Best Ways to Use Chase Ultimate Rewards® Points in 2020

This page includes analysis of our favorite cards from The Simple Dollar's advertisers and the marketplace. Visit our advertiser disclosure to learn more.

Chase is known for its Ultimate Rewards® program, which lets cardholders earn points for every dollar spent. While the most common use of these points is to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® directly, it’s also possible to redeem points for cash back, gift cards or even entertainment experiences.

But what’s the best way to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points in 2020? Where can you get the most value? What are the conversion rates for different redemption options, and how can you rack up points as quickly as possible?

Here’s everything you need to know about making the most of your Ultimate Rewards® points this year.

The best ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards® points in 2020

When the time comes to redeem your rewards points, here are a few options including:

  • Airfare, hotels and car rentals booked directly through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Cash back at a rate of one cent per point applied directly to your credit card or deposited into a U.S. checking or savings account
  • Gift cards from over 150 retailers, typically valued at one cent per point
  • Shop online with Amazon and get 0.8 cents per point at checkout
  • Unique experiences such as broadway shows or hotel stays curated by Chase

Making the most of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points

Chase offers two popular travel cards to help you earn more points: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Learn More Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Learn More Chase Sapphire Reserve®

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you get 2x points on all travel and dining purchases along with 1x point per dollar for all other purchases. You can also earn 60,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. This card comes with a $95 annual fee and a 15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, meanwhile, boosts your earning potential with 3x points on all travel and dining purchases worldwide and 1x point per dollar for any other purchases. You also get a $300 annual credit for travel expenses and can earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend at least $4,000 in the first three months. This card comes with a $550 annual fee, plus $75 for each additional authorized user and an 16.99% - 23.99% Variable APR.

And while it may seem strange that the company’s premium travel card offers a smaller introductory offer, there’s a bigger benefit with the card. Any points redeemed by Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders are worth 50% more when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, meaning 50,000 bonus points when you spend at least $4,000 in the first three months is actually worth $750. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders enjoy a 25% bonus with all travel points redemptions through Chase, meaning 60,000 bonus points if you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months is worth $750 in value.

It’s also possible to earn extra points by referring friends to apply for the Chase Sapphire and Chase Preferred cards. For every friend that’s approved, you get 15,000 bonus points and up to 75,000 points per year.

Redemption options for Chase Ultimate Rewards® points

Let’s dig deeper into each redemption option for Chase Ultimate Rewards®. The biggest value for Chase Ultimate Rewards® points is direct redemption for travel through the Chase portal. If you can find cheap flights through a Chase partner such as Expedia.com, you can book these flights using points to make the most of your rewards.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on gift card offers on the Chase Ultimate Rewards® website. While typical redemption values here are one cent per point, Chase occasionally offers better point conversion rates for specific retailers.

When it comes to online shopping, you can take advantage of Chase’s Amazon partnership and redeem directly at checkout for 0.8 cents per point. While this is convenient, you’re better off converting your points to cash or statement credit at a rate of one cent per point to pay for purchases.

Unique experiences — such as Broadway shows or VIP hotel stays — is also a great way to spend your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. However, it’s worth doing some research online to make sure the points you’re spending are worth it.

Save on travel

In addition to the Chase Ultimate Rewards® redemption program, the company offers 1:1 point transfers with both airline and travel partners including Aer Lingus, Iberia Plus, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United Mileage Plus, the IHG Rewards Club and Marriott Bonvoy.

Your card also comes with trip cancellation and interruption insurance up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip, providing a safety net when you travel.

Best ways to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points

To earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, you’ll need to find the best Chase card for your needs. If your preference is to earn steady rewards with a lower annual fee, opt for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. If you’re a frequent traveler looking to maximize rewards and value, choose the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

While there’s no exact science to the way you spend your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points in 2020, some options offer more value than others. Booking travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal has the largest redemption rate, especially when paired with a 25% or 50% redemption boost. Turning points into cash or statement credit is also worthwhile, and you can often find good deals on gift cards through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® website. When it comes to online shopping, meanwhile, the convenience of applying points at checkout is beneficial but the value doesn’t compare to other redemption options.
The bottom line

Chase Ultimate Rewards® points provide great value and multiple redemption options, from cheap flights to travel experiences to cash back and gift cards. While you can spend your points anytime and anywhere, you’ll gain the most from this rewards program by keeping an eye out for deals and promotions that maximize your redemption rates.

Editorial Note: Compensation does not influence our recommendations. However, we may earn a commission on sales from the companies featured in this post. To view a list of partners, click here. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult our advertiser's page for terms & conditions.

An award-winning finance, technology and security writer, Doug has a knack for distilling complex concepts down into actionable, readable copy that generates interest and drives engagement.