Chase Sapphire Preferred was my gateway to the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
I have since upgraded the card to the premium Chase Sapphire Reserve, which makes my points worth even more. Let's take a look at why Chase's travel rewards points are one of the best, if not the very best, of any travel rewards today.
Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.
The Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve are the best ways for most people to earn points
Credit card rewards are only useful if you can earn them. The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve cards are the best way for most people to earn Ultimate Rewards. The Preferred gives you 2x points per dollar on travel and restaurant purchases and 1x everywhere else. The Reserve version gives you 3x in those bonus categories and the same 1x everywhere else.
Those are not the only cards in the program, however. The Ink Business Preferred Credit Card offers Ultimate Rewards as well. But if you have one of these Ultimate Rewards cards, you can turn cash back rewards from the Chase Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and Ink Business Cash Credit Card at a rate of 1 cent = 1 point. Between me and my wife, we have four of these cards.
Don't forget about the big sign-up bonuses when getting started with a new card. Those can easily bring you 50,000 points or more if you meet minimum purchase requirements.
You can transfer points to a huge list of airline and hotel partners to book nearly any flight or hotel
You can convert Ultimate Rewards into airline miles or hotel points at a 1:1 ratio with nine airline programs and three hotel programs. While transferring to hotels usually yields a relatively low value per point, airline programs can offer huge value per point.
Some of my favorite partners for my own travel are United, Southwest, and British Airways. Last year, I transferred points to United to take my dad to Israel on business class! That was my best redemption ever in terms of value per point.
I only transfer points to partners like Marriott when I need to top off my account for an award redemption. Otherwise, you may be able to get a better deal on hotels with another booking method.
A few months ago, I took a trip to England and stayed in three hotels owned by Millennium Hotels & Resorts. Millennium isn't a transfer partner, but that doesn't mean you can't book a stay there with Ultimate Rewards.
Through the Ultimate Rewards portal, you can book a huge number of flights and hotels, among other travel, directly using your points. If you have Chase Sapphire Preferred, you get 1.25 cents per point. With Sapphire Reserve, you get 1.5 cents per point.
The booking engine is powered by Expedia, so you can book anything with points that is listed there. At The Bailey's Hotel, one of the properties I visited, you would pay around 10,000 points for a night. That's a better deal than I would get transferring to a comparable partner hotel and booking directly.
Again, travel rewards are only valuable if you actually use them. While it may be fun to stockpile points and watch your balance grow, you should use them when you want to jet off or book a weekend getaway.