Back in July, I wrote a Chase Ultimate Rewards review. At the time, my position on this rewards program was mixed. On the one hand, I don’t like credit card points. In fact, I somewhat detest them and I detailed this in an article I wrote for Forbes. Essentially, the problem with credit card rewards points, which are the currency of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, is that they are worthless, a credit card company’s version of Disney dollars.
However, Chase is really pushing the new Ultimate Rewards program and, as a reviewer of credit card offers, I had to get myself a Chase Sapphire card and test out the new Chase rewards system. And, much to my dismay, I like it quite a bit.
In the article I wrote for Forbes, I focused on the value of rewards points as opposed to cash back. With the Citibank Thank You Rewards program and especially the Bank of America Worldpoints program, most points were worth less than one cent, even when you used them for gift cards.
At that time, I considered the American Express Membership rewards program to be the best point reward system because the value of points redeemed for gift cards or travel was always one cent. This is essentially in line with what you can earn with most cash back credit cards.
After testing the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, I came to a shocking conclusion: Ultimate Reward points are actually worth more and easier to use than American Express points. The key feature that distinguishes the Chase rewards program is the Pay Yourself Back option. It works like this: you select any purchase you made and you can redeem your points for a statement credit. You only need 2,000 points to make a redemption for $20.
Essentially, this makes the Chase Ultimate Rewards program similar to a cash back rewards program where you earn 1% for every dollar you spend. Because of this, I now consider Ultimate Rewards to be the best point based rewards program. It blows the aforementioned Citi Thank You Rewards and Bank of America Worldpoints programs out of the water. And hopefully it will force American Express to add a similar feature.
For additional information on credit cards with Ultimate Rewards, please see the Chase credit card section of Card Wisdom where you can compare interest rates, promotions, and fees before applying online. You can also compare offers below.