- The Points Guy
- When you earn cash back with a Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card, you’re actually earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points – you’re just limited to redeeming them for cash.
- If you open a different Chase Ultimate Rewards card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Business Preferred, you can pool your points and unlock more valuable ways to redeem them.
- The best options are to use them to book travel through Chase, or transfer them to frequent flyer partners.
- Of course, you always have the option of sticking with cash if you prefer.
The Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited cards are two fantastic options if you’re looking for a cash-back credit card. However, if you’re interested in upgrading to travel rewards points – which can be more valuable than straight cash – it’s possible to convert anything you earn with the Chase Freedom-brand cards.
Why you might want Chase points instead of cash back
Certain other cards from Chase – including the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and Chase Ink Business Preferred – earn rewards points within Chase’s loyalty ecosystem, “Chase Ultimate Rewards.” When you have one of these cards, there are three main different ways to redeem your points.
The first option is the simplest: You can redeem points for 1 cent each toward cash, gift cards, or purchases.
The next option is to use points to purchase travel through Chase, which features a travel-booking portal on the Ultimate Rewards website. This site works the same way as any major online travel agency – you can book anything from flights or hotels to rental cars or cruises – except that you can use points, or a combination of points and your credit card, to book.
Depending on which card you have, you get a bonus on your points’ value when you use them to book travel through Chase. If you have the Sapphire Preferred (or certain small business cards like the Ink Business Preferred), you’ll get a 25% bonus on points used toward travel – in other words, those points will be worth 1.25 cents each. With the Sapphire Reserve, the bonus for travel purchases is 50%, making your points worth 1.5 cents each.
The third option when you have any of those premium Chase cards is to transfer your points to one of Chase’s nine airline frequent flyer or four hotel loyalty partners. Typically, that’s the most valuable way to redeem your points, since booking frequent flyer “award tickets” is different than buying reservations outright – you can read more about how it works here.
In most cases, the cash price and the miles price of a ticket aren’t linked, so it’s possible to get exponentially increased value from your points by transferring them and booking an award ticket instead. That means potentially being able to fly long-haul in first or business class with points, among other things.
How to turn cash back into valuable Ultimate Rewards points
Good news: If you have a Freedom card, you already have Ultimate Rewards points!
While Chase markets the Freedom-branded cards as “cash back,” they actually earn Ultimate Rewards points. They’re just limited to the first redemption option – cash, gift cards, or even travel at 1 cent per point.
However, because Chase lets you move your Ultimate Rewards points freely between any cards you have, you can get the travel portal bonus or transfer them to frequent flyer partners simply by moving them onto a Sapphire or relevant Ink card.
Just log in to your Chase account, click on Ultimate Rewards, click on any of your cards, and click “Combine Points” in the top-right corner. Move your points from the Freedom card to the Sapphire or Ink, and you’re good to go.
I know a lot of people who have been using a Freedom card for years and haven’t redeemed any cash back yet – if they open a Sapphire card, too, they can get a surprising amount of free travel for those points.
The other benefit is that the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited both earn points in different ways than the Sapphire or Ink cards, so you can take advantage of this to earn more. For instance, use a Freedom card to earn 5% cash back (or 5x points) in the quarterly bonus category after activation, use a Sapphire Reserve to earn 3x points on travel and dining, and use a Freedom Unlimited to earn 1.5% (or 1.5x points) on everything else.
If you’re looking for inspiration on how to use your points, take a look at a few options here, and if you’re looking to open a new card or earn new sign-up bonuses, check out our list of the best Chase cards and sign-up bonuses available.