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Chase Ultimate Rewards Program Review

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Chase Ultimate Rewards® is a loyalty program that rewards customers with flexible points and earnings. You can use a variety of Chase credit cards to earn rewards through this program. In fact, there’s a credit card for almost everyone under this program. And Chase Ultimate Rewards® points never expire as long as your accounts are open and in good standing.

Check out the best rewards credit cards.

Chase Ultimate Rewards® Program Overview

Chase Ultimate Rewards® offers many rewards and many ways to earn them. Depending on what cards you use and how you use them, you could get thousands of points or reward miles.

Business owners can reap these benefits with business credit cards like Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card and Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card. Or customers can use personal credit cards like Chase Freedom Unlimited® or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Chase Ultimate Rewards® has an easy-to-navigate online dashboard where you can look at your cards, rewards, points and spending. This online resource also provides information on where and how to earn more points or redeem those already available.

Personal Cards Included in the Chase Ultimate Rewards® Program

Chase Ultimate Rewards Program Review

Chase Freedom® 

One of the more basic cards under the Chase Ultimate Rewards® Program, Chase Freedom® provides a solid cash back deal. Cash back rewards are tracked as points, and each $1 in cash back rewards is equal to 100 points. For most purchases, you earn one point per dollar spent. You typically will get one cent per point when redeemed for cash back.

Each quarter, Chase Freedom® also offers bonus rotating categories where you can earn even more rewards. This is something specific like gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores. The categories vary each quarter and can get you 5 points per dollar on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in the quarterly bonus categories each quarter. You must opt in to the categories each quarter.

You can also earn 15,000 Ultimate Rewards® points if you spend $500 on the card within the first three months. Chase Freedom® has no annual fee and has 0% APR for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, the variable APR is 16.24% – 24.99%.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited® is another simple card with no annual fee. This card earns you 1.5 Ultimate Rewards® points for every dollar spent. There are no bonus categories or limitations on where you earn those points. So whether you’re running to catch your next flight or heading to the grocery store, if you use your Chase Freedom Unlimited® card, you’ll get points back.

You can earn 15,000 Ultimate Rewards® points for spending at least $500 within the first three months. Chase Freedom Unlimited® also has 0% APR for the first 15 months of purchases and balances transfers. Then it has a variable 16.24% – 24.99% APR.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 

It’s important to look at your spending habits before choosing the rewards card that’s right for you, but the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card may give cardholders the most bang for their buck.

At the start, you can earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards® points for spending $4,000 in the first three months. The card does have an annual fee of $95, however, there is an intro rate of $0 for the first year. Plus, you get a redemption discount of 25% whenever you book your travel plans through the Chase Travel portal.

For this card, one point is worth 0.0125 cents when redeemed for travel, with double points earned on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide. To further your rewards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card allows you to transfer your points to travel partners’ loyalty programs. (Read more on this below.)

Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ 

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card, you get 50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first three months of opening your card. The card also offers three points per dollar spent on travel and restaurants, and one point for all other purchases. Plus, you can get a 50% bonus on your redemptions when you use your points to book travel through the Chase Travel portal. This ups the rewards rate to between 1.5% and 4.5%.

The cost of these rewards? An annual fee of $450. While that’s definitely a lot, the savings and benefits that come with the card may be worth it depending on your lifestyle and spending habits. In addition to the above savings, the Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ also gets you a $300 annual travel credit that you can use for things like plane tickets or even taxi rides. You also receive a complimentary Priority Pass™ Select Membership that allows you to access airport lounges around the world, making this a great card for frequent fliers.

Business Cards Included in the Chase Ultimate Rewards® Program

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

This card is designed toward earning you cash back for your business purchases. It comes with a Chase Ultimate Rewards® Bonus of 30,000 points ($300 cash back value) if you spend $3,000 within the first three months. The card itself offers 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases for select business services or supplies each account anniversary year. This includes office supply stores, cell phones, landline phones, internet and cable TV services.

The card also provides 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants, again each account anniversary year. All this comes with a 14.49% – 20.49% variable APR, a 3% foreign transaction fee and no annual fee.

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

The Ink Business Preferred℠ Card is very similar to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, except it is aimed at businesses. There is a $95 annual fee, which is not waived for the first year. As a bonus, you can get 80,000 points ($1,000 value) for spending $5,000 within the first three months. Once you get spending, you earn 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 you spend in business services. This card includes travel and advertising purchases (through social media sites and search engines) under eligible business purchases. It also comes with a variable 17.24% – 22.24% APR and no foreign transaction fee.

General Point Value

Points earned and point value varies among cards. Generally, points are worth 1 to 1.5 cents each when used toward cash back, travel expenses, gift cards and other items.

Chase Freedom® and Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, the most basic cards under the Chase Ultimate Rewards® Program, offer the one cent per point redemption rate.

The more advanced cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ and the Ink Business Preferred℠ Card, offer 25% – 50% more point value, depending on the card.

Each card also offers special rewards for various spending categories. For example, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can earn double points per dollar spent on travel and dining. So if you travel and eat out often, that card could earn you incredible savings. You can transfer rewards to partner loyalty programs to increase the value of your points should you hold one of the more advanced cards.

Airline and Travel Partners

Chase Ultimate Rewards Program Review

A major plus of the advanced cards is the ability to take advantage of Chase’s travel partnerships. Cardholders can transfer their Chase Ultimate Rewards® points at a rate of 1 to 1 with these partners. This expands the ways cardholders can spend their points and what they get for those points.

Currently Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer partners are:

  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Korean Air SKYPASS
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®
  • United MileagePlus®
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Hyatt Gold Passport®
  • Marriott Rewards®
  • IHG® Rewards Club
  • Ritz Carlton Rewards®

Getting the Most out of Your Chase Ultimate Rewards®

If you qualify, transferring your points to one of the above travel partners might be the most efficient use of your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. Otherwise, consider booking your travel plans through Chase Travel to optimize your spending and rewards. If you have either the Chase Freedom® or Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, your points are redeemed at 1 cent per point. But with the more advanced cards, your points can be redeemed at a minimum of 1.25 cents per point towards travel and a maximum of 6.25 cents per point.

However, if you have both the Chase Freedom® and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can transfer your Chase Freedom® points to the Sapphire Preferred® Card. This way, you can continue earning points as you normally would, but redeem them at a much higher value.

While there are many ways to earn and redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards®, not all provide the same value. Through the Shop with Points program, you can make Amazon purchases with points at a rate of 0.8 cents per point. This is the lowest redemption rate available to Ultimate Rewards® members. While it may seem convenient, using your points for Amazon or gift card purchases may not be the best use of your points. It’s a good idea to look around before choosing how to use those rewards.

Final Word

Chase Ultimate Rewards® Program offers a rewards deal for every kind of spender. Whether you’re looking for simplicity in cash back, further travel perks or a boost for your small business, there is an Ultimate Rewards® card to meet your goal. The program offers favorable points values and transfer ratios. It’s important to make smart decisions around your earning and redeeming habits, so that you can get the most out of your card, no matter which one you hold.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/pabst_ell, ©iStock.com/4×6, ©iStock.com/franckreporter

Lauren Perez, CEPF® Lauren Perez writes on a variety of personal finance topics for SmartAsset, with a special expertise in savings, banking and credit cards. She is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®) and a member of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. Lauren has a degree in English from the University of Rochester where she focused on Language, Media and Communications. She is originally from Los Angeles. While prone to the occasional shopping spree, Lauren has been aware of the importance of money management and savings since she was young. Lauren loves being able to make credit card and retirement account recommendations to friends and family based on the hours of research she completes at SmartAsset.
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