What makes Chase Ultimate Rewards so fucking great? Thought you’d never ask. These reasons (updated Feb 2019):
- If I’ve got both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Freedom Unlimited cards, I can earn around 2 points for every dollar I spend, which I can transfer to United frequent flyer miles. (That’s at least 50% more than what I’d get if I spent the same on an actual United MileagePlus Explorer card.)
- If I don’t feel like flying United, I can transfer the points to eight other airline programs and three hotel programs.
- If none of those programs do it for me, or redeeming United miles doesn’t pay off, I can buy tickets with points, for whatever airline I want to, at an advantageous rate (67 points per cash price dollar).
- Caroline and I can freely consolidate our points.
- I can just claim the points as cash, at a better rate than other points cards offer (100 points per dollar back) if there’s some travel thing I can’t book through Chase or a frequent flyer program.
Since math hurts, let me put this all another way: We’re now getting much more bang for our buck from our credit cards without having to do anything or pay significantly more. That means business class instead of economy, or two trips instead of one. And if United doesn’t cut it, we can fly someone else. Because I can always convert the Ultimate Rewards points to United miles anyway, there is no downside as compared with using a United branded card. And there ain’t no other rewards program that provides all of the above as favorably. It’s like my MileagePlus or Amex card on roids.
If you just want to know what you need in order to earn Ultimate Rewards points, because you’re too lazy and impatient to read the rest of this:
Get a Chase Sapphire Reserve card, and a Chase Freedom Unlimited card. Spend $4,000 in the first three months on the Sapphire Reserve, and $500 on the Freedom Unlimited. Once you’ve hit those, use the Freedom Unlimited for everything; you’ll get 1.5 points per dollar spent. Or, if you’re more ambitious, use the Sapphire Preferred specifically for restaurants, travel, lodging, and transportation (including taxi, MTA, AirBnB, parking, rental car, etc); you’ll get 3 points per dollar spent. The end.
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