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Today’s post is a bit of a background on Chase Ultimate Rewards – one of the best of the “flexible” mileage currencies out there and my favorite one to earn

What’s a Flexible currency?

chase-sapphire-preferred-referral-chase-ur-logoChase Ultimate Rewards are what’s called a flexible currency, which means that they can be used in a variety of different places for a variety of different hotels / airlines.  This has 2 advantages:

  1. If you have 100,000 United miles, you’re banking on United having ability to get you where you want at the right time and location.  If they don’t fly there, or their prices are too outrageous, you’re just out of luck.  If you have 100,000 Chase miles, you can still use them on United if that makes sense, but if it doesn’t, you can transfer them to Southwest, British Airways, or a number of other airlines (not to mention hotel or other partners)
  2. They protect you against airlines or hotel point devaluations.  Airlines and hotels seem to increase the number of miles you need to use on a fairly regular basis.  You’ve saved up your stash of United miles and finally have enough for your aspirational “dream trip”?  Oh too bad, United just doubled the miles it takes to book that (hypothetical but very possible).  With Chase or other flexible mile currencies

Ultimate Rewards are easy to get

There are a ton of cards out there that give Ultimate Rewards, so they’re pretty easy to get.  Especially if you’re playing the travel hacking game in “two-player” mode, within the course of a few months it’s pretty easy to have a balance of hundreds of thousands of Ultimate Rewards, in just signup bonuses

Even without the signup bonuses, the 5x that the Chase Ink gives on office supply stores is probably the best category bonus out there.  With the various deals on gift cards (or reselling), that’s another lucrative source of Ultimate Rewards.

Transferring Ultimate Rewards between accounts

Chase has one of the more liberal policies on transferring Ultimate Rewards.  Unlike Barclays, where you can not transfer Barclay Arrival miles between accounts, with Chase you CAN transfer Ultimate Rewards to another account (such as a spouse or partner).

(SEE ALSO: Can you transfer Barclay Arrival miles to another user?)

(SEE ALSO: Can you transfer Barclay Arrival miles between accounts? Barclays responds)

The transfer is done online and happens instantly, but once you transfer the Ultimate Rewards, it’s final – they’re gone – you can not get them back (unless the other person would transfer them back).

One word of caution is that there have been reports of Chase cracking down on people who transfer miles to many people (generally it’s people who are “selling” Ultimate Rewards)

The official terms and conditions on transferring points state:

Ultimate Rewards point transfer features are designed to allow our cardmembers to take advantage of the rewards they earn. The features are not intended to allow transfers to third parties other than a spouse or domestic partner of the cardmember. Transfers to unauthorized third parties or any other abuse of the Ultimate Rewards program may result in suspension or termination of the ability to participate in the program and forfeiture of points already earned.

So I’d be cautious about transferring to anyone besides a spouse or domestic partner

Transfer partners

In addition to being able to transfer Ultimate Rewards between accounts, you can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points 1:1 to several different airline, hotel and other partners.

Flexibility is good!

Flexibility is good!

In the time that I have had Chase Ultimate Rewards, I have personally transferred Ultimate Rewards to IHG, Hyatt, Southwest and British Airways, and have plans in the works for a couple of other of the transfer partners.

One important note is that you can only transfer points to partners if you have a “premium” card, which is the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold / Ink Plus.  If you just have a Chase Freedom card, you would have to first transfer your Ultimate Rewards to someone who has a premium card.  This is what I did once I cancelled my Ink and Sapphire Preferred cards – I just transferred my Ultimate Rewards to my wife, who still has an Ink card.

(SEE ALSO: Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards between accounts before closing an account)

(SEE ALSO: How to destroy a Chase Sapphire Preferred card)

Ultimate Rewards Mall

ultimaterewardsbalanceIn addition to the list of Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners, Chase also has the Ultimate Rewards mall, which is basically an Orbitz / Expedia on steroids.

Generally, I like to use miles for my travel awards, so I am not typically buying airline tickets, hotels, etc., but one time I used it was to rent a car – the prices in the Ultimate Rewards mall were significantly better than I could find anywhere else.  Of course, then Avis tried to screw me on the price when I added my loyalty number to the reservation, but I eventually got that figured out

(SEE ALSO: Avis changing the car rental price when I add my Wizard number)

(SEE ALSO: Update! I finally get Avis to stop its dirty trick on me!)

Refer a friend offers

Chase also periodically offers the ability for card holders to refer friends and family members to cards.  For those of us who don’t have individual credit card affiliate links, this can be a way to earn a few extra miles.

The best example of this was a few months ago with the Chase Freedom refer a friend offer, with a doubled signup bonus – 20,000 Ultimate Rewards instead of the regular bonus of 10,000.  That offer is now expired, but as of the time of this writing, there are still refer a friend offers for the Sapphire and Southwest cards.

(SEE ALSO: Chase Refer-a-Friend: Active offers to get free miles)

What do you think?  Do you like Chase Ultimate Rewards, or do you prefer a different mile currency?

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