Updated February 1st, 2020
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 for good reason. Chase maintains a healthy number of transfer partner relationships and allows one to combine points among accounts effortlessly. Furthermore, if one desires, the ability to turn points into cash at a rate of 1¢/point is always available. It took a while to get to this number, but after all transfer partners were properly evaluated, we assigned a fantastic ACRV of 2.07¢ to each Chase Ultimate Reward.
Let’s Talk Transfer[wpdatatable id=22 table_view=regular]
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 a number of partners offer(at least one-off) opportunities to redeem in excess of 5¢ 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 >5¢ 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 0.93¢, with a standard deviation of 0.96¢. This means, that theoretically, 68% of award redemptions should occur between 0 and 1.9¢ per point. Of course, in practice, nobody would ever consider redeeming for less than 1¢, as they could simply cash out at that point.
Booking Travel Directly with Chase
For a nearly zero-hassle redemption experience, one can also book travel directly through the Expedia-powered Chase booking portal. 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). Historically, 1.5¢ per point was very easy to beat via partner. However, after seemingly endless devaluations at the airlines, it’s becoming more desirable.
Other Ways to Use Chase Ultimate Rewards
While transferring to a partner or using the UR travel portal are the preferred methods of using one’s Ultimate Rewards, there are some other options. As previously mentioned, the easiest, and most yawn-worthy method, is to convert to cash for 1¢/point. Chase further provides the opportunity to purchase gift cards and shop on Amazon with one’s hard-earned award points. These are two of the least-lucrative ways to redeem. When purchasing gift-cards, it’s almost always done so at a rate of 1¢. 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 0.8¢. 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 1¢ at that point.
Chase Ultimate Rewards, along with American Express Membership Rewards occupy the elite strata of the points and miles world. They both 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¢|