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How to Redeem Chase Points for More Value Even if You’re Not Traveling

By Eric Rosen

Feb 19, 2021

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Still not flying much? There are plenty of other ways to redeem points.

Photo by Nicole Glass Photography / Shutterstock

Still not flying much? There are plenty of other ways to redeem points.

Use your Chase points for groceries, takeout, and home improvements.

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Chase Ultimate Rewards are some of the most valuable (and versatile) travel points around. Not only can you transfer them to 10 airline frequent flier programs and 3 hotel partners, including Southwest, United, Hyatt, and Marriott, but you can also redeem them directly for travel bookings made through Chase at great rates. Or cash them in for statement credits toward your monthly balance, among other options like redeeming for Amazon or Apple purchases. 

While your current and near-future travel plans might be curtailed due to COVID-19, Chase has come up with a few additional ways to help cardholders reap the full worth of their Ultimate Rewards points. These options won’t be around indefinitely, though, so if you’re sitting on a stash of points, now might be the right moment to leverage these opportunities and use your rewards for the things you need.

Maximize your Chase points with “Pay Yourself Back” redemptions

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Back in May 2020, Chase introduced a new feature called “Pay Yourself Back.” You could previously convert Ultimate Rewards points into cash back at the rate of one cent each; this new option ups the value proposition for certain cardholders who put their points toward specific types of purchases. 

Through April 30, 2021, folks with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card get a value of 1.25 cents per point redeemed in this way, while those with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® get 1.5 cents per point. Do those numbers sound familiar? That’s because those are the rates that these cards normally only confer for travel redemptions made through the Chase portal. (Incidentally, if you have the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, you can also redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for 1.25 cents apiece for certain philanthropic donations.)

Among the categories where these preferable exchanges now apply are charges made at:

  • Grocery stores
  • Home improvement stores
  • Dining, including restaurants, takeout, and eligible delivery services, like DoorDash and Grubhub
  • Donations to a dozen charitable organizations, including the Equal Justice Initiative, Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, the National Urban League, and World Central Kitchen

In order to use “Pay Yourself Back”:

  1. Log into your Ultimate Rewards account
  2. Click on “Earn/Use” at the top of the homepage
  3. Look for the “Pay Yourself Back” button 
  4. You should now see a list of eligible purchases from the past 90 days, including the cost in both dollars and points

Now for some strategy—let’s say you have another Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points where “Pay Yourself Back” isn’t offered, such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, in addition to the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve. You can actually combine the points from all your accounts and redeem them through the one with the best redemption choices.

Earn and redeem at grocery stores and gas stations

Chase has changed things up on the earning side of the formula, too. Now through April 30, the Chase Sapphire Reserve earns three points per dollar on up to $1,000 in purchases per month at grocery stores while the Chase Sapphire Preferred accrues two per dollar—again, these are rates normally set aside for earning on travel and dining purchases with these cards.

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If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, specifically, its $300 annual travel credit is good toward grocery and gas purchases this year. Folks who apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred right now, meanwhile, can earn up to 60,000 bonus points after making $4,000 in purchases in the first three months, plus earn a $50 statement credit toward grocery store purchases made in the first year.

Register for complimentary DoorDash DashPass

If you have either card, you can register for 12 months of complimentary DoorDash DashPass membership before December 31, 2021. This subscription normally costs $9.99 per month and includes waived delivery fees on orders of $12 or more from participating restaurants, among other perks. Those who want to keep their at-home fitness routine up will also benefit from up to $120 in statement credits toward Peloton Digital or All-Access memberships through the end of 2021 with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, or $60 with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Earn extra points on Lyft rides

Finally, now through March 2022, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can earn 10 points per dollar on Lyft rides. People with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred can earn five points per dollar, and those with the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Freedom Flex℠ Credit Card earn 5 percent cash back (or five points per dollar if you have another Chase account you can combine points with).

Cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points

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With the pandemic still ongoing around the globe, we might see Chase extend some of these limited-time benefits. Nothing is certain, but if you want to take a chance and bet you’ll be able to use your points in all these new ways (as well as taking advantage of the other temporary benefits), you might want to consider applying for a new card that earns Ultimate Rewards points. Here are the three best to consider.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Earning rates: This card earns three points per dollar on dining and travel (after the $300 annual travel credit). Now through April 30, 2021, it also earns three points per dollar on up to $1,000 per month in grocery purchases, including eligible pickup and delivery services.
  • Travel redemptions: Points are worth 1.5 cents apiece when redeemed for travel through Chase. Points transfer to 13 airline and hotel partner programs.
  • Other benefits: Cardholders receive up to $100 in statement credits toward a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application once every four years and can enroll for Priority Pass Select membership for access to over 1,300 airport lounges around the world. It also offers a comprehensive suite of travel and purchase protections.
  • Annual fee: $550 (though Chase is charging just $450 this year)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Welcome bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 within the first three months from account opening. Plus, earn up to $50 in grocery store statement credits in the first year.
  • Earning rates: This card earns two points per dollar on dining and travel. Through April 30, 2021, you can also earn two points per dollar on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases each month.
  • Travel redemptions: Points from this card are worth 1.25 cents apiece when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and they transfer to the program’s 13 airline and hotel partners.
  • Annual fee: $95

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

  • Welcome bonus: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
  • Earning rates: Earn three points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent on combined purchases on travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone services, and advertising with social media sites and search engines each account year. Earn one point per dollar on everything else.
  • Travel redemptions: Points from this card are worth 1.25 cents apiece when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards; they transfer to the program’s airline and hotel partners.
  • Annual fee: $95

By adding new and valuable ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards points, Chase is keeping its travel credit cards relevant. If you’d like to save some cash on things like groceries or home improvements, this could be an interesting way to do so. However, you might be better off saving those points for trips when you’re ready to get back out and explore the world.

While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available.

>> Next: How to Win at Travel With Chase Ultimate Rewards

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