Chase offers 2 ways to redeem points for travel - one option gets you the best deals on first-class flights

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Crystal Cox/Business Insider

If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred, your points are worth 1.25 cents each for travel booked directly through Chase.

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards points - the currency you earn with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card - give you lots of options for booking award travel.
  • You can use your points to book hotels, flights, car rentals, and more through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Your other option is to transfer Chase points to airline and hotel partners including United, Singapore Airlines, Hyatt, and Marriott.
  • Booking through Chase's travel portal is usually a better option for cheap flights and hotel stays with IHG and Marriott.
  • On the other hand, you'll usually get more value by transferring to travel partners if you're looking to book a first-class award flight or a Hyatt hotel stay.
  • See Business Insider's list of the best rewards credit cards »

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are one of the most valuable rewards currencies out there. One of the things that makes them so valuable is how flexible they are. There are two main ways that you can redeem your Ultimate Rewards for travel. First, you can use your Ultimate Rewards points through the travel portal (at a value of up to 1.5 cents per point.) The other way that you can use your Ultimate Rewards points is by transferring them to Chase's 13 airline and hotel transfer partners.

Because of this flexibility, you are insulated from miles and points devaluations - if one program updates its award chart in away that decreases the value of its miles, you still have many other options for using your Ultimate Rewards. But how do you know when to use your points directly with Chase's travel portal and when to transfer them to an airline or hotel program?

How to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards

There are a variety of ways to accrue Chase Ultimate Rewards - the primary ways being earning welcome offers and spending on Chase's lineup of credit cards.

Here are a few of the top Chase credit cards:

Once you've accrued a stash of Ultimate Rewards, it's time to figure out some of the best ways to spend them. Specifically, we're going to look at the differences between booking travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal vs. transferring your Ultimate Rewards to travel partners.

Booking travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal

The simplest way to use your Ultimate Rewards points is by logging into your account at the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. The Chase Ultimate Rewards portal is powered by Expedia, and will show a variety of flights, hotels, car rentals, and even travel experiences. Each choice will show the price in cash and then the number of Ultimate Rewards points that it will cost. You can also pay partially in points and partially in cash.

The amount that you pay in points is completely dependent on the cash price at a fixed rate, depending on which Chase card you have:

1 cent per point: Chase Freedom, Chase Freedom Unlimited, Ink Business Cash Credit Card, Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card
1.25 cents per point: Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Business Preferred
1.5 cents per point: Chase Sapphire Reserve

If you have multiple Chase credit cards with Ultimate Rewards, you'll want to transfer your points to the card that has the highest redemption value.

One important thing to note is that because the cash prices in the Chase travel portal are powered by Expedia, you'll get the same cash prices as you'd pay at Expedia. However, you may be able to get a lower price elsewhere (especially when booking hotels directly through the hotel site itself), so be sure to investigate your options before booking.

Transferring Ultimate Rewards to airline and hotel partners

The other option for using your Ultimate Rewards is by transferring them to one of Chase's 13 airline or hotel transfer partners.

You'll need a premium Chase card (i.e., one with an annual fee) in order to be able to transfer your Ultimate Rewards to transfer partners. Chase points transfer to every travel partner at a 1:1 rate.

You can transfer to the following 10 airlines:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • British Airway Executive Club
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United Airlines MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

And these three hotel programs:

  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • World of Hyatt

Once you transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to an airline or hotel loyalty program, you can't transfer them back to Chase. Once your points are transferred, you can redeem them according to the award chart of the hotel or airline in question.

Booking with Chase vs. transferring: which is best?

Unless you're a master of the many, many rules of all of the various airline and hotel loyalty programs, it can be difficult to figure out when you should transfer your points and when you should use them through the travel portal. Let's look at a few different scenarios to help illustrate which sce

The portal is a better option for hotel stays - with Hyatt as a possible exception

First off, let's look at a stay at the Holiday Inn Express Chicago - Magnificent Mile, an IHG hotel. Here are the cash and points rates for a random upcoming date. First, booking through the Ultimate Rewards portal:

Screen Shot 2020 01 25 at 8.51.00 PM

Dan Miller

With my Chase Sapphire Reserve, which gets me 1.5 cents per point in value for booking through Ultimate Rewards, a night here would be less than 5,000 points. Compare that to paying the points rate at

Screen Shot 2020 01 25 at 8.52.21 PM

Dan Miller

40,000 points? I don't think so. This is common with IHG and Marriott - you'll almost always be better off using your Chase points through the travel portal instead of transferring to the hotel loyalty programs.

However, there can be value in transferring Chase points to the World of Hyatt program, because the award chart has much more attractive options at the lower levels. At many Category 1 (5,000 Hyatt points) or Category 2 (8,000 Hyatt points) hotels, you'll often come ahead by transferring.

For award flights, transferring points makes the most sense for first- or business-class seats

With airlines it gets a bit trickier. The best way to handle it is to check the cost in miles on the airline's website, and then compare it to the cash cost divided by either 1.25 cents per mile or 1.5 cents per mile depending on which Chase credit card you have.

The best value for transferring Chase points to airlines will be for premium international airline flights in first or business class, where you can often get upwards of 5 to 10 cents per mile.

Conversely, for many cheap sale fares, you can get much better value by using your points through the travel portal. Last summer, I flew round-trip from the US to Barcelona on TAP Portugal on a ~$300 cash fare. I booked through Ultimate Rewards and it cost me about 20,000 points. Transferring to an airline like United or Singapore Airlines would have cost me around 60,000 miles round-trip. In that case, using the travel portal was a clear winner.

Bottom line

I hope that this guide has helped discuss the different options for maximizing redemptions for your Chase Ultimate Rewards, and when it might be better to transfer your points vs when to book through the travel portal. When in doubt, it's always worth taking the time to compare the value you'll get from your points with each option for redeeming your points.

Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred »

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

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Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

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