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The best credit card rewards program on the scene right now is Chase Ultimate Rewards points. While other rewards programs have weakened the redemption ratios when redeeming the points for rewards, Chase has maintained the value of each Ultimate Rewards point with the minimum value being one cent each. They even offer several credit cards that make each point worth 1.25 cents or 1.5 cents apiece when redeemed for travel rewards. Learn more about these best rewards credit cards 2019.

Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

An equally valuable feature of Chase Ultimate Rewards is that they can also be transferred on a 1:1 basis to most major airlines and hotel partners. Long story short, Chase has made Ultimate Rewards some of the easiest points to earn and redeem for your next trip.

Quick Tip: The best way to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points is with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred perks including travel insurance, point-earning opportunities, and more.

You can redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points for cash back statement credits or gift cards for a 1% redemption rate, the “gold standard” for a credit card rewards program. The points are most valuable when redeemed for travel rewards using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Alternatively, they are valuable when transferring them to one of the participating hotel or airline partners on a 1:1 basis. This allows you to book directly from the carrier or hotel.

To have the ability to transfer or redeem points, you will need to have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink credit cards. The Freedom and the Business Ink Cash credit cards can also redeem points for travel rewards with the Chase Travel Portal. But, you will need to own either of the Sapphire Products or the annual fee Ink cards to have the option to transfer points to a partner.

This guide will walk you through the best ways to transfer your points to the various travel partners or redeem through Chase for the ultimate travel experience! 

delta credit cards

What Are Chase Ultimate Rewards Points?

Before we get too far into it, let’s talk about what exactly Chase Ultimate Rewards are. Chase Ultimate Rewards are credit card points that select Chase-issued credit cards earn from purchase rewards.  The base reward is 1 point per $1 spent, although each credit card awards bonus points on select spending categories ranging from 2 points per $1 spent up to 5 points per $1 spent.

As the Sapphire Reserve and Sapphire Preferred are Chase’s travel rewards credit card offerings, they earn 3 points and 2 points, respectively, on travel (once eligible) and dining expenses. While Ink Plus® Business Card can earn 5x points per $1 spent on the first $50,000 in combined purchases annually at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services.

How much Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth when redeemed for travel

When redeemed using the Chase Travel Portal, each Chase point can be worth 1 cent or 1.5 cents depending on the credit card.

Here is a breakdown of how much a Chase Ultimate Rewards point is worth when redeemed for travel rewards:

  • Freedom® Credit Card……………………………1 Cent
  • Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card……………1 Cent
  • Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card……………………………….1 Cent
  • Ink Plus® Business Card………………………………..1.25 Cents
  • Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card…………………………1.25 Cent
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Credit Card………………………………1.25 Cents
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® Credit Card…………………………………1.5 Cents

Basically, the Chase credit cards without an annual fee allow cardholders the opportunity to redeem the reward points for travel for 1 cent ($0.01) apiece. That’s a 1% reward redemption rate. Learn more about the best travel credit cards with no annual fees.

The Chase cards with a $95 annual fee receive a 25% redemption bonus and are worth 1.25 cents each and the Sapphire Reserve premium travel credit card with a $450 annual fee makes each point worth 1.5 cents, a 1.5% reward redemption rate.

Maximizing Earnings

One strategy to maximize the earnings is to own one of the annual fee credit cards. Then, supplement the card with another annual fee or no-fee credit card that earns bonus points on spending categories that only receive the base 1% purchase reward rate with the primary Chase credit card.

If your secondary card is the Business Ink Cash, Freedom, or Freedom Unlimited, you will not be charged a second annual fee. And, you still have the opportunity to redeem the Chase points for 1.25 cents or 1.5 cents apiece through the travel portal. You can also transfer to a travel partner on a 1:1 basis. All you have to do is transfer your accumulated points from the no-fee card to your other Chase credit card.

The Chase 5/24 Rule

One important item to remember is that all these cards are subject to the Chase 5/24 rule. If you are unfamiliar with this rule, here is how it works. Chase will automatically decline your application to any of the Freedom, Ink, or Sapphire cards (plus some others) if you have applied for 5 credit cards within the previous 24 months. You can appeal the decision, but the likelihood of getting the decision reversed is highly unlikely.

If you were added as an authorized user for one of the five applications, it is possible to have the decision reversed. Otherwise, you will need to wait for the oldest application to drop off your credit report.

Airline Travel Transfer Partners of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to the various airline and hotel partners is where the worth of Ultimate Rewards points becomes the most valuable. There are plenty of great opportunities to use the Chase Travel Portal. But, sometimes, booking directly through the airline or hotel is the better option.

Chase has been very aggressive in the credit card rewards arena this year. It is possible that additional partners can be added. Here are the airline travel partners that transfer on a 1:1 ratio.

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • British Airways Avios
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue True Blue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United Airlines MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

You will need to own a Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or the all-new Ink Preferred credit card to have the option to transfer to any of these airlines.

One Ultimate Reward Point can be transferred for the equivalent of one airline mile. Points can only be transferred from Chase to the airline and all transfers are final.

Hotel Travel Partners of Chase Ultimate Rewards

In addition to being able to transfer to most large airline carriers, it’s also possible to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to many of the largest hotel brands on a 1:1 ratio as well.

  • World of Hyatt
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards

As with the airline transfer partners, points can only be transferred from Chase to the hotel program and all transfers are final.

How to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Airline and Hotel partners

To transfer points from Chase to the 1:1 travel partners, you will need to follow the steps below:

  1. Login to Chase.com
  2. Click the “Ultimate Rewards” button on the top-right side of the screen
  3. Select the credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards (Remember it will have to be the Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Preferred)
  4. On the “Use Points” drop-down menu, click the “Transfer to Travel Partners” button
  5. Select which airline or hotel program you want to transfer points to
  6. Enter the loyalty program membership information to login
  7. Enter the number of points to transfers (increments of 1,000) & click submit

The Best Ways to Use Chase Ultimate Reward Points

Chase Ultimate Rewards are some of the most flexible and valuable credit card reward points.  They can be redeemed for statement credits or gift cards. But, the best use for these points is by transferring points to a travel partner or redeeming them on the Chase Travel Portal.

Once you transfer the points to an airline or hotel loyalty program, the points cannot be transferred back to Chase. This can be a good option if you only need a few thousand additional points to book directly from the airline or hotel. Or, it can also be a way to indirectly transfer the points from Chase to a non-participating travel brand such as Delta.

There are also plenty of opportunities to not transfer your points and redeem them for reward travel with Chase. With the Chase travel portal, you can book reservations with any major airline, hotel, rental car company, or cruise line. Chase gives a small discount by shopping the travel portal. It can be cheaper to book through Chase than directly from the travel host.

You can pay for travel itineraries completely with points, a combination of points and cash, or all cash. The decision is yours. The remainder of this guide will show some of the best ways to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for air and hotel travel by transferring to a 1:1 travel partner.

Note that some of these offers below may no longer be available. We hope that you’ll be able to use the following for award ideas. 

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for Air Travel

Air travel has the highest potential of maximizing point values because there are so many variables such as the destination, deciding between first-class or coach class, and even what type of plane to fly on.

AirFrance Flying Blue/KLM Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner

air france flyingblue FlyingBlue is one of the most recent programs by joining Chase Ultimate Rewards in mid-2016 and it offers some great deals to island locations in the Caribbean and hotspots across the globe.  You can use the FlyingBlue miles calculator to help you find out just how far your points can get you.

Plus, as FlyingBlue belongs to the SkyTeam network, you can also indirectly use the Chase points to book flights with Delta or other SkyTeam partners.  Regardless of destination with FlyingBlue, your best redemption rates will be booking an economy class ticket.  If you want to fly Business, other carriers have better rates.

One other potential expense to keep in mind when shopping FlyingBlue rewards ticket, if you fly in the Western Hemisphere with FlyingBlue you will not have to pay a fuel surcharge.  Flying to Europe will sock you with a fuel surcharge fee unless flying with Delta.

Link: FlyingBlue/KLM Mileage Calculator

Flying Blue to the Caribbean

It may come as a surprise that European airlines can have sweet deals that originate and terminate within the Western Hemisphere.  One such location is the Caribbean Islands, specifically the Netherlands Antilles islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Guide
Fly to Aruba on with Flying Blue starting at 25,000 round trip.

The best deals are to fly economy where you can find round-trip flights for 30,000 points or less and some economy round-trip fairs are available for 25,000 miles.

You can also fly Business class to the Caribbean, but the same ticket will cost about 62,500 miles.  While an upgrade rightfully costs more miles, other airlines require fewer miles for Business class reward tickets.

Flying Blue to Hawaii

Another surprise to many travelers is that it’s possible to fly to Hawaii for 15,000 miles one-way or 30,000 miles round-trip.  That’s the same mileage requirements to fly to the Caribbean which is essentially in the Lower 48s backyard.

Flying Blue has some of the best economy rates to Hawaii from both coasts of the continental U.S.

This rate is very competitive and better than most of the domestic carriers.  So, traveling to Hawaii for your next vacation might have gotten just a bit more realistic!

Flying Blue to Mexico

Flying Blue lumps Mexico and Central America into the same region as the United States and the Caribbean.

You can fly to Cancun & visit Chichen Itza for just as many miles as a domestic U.S. flight.

This means you can fly internationally from the United States to Mexico for the same mileage as a domestic U.S. flight starting at 12,500 points one-way.  Just another small way to save some money.

Flying Blue to Tahiti

Flying Blue also classifies the small South Pacific islands such as Tahiti in the same group as Hawaii.  This means you can fly economy to Papeete (PPT), Tahiti for 15,000 miles one-way or 30,000 miles round-trip.

The same trick will not work if you are hoping to get a cheap flight to Australia.  A one-way economy ticket to Sydney will cost you about 50,000 miles (100,000 miles round-trip).

Flying Blue to North Africa or Israel

Once again, Flying Blue continues to raise eyebrows with all the destinations that do not cost a bundle to fly to as North Africa and Israel are classified under the European region.  This means you can fly to Casablanca, Morrocco or Tel Aviv, Israel for 50,000 miles round-trip in economy or 100,000 miles in business class.  These are the same rates to fly to major European destinations like Madrid, London, or Rome.

Flying Blue Promos

While Flying Blue has some great deals listed above, there is an opportunity to find even better flights.  Even to some of the destinations listed above!

At the beginning of each month, FlyingBlue releases Promo Awards that discount economy and business class tickets 25% to 50% for flights between Europe and North America.  Generally, redeeming points for business class tickets isn’t a good deal compared to FlyingBlue competitors, but, it can make sense with these discounted rates.  And the additional economy savings aren’t too shabby either.

British Airways Avios Executive Club Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner

British Airways at London City Airport Picture by Stuart Bailey

The British Airways Executive Club program, often referred to as Avios for the name of its reward mile, has undergone several negative changes in the recent past, but, it is still a very good program including OneAir carriers like American, Aer Lingus, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and Japan Airlines.

As a whole, reward points are best used for short-haul flights because of the fuel surcharges that can offset any incentive to use reward points to travel for free on long flights.  To avoid these surcharges, it is recommended to fly Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, LAN, or in the Western Hemisphere, American Airlines.

While the high fuel surcharge fees will detract some people from flying on British Airways and their partners, they do not charge steep fees for last-minute bookings or cancellations that are currently capped at $40.

Link: Avios award chart

British Airways Avios Short Haul Flights

The best redemption options for British Airways flights will be short-haul flights, domestically in the United States or abroad.  This is primarily because European and Asian flights shorter than 650 miles do not incur a fuel surcharge.

The cheapest one-way short haul flights of 650 miles or less will be discovered in Europe & Asia that can be as low as 4,500 points on non-peak flight days and 5,000 points on peak days, plus fees and taxes, for an economy seat. For example, you can fly from Madrid to Barcelona on Iberia Airlines, a OneWorld partner, for 4,500 Avios, but, the same trip would cost 13,000 Avios if flying British Airways.

Unfortunately, short flights within the United States start at 7,500 Avios, the award zone for flights ranging between 651 miles and 1,151 miles.  This still isn’t a bad deal compared to some other airlines, but, not as good as the 4,500 Avios deal for similar European or Asian flights.

More than likely, you will find the better redemption rates with the British Airways partners, plus lower fees.  When calculating mileage requirements with the Avios mileage calculator, British Airway fares will appear first followed by any partner fares.  You will probably have to scroll down to find the lower fares.

scotland, chase ultimate rewards points
Use your points to see Scotland and take a train ride on one of the most beautiful routes in the world.

Avios U.S. East Coast to Europe

If you are wanting to fly from the East Coast to Europe, your best options will be flying on one of the partner airlines instead of British Airways to get lower fees and one-way economy fares start at 20,000 points.  If you decide to fly British Airways, you can get a basic fare for 17,000 Avios, but, should expect to pay at least $368 in taxes and fees.  With the partner airlines, the taxes and fees start at approximately $6.  For most people, spending an additional 3,000 Avios is a better opportunity cost than spending an additional several hundred dollars in fees for an award ticket.

While Avios has plenty of short haul flights for 4,500 points, it’s a little bit more difficult to find cheaper international flights that cross the Pond.  Here are a couple lanes to search for the next time you want to go to Europe to receive fares less than 20,000 Avios and be charged smaller fees.

Air Berlin: JFK to Berlin is normally one of the less expensive routes.

Aer Lingus: Flying from Boston to Dublin, Ireland can cost as low as 12,500 Avios for an economy seat.

Iberia: Never been to Spain?  Iberia is the carrier of choice if going to Madrid or Barcelona.  It’s possible to get one-way fares for less than 20,000 points, however, expect fees and taxes to hover above $300.  The fees are still a little lower flying Iberia than British Airways, which can easily be $360 or higher.

Avios U.S. West Coast to Hawaii

One great way to use Avios points is to fly to Hawaii from the U.S. West Coast.  By flying American Airlines or Alaska Airlines, it’s possible to book a one-way economy ticket for 12,500 Avios.  This rate is slightly cheaper than the normal FlyingBlue rate of 15,000 miles.  Of course, if you need to connect from the Midwest or East Coast, Avios might not be the most economical option.

Avios U.S. West Coast to Asia

There are not as many good deals from the West Coast to Asia because of the distance.  One of the best deals you will find is flying from Los Angeles to Tokyo on Air Japan as an economy ticket will start at 25,000 Avios plus $31.77 in taxes & fees.  As British Airways doesn’t fly directly to Tokyo from LAX, it would cost 35,750 Avios plus $536 in taxes.  In this instance, choosing Air Japan is a no-brainer.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points
Visit Japan during cherry blossom season.

Redeeming points for Business Class seats isn’t necessarily the best deal for Avios, but, a one-way business ticket on Air Japan from Los Angeles to Tokyo will cost 75,000 Avios plus $6 in taxes and fees.

Avios International Stopovers

You have probably noticed that the best way to use Avios miles is for short flights.  With British Airways, long flights equal more points and higher fees.  If you need to fly connecting flights, the prices go up even more as Avios normally charges the mileage rate of at least 4,500 points per leg of the trip.

There a couple different approaches for maximizing Avios point values.  Many travelers might think they have to fly across an ocean to find a good travel deal, but, it might also be possible to get good deals by “island hopping.”

Even though it is classified as an international flight, flying from southern U.S. airports like Dallas or Miami to countries in Latin America can cost as little as 7,500 points plus $36 in taxes and fees for an economy ticket.  This is the same mileage cost to fly domestically within the United States.

This can be a great way to visit several countries on a more relaxed schedule, instead of trying to get a whirlwind tour during a long layover.  It can cost just as much, or possibly less, as flying from one Latin America to a neighboring country might be offered at a discounted rate.

Use Avios Flying Together option to get a free ticket

If you own the Chase British Airways Visa Signature Credit Card, it’s possible to earn a free travel companion ticket.  If you spend more than $30,000 annually on the British Airways credit card, you receive a Travel Together ticket that allows your traveling companion to get a free reward ticket when you book an award ticket.

Travel Together can be used for any class and you only have to pay the taxes and fees for the free ticket.  This might be a great opportunity to fly first class, as the $300+ fees on some flights might be acceptable if you also do not need (or want) to redeem points for a second first-class ticket.

Korean Air Skypass Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner

Until May 2016 when FlyingBlue/KLM joined the Ultimate Rewards family, Korean Air was the only Sky Team airline member with a partnership.  While some of the deals might overlap with the Air France program, there are still plenty of bargain travel opportunities as they have their own award chart. Since the Asian carrier with the most U.S. destinations is Korean Air, it’s a good way to travel the Far East and Oceania for not that many miles.
 
If flying exclusively on Korean Air, here are some things to like:
  • Allowed one open-jaw (multi-destination) and one stopover on a round-trip ticket
  • Round-trip flights cost as low as 25,000 miles in off-peak season
  • One-way fares are half of the round-trip fare
  • Little to no fuel surcharges
  • First Class & Business class award flights are more affordable than most carriers
Here are some frustrations when booking with Korean Air:
  • Partner flights cannot be booked online and need to be called in & searching potential flights can be very challenging as they do not readily show online
  • Korean Air only permits award travel for direct family only. Boyfriends and girlfriends do not count.  Family plans need to be properly arranged 1-2 weeks before the flight to allow ample processing time for paperwork.
  • Korean Air SKYPASS miles can only be redeemed with partner airlines for round-trips only.
  • Peak season award travel is more expensive than the competition
Despite the restrictions, Korean Air is a great program. Plus, you always have the option to transfer the Ultimate Rewards indirectly to Delta, a non-Ultimate Rewards partner, via Korean Air or Air France. If you do book partner travel through Korean Air, the travel is booked at non-peak rates all the time, meaning booking the reservation by phone might be worth the hassle.
 
Link: Korean Air award chart

Korean Air to Hawaii, Mexico, U.S. Virgin Island, and Puerto Rico for 30,000 Miles

It’s possible to fly from the continental U.S. to Hawaii, Mexico, or the Caribbean for 30,000 miles round-trip in the economy class and 60,000 miles for first class. FlyingBlue, another Sky Team partner, also costs 30,000 points for a round-trip. Another benefit of flying to any of these locations is that you will not be charged a fuel surcharge either. 
 
Making the award travel that much more affordable. Flying on Hawaiian Airlines or Alaska Airlines will allow you to get the best deals to Hawaii. Plus you are also allowed one stopover, meaning you can visit Honolulu and Maui if you desire.
 
Hawaiian airlines credit cards

Korean Air within Europe

The European flight deals will be flying within Europe as an economy round-trip ticket costs 25,000 and a first-class ticket costs 60,000 miles. You will most likely have to use a partner airline or a competitor to get to Europe, as Korean Air doesn’t offer any direct flights from North America to Europe. You will need to connect through Seoul or Japan and a roundtrip flight from Asia to Europe starts at 70,000 miles for economy class.
 
Redeeming with Korean Air can be a good option because of the flexible open-jaw & stopover policies, so if you can find an itinerary that allows for stopovers or multi-destinations in the off-peak, you can find some good deals.

Korean Air within Southwest Asia

Similar to intra-Europe travel, you can travel within the various southwestern Asian nations for 25,000 miles.

Korean Air first class is more affordable than most carriers

If you want to fly first class, Korean Air has some of the most valuable award redemption rates. Here is what you can expect to pay per round-trip, first-class ticket for each geographic region:
  • North America to South America: 140,000 miles
  • Within Europe: 60,000 miles
  • North America to China, Korea, or Japan: 160,000 miles
  • The United States to Tahiti (via Air France): 90,000 miles
  • North America to Southwest Asia: 210,000 miles
  • China/Northeast Asia to the Middle East: 160,000 miles
  • North America to Oceania: 240,000 miles
  • Within Southwest Asia: 60,000 miles
Another perk with Korean Air is that they have partnered with Etihad and Emirates to help fill the void of U.S. to Europe and the U.S. to Dubai trips.  Emirates has better pricing than Etihad, but, both are competitive with other carriers.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner

One of the most luxurious travel experiences can enjoy is traveling first class in one of the Singapore Airlines A380 suites, which are the first double beds in the sky! They have great flight options, not only to Asia but also to Europe. Plus most round-trips qualify for one stop-over and additional stopovers cost $100 each. 
 
You will need to take the most direct route, but it’s an opportunity to consolidate and save award miles. In addition to being a transfer partner to Chase Ultimate Rewards, they have also partnered with Citi ThankYou and American Express Membership Rewards. If you churn travel credit cards, you have several resources to pull from to quickly accumulate KrisFlyer miles.
 
Link: Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer awards chart

Singapore KrisFlyer 15% Online Booking Bonus

Singapore Airlines took delivery of the very first 787-10 from Boeing at their South Carolina manufacturer plant on March 25, 2018
 
When booking a flight with Singapore Airlines and searching for award seats, the advertised fare price is usually the non-discounted price. Once you go to checkout, the price should drop when the online booking bonus is factored in.
 
Whether you book online or offline, you will need to keep an eye out for fuel surcharges. Singapore Airlines has different ticket charge codes with “YQ” and “YR” that represent these charges. You might be able to offset or avoid these charges by redeeming more miles or searching for flights on carriers like Air New Zealand, Avianca, Copa, and Taca.

Singapore KrisFlyer A380 Experience

To get the best first-class experience, you will need to fly on the A380-800 series planes from Singapore Airlines.  Cabin suites come with a sliding door and blinds to increase privacy, plus adjoining suites can be transformed to make a double bed. The easiest way to capture this experience is to fly from New York to Frankfurt for 57,375 miles.  It might be the most luxurious 8-hour flight you have had.
 
ultimate rewards points
Singapore Suites is one of the best flying experiences around.
For the west coasters, another affordable route is flying from Los Angeles to Tokyo for 74,375 miles or San Francisco to Hong Kong for 70,000 miles one-way. Other than these routes, flying Singapore Suites will cost, on average, 110,000 miles one-way from the eastern or the central United States and 112,500 miles from the western United States when flying to Singapore proper.

Singapore KrisFlyer Continental U.S. to Hawaii

It seems like all the Ultimate Rewards partners have a discount flight to Hawaii and Singapore Airlines isn’t any different.  One-way tickets start at 17,500 miles for economy, 30,000 miles for business, and 40,000 miles for first class.  These rates are very competitive are still some of the lowest among all the carriers that fly to Hawaii.

Singapore Krisflyer U.S. to the South Pacific

You can get the Singapore Suites A380 experience starting at 110,000 points from the United States, but, once you get to the South Pacific, it’s also possible to find some cheaper flights to tour the various islands. Economy seats will start at 12,500 miles, but, the real savings potential is with the business and first-class seats that can be as low as 17,500 miles and 22,500 miles, respectively.

Singapore KrisFlyer Flying U.S. to Europe

Flying in the economy class on Singapore Airlines to Europe can be a little cheaper than the other major carriers as one-way rates can be as low as 27,500 miles which are a few thousand miles less than the major carriers like American, Delta, or United.  But, cheaper flights can be found with other carriers like the British Airways Avios airline partners that allow you to fly from Boston to Dublin for as little as 12,500 Avios.

Singapore KrisFlyer U.S. to Africa and the Middle East

You will most likely have to use a Star Alliance travel partner to travel to this part of the world, but, it is possible to fly for 47,500 miles in the economy section one-way.  Choosing FlyingBlue/KLM will probably be a better option as you can get a round-trip ticket to Casablanca or Tel Aviv for 50,000 miles. You might be able to save some miles by flying business or first class compared to other Star Alliance partners, but overall, this region is the weakness for Singapore Airlines.
 
ultimate rewards points

Using Singapore KrisFlyer Miles on other Airlines

Earning KrisFlyer Miles can be easier than you think if you also have a card that earns American Express Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou points. Singapore Airlines is a semi-exclusive program and doesn’t release too many award seats to non-Singapore members, including the other Star Alliance carriers.
 
This means if you want to fly Singapore with miles, you need to belong to their program.  Another fringe benefit of having Krisflyer miles is that it is possible to get better ticket prices on select United Airlines flights.  Even though United is a Star Alliance partner and a Chase Ultimate Rewards partner too, the KrisFlyer program carries some clout.
 
If you want to fly domestically within the United States, you can redeem KrisFlyer points for business or first-class seats on United seats for a few thousand points cheaper.  For example, a one-way United Airlines business seat costs 25,000 miles.  With Singapore, that exact same seat can only cost 20,000 miles.  
 
Regarding one-way first-class tickets, the same seat costs 35,000 points with United and 30,000 points through the KrisFlyer program. When comparing business and first-class prices between Singapore Airlines and the other Star Alliance members will normally show that KrisFlyer points are more valuable than other Star Alliance points.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner

Southwest has a cult following of sorts because it’s possible to fly for cheap across the United States or to the Caribbean.  Of course, they can also get really expensive in a hurry as well if you are trying to buy a ticket at the last minute or flying to a city that currently isn’t discounted. They do not really have a transparent pricing structure, so looking for cheap fares can be a chore sometimes. 
 
It’s always recommended to watch for fare sales or to book a longer flight segment and get off at the connecting airport, assuming it is more expensive to fly direct.
 
 
chase ultimate rewards points
Use Southwest to visit Mexico’s festivals. Photo by Genaro Servín from Pexels

Fly Southwest Airlines to the Caribbean for cheap

It’s possible to fly domestically for cheap, but, the same goes for flying to the various Caribbean destinations like Belize, Mexico, Costa Rica, or Puerto Rico. It’s possible to find one-way fares as low as 6,000 Rapid Rewards miles. 
 
The best value will be with the “Wanna Get Away” discounted fares that cost 4,500 miles per direction. These discounted fares are also available for domestic flights and the only additional fee is the $5.60 security fee.  International flights charge the security fee plus any applicable taxes.

Earn a Southwest Companion Pass

One of the best ways to fly Southwest is with a Companion Pass.  The Southwest Companion Pass is awarded after you earn 110,000 Rapid Rewards miles in one calendar year and allows your +1 to travel for free minus any taxes and fees for the second ticket.
 
There are a couple of different ways to earn the Companion Pass. Directly transferring your points to Southwest will not count, but, you can transfer them to Marriott (another Ultimate Reward travel partner) and purchase a “Hotel & Air” package that will give you Rapid Rewards points and some Marriott award nights. You can also earn some additional points by signing up for the Chase Southwest Visa credit card.
 
Timing is everything with earning this pass as it can potentially be good for up to two years as it expires in December of next year. This means if you are awarded the pass in December 2018 it will expire on December 31, 2019.  But, if you earn it in January 2019, it expires in December 2020.
 
If you have a treasure trove of points banked up, waiting to do the Marriott hotel deal in the opening months of the new year will be the best option, but, this tactic will not be practical for everybody. If you plan to Southwest a lot, being able to purchase it at any time is better than no time.

Southwest doesn’t have a cancellation or change fee

One other benefit of Southwest Airlines is that they do not charge a cancellation fee.  They probably make it up in other ways, but, this is one perk for booking with Southwest.  If you cancel, your Rapid Rewards miles will be refunded.
 
As award prices are based on the price of the ticket, if the ticket price drops after you originally book it.  You can get the cheaper reward rate at no additional charge.  Both of these features are nice because most airlines charge higher rates for flexible tickets or will not change the price after 24 hours.
 
ultimate rewards points

United Airlines MileagePlus Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner

United is the largest domestic carrier to partner with Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program.  This program is best for economy rewards and it is possible to get tickets to just about any destination on the globe when you also include the Star Alliance members.
 
As United devalued their awards program a few years ago, the redemption values are not as good as they used to be and there really isn’t any “gotta have it” routes that are way cheaper than the competition.  But, the rewards prices can still be cheaper than paying for a ticket in cash.  Plus the taxes and fees for most trips are reasonable near the $30 to $80 range for each leg of the trip.
 
Link: United MileagePlus award chart

United’s Excursionist Perk

United has a stopover and open-jaw travel policies that changed in 2016 that became more restricting than the previous stopover and “open jaw” policy that was one of the most flexible in the airline industry.  For review, a stopover is considered a stop of at least 24 hours in a connecting city before reaching the destination. 
 
An open jaw is a unique description for a multi-destination trip that requires other transportation to get between cities. The new Excursionist Perk permits a stopover, but it must be outside the region of the origin.  Also, flight origin and destination must be in the same region. In the past, if you decide to fly to South America on United from San Francisco, you could stop in Houston before arriving at the destination of Santiago, Chile.  Since San Fran and Houston are both in North America this is no longer permissible.  If you wanted your stopover to be in Lima, Peru instead, this is still acceptable because it is not in same region as the originating flight.
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Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California
With the more restricting stopover policy (i.e. Excursionist Perk), you will still be able to visit Lima, Peru en-route to Chile.

Also, the final destination has to be in the same region as the origin.  So, if you didn’t want to return to San Francisco, it would be okay to fly back into Los Angeles, but you couldn’t fly into Costa Rica.

Flying United in the continental U.S.

United award redemptions are best for an economy ticket and good deals can be found for domestic U.S. flights.  You can get economy one-way tickets starting at 10,000 miles for flights less than 700 miles and 12,500 miles for Saver awards.  First-class tickets start at 25,000 miles.  Flying to Alaska requires an additional 5,000 miles per ticket type.

Remember that United’s award redemptions for first class and business class seats are some of the most expensive in the game.  Transferring your Ultimate Rewards points to Singapore KrisFlyer can get you the same first-class seat for 20,000 miles instead of 25,000 miles.

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United doesn’t have the best first-class award redemptions.
Image courtesy of United.com

Flying to Hawaii will start at 22,500 miles and 40,000 miles one-way for economy and first class tickets.  Avios, FlyingBlue, and Singapore KrisFlyer all offer better award rates if you want to go to this tropical paradise.

Flying United to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America

For the most part, United charges the same rates when flying from the continental U.S. to the Caribbean islands, Mexico, or Central America.

Economy class tickets to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America start at 17,500 miles one-way and 35,000 miles for a round-trip.  Traveling to the Caribbean might be a great opportunity to take advantage of the “Excursionist Perk” that allows you an easy stopover within the same region.  Flying first class will start at 30,000 points one-way.

So a round-trip flight from the continental U.S. to Mexico City would cost $419 without redeeming any reward points but would cost 35,000 miles plus approximately $30 to fly into Mexico and $70 to fly back to the U.S.

Flying United to South America

United divides South America into a northern and southern region.  This isn’t an unusual practice as other large carriers do it as well.

If you are curious what countries how the countries are categorized, here is a breakdown;

Northern South America: Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela

Southern South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay

If you want to fly into northern South America, a one-way economy seat will cost 20,000 points and first class will cost 35,000 miles.

The price noticeably jumps to fly into the southern part of the continent as an economy seat will cost 30,000 miles and first class jumps to 55,000 miles.

You might be able to save some points by flying Copa Airlines, a regional carrier that has the reputation for offering more affordable flights to and from select cities.

Flying United from North America to Europe

Other airlines have better award rates when flying across the Atlantic to Europe, but, United doesn’t charge fuel surcharges.  It might be cheaper to burn a few more points to avoid charging more money to your credit card.

One-way economy seats will cost 30,000 miles (60,000 miles round-trip) and first class will cost 57,500 miles one-way and 115,000 miles round-trip.

While some carriers might lump the Middle East into the European fold, flights are noticeable more expensive.  Costing 85,000 miles round-trip for the economy section and 140,000 for first class.  Air France FlyingBlue/KLM is the better option for most of these destinations.

Flying United to Africa

Flying across the Atlantic to Africa will cost 80,000 miles round-trip for an economy seat and 140,000 miles first class.  Like South America, United divides the African continent into northern and southern sections, but this doesn’t matter for the basic Saver awards.  The redemption prices will increase if you want to reserve the more flexible Standard award which is not worth the additional miles for most travelers.

Flying United to Australia and New Zealand

Going to the land down under is one of the most expensive flights for many carriers.  This is one area where United is cheaper than some of the other Ultimate Rewards transfer partners.  An economy round-trip ticket costs 80,000 miles and 140,000 miles for first class.  While FlyingBlue has many low-cost flight lanes, flying United will save you 20,000 miles.

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Flying United to Oceania

The Oceania Islands, most notably Fiji and Tahiti, will cost 70,000 miles roundtrip to fly to from the continental United States.

If you have the time and flexibility, flying to Oceania from Japan will cost you 12,500 miles one-way in coach class.  If you want to visit several islands once you arrive it Oceania, it will cost 12,500 miles one-way.  United will also occasionally run seasonal sales that will discount the prices even more when flying from North Asia to Oceania.

Flying United to Asia

Flying round-trip from the mainland United States to Japan, China, and Korea will cost 70,000 miles economy and 140,000 miles first class.

South Asian round-trips will cost 80,000 miles economy and 140,000 miles first class to fly to countries like Hong Kong, Macau, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

If flying to Asia, it might be a better deal to do short haul trips with British Airways Avios if you are already there.

Otherwise, the best deal for flying first class is with Singapore Airlines Suites that allow you to fly in more comfort for significantly fewer points.  Plus, it’s a Star Alliance partner, but, to increase the likelihood of getting a first class Singapore Suite you will need to book the flight through KrisFlyer as the airline doesn’t release many first class options to the United/Star Alliance partners.

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Virgin Airlines is probably the weakest of all the travel partners due to high mileage requirements and most flights only go to or from the United Kingdom.  There are still some good options, but you have to know what to look for.  It’s recommended to stick with short haul flights as they pass on fuel surcharges for award travel, greatly increasing the cost of long flights.

If you have additional travel companions, you might be able to get a small point discount on additional award tickets that can cost at least 15,000 miles less than the primary flyer’s ticket.

Link: Virgin Atlantic Award Chart

Flying Virgin Atlantic from the United States to Europe

The cheapest U.S. cities to fly out of when headed to the U.K. are Atlanta, Boston, New York-JFK/Newark, Washington DC, Chicago, and Detroit for 35,000 miles round-trip in the economy class and an upper-class seat requires 80,000 miles.  Taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges will also run about $265 roundtrip.  All other American cities will cost 42,500 miles for an economy seat and 100,000 miles for upper class.

Flying to the U.K might not be a bad deal from the East Coast. Plus companion tickets only cost 20,000 miles for economy class.

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Photo by Dominika Gregušová from Pexels

If you are looking to get a second ticket, you might have the option to buy a Virgin companion ticket for a discounted price.  A round-trip ticket will require 20,000 miles for economy, 30,000 miles for premium economy, and 65,000 miles for upper-class seats.  To take advantage of this pricing, you will have to call Virgin Atlantic helpline at 1-800-862-8621.

Fly domestically with Virgin Atlantic’s partner airlines

An overwhelming majority of the Virgin Atlantic flights go to the U.K., but some other award opportunities are booking with partner airlines. Be forewarned, you will have to contact Virgin Atlantic customer service to reserve and verify seat availability.  Plus it will most likely need to be completed at least 7 days before the scheduled flight.

You can redeem Virgin Atlantic miles on Flying Club partner airlines for domestic flights on qualifying airlines.

Flying domestically in America on Virgin America starts at 10,000 miles round-trip for an economy flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco.  You can fly coast to coast in economy for 25,000 miles round-trip.

Flying from the western U.S. to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines will cost 40,000 miles economy and 80,000 miles first class.

Other travel partners include Delta and Singapore Airlines, which really are not good deals if you can book directly from them instead.  Once you get to certain destinations and want to fly domestically, round-trip flights can range from 15,000 to 20,000 miles on Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand, South African Airways, and All Nippon Airways.

Exchanges Virgin Atlantic Miles for Hilton HHonors points

Hilton isn’t a Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel partner, so, this is a way to funnel Chase points into a Hilton account with a very good exchange rate.  Every 2 Virgin miles are worth 3 Hilton HHonors points.

You can only transfer them in 10,000 point increments, so, you will need to sizable portion banked to make a transaction.  By transferring 10,000 Virgin Atlantic miles, means you have 15,000 Hilton points.  This amount can be good for one night at a Category 2 property or two nights at a Category 1 property.  But it’s also possible to find some rooms for 5,000 points per night.  Most of the properties are a little off the beaten path, but that might fit your travel plans.

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Reward Points for Hotel Nights

The best way for most people to redeem Ultimate Rewards points is for air travel due to the wide price variations between all the airlines, even when flying the exact same route.

Chase has four leading hotel brands with a global presence.  As lodging can be the next largest travel expense after airfare, it makes sense to also use Chase Ultimate Rewards points for lodging.  Plus, if you only have a few points left after booking a plane ticket, redeeming the remaining balance on lodging can mean you were able to book an entire trip on reward points.

Hyatt Gold Passport

Hyatt has some of the valuable hotel loyalty points as you can get 2 or 3 cents per point.  Arguably, Starwood’s Starpoints are more valuable.  The reason why is because you can stay at a Category 1 Hyatt property for 5,000 points.  A high-end Category 7 hotel will be capped at 30,000 points per night.  Most “average” properties for other brands cost 15,000 to 30,000 points per night.

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Hyatt Paris Madeleine

It might be better to save your points for more expensive properties like the Category 6 Andaz Tokyo that can cost at least $500 per night to get the best “bang for the buck” as one night is only 25,000 points.  That makes each point worth 2.2 cents each.

If you want to earn additional Hyatt points, the Chase Hyatt Visa will give you automatic Platinum membership status and one free night per year.

Link: Hyatt Award Chart

Upgrade Hyatt room for 3,000 points per night

Award nights are already very affordable at Hyatt. But, it’s also easy to upgrade your room to Club status. For 3,000 points, that will allow you access to the on-property lounge (if one is available). Even better, 6,000 points will upgrade you to a Suite room.

Staying at a Hyatt all-inclusive resort

Another great way to use your Hyatt points is to stay at a Hyatt all-inclusive resort.  These resorts are located throughout Mexico and the Caribbean. A standard room will cost you 25,000 points per night and 10,000 to 12,500 points per additional person. You can have up to 4 people stay in each room.

The additional points required per person can be a tough pill to swallow. But, for an all-inclusive resort, this still might be a very affordable price.

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

IHG is another popular rewards program with the Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, and Candlewood Suites properties.  Most standard award nights will cost 15,000 to 20,000 points for mid-level properties. The high-end properties can cost range anywhere from 30,000 points to 60,000 points per night.

While they are not always the best deals, reserving with a combination of points and cash might make the most expensive properties a better deal.

Similar to Hyatt, you can also supplement IHG points with the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. It offers a free anniversary night and earns IHG points on every purchase.

Link: IHG Reward Nights Chart

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The InterContinental brand makes its Bulgarian debut. Photo: IHG

IHG Rewards Club PointBreaks

The cheapest properties cost 10,000 points per night, but, every few months, the IHG PointBreaks program allows you to stay at a handful of properties for 5,000 points per night.

Room availability is limited and most hotels are a little off the beaten path.  This doesn’t mean they are bad properties.  As the list is usually updated at the beginning of a month, it is better to search at this time.

Stay at IHG Rewards Club Candlewood Suites

Even though you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to IHG on a 1:1 basis, it can be easy to get a lower redemption rate once the points are redeemed for IHG stays. One of the better options is to look for a Candlewood Suites. Many are available for 10,000 points per night.

While these properties cater to the extended-stay business crowd, regular travelers can stay here too. They are not the most exquisite of properties. But they are clean, spacious, and come with a small kitchen allowing you to stay in to cook if desired.

Marriott Rewards

The value for Marriott as a hotel rewards program has recently increased in value with its merger of Starwood.  Marriott points are valued similar to IHG Rewards. The best deals are going to be for the Category 1 or 2 hotels, but some high-end deals can also be found.

To maximize the Marriott value, it might be good to also own the Marriott credit card that earns additional hotel points.

Link: Marriott Reward Night Chart

Marriott PointSavers

Similar to the IHG PointBreaks, Marriott also has its own discount program, PointSavers, that can allow you to stay at a Category 1 Marriott property for 6,000 points instead of 7,500 points or a Category 8 hotel for 35,000 points instead of 40,000 points.

PointSavers can be an easy way to find discounts at low-end and high-end properties, however, Hyatt is still the best Ultimate Rewards redemption option as the quality of properties is very similar between the two brands.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards

This might be the least used hotel rewards program among the Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel transfer partners because of its exclusivity.  Similar to its parent company Marriott, it doesn’t have the best redemption rates.  If you do intend to stay at Ritz-Carlton and Marriott properties, it is better to create Ritz-Carlton rewards account to have the ability to redeem them at properties of either brand. 

The points are valued the same in both accounts, but, it can be more difficult to redeem Marriott points at the Ritz-Carlton properties.  You might even be required to convert your Marriott account to a Ritz-Carlton account to do so.

Ritz-Carlton PointBreaks

Just as Marriott offers PointBreaks, the same thing rings true with Ritz-Carlton.

Ritz-Carlton is divided into 5 different tiers with the regular nightly rate for Tier One requiring 30,000 points and Tier 5 properties requiring 70,000 points.  Pointsavers subtracts 10,000 points from the regular nightly rate for each tier category.

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When the Chase Online Travel Portal is Better

Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to the various airlines and hotels will be the most valuable option in most instances. But, sometimes it can be a better deal to not transfer and book directly through the Chase Travel Portal. Finding deals requires more time. You will have to compare the Chase price compared to booking directly. But, the few extra minutes can be worth the savings in dollars and points.

Using the Chase travel portal is usually a better option if you are not picky about which airline or hotel you use.  While you can only transfer to 13 travel partners, you can purchase from basically any travel company with points or credit card through the travel portal. These off-brand airlines and hotels might be cheaper than booking directly from a transfer partner. It’s possible to get a better rate from Chase for the same plane ticket or hotel room also directly offered by the 1:1 travel partners.

Also, if you want to book a rental car or cruise with Chase points, you will need to do this with the travel portal as they do not allow you to directly transfer to a cruise line or rental car agency.  They used to have a partnership with Amtrak, but, that partnership was not renewed.

Chase Travel Experiences

Besides reserving transportation and lodging, you might also be able to save money on travel experiences such as visiting historic sites with a tour group or cooking lessons, as a discount rate is offered through Chase instead of directly from the vendor for the exact same experience.

Summary of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Review

Most travelers will get the best reward value by transferring their points directly to the 13 airline and hotel transfer partners.  In recent years, airlines have kept the best fare deals to themselves. This is instead of doling them out to third-party travel sites like the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel portal.

But, if you do not have an affinity to one of the 13 partners, there can also be some good deals found in the portal. That is if you are willing to fly any carrier or just want a comfortable bed to sleep in once you arrive.

Plus, award travel isn’t exclusive to plane tickets and hotel rooms. You might also need a rental car or score a good deal on a memorable travel experience. It might not make sense to use points for lower-priced travel expenses. But, these savings can be enjoyed with cash or points.

ultimate rewards points
Photo by Tran from Pexels

FAQs

What is a Chase Ultimate Rewards point?

For select Chase credit cards that are not co-issued with airline and hotel brands, users have the ability to earn purchase rewards points for each dollar spent.  These points can be redeemed for a variety of rewards including air travel, hotel stays, cash statement credits, and gift cards.

Hotel or airline loyalty rewards credit cards issued by Chase, such as the IHG Rewards or Southwest Rapid Reward credit cards, will only earn loyalty points for their respective program.  The points cannot be converted into Chase Ultimate Reward points.

What Chase credit cards earn Ultimate Rewards points?

Here is a current list of Chase credit cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points:

  • Freedom® Credit Card
  • Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
  • Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card
  • Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Credit Card
  • Ink Plus® Business Card
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® Credit Card

Can all Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards transfer points to travel partners?

No.  Although the Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and Ink Business Cash earn Ultimate Rewards, they do cannot directly transfer on a 1:1 basis to the hotel and airline travel partners.

To do so, you will also need one of the Ink Plus, Ink Preferred, Sapphire Preferred, or Sapphire Reserve.

In addition to these four cards having the ability to transfer Chase points to the transfer partners on a 1:1 ratio, points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents each on the Chase travel portal.  Points redeemed with the Chase Sapphire Reserve are worth 1.5 cents apiece for travel rewards.

How can I transfer my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to an airline or hotel travel partner?

First, you must own the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, Ink Plus, or Ink Preferred.  If you have also accumulated Chase points from the Ink Cash or either of the Freedom cards, those balances can be transferred to the first four cards mentioned.

Once all the points you want to transfer are one of the Sapphire or Ink credit cards, it’s time to follow the below steps:

  1. Login to Chase.com
  2. Click the “Ultimate Rewards” button on the top-right side of the screen
  3. Select the credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards (Remember it will have to be the Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Preferred)
  4. On the “Use Points” drop-down menu, click the “Transfer to Travel Partners” button
  5. Select which airline or hotel program you want to transfer points to
  6. Enter the loyalty program membership information to login
  7. Enter the number of points to transfers (increments of 1,000) & click submit

Who are the Chase Ultimate Rewards airline & hotel travel transfer partners?

There are currently 13 travel partners that allow you to transfer Ultimate Rewards points on a 1:1 basis:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Emirates
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Iberia Plus
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy

When will my Chase Ultimate Rewards point balance update?

Your total Chase Ultimate Rewards point balance will update monthly at the end of each credit card billing cycle. This makes it easy to reflect on the new points earned.  Points redeemed or transferred will be adjusted immediately.

Can I transfer my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to a spouse or family member?

Yes. The recipient will need to be a member of your immediate household. They will need to be added as an authorized user in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.  After being added, you can select the “Combine Points” option from the drop-down menu. From there, choose how many Chase Ultimate Rewards points you want to transfer.

Do Chase Ultimate Rewards points expire?

Your Chase Ultimate Rewards will not expire as long as you keep your Chase credit card active.  If your Chase card account is closed, any remaining Chase Ultimate Rewards points will be lost.  But, you can combine your Ultimate Rewards to another Ultimate Rewards account if you or a household member has one. You can transfer your points out to a transfer partner if you have to close your account.

Quick Tip: The best way to earn Ultimate Rewards points is with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

 
Johnny Jet Editorial

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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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