Best Chase Ultimate Rewards Redemption Options
Chase Ultimate Rewards were the first points currency I ever collected. It was a glorious new world in 2012 when I was able to use my initial welcome offer from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for literally over $1,000 in free travel. Back in those days Amtrak was one of the best Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption options, and my wife and I enjoyed crossing the country by rail in first class accommodations.
The program has changed a bit since then, but there are still some amazing ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards points. Chase doesn’t have as robust a transfer partner list as American Express Membership Rewards, but they do have a couple unique partners with some fantastic sweet spots.
Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Before we get into the best uses of Ultimate Rewards, we should discuss the best ways to rack up points. There are plenty of cards out there for doing so, and here are some of the best:
These cards earn fully transferable Ultimate Rewards points.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points with a $95 annual fee after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. The perfect starter card and it offers a ton of value the first year.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points with a $450 annual fee after spending $4,000 within the first 3 months. The best perks card in the Chase program and a great card for road warriors.
- Ink Business Preferred – 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points with a $95 annual fee after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months. The largest UR points offer Chase has
No Annual Fee Cards
You need to carry a Chase premium card listed above to unlock these points and allow them to be transferable points. Otherwise they are only worth 1 cent a piece in cash.
- Chase Freedom – 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points with no annual fee after spending $500 within the first 3 months. A card that rotates 5% back categories each quarter. The points become a Ultimate Rewards if you have a Chase premium card otherwise they are worth 1 cent each in cash back.
- Chase Freedom Unlimited – 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points with no annual fee after spending $500 within the first 3 months. A great everyday card since it earns 1.5X in everything. The points become a Ultimate Rewards if you have a Chase premium card otherwise they are worth 1 cent each in cash back.
- Ink Business Cash – 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points with no annual fee after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months. This may be the best way to rack up UR points with its 5X earning potential. The points become a Ultimate Rewards if you have a Chase premium card otherwise they are worth 1 cent each in cash back.
- Ink Unlimited – 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points with no annual fee after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months. A great everyday business card since it earns 1.5X in everything. The points become a Ultimate Rewards if you have a Chase premium card otherwise they are worth 1 cent each in cash back.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners
Chase has a number of transfer partners, some of which offer very good value, and others that offer very poor value.
Here are the handful I write off completely because they are worth less than 1 cent a piece:
- IHG Rewards Club
- Marriott Bonvoy
The remaining transfer partners all have good to great value:
- The Avios Trio (British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus)
- Emirates Skywards
- Flying Blue
- Singapore KrisFlyer
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- World of Hyatt
- Southwest Rapid Rewards
Emirates is a very situational partner. There are still some great uses of the program, which I previously covered.
United Excursionist Perk Magic
United is one of the transfer partners exclusive to Chase, which means that their sweet spots are some of the top unique awards you can book with Ultimate Rewards. I came up with a couple specific bookings with the Excursionist Perk but as this gets incredibly situational, I figured I’d just lay it out as a general best award use.
We’ve covered the basics of how to book a United Excursionist Perk award, and also some creative uses of the perk to help you maximize your miles.
A few examples of what you can pull with the Excursionist Perk:
- Get a “free” one-way U.S. domestic flight by booking an intra-Hawaii segment on a visit to the Aloha State.
- Book a long, expensive intra-region flights sandwiched between two U.S. domestic awards (e.g. Auckland to Perth on Air New Zealand, or flights on Ethiopian from East Africa to South Africa).
- Book a free premium transcontinental flight sandwiched between a cheap business class hop in another region and a final economy leg. Sometimes this can be less than the number of miles required for the United p.s. flight itself!
There are so many details about the Excursionist Perk that I can’t go into detail here. You’ll need to check out the other posts linked above. Just know that they are solidly one of the best Chase Ultimate Reward redemption options.
Singapore Suites? Yes, Please!
It’s hard to stick Singapore in any of the top five lists in the posts in this series, but they need a mention in at least one. All three major transferable bank currencies (Citi ThankYou, Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards) partner with Singapore KrisFlyer. Whether they belong in Ultimate Rewards is up for debate, but I will not deny that they are still one of the best Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption options.
Singapore Suites is only bookable through the KrisFlyer program. They do not release awards to partner programs.
The main issue I have with the product is the price. It’s still high. But if you want one of the most spacious and luxurious experiences in the sky, you have no choice but to shell out the miles. And compared to the cash price of the ticket, it’s still a fine deal.
If I ever do fly Suites, I would likely just bite the bullet and book the longest trip possible. You can fly in Singapore Suites (both old and new products) from New York City to Sydney via both Frankfurt and Singapore for 167,000 KrisFlyer miles one way at Saver rates.
It’d be a chore to find the space, but for over 14,000 miles of first class flying, it’d be worth it. Definitely on the bucket list.
Stay at Top Park Hyatt Properties Around the Globe
Although their footprint is limited compared to other chains, Hyatt has some amazing properties around the world. There are a handful of top locations that offer a luxurious stay at great value for your points.
When redeeming Hyatt points, I typically try to get about 2 cents per point. Well, in some of these cases, you can get over 3 cents. This might not be the best Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption value when compared to premium cabin awards on airlines, but you’ll be hard pressed to find better value for a hotel stay.
Here are five top Hyatt properties that routinely go for more than $800 per night where you can instead spend just 25,000 to 30,000 points:
- Park Hyatt Mallorca
- Park Hyatt Kyoto
- The “Flagship” Park Hyatt New York
- Park Hyatt Milan
- Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
- The Park Hyatt Tokyo
There are of course other deals to be had in the Hyatt program, but these are places that are both consistently expensive and top-notch properties in the chain. Our one night at the Park Hyatt Milan in 2016 is unforgettable.
I don’t know what it is about the Park Hyatt Mallorca, but it looks absolutely gorgeous. I’d love to visit it (and the Balearic Islands in general). Cash is a fine option in low season, but summer rates climb over $800 per night, making points an amazing redemption.
You could also consider trying to book a stay at Calala Island, a private all-inclusive Nicaraguan island escape, where you can use 40,000 Hyatt points to book a room going for over $2,000 per night. This has made quite the splash within the blogging circuit lately.
Thai Airways First Class Using United Miles
Thai Airways First Class between Australia and East Asia used to be one of the most incredible sweet spots on the United award chart. The award value to Japan is still insanely good, and this is the particular route where I see the best value flying Thai first class.
You can fly from Sydney to Tokyo via Bangkok in Thai First Class for just 65,000 United Miles one-way aboard either a Boeing 747 or Airbus A380 in a luxurious first class bed. For a total flight time of over 15 hours, this is a fantastic deal. Not to mention you get to enjoy an amazing lounge experience at the Thai First Class Lounge in Bangkok.
Thai Airways is unfortunately facing critical financial difficulties. There may not be a lot of time left to book these awards, as Thailand’s flag carrier may fold unless they can turn things around. Thai Airways’ president Sumeth may have been a bit too blunt about the dire situation, stating, “everyone will die if the vessel sinks.”
In short: book now if you want to fly this.
The increased offer on the United Explorer card is currently at 65,000 United Miles too as another option to make this booking happen.
Emirates Fantastic First Class!
It’s no secret that Emirates has one of the finest first class products in the sky. Luckily, you can experience it for a reasonable number of Skywards miles, transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards.
The sweet spot band on the Emirates award chart is for flights under approximately 5,000 miles. Emirates has an award calculator rather than an award chart. Routes around this length price out at only 135,000 Emirates Skywards miles round-trip! This is a great deal in terms of miles for this much first class flying. Routes at this price include:
- New York – JFK to Milan
- London to Dubai
- New York – Newark to Athens (operated by a 777, not an A380)
What’s going to kill you here are the fuel and carrier surcharges. These are often around $1,000 for a round-trip ticket!! But when you’re looking at a cash price of over $5,000, shelling out 135,000 miles and a grand is a whole lot more appealing. I just don’t have a grand to push around for a shower in the sky.
It’s a bit hard to compile a list of best Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption choices, but this is the best I can come up with. Every single one will likely get you at least 3 cents per point, sometimes far more.
What are you favorite redemption options for Chase Ultimate Rewards points?