Chase Ultimate Rewards: Is it the Best Point Rewards Program

by Credit Card Wisdom on September 24, 2010

Chase Ultimate Rewards ProgamBack 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.

 

 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob March 22, 2011 at 2:46 am

I think you may be slightly off on your math. On regular purchases it’s not quite one point per dollar, I believe it is 4 points for every 5 spent, or .8%. Nevertheless, I too like this program, especially when shopping through the rewards mall. I ordered flowers for my fiance for valentines day and received 15 points per dollar spent (excluding money spent on tax and shipping).

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Credit Card Wisdom March 22, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Rob,

I’m absolutely positive that it is one point per dollar. I not only researched this throughly, but I also have the Sapphire Card with Ultimate Rewards and know from personal experience it is one point per dollar.

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Bob April 14, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I also believe that UR is 4 points per $5, but that might be on the debit card program specifically (which is what I have, and is incidentally coming to an end in the summer).

Regarding the Chase rewards mall. You can earn far more cash back by using other free cash back programs. The Chase mall is essentially the same sort of thing, but provides lower returns (I’ve found).

For example, the free program I use offers the following: 800-flowers = 9.6% back, from you flowers = 16% back and Pro Flowers = 6.4% back.
Cash back rates fluctuate, so it might be different from when you’re reading this.

I’ve been using them for just about 2 years now. Never had any problems. They also just need a paypal email address to send payment, and ask for no sensitive info to sign up.

Hope this info is helpful.

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Credit Card Wisdom April 14, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Bob,

I completely overlooked the debit card side in response to an earlier poster. For the credit card, it is a solid one point per dollar and the points are worth one cent a piece as long as they aren’t misused on merchandise, which is a total ripoff no matter what rewards program you are in. It is a shame that the Ultimate Rewards debit card rewards program is ending. I always use credit cards, but at 4 points for every $5, that was a really good rewards rate.

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