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- The points you can earn with credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve can be used for tons of different things, from cash back to first class travel.
- In addition to points from lucritive sign-up bonuses, you can earn 2x–3x points per dollar spent on just about any travel or dining expense, making points add up quickly.
- Take a look at all of the different ways you can use the points from your Chase card.
There are a lot of good reasons to apply for a new credit card — maybe to work on your credit history, or to take advantage of some useful perks. One of the most fun, though, is to collect a huge sign-up bonus. These bonuses can be incredibly high — sometimes equivalent to the amount of points you’d get from years of spending — and can be useful for anything from cash back, to trips home for the holidays, to lavish international flights in first class.
When you open either of the cards, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
There are some differences between the two cards — you can read about them here — but regardless of which one you choose, you can enjoy earning tons of points on your everyday spend, in addition to the bonus. Here are some of the best ways to use the 50,000 points (plus more that you’ll earn through spending).
$500 in cash or gift cards
No matter which card you have, Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1¢ each when you redeem them for cash or a cash equivalent (like a statement credit or gift cards).
While redeeming for cash back can be a bit tricky with other cards, Chase makes it easy. When you log in to your Chase account and click on the Ultimate Rewards section, you can either select cash back, a statement credit, or you can browse gift card options.
You can also link your Chase and Amazon accounts and pay directly with points on Amazon. This isn’t really worthwhile, though, because each Chase point is only worth 0.8¢ on Amazon — that means your sign-up bonus would only be good for $400. You’re better off just making the purchase on your card, then applying points as a statement credit to cancel out the expense.
While cash may be king, the $500 cash back is one of the least rewarding ways to use your points — every other option gives you a better value.
$625–$750 toward travel purchased from Chase
In addition to cash or gift card options, the Chase Ultimate Rewards website features a travel-booking portal. This site works the same way as any major online travel agency — you can book anything from flights or hotels to rental cars or cruises — and features fantastic customer support. While you can book online, there are also phone agents available 24/7 to help with bookings, changes, or figuring out any issues, such as missed connections or flight cancellations.
The best part about using the Chase travel portal is that when you pay with points, instead of your credit card, you’ll get a bonus depending on which card you have.
If you have the Sapphire Preferred (or certain small business cards like the Ink Business Preferred), you’ll get a 25% bonus on points used toward travel — in other words, those points will be worth 1.25¢ each, making the sign-up bonus worth $625.
With the Sapphire Reserve, the bonus for travel purchases is 50%, which makes the points you get for opening the card worth $750.
Potentially thousands of dollars worth of travel through transfer partnerships
Something that makes Chase Ultimate Rewards points so useful is that, as long as you have a premium card like the Sapphire Preferred or Reserve, they’re transferable. That means that you can transfer those points to certain partners — specifically, Chase partners with nine frequent flyer programs and four hotel loyalty programs.
This is particularly valuable for flying, since booking frequent flyer “award tickets” is different than buying reservations outright — you can read more about how it works here. In most cases, the cash price and the miles price of a ticket aren’t linked, so it’s possible to get exponentially increased value from your points by transferring them and booking an award ticket instead. That means potentially being able to fly long-haul in first or business class with points, among other things.
The only catch is that you may need to search for saver availability — which are lower-priced award tickets. This can be tricky, but there are a ton of helpful guides online. Once you have a flight in mind, if you’re having trouble figuring out how best to use your points, just do a Google search for that specific trip.
Below, take a look at a few flights you can take by using the sign-up bonus, plus the points you earn after a few months to a year of normal spending (based on consumer spending trends, the average American could have 85,000–90,000 points after earning the sign-up bonus and spending on the Sapphire Preferred exclusively for a year).
Fly to Europe in business class with Air France or KLM
One of Chase’s transfer partners is Air France/KLM’s joint frequent flyer program, which is called Flying Blue. Every month, Flying Blue publishes a set of “promo awards,” which are available for 25% fewer miles than normal.
There are usually at least one or two cities in the US included at a time, and during the promo, a business class ticket on one of the airlines only costs about 47,000 miles. Once you find an available ticket, you can transfer the points from Chase and book the ticket right then and there. Prepare to enjoy a trip across the Atlantic with a comfortable seat that turns into a lie-flat bed!
If there isn’t a promo from your city, the regular price is 62,500 miles — still attainable after a bit of normal spending on your card.
This is a ticket that regularly goes for at least $1,600 — during a promo, that would mean you were stretching your points to be worth almost 3.5¢ each.
Fly round-trip to Europe with United
United Airlines’ frequent flyer program, MileagePlus, is also transfer partners with Chase. One-way tickets between the US and Europe are as low as 30,000 miles, according to United’s interactive award chart tool. After spending normally for a little while, on top of your sign-up bonus, you’ll have enough points to get to Europe and back.
Keep in mind that if you’re flying at a time when cash prices are cheap, you may be able to get a similar flight for fewer points by booking travel through Chase.
Alternatively, you can transfer 60,000 Chase points to United to fly one-way in business class.
Fly to Asia in first class with Korean Air
This is one of my favorite ways to redeem Chase points — though I may be biased, because my wife and I did this on our honeymoon.
Korean Air offers flights between the US and much of Asia — transiting through Seoul — for 80,000 miles, and the airline’s SKYPASS program is a Chase partner. While you would need significantly more points than the sign-up bonus, a year of spending could help you get there. You can also apply for a different Chase card, like the Freedom Unlimited, or, if you’re a small business owner, the Ink Business Preferred, to earn more sign-up points.
During the flight, you can enjoy delicious food (especially by airplane standards), top-shelf scotch and fantastic wine, and a ridiculously comfortable seat/bed. A perk to having Korean Air as a transfer partner is that it’s extremely easy to find available saver-level seats in first class.
These first class tickets often cost more than $10,000 — definitely a better value for your 80,000 points than you’d get redeeming them for $800 cash back.
City-hop during a trip abroad
The British Airways Avios program is another Chase transfer partner, and something useful is that it prices award tickets based on distance. Trips under 650 miles only cost 4,500 points/Avios, and you can use points/Avios on British Airways and its many airline partners, which include Qantas, Iberia, Japan Airlines, and others.
If you’re going to London, visit cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, or plenty of others. Fly from Hong Kong to Vietnam, then Kuala Lumpur. Explore different parts of Australia when you go to Sydney. Wherever you find yourself, there are plenty of options to explore more of the world.
Explore Morocco with Royal Air Maroc
You can also transfer Chase points to Iberia Airlines Avios. If you ever wanted to see Morocco, this is a great way to get there. By using Iberia Avios to book travel on its airline partner Royal Air Maroc, you can fly round-trip in economy from New York for just 42,000 Chase points transferred to Avios — alternatively, fly one-way in business class for 50,000 Avios.
These are just a few of the hundreds of possible ways to use the sign-up bonus from the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve, plus some more points earned from your normal spending. Once you have the points, it’s easy to find flight availability and book your tickets — if your particular trip is a bit more complicated or confusing, you can use Google to search for advice on specific bookings — there are guides available on just about any possibility.
If you’re having trouble deciding which Sapphire card is best for you, take a look here for some tips on how to decide.
Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred card from Insider Picks’ partner The Points Guy.
Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve from Insider Picks’ partner The Points Guy.
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