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Miles and points have had a huge impact on our family. Ever since we first started collecting these credit card rewards back in 2013, they have helped us travel in ways we would otherwise never have imagined.

Everyone has different ways of traveling, and what works for me might not work for you. In my case, because I have six kids, we travel quite differently than someone who is traveling by themselves. It's pretty much impossible to collect enough points (and then find the award space!) for eight first-class tickets. However, we've had a lot of success using flexible currencies like those earned with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® to book travel for our family.

Post-Pandemic Travel

Our family of eight flew to Portugal and Spain in the summer of 2019. The travel landscape looks a lot different now than it did back in 2019, but many of the same principles apply. While travel understandably declined during the COVID-19 pandemic, it's picked up considerably since then. And in the meantime, I've also been stockpiling miles and points toward future travel.

Using Miles and Points to Go to Europe

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are among the most valuable types of rewards currencies out there. One reason they're so valuable is because they have a ton of flexibility. You can transfer your points to a variety of hotel and airline partners. This can be a great way to get even more value from your Ultimate Rewards, especially if you want to fly in premium airline cabins.

Another way to use Ultimate Rewards points is through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Through the travel portal, you can redeem your points for a fixed value.

If you want to fly in a premium cabin, you're almost always going to be better off transferring your Ultimate Rewards points to an airline's mileage program. In our case, we knew we needed to fly economy, so redeeming through the Ultimate Rewards portal made more sense. We could have transferred our Ultimate Rewards points to United MileagePlus, for example. But United typically charges 30,000 MileagePlus miles for a one-way flight in economy between the United States and Europe. That would have meant that we'd need 480,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (transferred to United) to fly our family of eight to Europe and back.

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Instead, we looked for a cheap cash fare to use the points on my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. It's not uncommon to find fares from the East Coast to Europe for $200 or less. We ended up booking our trip as two different one-way flights. The first one was $148 for a one-way flight on TAP Portugal from Newark to Barcelona with a 3-day stopover in Lisbon. Using Chase Sapphire Reserve points, that was only 9,867 Ultimate Rewards points per person and included visiting two cities on the same ticket.

For our return, we found another TAP Portugal flight from Barcelona back to Newark. The one was $189 on our preferred dates. Again, we paid with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. This time it was 12,600 Ultimate Rewards points per person. In total, we paid 22,467 Ultimate Rewards points per person for round-trip flights. That's less than you would likely have to pay one way if you instead transferred your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United MileagePlus miles.

Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Earning points with a Chase credit card is an essential tactic in my family's rewards travel strategy. Cardholders of no-fee Chase credit cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® Card or Chase Freedom Flex℠ Card can get a value of 1 cent per point. If you have a premium Chase credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you'll get extra value for your points when redeeming them for travel.

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

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  • Our Rating 5/5 How our ratings work Read the review
  • APR21.49% - 28.49% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$95
  • 60,000 60,000Chase Ultimate Rewards Points More Info

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,380 (60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points * 0.023 base)

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of the gold standards for earning travel rewards. It has a generous sign-up bonus and you can earn points on travel and dining expenses. The card does have an annual fee, but you can continue earning points through bonus categories and an anniversary points boost.


The Chase Sapphire Preferred is pretty flexible as it lets you transfer rewards points into miles or points several airlines and hotel programs. You can take advantage of strong transfer partners such as United, Southwest, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Hyatt. Similarly, you can book any reservation you want through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Although the card might not be ideal for the most frequent travelers, it has a built-in upgrade path, so when it’s time to level up your travel rewards game, you won’t have to start from scratch.


  • Points are easily transferable to airlines and hotel partners
  • Accelerated earnings on dining, travel & household purchases
  • Excellent travel and purchase protections
  • No foreign transaction fees


  • Not ideal for the highest spenders
  • $95 annual fee

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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Secure application on issuer’s website

Rates & Fees
  • Our Rating 4.5/5 How our ratings work Read the review
  • APR22.49% - 29.49% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$550
  • 60,000 60,000Chase Ultimate Rewards Points More Info

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after using your card to spend $4,000 within three months of account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $1,380 (60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points * 0.023 base)

This card features an annual credit for travel purchases, which can offset the annual fee, plus bonus points when you sign up. You'll also get free access to tons of Priority Pass lounges and restaurant options around the world, along with access to the upcoming Chase Sapphire Lounge network.


If you’re looking to elevate your travel experience, look no further than the Chase Sapphire Reserve. When you first get approved, you’ll earn a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months—that’s worth at least $900 in travel-related spending booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and potentially more if you transfer your rewards to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners.


  • An array of premium travel perks including access to Priority Pass lounges
  • Easy-to-use $300 travel credit that helps offset card's annual fee
  • Generous rewards rates for spending


  • High annual fee may be a deterrent for some
  • Perks are starting to get stale relative to newer competition

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

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Secure application on issuer’s website

  • Our Rating 4.5/5 How our ratings work Read the review
  • APR20.49% - 29.24% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$0
  • 1.5% 1.5%Extra Cash Back More Info

    Earn 1.5% bonus cash back (up to $20,000 in purchases) during your first year. Worth up to $300 in cash back.

We like that the card offers a high flat rewards rate but also provides accelerated rewards on some common everyday spending categories. You’ll also get access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel portal, which allows you to use your cash-back earnings for travel rewards, gift cards and more. If you make this your primary card for most purchases you can quickly rack up a lot of rewards.


The Chase Freedom Unlimited card is unique for a couple of reasons. First, it comes with purchase protection and extended warranty protection you don’t see with some other cash-back cards. Second, you earn cash back in the form of points (Chase Ultimate Rewards) and when paired with another annual-fee earning Chase product, you can get even more value if you love to travel by transferring to partners.

That’s because while the Freedom cards are marketed as cash-back credit cards, they actually offer points. You can use those points to book travel through Chase at a rate of 1 cent per point. But if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you’ll get 25% and 50% more value on those travel redemptions, respectively. (Plus, the ability to transfer your points, too.)


  • No category bonuses to remember; earn at least 1.5% back on everything
  • No annual fee
  • Generous travel and purchase protection benefits


  • Can't transfer Chase points unless paired with another annual-fee Chase product

Chase Freedom Flex℠

This product is currently not available via Slickdeals. All information about this product was collected by Slickdeals and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

  • Our Rating 4.5/5 How our ratings work Read the review
  • APR20.49%-29.24% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$0
  • $200 $200Cash Bonus More Info

    Receive a $200 bonus after you spend $500 in the first three months.

The Chase Freedom Flex card expands on the already lucrative Chase Freedom card. The Freedom Flex also gives cardholders access to Chase Ultimate Rewards, which is arguably the most versatile rewards platform, and you’ll get plenty of redemption options at good rates. Plus, if you have one of the program’s travel cards, you can transfer points from your Freedom Flex to your travel card account and get even more value and flexibility with how you redeem.


Getting more in cash back is a clear win for anyone who is considering the Freedom Flex card. This card is ideal for anyone who want to maximize cash-back rewards with the option to get more value with travel redemptions.


  • Generous earnings on select rotating categories each quarter
  • Cellphone and trip insurance coverage
  • No annual fee
  • Ability to convert rewards to transferable Ultimate Rewards points


  • Can't transfer Chase points to travel partners unless paired with select products

If you have more than one Chase card, you can combine your Ultimate Rewards points between cards, so it pays to transfer your points on your card with the highest redemption value.

The Bottom Line

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are one of the most valuable types of rewards points. Right now, there are some extremely attractive limited-time offers for both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve cards which can help you add to your stockpile of Ultimate Rewards points.

If you're looking to fly multiple people on your next vacation (in economy), the Sapphire Reserve can help you get to Europe, or anywhere else, for a fraction of the normal cost. And if you want to dig deeper, check out our picks for the best travel rewards credit cards to see more options.


Dan Miller

Dan Miller is a freelance writer and founder of, a site that helps families to travel for free and cheap. He is an expert in all things personal finance, and his work has been featured in Forbes, NerdWallet, Bankrate,, Rocket Mortgage and Intuit Mint. His home base is in Cincinnati, but he tries to travel the world as much as possible with his wife and six kids.