Don’t Know When To Use Which Ultimate Rewards Card? Here’s A Chart!

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Update, 06/14: I’ve added the United Club card to this chart. While the points earned on it are not Ultimate Rewards points, the most valuable Ultimate Rewards transfer partner is generally going to be United. Though bear in mind that Ultimate Rewards points also have the ability to be transferred to other places like BA, Korean, Southwest, Hyatt, and Amtrak, etc.

Originally posted on 02/08/12:

Related posts:
-DansDeals Credit Card Links And Card Opening FAQ’s On DDF
-Chase Offer Matching.
-Spending Strategies: Where You Can Earn More Than 1 Mile Per Dollar Spent, Sorted By Category.
-Which Credit Cards To Use When And Where?
-Chase Exclusives Bonuses Explained And A Comparison Of Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards.
-Credit Card Benefits, Categorized By Benefit.
-Sapphire Preferred, Starwood, Or Freedom? A Guide For Which Cards To Use For Any Purchase.
-Does Opening And Closing Cards Hurt Your Credit Score?
-Credit Card Reconsideration: Don’t Give Up!
-Need To Meet A Spending Threshold? Get Waived Fees On AMEX Gift Cards!
-Need To Meet A Spending Threshold? Send And Receive $1,000/Month With No Fees Using Amazon Payments!

Links to cards listed in this chart:

Chase Freedom Mastercard, 10K signup bonus for spending $500, No annual fee
Chase Sapphire Preferred, 42.8K signup bonus after 7% annual points dividend for spending $3,000, Free for 1 year, then $95
Chase United Club, Full United club membership and numerous other sweet benefits, free for 1 year by sending a secure message, then $395.
Chase Ink Classic, 10K signup bonus for spending $1 plus 15K additional bonus points for spending $5K in 3 months. No annual fee.
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, 10K signup bonus for spending $1 plus 15K additional bonus points for spending $5K in 3 months. No annual fee. (Ink Cash gives double points on dining instead of hotels like the other Ink cards)
Chase Ink Bold, 25K signup bonus for spending $1 plus 25K additional bonus points for spending $10K in 3 months. Free for 1 year, then $95.

-For spending outside of the US always stick to a card without foreign transaction fees, like Sapphire Preferred, United Club, or the new Ink Bold cards.
-The maximum spending for 5x point categories on Freedom is $1,500 per quarter.
-The maximum spending on 2x and 5x categories on Ink Classic or Ink Cash is $25,000 per category per year.
-The maximum spending on 2x and 5x categories on Ink Bold is $50,000 per category per year.
-If you spend greater than a threshold level on the old Ink Bold but don’t reach the next threshold the earnings rate will be in between the base number and the threshold number listed in the chart.
-Numbers are rounded to 1 decimal point.

Spending ExampleFreedom with Chase CheckingFreedom without Chase CheckingSapphire PreferredNew Ink Bold/Ink ClassicOld Ink Bold with Chase CheckingUnited Club
$1 Generic Purchase11.1 points1 points1.07 points 1 points1.2 points (or 1.5, 1.65, or 1.675 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)1.5 miles
$51 Generic Purchase66.1 points51 points54.6 points51 points61.2 points (or 76.5, 84.2, or 85.4 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)
76.5 miles
$101 Generic Purchase121.1 points101 points108.1 points101 points121.2 points (or 151.5, 166.7, or 169.2 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)151.5 miles
$10,001 Generic Purchase11,100 points10,001 points10,071.1 points10,001 points12,012 points (or 15,015. 16,517, or 16,767 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)
15,015 miles
$2 Dining purchase (Cup of coffee)12.2 points or 20.2 points between 07/01/12 and 09/30/12.2 points or 10 points between 07/01/12 and 09/30/12.4.28 points2 points2.4 points (or 3, 3.3, or 3.4 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)3 miles
$9 Dining Purchase (Cafe lunch)19.9 points or 55.9 points between 07/01/12 and 09/30/12.9 points or 45 points between 07/01/12 and 09/30/12.19.3 points9 points10.8 points (or 13.5, 14.9, or 15.1 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)13.5 miles
$200 Dining Purchase (Steakhouse dinner)230 points or 1,030 points between 07/01/12 and 09/30/12200 points or 1,000 points between 07/01/12 and 09/30/12.428 points200 points240 points (or 300, 330, or 335 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)300 miles
$500 Hotel Stay560 points or 2,560 points between 10/01/12 and 12/31/12500 points or 2,500 points between 10/01/12 and 12/31/121,070 points or 1,605 points for hotels booked via Chase. 1,000 points600 points (or 750, 825, or 837.5 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)750 miles
$1,000 Airfare1,110 points or 5,110 points between 10/01/12 and 12/31/121,000 points or 5,000 points between 10/01/12 and 12/31/122,140 points or 3,210 points for airfare booked via Chase.1,000 points1,200 points (or 1,500, 1,650, or 1,675 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)1,500 miles (or 2,000 miles for United purchase)
$200 Car Rental230 points200 points428 points200 points240 points (or 300, 330, or 335 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)300 miles
$50 commuter transportation (including trains, buses, taxis/limos/car services, ferries, bridges, tolls, and parking)65 points50 points107 points 50 points60 points (or 75, 82.5, or 83.8 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)75 miles
$100 Cell Phone, Cable, or Telecom Bill111 points100 points107 points500 points120 points (or 150, 165, or 167.5 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)150 miles
$100 purchase from an office supplies store (including gift cards for stores like Amazon purchased at an office supplies store)111 points100 points107 points500 points120 points (or 150, 165, or 167.5 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)150 miles
$50 Fuel Purchase65 points or 265 points between 01/01/12 and 03/31/12 or between 07/01/12 and 09/30/1250 points or 250 points between 01/01/12 and 03/31/12 or between 07/01/12 and 09/30/1253.5 points100 points60 points (or 75, 82.5, or 83.8 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)75 miles
$100 Amazon Purchase120 points or 520 points between 01/01/12 and 03/31/12100 points or 500 points between 01/01/12 and 03/31/12107 points100 points or 500 points if purchased via gift cards from stores like Office Max120 points (or 150, 165, or 167.5 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)150 miles
$100 Grocery Store or Movie Theater Purchase120 points or 520 points between 04/01/12 and 06/30/12100 points or 500 points between 04/01/12 and 06/30/12107 points100 points120 points (or 150, 165, or 167.5 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)150 miles
$100 Best Buy or Kohl's Purchase120 points or 520 points between 10/01/12 and 12/31/12100 points or 500 points between 10/01/12 and 12/31/12107 points100 points120 points (or 150, 165, or 167.5 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)150 miles
$25,000 Catering Affair27,510 points25,000 points53,500 points25,000 points37,500 points (or 41,250 or 41,875 points if you can hit the 50K or 100K spend thresholds)37,500 miles
$10,000 Cruise Vacation11,010 points10,000 points21,400 points10,000 points12,000 points (or 15,000, 16,500, or 16,750 points if you can hit the 25K, 50K, or 100K spend thresholds)15,000 miles

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73 Comments On "Don’t Know When To Use Which Ultimate Rewards Card? Here’s A Chart!"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.

Chaim Mayer

It’s funny that the free freedom card does one a lot better (as far as points are concerned) than the Sapphire Preferred card with an annual fee.


@Chaim Mayer:
Freedom does indeed do better in many categories, especially on smaller purchases and during quarterly bonuses, but Sapphire Preferred has many advantages.

Off the top of my head they include:

1. You need it or Ink Bold to transfer all your UR points into miles (Freedom alone can’t do that)

2. It has no foreign fees, Freedom charges 3%.

3. It does the best on the chart in 7 categories, so it’s nothing to sneeze at.

4. Freedom 5% categories are limited to $1,500 of spending per quarter, Sapphire bonus categories are unlimited.

5. It’s made of metal and looks nothing like other cards which is pretty cool.

6. Customer service on Sapphire picks up the phone right away (no phone tree) and are also very accommodating and empowered to give bonus points for any problem you may have had.


I was surprised by the Chase Freedom (with Checking) vs the Sapphire Pref too(though it makes sense). So general rule for a Freedom/Sapphire person is that Freedom is better unless it’s a dining/travel purchase over 10$ and isn’t part of the 5% category.


if i want to get 3 cards using the “3bm” which should they be?


Dan you are a legendary optimizer.


what is 5 cent library fine?


Freedom with checking is better then Sapphire Preferred unless it’s a dining/travel related over $10 or unless you are outside the USA.
Of course Freedom with no Sapphire Preferred means no transferring UR points into miles.

It really depends on your needs, but how about Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, and either Continental or United with a 50K match?
With 3 approvals and a couple matches by secure message you’ll have over 135,000 miles to go pretty much anywhere you want in luxury!

Thanks 😀

That’s what happens if you return or renew a library book a day late. YFMV (Your fine may vary).

Of course you can also just find a website that takes penny donations or go to a Sam’s Club where you can make unlimited 2 cent pumps without being cutoff, but if you abuse that too much Chase will definitely not be happy.


Thank you Dan, Awesome job!


What about Capital One Venture Cards ?
1.25 or 2 points per dollar. no fee.


this is fabulous!! thank you.


@Hi: @kathy:
Thank you 🙂

1st of all they are evil. It takes 3 credit pulls to get a Capital One card. Compare that to 1 credit pull to get 3 Chase cards.

And as I said in the post, those points are worth just a penny each, and not anything more.

Real miles like from Continental/United are worth at least 1.8 cents each, and those are multiplied by up to 5 points (or even more with Freedom) earned per dollar as I show in the chart, making them way more lucrative.

And if you play your cards right they can even be worth 10 or 20 times the minimum. Try buying a last-minute coach ticket or business/first class ticket with Capital One points and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.
That last minute NYC-CLE trip will be 120,000 of their points instead of 9,000 BA miles.

And a First Class ticket to Asia will be between 1 and 2 million of their points versus 120K-140K Continental miles!
Not all points are created equal!


how to know which Ink Bold you have (old vs. new)? What was the cut off date?


The new one is called 5/2/1 for the bonus categories and has no foreign exchange fee.

The old one has threshold bonuses, but no bonus categories and has a 3% foreign exchange fee.

Call Chase to find out which one you have. You are allowed to have both of them.


I though Capital One allowed you to use points against travel, dollar for dollar.

So Sapphire Preferred? It won’t be used that much (after hitting the bonus amounts). I have Hilton Amex and AA Citi Visa.

And thanks for this amazing info.


is there a way to switch from old to new? send an SM?


More like penny for dollar.

Sapphire Preferred is light-years better then the Hilton and AA cards.



Honestly, my head is spinning with all this info. I use the Hilton Card because we go to a nice Hilton family hotel from time to time and use the points there. So you say that I get a better bang for my buck with Sapphire (or AMEX Starwoods)? So walk me through. How do I “pay” for a hotel room with Sapphire. And stop laughing at my ignorance. :))

Also, How do I maintain my AA miles while using a better card?


And I read the “Sapphire Preferred, Starwood, Or Freedom? A Guide For Which Cards To Use For Any Purchase” post. But lets be real. Most people aren’t going through those computations for each transaction. Which two are the best for avergae use?


And one more thought. I have a Chase account, not used much, but I have one.


And one more thing. I promise. Most charges are day to day. We don’t travel much.


If you just want one card make it Starwood.
You can use those points at hotels nicer than what Hilton has to offer at a fraction of the rates Hilton charges for awards.

Or you can transfer them into miles. 20K Starwood=25K AA, so right there it’s 25% better then your AA card and it has a lower annual fee and the points are much more versatile (they can be transferred like that into dozens of airlines)

With Chase there is no one perfect card, thus the reason for this chart. Freedom (with a chase checking account) and Sapphire Preferred do make a killer combo though.
Chase UR points can go to Hyatt, which also has an excellent award chart way better then Hilton’s, and there’s also Continental/United, whose miles are awesome as well.




Dan – Does the New Ink Bold card still come with the Chase Exclusive benefit? Can you let me know where I can read more about this. Also, where is the site that explains the Chase Exclusive benefit (i.e., the bonus points) with the Chase Freedom??



Why apply for a platinum Card even with the bonus when you have to pay $450 ??

Andrew L

Great post Dan. I always sign up for my credit cards through your links since you post useful and meaningful content and don’t just shill the cards.


FYI – Links on top are not working


The new Ink Bold does not have exclusives.

I have links at the top of this post that explain the exclusives program. If you have any checking account and Freedom then they will automatically link up and your credit card statement will then show that you have Chase Exclusives. The process can take a couple months.


You can get $200 in airline gift cards this year and $200 in airline gift cards next year to help pay for the $450 fee.
And you get lounge access with the card itself and with priority pass. And Starwod Gold status which gets you free wifi and 4pm late checkout in Stawood hotels. And free Global Entry membership Etc, etc. The bonus points are gravy.

Also if you cancel within 60 days you get a full refund. And if you cancel after 60 days you still get a prorated refund as long as you have any other AMEX cards. And the best part is you can still use the card itself for lounge access even if its no longer active…

@Andrew L:
I appreciate that 🙂

They seem to work for me.


Thanks Dan

Chase is making their way and takin alot of biz. From Amex.

I applied for another ink card and they said u have 5 chase cards already. I said I’m moving all my cc’s from amex to chase and they said ok.


Dan, in your response to Dave you mention using a Platinum AMEX for lounge access even after it’s no longer active – is it just that it is an AMEX Platinum with your name on it? Asking as the old Costco AMEX’s were also AMEX Platinum, thoughts on using them for lounge access?


My conclusions from this post: 1)MY HEAD IS SPINNING!2)I would NOT want to be behind you in line at any store!


Dan, have any of the major credit card companies contacted you to offer you a job? You probably know more about their rewards programs than they do. L’havdil like Frank Abignale in Catch Me if You Can??


Awesome post!


if i just posted a comment/question under one of your links that you have above, will that be seen and answered by you?


Only the $450/year Platinum charge card works for lounge access.

As I said in the post, my spending strategy is fairly simple.
-Freedom on smaller purchases and 5% categories.
-Starwood or Ink Bold on larger purchases.
-Sapphire on travel or dining greater than $10 or for use abroad.
-Ink Classic on telecom and gas.


Though I do have a Chase Checking Acct (and Chase business acct too) I am almost positive that I am getting only the standard 1pt/dollar spent with the Chase Freedom card (aside from 5% bonus categories). Do I have to contact Chase to adjust/activate something so that I earn the higher rates you list(eg amazing 11.1 points for a $1 generic purchase)?


Try sending a secure message or calling Chase asking to link up your Freedom card to get the Exclusives benefits.
But first double check your statement to make sure you’re not getting it already as it should be automatic.


does chase freedom give cash back? i keep seeing commercials for this


Yes, you can always cash out the points for a penny each, but you’d have to be crazy to take just a penny each for them!


by chase Sapphire Preferred you also get dabble 2.14 per 1$ for e-z pass, its considered travel


dan – have you factored in the 7% yearly dividend bonus on the sapphire preferred? wouldnt that help make the preferred better than the freedom in many more instances?


Ok, now I get where got the following…
Dan:”and I get 2.14/3.21 points along with no foreign exchange fees and the ability to transfer to airlines/hotel programs on my Sapphire Preferred card,”

Though, I never knew you can book airline/hotel with Chase. (FYI, I always pay for travel with my Amex MR Gold, it also gives 3 points per dollar spent)


The 7% annual bonus is already factored into the chart.
Truthfully though that’s a disadvantage for Sapphire as every other bonus in the chart posts monthly.


Hi Dan,
Awesome post! I am a secondary cardholder on my husband’s Chase Freedom and Sapphire Accounts. When I was in New York I opened a Chase Total Checking account. When he goes there he will be added to the Checking Account. So, currently the checking account is just under my name and I am not a primary cardholder on the Sapphire and Freedom CC’s. Will the accounts be automatically linked? Can they be? Or do I need to get the Freedom and Sapphire for myself?


You state the following “The maximum spending on 2x and 5x categories on Ink Bold is $50,000 per category per year.”.

Upon looking up the T&C for the new Ink Bold, this is what it says:

“Maximum point accumulation on net purchases earning an additional 4 points on category purchases is 200,000 points annually, which equates to $50,000 in net purchases.”

Now, does anyone know if this is per calender year?


Great post !!! Thanks Dan !


hi Dan, If i closed an amex card because of the annual fee, then tried to open it again. they denied me. any idea if i have a chance at arguing them?


Dan would you mind adding amex pr gold to the chart? It also has those great benefits like 3% on travel 2% on groceries etc. I think alot of members around here wil like to have that added to the chart thanks


didnt c u mention anything about sporting events, which card is best for that?


On the new bold card are websites like included as a bonus category or are they just generic purchases.


Thanks so much for all the info. One question…you wrote no annual fee by ink bold. But the link says there is an annual fee after the first year. Did you just mean the first year or is it a mistake?


It would be a challenge as other points like SPG or AMEX MR are worth very different amounts.
Maybe I could do a chart like this by giving a value to each currency…would be difficult though.

If it’s for a hotel it should count for hotels.

Fixed, thanks.


How can I get Chase checking if Chase says it isn’t available in my area? How do I get around that? Maybe apply from a relative’s address or what?


Sounds like a plan.


wow DAN, thank you so much for this. this is exactly what I wanted to know regarding the point difference on sp, ib and freedom.
so the conclusion is for any DINING or TRAVEL purchase of less that $10, use FREEDOM , not SP, but if the purchase is over $10 or more , just use the SP for 2 points per dollar?

is the united club mile is the same mile you earned from chase united mileage explorer card?

thanks again


SP earns 2.14 per dollar, so correct, at $10 or more SP beats Freedom with checking.

United Club cards earns 1.5 United miles per dollar, the Explorer card earns 1 United mile per dollar.


my point is, the most attractive thing on SP is unlimited 2 points per dollar on Dining & Travel, but that is good only if those dining or travel purchase is more than $10? Becos freedom with checking beats SP’s 2points per dollar or DINING & TRAVEL if the purchase is less than $10?

I have been using my SP card for daily $1.11 cents MCDONALD coffee purchase (LARGE size Ala carte only) and use SP for meal purchase of $6 to 7$ but from tomorrow on I will start using freedom and not SP.


whats the story with slate ?


Correct, as long as your Freedom is linked with your checking account for Chase Exclusives.

Good for free balance transfers, not for rewards:


dan i love this chart i try to abide as much as possible toi ! thank you so much!!! :-)once again u puled it off!


Fuel purchase can be handled like your Amazon purchase example. Shell gift cards are sold at places like Staples, so a $50 purchase can be worth 250 points on New Ink Bold.


dan, please help me out. i got the continental card prior to them shutting down and got my bonus miles. now when i apply for the united explorer card, they insist that i have it already(the switched me over, but never sent a new card in the mail)what do you recomend that i do. should i cancel the continental/united card and reaply for the united? any ideas? thx very much.



Tell them you need a Visa to shop at stores that don’t take Mastercard. Or offer to close the Continental Mastercard to get approved for the United Visa.


whats the diff btw a 10k generic purchase and a catering affair…
also where does the spg fall in all this…(sorry)


Do you know if the matching is also still available for the Explorer Card (55k-50) Can you also add the link for it?


Because catering is a bonus category on sapphire.
And this chart doesn’t cover AMEX cards.

It is with an easy secure message.


A little question.

whats better overall if i dont want to make myself too crazy. The freedom/SP combo OR Amex SPG?

Avi M.

if spending money out of the USA – is it better to use freedom JUST for 5x categories(does the 5x still net higher after the forex fees) or always stick with Sapphire Pref?


if you had a choice to put a 5k airline purchase on chase SP or amex prg, which one would you recommend ? (have 75k on the amex accounts already, 65k ur points)


Dan great chart! really comes in handy.. anyway for u to include the united explorer card as thats more reasonable then the united club card being the fee and sign uo bonus .. how does that compare as far as every day points?


SPG may have a slight advantage depending on your needs and spending patterns.

@Avi M.:
If you won’t be able to spend the $1,500 in the US on the Freedom then it would be worth using overseas.


That card earns 1 mile in every category except 2 for United tickets and a 10k bonus for spending 25k in a calendar year.


I just had them up me on the united explorer card with 1$ spent to 50k bonus UA points with an additional 5k for add card. As well was about to cancel my Amex platinum card and got them to offer me 32.5k amex points to stay.. Worth giving it a try 😉


Thank you very much for posting the chart, Dan. I need to confirm a substantial purchase tomorrow, and your chart told me which card to use (in this case, it’s the Sapphire). Much appreciated!


If the only benefit I look for is the ability to get mileage tickets to Israel periodically, and I charge on average $3000-5000/month, will the Saphhire Preferred be my best choice? (We prefer flying United thru Newark with no stops or AirCanada thru Toronto with no stops.)