As highlighted in Travel Hacking 101: Miles vs. Points (and Cashback), there are four transferable point currencies:
- Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR)
- American Express Membership Rewards (MR)
- Citi Thank You Points (TYP)
- Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)
Side Note: It is worth noting there are a couple other types of points like Hyatt and Choice Hotels that can be transferred to different loyalty programs, but the transfer ratio is not great. In other words, you only get 1 airline miles for transferring over 2.5 Hyatt hotel points. Therefore, they aren’t truly transferable point currency.
In this first post, I’ll highlight Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR)
These are one of my favorite points to accumulate. I could spend forever talking about Chase Ultimate Rewards, but hopefully this is more of a summary. Chase UR are earned from a several different credit cards. The main ones I’ll mention today are the Chase Freedom and Chase Sapphire Preferred. These two cards create a pretty powerful duo, but I digress.
Use for Cashback
At a base level, Chase UR are worth 1 cent per point. This is because you can redeem UR for statement credit. Before I got into travel hacking, I would simply redeem 2,500 UR (earned on my Chase Freedom) for $25 statement credits. You can also redeem for gift cards, which I strongly discourage (since you’re better off buying the gift card with your card and then redeeming UR for statement credit).
Use for Travel Portal
However, the true value of Chase UR is when used for travel. This is only possible if you have one of the “Premium UR Cards”: Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Plus. First off, these premium cards gives you access to the Chase Travel Portal. This allows you to book flights, hotels, and other activities and use your points for 1.25 cents per point (with the Chase Sapphire Preferred) or 1.5 cents per point (with the Chase Sapphire Reserve). For instance, if a hotel stay costs $200, you can use 16,000 UR points ($200/$0.0125) or 13,333 UR points ($200/$0.015) to book your stay. Chase also allows you to use half points and half cash. Using the same $200 hotel stay example, you could pay $100 in cash and 8,000 UR points (or 6,667 points). Having the Chase Sapphire Reserve definitely makes UR points more valuable.
Use for Airlines/Hotels
In my opinion, the best use of UR points is utilizing travel partners. This can only be done with the aforementioned premium UR cards. Here is a list of the travel partners that the UR program currently has:
- Air France
- British Airways
- Korean Air
- Singapore Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
All of these are 1:1 transfers. That means that every 1 UR equals 1 mile/point. For instance, I can transfer 24,000 UR to Hyatt and receive 24,000 Hyatt Gold Passport Points. If you learn how to effectively book flight and hotel awards, you can get a value of anywhere from 1.5 to 5 cents per point. The value here is much better than a statement credit in my opinion.
Other Things to Note
Remember once you transfer points out to a travel partner you can’t transfer them back. Therefore, if transfers are instant, I usually don’t transfer points until right before I’m about to book the flight or hotel. However, be sure to check datapoints on how long points take to transfer. Some of them are not instant so for these transfer partners you’ll need to plan ahead.