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Last spring, when the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card got a shiny new elevated welcome bonus, I almost went for it — but waffled back and forth until I ultimately let the offer window pass me by. I made lots of excuses: I didn’t want to pay an annual fee, I didn’t have any concrete travel plans at the time… and I’ve regretted it every day since.
Don’t make the same mistake I did.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the best travel credit cards on the market thanks to its wide array of transfer partners and travel benefits. And it’s currently offering a welcome bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards Points when you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first three months. It’s the best online offer we’ve seen from this card in a year, with 20,000 more points than the typical 60,000-point welcome bonus. But you’ll want to grab it quickly, unlike 2022 Raina. The last time the online offer of 80,000 points was around, it only lasted from approximately April 2022 to May 2022, according to CNET’s sister site The Points Guy.
But missing out on an elevated welcome bonus isn’t the only mistake you can make. Apart from committing the cardinal sins of credit cards — charging more than you can afford, not paying off your balance on time and in full each month and racking up interest or credit card debt — there’s actually another way you can lose out on credit card rewards: by not redeeming your points for their maximum value. And, while you’re technically not losing money or points, it can still be disappointing to realize that the $640 of merchandise you bought from Amazon with your credit card rewards points could’ve been redeemed for a multi-thousand-dollar vacation instead.
That’s why I’m here to help. Here’s a guide to all the best — and worst — ways to redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards points and how I would spend the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s 80,000-point welcome bonus right now.
Intro OfferEarn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
APR20.74% – 27.74% Variable
Intro Purchase APRN/A
- 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 3x on dining.
- 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
Balance Transfer APR20.74% – 27.74% Variable
Balance Transfer FeeEither $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign Transaction Fees$0
Penalty APRUp to 29.99%
Rewards & Redemption Details
- 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 3x on dining.
- 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred 80,000-point welcome bonus requires you to spend $4,000 in the first three months, which breaks down to an average of around $1,334 a month. That’s an attainable spending threshold for many, but not everyone. If you can’t afford to or don’t want to spend that much, don’t get this card unless you’re prepared to walk away from the bonus rather than stretching beyond your means to get it. Credit card offers come and go, and grabbing an elevated bonus isn’t worth compromising your long-term financial health.
When used correctly, sign-up bonuses can help you earn a stack of points in a short time, but you should never let a welcome offer entice you into spending more than you need or can afford. Otherwise, the fees, interest and damage to your credit score can far outweigh any rewards or benefits you get from the card.
Miles ahead of everything else
Book travel through Chase’s transfer partners (points value varies)
While you should aim to redeem your credit card rewards for at least $0.01 per point, there are a few ways to potentially get more value out of your Chase Ultimate Reward points. First up — and the most lucrative redemption method — is through Chase’s transfer partners.
Chase has 1:1 point transfers to 11 airline and three hotel transfer partners. This means you can transfer your points to an airline or hotel’s own loyalty program and book travel directly with the hotel or airline. Chase’s current airline partners are:
- Aer Lingus, AerClub
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- British Airways Executive Club
- Emirates Skywards®
- Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM
- Iberia Plus
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards®
- United MileagePlus®
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
And its hotel partners are:
- IHG® Rewards Club
- Marriott Bonvoy®
- World of Hyatt®
To redeem your rewards this way, you need to find space on your desired airline or hotel, transfer your points to the necessary loyalty program and then book your desired itinerary.
For example, let’s say I want to book a plane ticket from New Jersey to Paris. I might look directly on United Airlines’ website to check for an available flight and see the miles cost for my desired dates:
In this case, I found an economy flight on May 11 for 30,000 miles plus $5.60 in taxes and fees. To book this flight, I’d transfer 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points to my United MileagePlus account, then use those 30,000 newly converted United miles to book my flight.
Hotels work the same way. I can go to Hyatt’s website, find the hotel and room I want and check the points price. I can then transfer the exact amount of Ultimate Rewards points necessary to complete the booking.
Unlike with the Ultimate Rewards portal, booking directly with a hotel or airline gives varying values for your points. To calculate the cents per point value of a particular booking, divide the points price by the cash price you otherwise would’ve paid. In the examples above, the United flight would’ve cost $1,030, giving me a value of 3.4 cents per point (not including taxes and fees). The Hyatt room would’ve cost $125, giving me a value of 2.5 cents per point (not including taxes and fees).
The cents per point value can get even higher if you find the right booking, especially if you spend them on business or first-class flights or at luxury resorts. It’s also how many credit card point collectors can book premium travel they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.
Consider this business-class flight from New York to Madrid via Iberia, worth approximately a whopping 10.8 cents per point (not including taxes and fees):
Finding good deals on reward bookings with airlines or hotels takes some legwork, of course, and it may vary depending on availability. But looking at the potential value you can get for your points this way, all the other redemption options pale in comparison.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred’s 80,000-point bonus (after spending $4,000 in the first three months) isn’t just $800 in cash back or gift cards — it’s potentially a multithousand-dollar vacation if you play your cards right.
Easiest, but not always the best
Book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal (1.25 cents per point)
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a travel card, so it’s to be expected that two of the best redemptions come from booking travel. If you don’t want to bother with transfer partners or complicated awards charts, Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal is the simplest way to redeem your points for travel. Points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred get a fixed 25% redemption bonus this way, meaning your 80,000-point bonus would be worth $1,000.
Here’s how it works: You can access the Ultimate Rewards portal — which works much like online travel portals such as Expedia or Priceline — through the Chase site and search for your desired flight, hotel or car rental. The portal will aggregate results from multiple providers, allowing you to take your pick. You’ll have the option to pay with either cash (and earn 5x points when you pay with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card) or points (and get a 25% points redemption boost). If you don’t have enough points to cover the full price, you can pay with cash and points combined. Then you finalize your booking and receive all your itinerary information and documents through the portal.
The portal is great for travel newbies and provides a guaranteed 25% value boost over cash back, bringing your value to 1.25 cents per point. But it can’t quite compete with Chase’s transfer partner offers, which average 2 cents per point, according to The Points Guy.
One caveat: Since Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal is a third-party booking platform — meaning you’re not booking directly with the airline or hotel — it can be more difficult to get help from the airline or hotel, according to The Points Guy. But it’s still a solid value and worth considering if you’re planning a trip and don’t have the patience to sift through partner offers.
A few other solid options
Earn 1 cent per point, $800 value, and sometimes more
Cash is king, as the saying goes, and if you don’t want to travel or bank your points for future trips, direct cash back will be your best redemption option. After you earn your 80,000-point bonus by spending $4,000 in the first three months, you can redeem your points via direct deposit into your bank account or as a statement credit that reduces the amount you owe on your credit card balance. Both options give you a fixed redemption rate of 1 cent per point and can take up to three business days to process. The cash back value of your points should be your absolute baseline — if anything offers less than that, just pay in cash and get a statement credit later.
Pay Yourself Back works much like statement credits, except you can only apply them to purchases in specific categories and have a limited time to do so. Chase sometimes offers redemption bonuses for Pay Yourself Back, making them a better deal than direct cash back if you have qualifying transactions on your statement. The only Pay Yourself Back bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred right now is for donations to select charities, which offers a value of 1.25 cents per point, the same as the travel portal. The bonus for donations to select charities is valid through Dec. 31, 2023.
While gift cards are typically a poor redemption option with most cards, Chase sometimes offers special deals on gift card redemptions, usually ranging from 10% to 20% off. That may net you more than 1 cent per point. If Chase isn’t running a special on gift cards, however, most can be redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards portal for 1 cent per point.
You can also shop through Apple on the Ultimate Rewards store to score a new iPhone 14 — the welcome bonus will almost get you to the 82,900 point requirement. Points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed this way.
Lastly, Chase Experiences, which lets you redeem points for events and experiences like sporting event tickets or a dining package, also has a redemption value of 1 cent per point. But you won’t get a boosted rate when using your points to book experiences as you do with the Ultimate Rewards travel portal. If you want to take advantage of an experience, we recommend paying for it with your credit card and redeeming your points with a statement credit to offer more flexibility.
Proceed with caution
Pay With Points With Amazon or PayPal (0.8 cent per point, $640 of value)
Strictly speaking, there’s no wrong way to redeem credit card points. Short of forfeiting them altogether, you’re always getting real value for what’s technically a made-up currency.
But you should avoid redeeming your points through the Pay With Points feature on Amazon or PayPal.
Chase’s Pay With Points feature lets you redeem your points for purchases with certain merchants — currently Amazon and participating PayPal merchants — directly at checkout for a flat value of 0.8 cents per point. Although convenient, that’s 20% less than the standard rate of 1 cent per point you’d get by redeeming your points as cash back or a statement credit. If you were to redeem the current 80,000-point bonus (after spending $4,000 in the first three months) through Pay With Points, you’d only get $640 of merchandise, which means you’re missing out on $160. You’ll almost always be better off paying with another method and using cash back to reimburse yourself.
If a shopping spree brings you more joy than a vacation, you might prefer to use your points to offset your purchases. But Pay With Points isn’t the way to do that.
The bottom line
So long as you’re using your card responsibly and not damaging your credit or accruing debt, there’s no true wrong way to use your credit card rewards. But some redemption options are miles ahead (heh) of others, and I hope the examples above have shown you why so many credit card aficionados — myself included — love using points and miles.
If you’re an avid traveler, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is one of the best cards you can get, both for the free travel via points and for the travel benefits like trip cancellation and interruption insurance or lost luggage reimbursement. But if you want to snag the best deal we’ve seen in a while, be sure to snag the card before the 80,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months ends.