Introduction to Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) I: How to Earn


Recently the Chase Freedom $200 offer has been very popular, and now it’s the right time to introduce the Chase reward system to you: Ultimate Rewards (UR). This post is the first part, mainly discussing how to earn UR points, and the second part is Introduction to Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) II: How to Use.

UR is the point system produced by Chase, which gets a lot of good reputation due to its convenience of points earning and efficiency and flexibility of the points redeeming. Lots of people get free plane tickets and hotel accommodations with UR points.

Generally speaking, there are three sources of UR points as below:

  1. Sign-up bonus
  2. Daily spending
  3. Refer Friend

I. Sign-Up Bonus


Here are the Chase credit cards that can earn UR points:

  1. Chase Freedom
  2. Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP)
  3. Chase Ink Cash (Business Card)
  4. Chase Ink Plus (Business Card)

Chase Freedom is said to have a $100 sign-up bonus (there are about one or two bonus of $200 in a specified period of time every year). And this is done according to the calculation of 1UR point = 1 cent, actually the so-called $100 sign-up bonus is 10K points (20K now in the specified period of time). The points earned is the same as other three cards. It’s very easy for you to see that it’s really a good bargain to apply for a Freedom card when the bonus is 20K points. If you applied for a Freedom just several days before the 20k offer, don’t be depressed, Chase is a nice bank: you’re allowed to match the better bonus within 90 days from applying the card, by sending Secure Message on their online banking website or by giving them a call.


Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) usually has 40K sign-up points. There used to be a 50K points offer, but the annual fee was increased to $125. No 50K points offer is provided in the year of 2014, we can only hope there will be a better offer.

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And besides, you can earn additional bonus if you add an authorized user for Freedom and CSP and make a purchase. 2.5K points for Freedom and 5K points for CSP. It should be noted that there is no need of SSN when you add an authorized user, and it’ll be fine to directly add your parents as authorized users. The points actually are almost a free bonus, so don’t forget to add an authorized user when you apply for Freedom and CSP (no additional bonus after 3 months since the sign-up).

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Both of Ink Plus and Cash are business cards. 50K and 20K sign-up bonus respectively. There was a 70K points offer for Ink Plus in the year of 2014. And you can redeem the points for an international return ticket for economy class from UA. But it’s not advisable for international students to open business cards. It would be very bad for you if you don’t know how to deal with the F1 visa status troubles.

Even if you don’t sign up an Ink card, Freedom plus CSP will earn you 67.5K points and you can do some daily spending to increase to 70K points, and it will be enough for you to redeem for an international round-trip fight.

Lots of points can be earned by sign-up, but we mustn’t be content with this. Where is the free business class ticket and the free hotel accommodation? We won’t stop telling you the methods to earn the points.

II. Daily Spending

Sign-up bonuses are good, but you can also earn the points by daily spending.

Generally, there are three ways to do so:

  1. One point per dollar normally
  2. Bonus categories of Freedom and CSP
  3. “Shop through Chase”

It’s very easy to see that the speed of one point per dollar is too slow. You’d better count on the other two. In the case of Freedom, you can activate each quarter to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in that quarter’s bonus categories: namely 1500*5*4=30K. In general, the bonus categories are widely covered for everyday spending: groceries store, gas station, restaurants and online shopping and so on. The Cash Back Calendars in the year of 2015 and 2014 are as follows:

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In the end of every year, Chase will show you the bonus calendar of the next year. You can make some adjustments to your spending according to Chase bonus calendar. But please remember that you can get the bonus only after activation in the specified time, or you just can get only one point per dollar. It’s very easy for you to activate. You can do it on the Chase online banking website or you just Google Freedom 5%.

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Compared with Freedom, the bonus category of CSP is pretty fixed: Dining & Traveling 2x points, all other purchases 1 point per dollar spent. So don’t forget to take your CSP card on travel when you want to earn the UR points. And besides, on the first Monday of each month, you can get 3 points per dollar spent in the restaurant and don’t use wrong credit cards on those days~

It should be noted that Priceline and Orbitz have been removed from the travel bonus category by CSP, and you won’t get any additional points when you spend your money on such websites.

And now the third way to go: “Shop through Chase”. I guess that this good tool has been totally ignored by a lot of people (and the Discover Deal).

“Shop through Chase” is an online spending portal provided by Chase Bank. The key is that you can get additional bonus points through the portal into the merchant websites, Macy’s for example. And you can add the additional points and Freedom quarterly 5% together. So is the Discover Deal. The procedure is as follows:

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And it’s only restricted to the four cards mentioned above, namely Freedom, CSP, Ink Cash and Ink Plus. Login in the Chase online bank website, click Ultimate Rewards on the right side, select Freedom or CSP and then click Earn Points on the top of the page, and you won’t miss Shop through Chase.

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At last, you will see the shop list, and you can check out whether there is cash back or not before shopping online. There is 5%-6% cash back every year in the case of Sephora, and by clicking you can go to the Sephora website to get the additional points when you are doing shopping.

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Compared with 5% quarterly, there is no upper limit to the points you can get from Shop through Chase, and you can add the points and the 5% together. In general, you won’t get the additional points immediately after shopping until about one or two later a mail sent to you by Chase telling you that you have gotten the points.

In order to get the points successfully, here are a few things to pay attention to:

  1. Shopping must be done via the Chase portal, or you won’t get the points. So are the Discover and Ebates and so on.
  2. You’d better read the terms before shopping. Sometimes you don’t get the points not because doesn’t see this transaction, but because what you purchased is not on the bonus list. For instance, you can’t get cash back when purchasing the new iPhone via the portal. The other situation would be that your promotion code is not on the promotion code list permitted by the portal, so it’s advisable to figure out what’s going on before shopping.
  3. Use the right card to pay, using Freedom card when you get into the Shop through Chase via Freedom, for example.

It is reported that in the last two situations mentioned above, some people still get the points successfully. I did so several times, and did get the points. But you can’t argue about this when Chase draws back your points if you don’t follow the term.

In the end, a website will be recommended: Cash Back Monitor, which can monitor the cash back/points rate of many online shopping portals. you can figure out the rate before shopping and then decide which portal will be used depending on your preference.

III. Refer a Friend

In addition to sign-up bonus and daily spending, the last one is Refer Friend.

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You can do this with Freedom and CSP. You can earn 5K UR points for one successful referral. The upper limit for each credit card every year is 50K points, and you can earn 100K if you have both!

The landing page is Chase Refer a Friend, you need to input your last name, ZIP code and last 4 digits on your card to see whether you are qualified or not.

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Not everyone is qualified for this, and the time is also limited.

When you see the webpage below, it means that you can’t refer:

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Referral link can be sent via email, Facebook and Twitter in general. Facebook and Twitter are preferred due to the 1 or 2 days’ delay of Chase email.

As far as it goes, refer a friend applies to Freedom, CSP, United MileagePlus Explorer, Marriott Rewards Premier and Southwest Airlines. The airline miles or hotel points go for the last three cards. However, you can’t always refer a friend even though you have such cards. It’s all up to Chase to decide whether you are qualified or not. What you can do is try often on the website.

The points you get after you refer a friend successfully and your friend makes his/her first purchase with the new card, will be shown on the pending points, and it may take you 3-4 weeks. So there is no need to worry about the points. It’s just inefficient, but you will get you points sooner or later.

At last, let’s have a look at how to check the pending points. After entering Ultimate Rewards, it would be very easy to find “earning on next statement”. You will get the points once the next statement comes out. The bar chart in the right side of the page will tell you how much is left of the limit of 5% bonus of this quarter $1500. Click see “more activity”, and you can see the component percentage of the pending points in the new page.

The points you get from each purchase will be illustrated in detail.

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You might be pretty familiar with the UR points accumulation. And in the next article we will discuss how to redeem these points in an efficient and valuable way. So stay tuned.

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