The Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card is one of the most popular cards on the market–but how should you use Chase Sapphire points? Also known as Ultimate Rewards points, the points earned from spending on the Chase Sapphire Preferred can be really valuable when you redeem them for travel. We’ve each held a Chase Sapphire Preferred card for several years now and have no plans to close these cards in the near future! We have redeemed Ultimate Rewards points for luxury hotels and both domestic and international flights. I always recommend holding a stash of Chase Ultimate Rewards points because they are so valuable and Chase has some awesome transfer partners.
So, if you have been thinking about opening or have recently opened the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card and are wondering what to do with your Ultimate Rewards points, keep on reading. In this post, I’m sharing how to earn Ultimate Rewards points, the best Chase credit card, and the best ways to use those valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
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Using Points and Miles for Nearly Free Travel
If you’re new around here, I am passionate about traveling more with less money by using points and miles. I earn a TON of points through leveraging credit card sign up bonuses and putting all of my daily spend on credit cards. I have been able to take at least 2x the amount of trips I would normally be able to afford if I were paying cash for my flights and hotels!
Want to travel like me and book flights and hotels using points? I recommend starting with this complete beginner’s guide to travel hacking article. Once you feel comfortable with the steps outlined in that article, head over to this post to determine if a credit card is right for you.
If you have any credit card debt, this strategy is not for you. Focus on paying off that credit card debt and then consider hopping into the points and miles game. In addition, be sure that you can pay off your credit card bills in full every single month. If you can’t, you are paying a large amount of interest, and all this travel no longer becomes nearly free!
Once you’ve learned how to use credit cards to get points and miles and know you can responsibly use credit cards, fill out this survey so I can send you a free recommendation on what credit card is best to meet your travel goals!
Why you should have a Chase Sapphire Preferred
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card, or CSP, is the card that is typically recommended as a starter card in the world of points and miles. It was our first true travel card and we both still hold a CSP (and probably always will). Why? It has a great earning potential with a solid welcome bonus and Chase has some of the best transfer partners of any of the big banks! Chase Ultimate Rewards points (their version of reward points, aka UR points) are super valuable. I think you’ll soon see how much value can be squeezed out of a UR point.
Here are some quick stats about the Chase Sapphire Preferred:
- Earn 60,000 bonus UR points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after card opening
- Earn 3x on dining and travel, 1x on everything else
- Travel protections like rental car coverage, bag coverage, and trip interruption
- Instacart and DoorDash trials
$95 annual fee
The CSP can also be combined with a few other Chase personal and business cards to maximize your earnings but we’ll get to that in a bit.
What about the CSR?
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the premium “big brother” of the CSP. It is Chase’s version of a premium travel card that comes with some great perks but a bigger annual fee. For $550 per year, you’ll enjoy a $300 annual travel credit, lounge access via Priority Pass, and some other nice benefits. You get an elevated bonus in the dining and travel categories for 3x versus the CSP 3x on dining and just 2x on travel.
However, you cannot hold both the CSP and the CSR. It’s one or the other. And if you already have the CSP, you’ll have to close it and then reapply for the CSR. If it’s been less than 48 months (or 4 years) since you last opened the CSP, you can’t receive the sign up bonus for the Reserve.
If you only plan on holding one premium card and want it to be a Chase card, this is an excellent option. However, in my personal opinion, there are better cards on the market that offer the same value for a smaller annual fee like the Capital One Venture X. I prefer to hold the CSP and the Venture X versus just the CSR.
*Note: at time of writing, Chase is offering an elevated welcome bonus of 80,000 points on the Chase Sapphire Reserve. This hasn’t happened since 2017! If you don’t hold either card, you may want to start with the Reserve and downgrade to the Preferred after one year.
Other ways to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Chase Shopping Portal
If you already hold a Chase credit card, you can earn extra points on your purchases by shopping through the Chase shopping portal. This can be accessed through the Rewards portal and clicking “earn more points” on the drop-down menu. Anytime you are shopping online, it’s worth checking to see if you can get another extra point or 2 (sometimes up to 10+ extra!) by simply clicking through the portal.
Chase Freedom Unlimited and/or Chase Freedom Flex
Both of these cards are marketed as cash back cards, but if you already hold a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, you can turn the cash back into Ultimate Rewards points.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers 1.5x on everything which is better than the Chase Sapphire (excluding dining and travel) so you could throw this card into your rotation to stack up some extra points.
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is unique in that it offers 5x on certain categories that rotate every quarter. So, you could potentially rack up some serious points in a good category. But you also run the risk of not needing to use a category and having to wait 3 months for the next one.
No matter which you use, one of these no annual fee cards can be a great addition to your wallet to stack up on extra Ultimate Rewards points.
How to Use the Chase Sapphire Points to Book Travel
Should you use the travel portal to book travel?
Chase offers a travel portal in which you can book hotels and flights directly through them using your points (or cash which will earn you extra bonus points). There are some pros but quite a few cons to using the travel portal.
The portal essentially works by charging a rate similar to what Expedia would charge. Chase then converts to a point value at a rate of 1 cent per dollar. So, most of the time you aren’t getting a good value from your points by redeeming in the portal. You can usually get a better redemption by transferring to another partner. Unless there’s a really good cash fare that makes the points value much less!
When you book through Chase’s portal, you also have to deal with Chase for any cancellations or changes. This can be easy or difficult depending on what representative you get that day. I usually try to book directly with the airline or hotel.
Alright, let’s talk about some specific redemptions you can get with Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Singapore Suites or Emirates first class
Both Singapore and Emirates are partners with Chase and each offers a top notch first class product. These are often bucket list flights that can cost well over $10,000 per person if paying for the cash fare. Transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Krisflyer miles or Skywards miles to book this luxurious flight with points. The flights will cost you between 90k-120k (maybe more) points for a one way flight but if this is a goal of yours, it’s more than worth it!
Transferring your Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest’s Rapid Rewards is always an excellent redemption for domestic and some international flights! Chase is the only big bank that transfers to Southwest and you can get some great value by flying with Southwest. Southwest uses dynamic pricing, meaning the point amount will change depending on the cash fare. However, Southwest is usually so affordable you can redeem for a fair amount of points.
Southwest is also known to have sales all the time, too! If you can be flexible with your travels you can score an amazing deal. For example, I just scored round trip flights from NC to Texas for less than 16,000 points by taking advantage of a sale.
A favorite for US travelers, United is a transfer partner of Chase that can be valuable if you’re loyal to United. United’s award flights are typically more expensive than some other international airlines but you can often find some decent deals if you snag a saver award!
British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Iberia, and Air France/KLM
Looking to fly to Europe? Transferring your points to British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Iberia, or Flying Blue (Air France/KLM) will offer you some BIG value. For example, you can transfer to Virgin Atlantic and fly on Delta’s top notch first class product for just 50,000 miles one way! I find that transferring to these European airlines can often cost less miles than booking a US airline to and from Europe.
While you can transfer your points to Marriott with Ultimate Rewards, I only recommend transferring to Hyatt. Marriott Bonvoy’s program can be extremely expensive and it seems their points get devalued every single year. However, Hyatt’s award structure allows for some really luxurious properties at a very affordable award rate!
Some great Hyatt redemptions:
Stay just an hour south of Cancun in the luxurious Mayakoba community for 25,000 points a night.
Alila Ventana Big Sur
This adults-only resort is another bucket list property on the beautiful Southern California coast. It takes some patience to find award availability but if you can find it, book it!
Andaz Peninsula Papagayo Resort
A luxury resort in the beautiful jungle overlooking the beach in Costa Rica? Don’t mind if I do! This resort is at the top of my bucket list for when we finally make it down to Costa Rica.
Keswick Hall is a winery resort in Virginia that recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. What would cost you over $900 per night in peak season will be just 40,000 points per night when booking through Hyatt. My husband and I plan to spend our 4 year wedding anniversary here next year!
Some examples of region-specific redemptions with your Chase Ultimate Rewards
Europe on Chase Ultimate Rewards points
For flights, book through one of the European airlines mentioned above. Have a lot of points to burn? Book one way on Delta One through Virgin Atlantic. Just want to get there in economy? Iberia often has great deals on flights to Europe by redeeming LifeMiles.
Stay in the luxurious Hyatt Vendome in Paris or the Lungaro in Florence by transferring your points to Hyatt.
Southwest flies to Mexico with frequent routes to Cancun! Book Southwest flights to Cancun and then stay in luxury at the Andaz Mayakoba or book an all-inclusive property at the Hyatt Ziva or Hyatt Zilara.
Hawaii is a huge bucket list item for travel hackers and travel lovers alike. You can fly to Hawaii on Southwest and then book a Hyatt hotel on any number of the islands for a great rate! I have my eye on the Grand Hyatt in Kauai but the Hyatt Regency Maui is a popular redemption for families!
Advanced Strategies to Earn and Use Chase Sapphire Points
Want to level up your points and miles game to get even more Chase Ultimate Rewards points? Here are a few ways to add to your stash.
If you have a partner or friend that wants to get in on your points and miles strategy, refer them using this link. Once they sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred using your link, they’ll get the sign up bonus once they hit the spend minimum and YOU will get 15,000 points as a referral bonus! You can only refer for cards that you personally have.
Open the Chase Freedom Flex or Chase Freedom Unlimited to earn more in categories outside of dining and travel.
Combine your points with other bank points that have shared travel partners. Many of the other big banks have several transfer partners and some overlap with Chase. You can transfer your Chase points to the partner and your other bank points to the same partner and stack them together for more redemptions!
Capital One: Canada Aeroplan, British Airways, Emirates Skyrewards, Flying Blue, Singapore KrisFlyer, Virgin Atlantic
Citi: Emirates SkyRewards, Flying Blue, JetBlue, Singapore KrisFlyer, Virgin Atlantic
American Express: British Airways, Emirates Skyrewards, Flying Blue, Iberia, Singapore KrisFlyer, Virgin Atlantic, Marriott Bonvoy
The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is one of the best on the market. The Chase Sapphire earns Ultimate Rewards points which can be redeemed for airfare and hotel stays. If you are strategic about earning the lucrative Chase Sapphire welcome bonus and stacking your points in other ways, you can book some pretty incredible trips on just points! You can transfer your points to Southwest and fly all around the US or book a luxurious hotel through Hyatt. Fly to Europe in business or first class on points or just take your whole family in economy! There are so many great ways to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points and this post shares some of the best redemptions out there. Happy traveling!