The Ultimate Newbie Guide to Redeeming Ultimate Rewards for Travel

In the world of free travel hacking, there are two elements each of us must learn to improve – earning and redeeming.  Most of the material on this blog is about earning, but today I want to help you easily and effectively learn how to redeem your Ultimate Rewards (UR) points for travel.

To start, you can sign into your Chase online banking account and find your UR affiliated card.  You should see a link that says “Go to Ultimate Rewards”.  The other option is to go directly to the Ultimate Rewards page.

Homepage

URHome

The links you’ll want to know are:

  1. Your current offers in the bottom right hand corner.  This is where you can supercharge your earnings with Ultimate Rewards.
  2. Under “Use Points”, you’ll see a tab for “Book a Trip”.  Use this link if you want to use your points to book travel.
  3. Under “Use Points”, you’ll see a tab that says “Transfer Points to Travel Partners”.

Use Points to Transfer to Travel Partners

From the homepage, if you click “Transfer Points to Travel Partners”, you’ll see the following:

URTransfer

All of the transfer partners are 1:1.  That means 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred into 1,000 point in each of the programs.

The transfer partners include:

  • Amtrak – Great Northeast redemption rates of 3,000 points.
  • British Airways – ideal for short hauls in the US
  • Continental Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Marriott
  • Hyatt – perfect for high end hotel nights around the world
  • Southwest – a great US transfer option since each 1,000 points will get you $16.66 worth of travel (if you fly Wanna Get Away fare)
  • Priority Club – fantastic redemption rates if you can find a Point Breaks location

Because of the ability to get more per dollar value out of the points, I’d suggest you first consider transferring points to programs when using Ultimate Rewards points.

Let’s say you want to transfer Continental points to someone’s Continental account.  From the above page, just click on the program where you want to transfer the points.  From there you’ll see the following form:

URCont

As you can see, you’ll just need the recipient’s mileage program number as well as first and last name.  Transfers must take place in blocks of 1,000.

Use Points to Book a Trip

From the homepage, if you click “Book a Trip”, you’ll see the following:

URBook

From this page, you can search for flights, hotels, and car rentals.

Remember that when you book with points you get a 20% bonus for the value of your points.

URFlights

Use UR Points to Buy Travel Gift Cards

Because of the ability to book points via the Ultimate Rewards site for a 20% bonus, you’ll likely not often want to buy gift cards for flights, hotels, or cars.  The only exception might be if you were planning to cancel the credit card and needed to clear out your points.

Gift cards would be a way to use UR points towards cruises and places like SeaWorld.

URgiftcards

Comments

  1. Gregory says

    This is great info, especially for people who are just diving in to mileage redemption for the first time. With all the scary stories from family/friends/the media, it’s easy to skip out on the perceived frustration. Thanks for your blog, and your consideration to those who are true newbies :)

      • harriet love says

        Isn’t the Chase Preferred Sapphire card used with all Star Alliance Airlines. I cancelled mine
        in March can i reapply now and still get 40,000 points?
        harriet

        • says

          You can only transfer the points to United. Once they are in United you can book flights on all Star Alliance airlines based on availability. Chase is the strictest in not allowing you to get multiple bonuses. It would need to be a least two years before you apply and can get a bonus, even at that you might not get the bonus.

  2. says

    The February 23 issue of the Wall Street Journal discusses the fact that many banks are issuing 1099 forms to reflect the value of frequent flier bonus points/miles for tax purposes, which, in turns requires that income to be reported on the taxpayer’s applicable 1040 as miscellaneous income.

    In light of this, do you factor this into your decision making process in recommending or seeking out specific credit cards for their maximum bonus points/miles?

    Thanks.

    • Craig says

      There has not been a single case (nor is there any indication that they will) where credit card bonuses have resulted in a 1099 being issued.

      Citi did sent out 1099’s to people who opened bank account. There is a lot of debate as to where thing are headed, but for now it should not impact your credit card strategy.

  3. says

    Do you know if it’s just UR with sapphire that allows you to transfer points to airline, etc. I do NOT have that option on mine. I have Chase Ultimate Rewards Visa (but have applied for the Sapphire as well) — Thanks.

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