Korean Air First Class

13 Ways to Use Chase Ultimate Rewards Points You Should Know Before Your Next Trip

March 9, 2014 by


Chase Ultimate Rewards points can earn you a multitude of items from free orders on Amazon to cold hard cash, gift cards to merchandise goodies, but by far the champion of the rewards is the option to transfer travel points. Although you earn rewards with the Freedom, Ink Cash, and Sapphire cards, the travel points can only transfer to travel partners if you have a Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, Ink Plus, or Palladium card.

Chase employs a two-tier system where the first level can earn rewards points towards cash back, gift cards, travel points, and merchandise; it’s about one cent in value per point. With the second level, the rewards are the same but the rate of exchange is 1.25 cents per point and you can transfer your points to ten other program partners including Hyatt, United, and Southwest. The higher trade-in value of the second level is a factor to note when considering between the tiers, but the ability to seamlessly move around points between different programs offers a great deal of flexibility and better bang for your buck.

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List of Current Bonuses

  • Freedom: 10,000 bonus points for spending $500 in the first 3 months plus 5% cash back on quarterly rotating categories (up to $1,500)
  • Ink Cash: 20,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months with 5% cash back in certain categories
  • Sapphire: 10,000 bonus points for spending $500 in the first 3 months with 2X points on dining at restaurants
  • Sapphire Preferred: 40,000 bonus points for spending $3,000 in the first 3 months with a 5,000 bonus point addition after your first purchase
  • Ink Bold: 50,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • Ink Plus: 50,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months with 5X points in certain categories
  • Palladium: 35,000 bonus points for spending $100,000 annually with 2 points per dollar spent on travel and 1 point per dollar on any other purchase

What if you’re planning a trip though? How can the rewards work for you? With the various options of cash, travel accommodations, and program partners, you can essentially take your next adventure for free.

1. Hyatt: Only 22,000 Points for a $1,000 Room

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Across the board, Hyatt is the best points transfer partner. Not only do they offer a gratuitous 1:1 ratio, but the redemption rates are truly unmatched. At many of the worldwide locations including the Zurich, London, Sydney, Tokyo, Paris, Milan, and the Maldives, you can find extremely discounted rates for rooms that typically range from $650-$1000 per night.

The most commonly-referenced example is 22,000 points for a pricey room at a Park Hyatt. Instead of paying over $1,000 per night, you can gain a free night at a Hyatt hotel for only 22,000 points. An incredible deal with amazing savings. It’s top competitors charge 70,000, 95,000, and 50,000 for the same type of room. You can even book a villa for 22,000 points that you can’t book at a Marriott or Hilton. Another option is to pay the room rate and use some of your points to upgrade to a suite or club room with lounge access.

The Park Hyatt Seoul, pictured above, is certainly a worthy use of your Ultimate Rewards points.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Hyatt Villa Cost with Points

So based solely on start-up points, you can receive two free nights at a high-end Hyatt. What’s not to love about that?

2. Korean Air: International Flights for Few Bonus Points

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Korean Air has become one of Asia’s top airlines with the Seoul airport emerging as one of the world’s major hubs. They offer a Prestige business class and routes with access to almost anywhere in the world. Korean Air has great values for Chase’s Ultimate Rewards through Skypass, but buying a ticket with your rewards includes phone calls, faxes, and flashing your credit card at check-in. Beyond the difficult booking process, the value is 6.9 cents per point and international flights can be obtained for relatively low point totals. Additionally, the Kosmo Sleeper Suite in First Class is definitely worth the points for gruelingly long flights.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Chart through Korean Air

3. Southwest: Fly Free with Southwest Companion Pass after 110,000 Points

Chase Ultimate Rewards Southwest Seats

With a fixed value of 1.9 cents per point, Southwest provides great value for Ultimate Rewards members. Now with expanded routes after merging with Air Tran, Southwest offers domestic tickets on the cheap with Southwest Rapid Rewards. The program works like this: you can redeem your points for any open seat but the point value is determined by the ticket price. The cheaper the ticket, the less points you need. It gets even better if you get the Southwest Companion pass. Anyone can fly with you for free if you reach 110,000 points between the personal and business cards, which offers double the point value.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Southwest Companion Pass

Chase Ultimate Rewards Southwest and Marriott Point Totals

4. Marriott: Severely Discounted 7-night Stay with Airline Bundle and 25% off Hertz Rentals

Chase Ultimate Rewards Marriott Tier 5 hotel

Like United, Marriott recently made some devastating changes to their reward program. However, the program is still a mostly a great value when it comes to hotel and air deals. Marriott offers a combination hotel and airline package that provides a better price than booking them separately. Ultimate Rewards members can redeem their points for a 7-night stay and a certain amount of airline miles that are transferred to your frequent flyer account. Mileage varies depending on which airline you transfer your rewards to, but many times it turns out to be a 1:1 ratio. They also include 25% off Hertz rentals so you don’t have to feel guilty about upgrading your rental.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Amounts for Marriott Hotel and Air Bundle

5. British Airways: Book a Roundtrip Ticket from New York to Montreal for only 9,000 Avios

Chase Ultimate Rewards British Airways Cabin

Similar to Marriott and Hyatt, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio. British Airways is exceptional for domestic flights because of their distance-based rewards style; short flight rates are extremely low. For example, a flight from New York to Montreal may cost about $950, but if you use Avios points, it’s only 9,000 with $57 in taxes and fees. That equals 10 cents per Avios; an astoundingly great rate for your Ultimate Rewards points. You can also use your Avios to upgrade your seat class easily.

Chase Ultimate Rewards (in Avios) to Upgrade Airline Seat on British Airways

6. Ritz-Carlton: Save Up to 50% off Hotel Rooms

Chase Ultimate Rewards Ritz Carlton Tier 5 Room

The Ritz-Carlton is a luxury hotel partner with Ultimate Rewards where you can access discounted PointSavers awards by simply calling 1-800-542-8680. Different hotels offer various discounted rates and seasonal changes so availability may be an issue. However, if you do happen to grab a discounted opportunity, you could save as much as 50%.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Ritz-Carlton PointSavers

7. Virgin Atlantic: Upgrade your Seat for a Mere 10,000 Points

Chase Ultimate Rewards Virgin Atlantic Cabin

Virgin Atlantic falls in-line with the 1:1 point transfer ratio and there is no limit to how many points you can move over. They have a similar construction to British Airways so if you’re deciding between the two, check their reward amounts and choose accordingly. Virgin Atlantic offers the best point transfers for upgrades on already-paid-for tickets. You can upgrade for 10,000 points from economy to premium economy or for 20,000 points you can upgrade from economy to Upper Class. They offer about 3.7 cents per point and buying during peak times is in your best interest since you get the best value per mile.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Point Value to Upgrade Seat on Virgin Atlantic

 8. United: $12,000 Miami to Frankfurt Flight for a Tiny 67,500 Points

Chase Ultimate Rewards United Cabin with Drink

United has sort-of crashed in terms of what they offer points-wise. Their program used to be stellar but even with the less-than-perfect award chart, they’re still the only Star Alliance member that allows you to redeem awards for premium cabins. You can use your rewards on any of the 28 Star Alliance partners and they offer crazy discounts like the extravagant caviar-crusted $12,000 flight from Miami to Frankfurt for only 67,500 points.

Chase Ultimate Rewards United Caviar Flight

Chase Ultimate Rewards $12,000 Miami to Frankfurt Flight

9. Priority Club: Free Nights Starting at 5,000 Points

Chase Ultimate Rewards Crowne Plaza Priority Club

For those who really want to squeeze their dollar, Ultimate Rewards can transfer to Priority Club, which includes Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, and Holiday Inn to name a few. Although the rewards are not as voluptuous as the other hotels, the PointBreaks offer a superb value. You only need 5,000 points for a free night during the special redemption rate times and the list changes about every two months allowing for different booking options. There are perfect times to hit the jackpot of rewards, too. Hotels that were normally 20,000 points for a free night are available at random for 5,000 points. Just have to get there before the white rabbit hops away.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Priority Club 5,000 Point Free Night

10. Amtrak: Sleep in Luxury at 25,000 Points

Chase Ultimate Rewards Amtrak Bedroom

I’ve known a few engineers who love to travel by train so this category is for you. Ultimate Rewards are available for those wishing to travel by train. If you review the zone map, Amtrak can be lucrative at 4 cents per point. Let’s say you want to take a trip that falls only in one zone of the map. You can get a bedroom for 25,000 points or a roomette for 15,000; riding, and possibly sleeping, in comfort for less than many airlines would charge.

One Zone Two Zones Three Zones
Coach Class 5,500 8,000 10,500
Business Class 6,500 10,500 12,500
Roomette 15,000 20,000 35,000
Bedroom 25,000 40,000 60,000

11. Cash Back: Pay for Expenses While Still Receiving 5% Cash Back in Bonus Categories

All of the Chase credit cards offer cash back. This one is more of a no-brainer. You can use any left over points as straight cash for meals, gas, treats, or trinkets on your trip. You can also get up to 5% cash back on that quarter’s categories when you use your card on your trip. Having left over points allows you to spend even less on your trip and buy what you want. Cash back is a great way to save on travel expenses whether you deposit it in your bank account or in your wallet.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal for Points to Cash

12. Travel Cash: Get More Punch for Your Cash Back by Booking Travel via Ultimate Rewards

You can use your cash back, instead of points, to book travel as well through the Ultimate Rewards portal. This method does open up a few more options than only using straight points and if you don’t happen to use up all of the cash back, you can easily deposit it into your bank account. The Travel Cash usually comes out to a higher number than just regular cash back because you’re using the Ultimate Rewards portal; thus another bonus when you’re looking to save on vacations.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Cash Portal

13. Buy Travel Supplies: Save Tons of Cash by Purchasing Travel Items at the Merchandise Store via Ultimate Rewards

If you realized you need a new bathing suit for your beach getaway, make sure to look for it on the Ultimate Rewards Merchandise Store. You can save huge amounts by just shopping through their portal, gain extra rewards, and use your cash back or points for the purchase. You can even redeem your cash back for an emergency gift card. If, by chance, your credit cards were shut off unexpectedly and you’re out of cash, a gift card can buy you lunch, help with travel expenses like rental cards and hotels, and if your suitcase is lost, help you buy a new wardrobe. You have to plan ahead for the emergency gift card though because it’s shipped to your home; however, they’re excellent to have when you’re in a bind.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Merchandise Portal

Chase Ultimate Rewards travel transfers can be sliced and diced, mixed between hotels and airlines, and most importantly, can get you remarkable pricing discounts for less miles.