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This article was last updated Aug 23, 2016, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
Chase Ultimate Rewards® is a terrific travel rewards program that can handle all your travel needs, giving you three ways to use your points:
- Booking via the Chase Ultimate Rewards website (which we walk through below). This lets you book most airlines, hotels, and car rentals. Your points work like cash to pay for some or all of the price of a ticket so you don’t have to look for special award flights or deal with those rules. If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card every 10,000 points is worth $125 in travel. If you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve®, every 10,000 points is worth $150 in travel.
- Transferring points to travel partners. This lets you turn your points into real miles with participating frequent travel programs, including United MileagePlus®, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Marriott Rewards and more. Here’s a rundown of how that works. It’s a good way to get more value if you already have some miles, or want to learn about the ins and outs of reward programs to find awards you wouldn’t normally be able to afford.
- Redeeming for statement credit. You can always choose to turn your points into statement credit for any purchase, including travel. It’s not the best value for your points, but you get $0.01 in value per point, so 10,000 points = $100.
The easiest way to use your points for travel is to book via the Chase Ultimate Rewards website, by following these steps:
How to Book a Flight
Log on to the Ultimate Rewards website.
If you carry more than one card, choose the one with the highest annual fee – so you get the best value for your points. You can always combine points among accounts anytime.
Hover your mouse over “Use Points” and click “Explore and Book Travel.”
If it’s a flight you’re after, enter your information and click “Search.” You can chose the number of passengers, class of service, and whether or not you want to limit your search to nonstop flights. You can also opt to include a car rental, hotel, or tourist activities.
In our case, we decided to check a flight between New York JFK and Los Angeles. The result reflects the 25% bonus you receive for booking flights as a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholder. While the cheapest flight costs $263, the reward would only cost you 21,000 points.
Note that if you don’t see the airline of your choice on the Chase Ultimate Rewards website, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t book it.
Some airlines not on the website can be booked by phone, like Southwest, Allegiant, Norwegian, and Gol. However, some airlines aren’t bookable via Chase at all, such as Easyjet, Ryanair, Volaris, Wow Air, Wizz Air, Indigo, Air Asia, and Spicejet.
Also, remember to include more airports around your area to make sure you aren’t missing on other opportunities.
To illustrate, searching NYC-LAX rather than JFK-LAX added a United flight from Newark to the mix. In our example, that didn’t bring down the price, but it’s a possibility.
Our example also demonstrates that booking your flight on the website is sometimes a better solution than transferring points to an airline.
While this domestic roundtrip flight would cost you 25,000 miles on United (which is equal to 25,000 UR points), booking the flight on the Chase Ultimate Rewards website would have the following benefits:
- Saving 3,000-4,000 points
- More airline choices
- Possibly earning airline miles
Note, that this is not always the case – and transferring points is often the way to go with more expensive flights. Read this post to better understand your options to pay the fewest points.
Points and cash
The flexibility of the Ultimate Rewards program is another reason why it’s so versatile. If you don’t have enough points, or if you want to save some of them for another occasion, you can pay the difference with cash. Just enter the number of points you want to use, or move the slider to the left, and the website will calculate the remainder in cash (if you don’t have enough points in your account, the website will do it for you anyway).
Does the Ultimate Rewards Website Have the Same Airfare As Others?
Sometimes, but it’s not always the case. On some occasions, it can be better or worse, so always check other sources, such as airline websites and online travel agents: Orbitz, Kayak, Priceline, Travelocity, etc.
Google Flights is a good source to check, too.
What About Earning Miles?
In two words, it depends. Since most fares people end up booking are deeply discounted fares, this is up to an individual airline’s rules. Sometimes you get the full amount of miles, other times you get less or nothing. There are airlines that allow you to get regular but not bonus miles – for example, JetBlue offers at least 3 extra points if you book a ticket on Jetblue.com.
Sometimes the fares on the Chase site are ‘bulk’ discounted fares which airline sell to travel agents.
Some airlines don’t like it when you book tickets elsewhere and limit your ability to earn miles on fares like these. This is what United states in its terms and conditions for earning miles. Note that this clause allows them to exclude any fare they want.
United Airlines reserves the right to exclude certain flights, fares, tickets, routes, products and/or programs from earning MileagePlus award miles and/or Premier qualifying credits.
To make it more confusing, there’s no reliable way to tell if the fare you’re booking on the Ultimate Rewards website is ‘bulk’ or not.
One way around it is to check the fare you want on the airline’s website and look for the fare ‘code’ associated with it. You can then call the Ultimate Rewards hotline and have them search for the fare by code.
In many cases, however, you will still get the miles even on a bulk fare. Just make sure to keep the record of the transaction and your boarding pass until you see them posted in your account.
Can You Book for Someone Else?
Yes, the terms & conditions explicitly allows you to use your points to buy tickets for other people.
Can You Redeem Ultimate Rewards Points for Cash?
Absolutely, and it’s very easy, too! You can redeem your Ultimate Rewards points at 1:1, starting at 2,000 points. You can choose a statement credit or you can deposit your cash back into your Chase account if it’s linked to your credit card(s). Just go to the “Use Points” menu, but instead of clicking “Explore and Book Travel” click “Get Cash Back”.
Can you use a promo code?
There aren’t any promo codes we’re aware of that offer discounts on the Chase Ultimate Rewards site.