There is a little secret when it comes to earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points. While you might think the or should be your go-to cards, in many cases, they are not! More often than not, depending on your spending category, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ Credit Card or Chase Freedom Unlimited are a much better option and will earn you several times the multiple from the Chase fee-paying cards.
Cash Back Vs. Ultimate Rewards Points Or Both.
The key to understanding how to take advantage of the full potential of your Chase cards is understanding the difference between cash back and Ultimate Rewards points and how Chase views them.
Ultimate Rewards Point Cards
Both the and the are Ultimate Rewards Point earning cards. At the same time, the rate earned per transaction will vary depending on the category of the purchase (restaurants or travel, for instance) and the card itself. Unsurprisingly the Chase Sapphire Reserve has better earning rates than the Chase Sapphire Preferred. After all, it is the star of the Chase stable with a whooping $550 annual fee compared to the much more reasonable $95 fee for the Sapphire Preferred.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Earnings
- 10x on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 5x on flights purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 3x on other travel and dining.
- 1x per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Earnings
- 5x on hotels purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, excluding purchases that qualify for the $50 Anniversary Hotel Credit)
- 3X at restaurants and select streaming services.
- 3X at online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs).
- 2x on other travel purchases.
- 1x per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Remember that Ultimate Rewards Points are worth much more than the standard earning rate of one cent per point. Depending on your redemption strategy, you should be able to leverage them for much more value.
Cash back Earning Cards.
- The Chase Freedom Flex℠ Credit Card earns 5% back on select rotating bonus categories up to $1,500 of quarterly purchases.
- The Chase Freedom Unlimited earns a flat 1.5% back on all purchases across the board.
What turns your cash back into Ultimate Rewards earning machines is the ability to convert your cash back to Ultimate Rewards points if you hold a fee-paying Ultimate Rewards points earning card. What is even better is the rate at which this conversion occurs. Cash back is converted to points at a generous rate of ₵1 per point. This functionality turns the two cash back earning Chase cards into excellent options for earning Ultimate Rewards points.
How It Works in Practice
In practice, you should always use the card that will earn you the biggest points multiplier to make any given purchase. Looking at how the cards earn, the Chase Freedom cards stand out in their own unique ways.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited
Anytime you make a purchase that will only earn 1X on your card, you should always pull your Chase Freedom Unlimited to make that purchase. That will earn you 1.5% cash back or essentially 1.5X when converted to Ultimate Rewards points.
Chase Freedom Unlimited Features
• Earn 5% on Lyft purchases through March 2025. • Earn 5% when you purchase travel through the Chase travel portal. • Earn 3% at restaurants and dining, including qualifying delivery services and fast food. • Earn 3% at drugstores! • Earn 1.5% for all other purchases.Learn More
While 0.5X extra may not seem like much to write home about, it does soon stack up. Earing 1X on $10,000 of spending annually would net you 10,000 points. However, earning 1.5X when net you 15,000 points That is a huge 50% increase in your earnings just by using the right card. The potential makes the Chase Freedom Unlimited outearn all the other Chase cards in the 1X category.
The Chase Freedom Flex
The situation is even more interesting with the Chase Freedom Flex. The Card earns you 5% back on rotating quarterly bonus categories. More often than not, these categories will not trigger any bonus if you use another Chase card, earning you a suboptimal 1X.
Chase Freedom Flex Features
• 5% back on rotating quarterly bonus categories, up to $1,500 per quarter, for a maximum of $75 in cash back. You need to activate your bonus. • 5% back on purchases through the Chase travel portal. • 3% back at restaurants and dining, including qualifying delivery services and fast food. • 3% back at drugstores!. • 1% back on all other purchases.Learn More
Maximizing this feature annually and earning $300 in cash back – 5% back on $1,500 of purchases every quarter – can be very lucrative. Converting these earnings to Ultimate Rewards points, you would end up with an impressive 30,000 points. These are redeemable for substantially more than $300 and are an excellent return on categories that may not have earned you a bonus if you have used another card.
Redeeming Your Ultimate Rewards Points
While you can redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points against purchases through the Chase travel portal, the best value is to be had elsewhere. You will achieve the best value by leveraging your points with one of Chase’s travel partners. You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to any of the following airlines at a ratio of 1:1 with a minimum transfer of 1,000 points.
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue
- British Airways Executive Club
- Emirates Skywards
- Iberia Plus
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- United Airlines MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Once you have transferred your points, you can use them to book award travel valued at multiple cents per point.
Points and miles fans know they must maximize their returns from every cent they spend. Doing so gives the greatest return and makes it easier to reach your travel goals. To achieve this, you need to have the right mix of cards and know when to use which card for which purchase, lest you miss an opportunity to earn even more from your money. Which cards and mix of cards you opt to go for will ultimately depend on your spending patterns and your travel goals.