Photo (cc) by 401(K) 2012
Credit card rewards can get complicated. In addition to the myriad retailer, airline, and hotel reward programs, some issuers offer their own point systems.
Despite the complexity, however, a few programs stand out as clearly superior. Example? Chase, one of the largest issuers of reward cards, and their Ultimate Rewards points program.
What are Ultimate Rewards points?
Customers who hold an eligible credit card earn Ultimate Rewards points for every dollar spent. These cards include the Chase Freedom Visa , Chase Sapphire Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Ink Business Cards. Points from all these cards can be redeemed for cash back, travel rewards, and merchandise from Chase. Points from Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, and Ink Plus can also be transferred to points or miles with some hotel and airline programs.
What can you do with Ultimate Rewards points?
- Redeem for cash back. Chase will give you a statement credit or mail you a check. Or, you can use your points to make a charitable donation.
- Exchange for merchandise. Chase’s Ultimate Rewards website offers consumer goods as well as “experience” rewards such as tours and activities.
- Book travel directly. Chase’s online travel portal allows you to book airfare, hotel, rental cars, and cruises using any combination of points and cash.
- Transfer points to airlines. If you have one of the eligible cards listed above, points can be transferred to miles or points with United, Korean, British Airways, or Southwest.
- Transfer points to hotels. With an eligible card, transfer Ultimate Rewards points to the programs of Marriott, Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, and Priority Club (InterContinental Hotels Group).
- Transfer points to Amtrak. The same cards that allow point transfers to airlines and hotels also allow you to transfer points to the Amtrak Guest Rewards program.
Why are these points so special?
As with many rewards programs, you can get 1 percent cash back, and roughly that value toward merchandise. But if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus card, your points are worth 1.25 cents each toward travel booked through Chase’s website.
But the real value is when you transfer points to other programs. Done wisely, you can get several cents per point in value.
To illustrate, a few examples…
- Transfer to British Airways for awards on American Airlines: 9,000 points transferred to British Airways can be redeemed for a round-trip flight of less than 650 miles on American Airlines such as Atlanta to Miami or New York to Toronto.
- Transfer points to United for premium class awards: 100,000 points can be transferred to United for a business-class ticket to Europe.
- Luxury hotels with Hyatt: 22,000 points can be transferred to the Hyatt Gold Passport program, which is enough for one night at their most expensive hotels.
How do you get these points?
As mentioned above, to get transferable points, stick with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, and Ink Plus cards. But earn more points by spending in bonus categories. With Chase Sapphire Preferred , you earn 2 Ultimate Reward points for each dollar spent for restaurants and travel. With Ink Bold and Ink Plus, you earn 5 points per dollar when you buy office supplies and telephone, television, and Internet services.
The Ultimate Rewards website also includes an online shopping mall that allows you to earn bonus points from many popular retailers.
By understanding what Ultimate Rewards points are, how to get them, and how to use them, you can unlock the power of Chase’s best reward credit cards.
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