The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Points & Miles [Express Version]

Express Guide Featured Photo Chase Ultimate Rewards

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With so many options to earn miles and points, how are we supposed to know where to start?!

Let’s cut through the noise so you can get started and feel confident you’ve made the best decision.

In this guide, we’ll talk about earning Chase Ultimate Rewards. This is, without a doubt, the ideal place to start earning points to travel.

How To Begin Earning Points: A Chase Ultimate Rewards Strategy

Everyone on the Upgraded Points team loves Ultimate Rewards points and actively earn them and redeem them for some amazing travel experiences. They’re just so valuable.

Why Should I Collect Chase Ultimate Rewards Points?

1. Chase Ultimate Rewards gives you access to seven airline partners and four hotel partners.

This means you can transfer your Chase points to any of those airlines or hotels, giving you an endless number of options for redeeming these points (vs being stuck with just one airline or hotel).

You’ll also have access to airlines in the three major alliances: Star Alliance, SkyTeam, and Oneworld. You’ll even be able to book award flights with some airlines not part of an alliance.

2. Chase has instituted a rule – commonly referred to as the Chase 5/24 Rule – that prevents you from getting many of their products if you’ve opened 5 credit cards (across any bank) in the last 24 months.

This might not affect you now, but it’s important to remember it as you get started.

(In other words, sign up to Chase cards first before any others because with Amex, for example, there isn’t really a restriction on the number of cards you can sign up for).

Bottom Line: Start your points journey by collecting Chase points. They are very easy to earn (see below) and you can transfer them seven airlines and four hotel partners. Endless choices!

The Upgraded Points Express Guide (Step-by-Step)

Now that you have an understanding of why this is our favorite approach, let’s get into how you can implement this simple plan.

Step 1: Start With The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Apply first for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Not only does the card come with a 60,000 point sign-up bonus to get you started (which is worth at least $750), you’ll earn 2 points for every dollar spent on dining and travel purchases. The travel bonus category includes flights, hotels, Uber, Taxis, trains, and more.

It’s awesome and a perfect card to start with (you can imagine we get asked which card to start with quite a lot!). Plus, you pay no annual fee for the first year.

The travel bonus category includes:

  • Flights
  • Hotels
  • Uber
  • Taxis
  • Trains
  • …and more.

Yep, it’s (really) awesome.

Here are some articles that’ll demonstrate why we strongly recommend the card for all points collectors:

Step 2: Make The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Your “Go-To” Card

As you work toward hitting the minimum spend for the sign-up bonus, make sure you put all your purchases on your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Not only will you earn Ultimate Rewards with each purchase, but you’ll also get a little closer to hitting the minimum spend and earning that big 60,000 point sign-up bonus.

Step 3: Hit The Minimum Spend For The Sign-Up Bonus

The most valuable part of a card is the sign-up bonus. Make sure you have a plan to hit the minimum spend required to earn the sign-up bonus, usually 3 months.

It’s important to have a plan so that you don’t have to spend more than you usually would just to earn the bonus.

You can earn points for all spending, including cell phone, cable, utility, insurance, and other bills. Don’t forget services like Netflix, Hulu, and Lyft. Everything.

If you need a boost to hit the minimum spend, you can use a service called Plastiq to pay bills that otherwise don’t accept credit cards. There is a small service fee to use the service, but it can be worth it to earn that initial sign-up bonus. You can use Plastiq to pay rent, a mortgage, a student loan, and more.

Don’t forget, carrying a balance is never a good idea so don’t do that!

Bottom Line: Getting the big sign-up bonus is critical to earning the maximum number of points possible. Make sure to track your spend and hit that minimum spend! 

Step 4 (optional): Use The Chase Ultimate Rewards Shopping Portal

If you’re shopping online, make sure you check the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal. If the online store where you are shopping has partnered with Chase, you can earn extra Ultimate Rewards points.

Step 5 (optional): Sign Up For A Dining Program

You can earn extra airline miles or hotel points just by signing up for their dining program and attached a credit card. Nothing else is required. If you dine at a participating restaurant, you’ll automatically earn the miles or points.

Step 6: Learn How To Use Ultimate Rewards

Review the Chase partner airlines and hotels below as these are the programs to which you can transfer your points.

You will use these partners for your award redemptions, so sign up with the loyalty program(s) of choice. Ideally, you are already a part of them!

Here are all the Chase travel partners:

Airline PartnersHotel Partners
Air France/KLM Flying BlueWorld of Hyatt
British Airways Executive ClubIHG Rewards Club
Korean Air SKYPASSMarriott Rewards
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyerRitz-Carlton Rewards
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
United Airlines MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Step 7: Decide On A Travel Goal

With your new stash of Ultimate Rewards points, it’s time to figure out how you want to use them.

Maybe you want to try an international first class flight such as Singapore Airlines’ famous Suites class. Maybe you want to take your family to the beach. Whatever your goal, now’s the time to lock in your plan to make it happen.

Need a little help? Check out How To Determine Your Travel Goals or the 49 Best Ways To Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Step 8: Keep Earning Chase Ultimate Rewards

Once you have been using the Chase Sapphire Preferred® for a while, you may get curious about other ways you can earn more points. In that case, we recommend reading more. Check out the following resources:

When you’re ready for a second card to help you earn more Ultimate Rewards, you have a few options.

The Chase Freedom® earns 5 points per dollar at quarterly rotating categories. This can be a big boost to your points collection!

Another option is the Chase Freedom Unlimited® which earns 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases. It’s a great choice for any purchases that aren’t part of a bonus category.

The Express Guide For Business Owners

Step 1: The Ultimate Rewards 1-2 Punch

If you own a business, you will also want to open the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card for your business spend. You can also get the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for your personal spend. We’ve already discussed what you get with the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, so let’s discuss what you get with the Ink Business Preferred℠ Card.

You will earn:

  • 3 points per dollar on travel, shipping, Internet, cable and phone services, plus advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year (on the first $150,000 spent per cardholder year)
  • 1x points everywhere else

Put all of your business spend on the Ink Business Preferred and all of your personal spend on the Chase Sapphire Preferred and you will earn you some serious Ultimate Rewards points.

Step 2: Enroll In Visa SavingsEdge

As a Visa business card, the Ink Business Preferred℠ is eligible to be enrolled in the Visa SavingsEdge program. Similar to the dining programs discussed above, once you’re enrolled, you don’t have to think about it.

When you make a purchase at a participating VisaSavingsEdge merchant, you will automatically receive a small percentage back in the form of a statement credit.

Step 3: From Minimum Spend to Travel Goals

The steps we discussed above for those just starting with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® applies for small business owners as well. Follow steps 3 through 7 to ensure you earn your sign-up bonus and figuring out your travel goals.

Step 4: Keep Earning With The Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Follow the above steps with this card as well! A great companion card with no annual fee is the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card. For this card, you earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, Internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year.

Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. For all other card purchases, you’ll earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit.

While this is a cash back card by itself, if you also hold the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, then the points you earn can be transferred to travel partners and used for travel!

For more information on the perks related to this card, check out our article on the 21 Valuable Benefits of the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card.

Get Ready For Your First Redemption

Before you think about your first redemption (assuming it will be international), you will need to make sure you have a valid and passport.

Don’t forget to check our booking guides to make the redemption process even easier.


Which credit cards earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points?

There are 6 total cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Of the 3 starred below, you will need at least 1 in order to transfer your points to travel partners.

Otherwise, points for all your Chase cards will be available for use in the Ultimate Rewards portal.

If you wish, you can still collect points and just sign up for one of the travel cards once you are getting ready to transfer.

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card*
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®*
  • Chase Freedom®
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited®
  • Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card*
  • Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
Spencer Howard

About Spencer Howard

Always a fan of flying, it was only natural that Spencer was drawn to finding a way to improve the travel experience. Like many, he started this journey searching for cheap flights to take him around the world. This was fun for a while, but Spencer was intrigued by the idea of flying in business and first class! Throwing himself into what became an extensive research project, Spencer spent 3-4 hours per night learning everything he could about frequent flyer miles over the course of several months (he thinks this is normal).


Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Here are the top 5 reasons to have this card in your wallet, where you can earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent.

Plus – you can convert your cash back to points if you also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card!

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

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