Best Ways to Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards When Closing Sapphire Reserve

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Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards When Closing Sapphire Reserve

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards When Closing Sapphire Reserve

The Miles to Memories Facebook group is a wonderful resource to learn about miles/points and saving money. Each week we feature one or more questions from the group that we feel will be helpful to readers of the site.

Reader Question

“Semi-newbie here (experienced at gathering points, but not in spending them). I have 65000 Ultimate Rewards points with Chase. I am about to close my account and need to transfer them before I do so.

What’s the best airline partner for: low/no transfer/surcharge/fuel fees, good award availability/cost, and available business or first class award tickets?”

The great rush to the Chase Sapphire Reserve happened about a year ago, which means the $450 annual fee is due again. Right now, many of our readers are faced with the difficult decision of whether to keep it (and pay the $450 annual fee), downgrade or close the account completely. Chase has further complicated the issue by changing their rules relating to sign up bonuses and the number of Sapphire branded cards a person may have.

For people who no longer want to pay the $450, a big issue is what to do with Ultimate Rewards points before you lose them.

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards When Closing Sapphire Reserve – Downgrading

If you decide to downgrade the Sapphire Reserve to a $95 annual fee Sapphire Preferred, you’ll keep your points and retain the ability to transfer them to Ultimate Rewards transfer partners, an option many people believe offers the best value. You can also use them to book travel through the Chase portal at a value of 1.25 cents per point. While this is less than the 1.5 you get with the Sapphire Reserve, it doesn’t feel like the end of the world.

You also have the option of downgrading to the no annual fee Sapphire card, but that card gives the points a flat $.01 value and doesn’t allow for points transfers to partners. A better no annual fee option is the Chase Freedom which features rotating 5X categories each quarter. Unfortunately like the Sapphire, it doesn’t allow for points transfers or a value of higher than $.01 per point.

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards When Closing Sapphire Reserve

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards When Closing Sapphire Reserve – Closing Your Account

Now, lets talk about those of you who are not interested in a Sapphire Preferred account and don’t have any other premium Ultimate Rewards cards. What can you do with your points before closing your account so that you don’t lose them?  

Cash Back or Statement Credit

Each Ultimate Rewards point is worth $.01 when redeeming for cash. This is a good option if you are not a huge traveler or already have way more points than you need and who can’t use extra cash?

Gift Cards (Not Recommended)

Each Ultimate Rewards point is worth $.01 when redeeming for gift cards. If you are looking for a gift card, it generally makes sense to redeem your points for cash and then to use a credit card to buy the gift card so you earn rewards. However, sometimes Ultimate Rewards has sales where you can redeem your points at a higher value towards certain gift cards. For example, at the time of this writing, Gap Brands gift cards are on sale for a 20% discount, effectively giving you 1.25 cents per point.

Redeem Points on Amazon (Don’t Do It)

DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. When going this route you’ll get less than $.01 per point value when you can simply redeem points for cash or an Amazon gift card at a value of $.01 each.

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards When Closing Sapphire Reserve
You can redeem your points for hotel stays, car rentals, flight tickets and even cruises.

Redeem for travel

This is a great option if you have a trip coming up and can purchase your airfare or hotel immediately because you’ll get an extra 50% value from your points! They’ll be worth 1.5 cents each. Not too shabby and very simple. Sadly, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article if it were that easy and I’m guessing you don’t have any travel that you need to book right away.

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards When Closing Sapphire Reserve – Transferring to Travel Partners

Chase allows free point transfers to their 11 airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio and this is often the best way to maximize the value of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Depending on the program you transfer to and the price of the award, you can often achieve more than $.02 per point value. 

If you have a favorite loyalty program or future redemption in mind, it should be easy enough for you to choose which program to transfer your points to. However, if you have no current plans and are looking for a transfer that will give you flexibility, there are a few things to take into consideration.

  • Does the program have an expiration period for the points?
  • What potential value will you get with the new program?
  • How easily will you be able to book an award that you can actually use?

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards When Closing Sapphire Reserve

Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Partners

While each program has an expiration date for points, among the most generous is Korean Air Skypass. Their points expire 10 years after you earn them. Skypass Miles can be quite valuable for booking premium and economy award tickets on their many partner airlines.

Korean Air partners include the Sky Team Alliance as well as Alaska and Hawaiian. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic also have a generous expiration period of 3 years, which can be easily extended by earning or spending miles. Virgin Atlantic now has a Joint Venture with Delta, KLM and Air France, so these miles have increased flexibility.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotel Partners

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards When Closing Sapphire Reserve
Hyatt Zilara Cancun. World of Hyatt is one of the best value Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners.

As far as hotel transfer partners, there are only 4 options: Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz Carlton and IHG. World of Hyatt points are valuable and represent the best option for redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards for hotels. World of Hyatt points can also be kept alive easily with account activity. If you stay at Hyatt properties often, then parking points in this program can often be a good idea.

Unfortunately, the other hotel transfer partners don’t generally give a great value for your UR points. Of course, there will always be exceptions with specific redemptions and again, if you have one in mind, that’s great. Otherwise, you can at least sleep easy transferring your points to Hyatt, knowing that you’re likely to get upwards of $.02 per point.

Conclusion

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a great card and Ultimate Rewards is a wonderful program, but not everyone can justify the hefty annual fee. Thankfully there are several downgrade options and if you do decide to close your account there are still ways to ensure you will get a great value from your Ultimate Rewards balance.


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20 COMMENTS

  1. You could also transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to your partner/spouse/child who has a Chase UR account too. Then you could punt on the decision of what to transfer the points to.

  2. If you live near an airport which has Southwest, you could transfer your remaining points into Southwest Rapid Rewards which gives great value and 2 free bags on every flight, plus no change fees.

  3. I’d argue slightly that you’ll get more than 1.5 per $ value when booking some travel if you book airline tickets where you would earn miles for the trip. It might be a mileage run opportunity in some ways to offset the lower value.

    • Great point and I completely agree! It would be hard to add a specific value for each airline without knowing their mile earning structure and trip details, but this is definitely something to consider if you have a trip you are ready to book flights for.

  4. Another idea for Alaska flyers is to book a random flight at 1.5cpp and then cancel the flight and get Alaska travel funds (expires in 1 year). The best use of this is to fly to Hawaii and pair it with Alaska companion certificate.

    • LOVE this option as well. I’ve never done this myself, but I think it’s great if you know you’ll be able to use them within a year. Have you ever tried booking a second refundable trip? Did it extend the funds for another year?

  5. Sadly I never used my points to book travel.
    When booking travel with CC points to the airlines its the same as paying cash correct? Meaning will l still earn miles for flying?
    Unlike booking your flight using miles you do not earn miles for the flight.

    • Mike, you are correct! You earn miles for booking through the CC travel portal, which as Danin mentioned above, adds value to your redemption. What do you use your points for instead?

      • Danin and I were thinking the same and posting at the same time. Mostly my points are just growing unsure of the biggest bang. Never touched AMEX Platinum points and I transferred some points to Hilton on Citi Prestige since they offer a 2:1 bonus transfer until 20 Sep (1.5:1 normally). After reading your post I will for sure try to use them for my next flight.

  6. Great write up Bethany – if I was ever cut off by Chase and had to transfer my points before losing them I would probably send half to Hyatt and half to Southwest! Maybe would adjust those percentages depending on upcoming travel over the next 10-12 months!

    • Thank you! I have a confession to make, I’ve never flown Southwest, I know it’s crazy. LOL I am definitely with you on Hyatt, there are some amazing values out there.

  7. So, I read a couple weeks ago about Chase pro-rating the annual fee when you cancel, which means the best strategy would be to cancel after getting the 2018 travel reimbursement. Do you know if there are solid data points on this?

  8. Find a real good bargain flight using The Flight Deal or some other similar site. Then see if that flight or a similarly priced flight shows up on the Chase UR flight portal. We found an Air Canada flight, San Diego-Vancouver-Shanghai and back for $555 each. Making a total of $1110 for two. At .015, that works out to 73,200 UR points for two tickets. If you converted the UR to United miles, it would cost you 70,000 miles for just one ticket. So try to combine UR and bargain flight and take a nice vacation!

  9. Using the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal is a great way to go.

    Not the Chase Luxury Hotel Collection. Don’t get confused.

    Recently booked Caesar’s Palace. Admitted a low rate time of year Thanksgiving. The rate for a standard forum tower double was the equivalent of $ 60 night, after factoring the bonus in. We upgraded to the Palace Tower, our favorite. We found incredibly low redemption rates at several of the major name hotels, which were well below the Direct hotel billings. Contrast this with the Chase Luxury Hotel Collection rates, which were usually significantly higher than booking direct hotel rates, even after factoring in extra benefits.

  10. What would you suggest the best transfer to be? I am closing my CSR and have 100,000 points.. between 4 people in my family I have all chase cards? Which should I transfer the points to since I dont have any immeditate travel plans? INK or Freedom or SW or…??? What would you suggest optimal would be? Thanks

  11. I used Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal. Unbeatable value on Hotels on our trip to Las Vegas. Skip Chase Luxury Hotel Collection. Dissapointing and miserable to make changes.

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