 2020, you earn 5x points on the first $1,500 for gas stations, select streaming services, and internet, phone or cable service providers.

Another popular card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, earns 2 points per $1 on all travel and dining. Plus, if you use the ride-sharing app Lyft, you’ll earn 5x points per $1 spent.

All of the credit cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards earn unlimited 1 point per $1 spent on non-bonus purchases.

The information for the Chase Freedom® has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Shop through Chase

Logging into your Chase member account lets you explore other ways to earn bonus Ultimate Rewards. You may also see new card benefits such as free DoorDash DashPass.

In regards to Chase, their online shopping portal is one way to earn bonus points on online purchases. Chase partners with over 400 online retail brands including:

  • Adidas
  • Best Buy
  • Carter’s
  • Home Depot
  • Target
  • Under Armour

Most brands let you earn between 2 and 12 points per $1 versus the standard 1 point per $1.

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards

What makes the Ultimate Rewards one of the best rewards programs is their redemption options. Whether you have a cash or travel credit card, you can redeem your points for cash, travel, gift cards, or merchandise.

best rewards portals
Buy gift cards on sale to make each Chase Ultimate Rewards worth at least 1 cent each.

How Much Are Chase Ultimate Rewards Worth?

Here is the minimum redemption value for the universal redemption option:

  • Award travel booked on the Chase travel portal: 1 cent per point
  • Cash rewards (statement credit or bank deposit): 1 cent per point
  • Gift cards: 1 cent per point
  • Amazon.com credit: 0.8 cents per point
  • Apple Store credit: 0.8 cents per point

Travel Redemption Bonus

Your points are worth more when you have a Sapphire or Ink card with an annual fee.

For example, your points are worth 1.25 cents each for award travel with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. Each point is worth 1.5 cents each with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

These three cards also let you transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to over a dozen airline and hotel transfer partners. Some of the partners include United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and World of Hyatt.

Although the no annual fee Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom® Unlimited don’t have travel redemption bonuses or 1:1 point transfers, you can transfer your points if you have a Chase Sapphire or Chase Ink Business Preferred product.

Best Rewards Portals: Capital One

Capital One also has exciting rewards options. However, you must decide upfront if you prefer redeeming your points for cash or travel rewards. The Capital One cash rewards cards, like the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card, only let you redeem your rewards points for cash back or gift cards.

You have the most flexibility if you have a card that earns Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card miles (personal spending) or Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business (business spending). Both of these Capital One miles have the same redemption options and you can pool your balance if you earn each type.

Earning Capital One Miles

The Capital One travel credit cards earn points you can redeem for cash or travel rewards. More on that later.

You earn unlimited 2 miles per $1 with the Capital One Venture Rewards Card and Capital One Spark Miles for Business. These cards have a $0 annual fee for the first year and then $95 each card anniversary.

The no annual fee versions of each card also earn miles:

  • Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card: Earn 1.25 miles per $1 on all purchases
  • Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business: Earn 1.5 miles per $1 on all purchases

Each card may offer additional ways to earn bonus miles for a limited time. For example, the Capital One Spark Miles earns 5 miles per $1 on hotel and rental car bookings on the Capital One Travel portal.

The information for the Capital One® Spark® Miles Select for Business has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Redeeming Capital One Miles

The information for the Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you have a cash rewards card like the Capital One Quicksilver Card, Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card, or the Spark Cash offerings, your redemption options are straightforward. Your options are cash and gift cards.

With the Venture and Spark Miles cards, you have these redemption options:

  • Travel statement credits: 1 cent each
  • Book upcoming travel on Capital One Travel: 1 cent each
  • Airline and hotel point transfers: Varies
  • Gift cards: 0.8 cents each
  • Cash rewards: 0.8 cents each

Travel rewards are clearly your most valuable option when redeeming Capital One miles.

Learn more: Best Capital One Credit Cards for Travel

Best Rewards Portals: Citi ThankYou

Award travel fans can do well with a card that earns Citi ThankYou points. It’s also possible to redeem your points for cash and gift cards. However, your redemption value can be far less.

Another popular Citi credit card is the Citi® Double Cash Card. This card can earn 2% back on purchases. You earn 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. However, it doesn’t earn ThankYou points. Your purchase rewards are only redeemable for cash rewards with Citi Double Cash.

Earning Citi ThankYou Points

The information for the Citi Prestige® Credit Card,  and the Citigold® has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. 

Citi offers three cards that earn Citi ThankYou points. You may need to be strategic with which card(s) you own because of the bonus categories.

There are two different travel-centric credit cards. The premium Citi Prestige earns 5x ThankYou points on air travel and restaurants plus 3x points on cruises and hotels. Everything else earns 1 point per $1. You also get bonus statement credits (not ThankYou points) if you’re a Citigold member.

The Citi Premier® Card earns 3x points on air travel, hotels, supermarkets, restaurants, and gas station purchases, and 1x points for everything else.

Your third option is the Citi Rewards+℠ Card is best for maximizing lifestyle purchases. This card earns 2x points on the first $6,000 spent at supermarkets and gas stations. All other purchases earn 1 point per $1. Citi then rounds up your purchase rewards to the next 10. Instead of earning 22 points, you get 30 points, for instance. This round-up feature isn’t available to the Citi Premier® Card or Citi Prestige.

Redeeming Citi ThankYou Points

How much your Citi ThankYou points are worth, to some extent, depends on which of these three cards you earn. As a whole, your points are worth a fixed amount for each award option:

  • Award travel booked on ThankYou.com: 1 cent each
  • Gift cards: 1 cent each
  • Cash rewards: 0.5 cents each
  • Merchandise rewards: 0.8 cents each

If you shop at Amazon, you can redeem your points directly for an Amazon merchandise credit. This is a more valuable option than requesting cash rewards first.

Transferring Points

You can transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to airline partners with the Citi Premier® Card and Citi Prestige. Point transfers are not available for the Citi Rewards+.

10% Points Back

While the Citi Rewards+ has the most limited award travel redemption options of these three cards, you can get 10% of your redeemed points back.

Citi gives you 10% of your redeemed points back, up to 100,000 points per year. This can make each point worth 1.1 cents each when you redeem them for award travel or gift cards.

Related: Best Citi Credit Cards

Best Rewards Portals: American Express Membership Rewards

Closing out this comparison is American Express Membership Rewards. This is another robust bank rewards program that best for award travel and gift cards.

You can also redeem your Membership Rewards for cash or merchandise credits. However, these options have the lowest redemption values.

Earning Membership Rewards

American Express has an extensive credit card lineup making it easy to earn Membership Rewards.

Frequent flyers can choose a premium card like The Platinum Card® from American Express to earn 5x Membership Rewards on flights booked directly from the airline or on AmexTravel.com. Prepaid hotel bookings on AmexTravel.com also earn 5 points per $1. This card also comes with an impressive set of travel benefits including free airport lounge access, a $200 airline fee credit, and $200 in annual Uber ride credits. The annual fee is $550 (See Rates & Fees).

The American Express® Gold Card earns up to 4x Membership Rewards on dining, including takeaway and deliveries and on US supermarket purchases (up to $25,000, then 1x point). This card also earns 3x Membership Rewards on flights booked directly from the airline on AmexTravel.com. New American Express® Gold Card cardholders can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months. The annual fee is $250 (See Rates & Fees).

Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards

If you want a card with no annual fee, consider the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card. You earn 2x points on the first $6,000 at US supermarkets and then 1 point per $1. All remaining purchases earn 1 point per $1. Making at least 20 card purchases per billing cycle gives you an extra 20% bonus on your net earnings.

The information for the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card has been collected independently by Johnny Jet. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Amex Offers

You may receive curated shopping offers to earn bonus Membership Rewards. The “Amex Offers” program offers one-time bonus offers. Some offers let you earn a cash bonus. Others may award Membership Rewards.

You will need to activate the offer and complete the purchase requirements to qualify for the bonus.

Booking Travel

It’s also possible to earn bonus Membership Rewards when you book travel even if travel purchases are not a bonus category. You will need to book select purchases on AmexTravel.com to earn the bonus.

Redeeming American Express Membership Rewards

All American Express credit cards earning Membership Rewards points have the same redemption value. Even the cards with no annual fee let you transfer your points to the airline and hotel travel partners.

Here are the redemption values for each Membership Reward:

  • Award travel booked on AmexTravel.com: 0.7 to 1 cent each
  • Airline and hotel point transfers: Varies
  • Gift cards: 1 cent each
  • Merchandise rewards: 0.5 to 0.7 cents each
  • Purchase statement credits: 0.6 cents each

When redeeming your Membership Rewards directly through American Express, your points are most valuable for award flights booked on AmexTravel and Fine Hotels & Resorts stays.

best rewards portals
These are some of the airlines you can transfer your American Express Membership Rewards to.

1:1 Point Transfers

A better option can be transferring your points (often at a 1:1 ratio) to the many airline partners. Transfer partners include Delta, British Airways, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and others. This is a better option when your miles are worth at least 1 cent each by booking award flights directly from the airlines. This is most often the cash for most award flights.

Pay with Points at Checkout

Membership Rewards also has more merchandise partners than the other bank rewards portals. Shopping partners include Amazon, Best Buy, Boxed, Saks Fifth Avenue, Walmart (and others). The only downside is that your points are only worth 0.7 cents each when checking out with Membership Rewards.

Summary of the Best Rewards Portals

Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One Miles, Citi ThankYou, and American Express Membership Rewards are some of the most valuable bank rewards. In most cases, your points have the highest face value when redeemed for travel rewards. But the cash and gift card rewards are useful too.

FAQs

Which bank rewards point has the most redemption options?

American Express Membership Rewards have the most redemption options. They are redeemable for:

  • Award travel (flights, hotel nights, rental cars, taxis, etc.)
  • Transfer points to airline and hotel partners
  • Gift cards (retail and restaurant)
  • Merchandise credits (Pay with points for online purchases)
  • Cash statement credits (Cover recent purchases)

Membership Rewards are worth the most when redeemed for award travel booked on AmexTravel.com. Each point can be worth 1 cent each.

If you like to travel and like redeeming points directly from an airline or hotel, you can almost always find above-average value by transferring your points to an airline or hotel partner. Some of the Amex transfer partners include Delta Airlines, British Airways, Air France Flying Blue, Emirates, Singapore Airlines.

What is the most valuable bank rewards point?

Chase Ultimate Rewards have the highest overall redemption value of the largest bank rewards portals. Your points can be worth 1 cent each for award travel, cash, and gift cards.

With certain cards, you can get a travel redemption bonus when booking award travel on the Chase travel portal. The highest value is with the Chase Sapphire Reserve where each point is worth 1.5 cents each.

You can also transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to airline and hotel partners with either Chase Sapphire product or the Chase Ink Business Preferred. When keeping your points for international first-class award flights, you can find redemption values as high as 8 cents per point.

Do bank rewards points expire?

The rewards points for these programs don’t expire unless you close your account or it falls into bad standing:

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Capital One Venture
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Citi ThankYou

Regularly earning points with a co-brand miles credit card or hotel credit card can also prevent your loyalty balance from expiring.

For rates and fees of The American Express® Gold Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

Josh Patoka
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