The pandemic isn't over, but here's why I'm hoarding Chase Ultimate Rewards points again

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  • Chase Ultimate Rewards points are popular due to their overall flexibility.
  • Some Chase travel credit cards let you convert your Chase points to airline miles or hotel points.
  • While the pandemic is far from over, hoarding points now is a smart way to prepare for travel once the world is ready.
  • Read Insider’s guide to the best Chase credit cards.

While I’ll always be a travel rewards enthusiast, the pandemic changed the way I pursued credit card rewards at first. For example, I pretty much stopped using airline credit cards in the middle of last year, and I put a lot more focus on the cash-back credit cards I have. 

I even did the unthinkable toward the end of 2020 when I used the Chase Pay Yourself Back feature to redeem points from my Chase Sapphire Reserve® at 1.5 cents each for a new refrigerator from Lowe’s. With no imminent travel on the horizon, letting go of my usual intense focus on earning rewards for airfare seemed like a smart thing to do — at least for a while.

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But with vaccines finally here and a renewed hope of international travel filling the air, I have started focusing on earning rewards for travel again. Specifically, I have traded out all my other credit cards from my wallet with the goal of paying for everything with Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards for the time being.

Here are the main reasons I am once again hoarding points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, as well as why you might want to do the same thing.

We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve gives me 50% more value when redeeming points for travel

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Chase Sapphire Reserve®

You can book almost any flight with any airline on the Chase portal, as well as more than 1 million properties worldwide. While the Chase Travel Portal does not have access to all of the properties other online travel agencies offer, you can find most options there and certainly enough to choose from.

Either way, I like having access to a travel portal where I can book practically any type of travel I want without having to worry about blackout dates, capacity controls, or specific loyalty program rules.

Chase Ultimate Rewards has the best transfer partners

The Chase Ultimate Rewards portal is always my backup for booking travel, but I prefer to rack up Chase points due to their robust selection of transfer partners. Specifically, I usually transfer Chase points to Southwest Rapid Rewards for domestic travel or flights to Mexico or the Caribbean.

I also frequently transfer points to Air France-KLM Flying Blue for cheap economy flights (in miles) to Europe for my family of four, and I also occasionally transfer points to the United MileagePlus program for various itineraries.

Using transfer partners is a great way to get outsized value for Chase points — potentially much more than the 1.5 cents per point in value you can get through the Chase portal with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

Insider’s points and miles valuations peg Chase Ultimate Rewards points as worth, on average, 1.8 cents apiece — in large part due to the outsized value you can get by transferring points to partners for award travel.

Consider this example: 

When I travel internationally, I usually fly out of Chicago. I can frequently find one-way flights to Europe with Air France-KLM Flying Blue for less than 50,000 miles round-trip, plus airline taxes and fees. 

In the example below for October of 2021, a round-trip flight requires 44,000 miles + $229.31 in airline taxes and fees. The retail price for this same flight worked out to $1,227 on the day I compared pricing, so the value of this redemption works out to more than 2 cents per mile, even after deducting the cost of airline taxes and fees.

Air France-KLM Flying Blue

I can (and do) pool points with my spouse

Another reason I choose to hoard Chase Ultimate Rewards points is the fact they make it so easy to collect points with a spouse or partner. Basically, Chase lets you add one member of your household to pool points with, although you can combine points from all of their cards with any of your Chase credit cards.

I love having the chance to pool points based on the convenience factor alone, yet it’s also nice when I’m trying to make a large redemption and I don’t want to break it up. If I’m booking four round-trip international flights for myself, my husband, and our kids, for example, I wouldn’t want to break that up into two separate bookings since we might get bumped separately onto different flights.

The Chase trifecta lets me maximize rewards on all my spending

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Chase Freedom Flex℠

Also know that you don’t have to redeem Chase points for travel if you don’t want to. You can also cash in Chase Ultimate Rewards for gift cards, statement credits, cash back, or merchandise, so you’ll never be stuck with points you can’t use. As long as you have an Ultimate Rewards card open and in good standing, your Chase points won’t expire.

Holly Johnson is a credit card expert, award-winning writer, and mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting, and travel.

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