Chase Ultimate Rewards, along with their competitor, Amex Membership Rewards are two of the most sought-after currencies in the points and miles community. This is, of course, for good reason. Chase maintains a healthy number of transfer partner relationships and allows one to combine points among accounts effortlessly. Furthermore, if one truly desires, the ability to turn points into cash at a rate of $0.01/point is always available. Though we certainly would not recommend this option. It took a while to get to this number, but after all transfer partners were properly valued, we assigned an fantastic ACRV of $0.0219 to each Chase Ultimate Reward.
Let’s Talk Transfer
|Program||Transfer Ratio||acrvvaluecents||Non-Zero Average||Updated|
|Aer Lingus Avios||1:1||0.46||1.61||12/29/2019|
|Air France KLM Flying Blue||1:1||0.77||1.04||12/26/2019|
|British Airways Avios||1:1||0.62||1.49||12/29/2019|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1:1||0.27||1.97||02/07/2019|
|IHG Rewards Club||1:1||0.29||0.46||06/09/2019|
|World of Hyatt||1:1||1.38||1.73||06/23/2019|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||1:1||1.22||1.37||01/10/2020|
Without question, the best route one can take to maximize their Ultimate Reward investment is by utilizing Chase’s excellent array of transfer partners. Some obviously being much more valuable than others. Taking a look at the chart below, we can see that, when ranked by their non-zero average, the top 5 partners all present opportunities to redeem for over $0.05 per point. To put this in terms of ROS, consider that the Chase Sapphire Reserve currently earns 3 Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent on dining and travel. If one were to then transfer those points and use for ~$.05 a piece, >15% returns are entirely possible.
So What about Real-World Expectations?
The bell curve below represents the normal distribution of all theoretical redemptions made via Chase’s transfer partners. For an explanation of why the average does not equal our value, see our methodology here. Most recently, our average redemption was $0.0151, with a standard deviation of $0.0117. This means, that theoretically, 68% of award redemptions should occur between $0.0034 and $0.0268. Of course, in practice, nobody would ever consider redeeming for less than $0.01, as they could simply cash out at that point.
Booking Travel Directly with Chase
For an nearly zero-hassle redemption experience, one can also book travel directly through the Ultimate Rewards portal, paying with points. Depending on the card one’s Ultimate Rewards account is tied to, one can redeem for either 1.25¢(Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Business Preferred) or 1.5¢(Chase Sapphire Reserve). While this isn’t our preferred redemption route, it is reliable, and higher-value than simply converting to cash.
Other Ways to Use Chase Ultimate Rewards
While transfer partner and UR travel portal booking are the preferred methods of using one’s Ultimate Rewards, in that order, there are some lower-value options. As previously mentioned, the easiest, and most yawn-worthy, method is to convert to cash for $0.01/point. Chase further provides the opportunity to purchase gift cards and shop on Amazon with one’s hard-earned award points. These are likely two of the least-lucrative ways to redeem. When purchasing gift-cards, it’s almost always done so at a rate of $0.01. So no real benefit over simply grabbing the cash.
Using Ultimate Rewards over at Amazon is even worse. While quick and easy, one currently only redeems for $0.008. At that point, one is just throwing value away. If one really, really wants to use their URs at Amazon, the preferred method would be to purchase an Amazon gift card, at least you’re still getting $0.01 at that point.
Chase Ultimate Rewards, along with Starwood Preferred Guest and American Express Membership Rewards occupy the elite strata of the points and miles world. They all provide reliable, easy-to-use methods by which to redeem, coupled with high-value options for those willing to work a little.
Recapping our redemption options, they would fall in the following order:
|Chase Ultimate Rewards Redemption Options|
|Transfer to a Travel Partner||>1.5¢|
|Redeem via UR Travel Portal||1.5-1.25¢|
|Convert to Cash/Gift Card||1¢|
|Shop at Amazon||~.8¢|