How to Combine Chase Cards and Double Your Ultimate Rewards Points

by Lyle Daly | Jan. 28, 2019

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A travel credit card sits atop a stack of four hundred dollar bills.

Image source: Getty Images

It's tricky to put an exact value on credit card points, but one thing's for sure -- Chase Ultimate Rewards® points are about as valuable as it gets. Since you can transfer them to one of several travel partners or redeem them at a respectable fixed rate through the program's travel portal, you're essentially guaranteed to get a good deal on every redemption.

The challenge is earning enough points to cover all your travel plans. After you've earned and used your card's sign-up bonus, those points start coming in much slower. But if you're open to carrying one or two more Chase cards, it can make a huge difference in the rewards you earn.

Why get multiple Chase cards?

By getting multiple Chase cards, you can pick the card you use for each purchase by which card will earn you the most points.

The reason this works particularly well with Chase cards is that even its cash-back cards technically earn points. Normally, you'd redeem these points for cash back at a rate of $0.01 per point. However, if you have both a travel card and a cash-back card with Chase, you can transfer your cash back to the travel card and redeem it like you would any other Ultimate Rewards® points.

Since Chase cash-back cards tend to have different bonus categories than Chase travel cards, combining them allows you to take advantage of their respective bonus categories. And Chase offers several no-annual-fee cash-back cards, so this method doesn't cost you any more per year.

How to combine Chase cards

The first thing you'll need is a Chase Ultimate Rewards® card. Your current options, along with their rewards rates and annual fees, are:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® -- 3 points per $1 on travel and dining; 1 point per $1 on all other spending; $450 annual fee
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® -- 2 points per $1 on travel and dining; 1 point per $1 on all other spending; $95 annual fee
  • Chase Ink Business Preferred℠ credit card -- 3 points per $1 on first $150,000 spent across travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, and phone service, and advertising purchases on social media or search engines; 1 point per $1 on all other spending; $95 annual fee

Despite its annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a great choice for your Ultimate Rewards® card. Not only does it have the most travel benefits, but it offers the highest fixed rate for travel purchases at $0.015 per point through the Ultimate Rewards® travel portal. 

Next, you combine your Ultimate Rewards® card with any Chase cash-back cards that you like. Here are the current options, none of which have an annual fee:

  • Chase Freedom® credit card -- 5% back on up to $1,500 in combined spending in bonus categories each quarter that you must activate; 1% back on all other spending
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card -- 1.5% back on all spending after the 3% cash-back rate ($20,000 spend limit) expires at the end of the first year.
  • Chase Ink Business CashSM credit card -- 5% back on first $25,000 combined at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone service; 1% back on all other spending
  • Chase Ink Business UnlimitedSM credit card -- 1.5% back on all spending

Getting the cards

If you don't currently have any Chase cards, start by getting one of the Ultimate Rewards® cards listed above. You can apply for a Chase card online, and you'll typically need at least good credit to qualify. You also need to pass Chase's 5/24 rule, which means you must have opened fewer than five credit cards in the previous 24 months.

After you've gotten the card and spent enough for the sign-up bonus, you can add whichever card you want next.

If you already have cards with Chase but want to change them, you may be able to do a product change. Just call the number on the back of your card to request it.

Chase usually approves product change requests as long as you're switching from a personal card to another personal card or a business card to another business card and you're staying within the same brand. For example, you could switch a Chase Sapphire Preferred® to a Chase Freedom Unlimited® because those are both through Chase alone. You couldn't change from a co-branded Chase card, such as the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, to a card that's only through Chase.

Recommended Chase card combinations

Perhaps the most popular combination of Chase cards is:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • Chase Freedom®
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited®

With that, you get all the travel perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and its 3 points per $1 on travel and dining. You can get 5% back (effectively 5 points per $1) on the bonus categories of the Chase Freedom® and get 1.5% back on everything else thanks to the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. And don't forget that the Chase Freedom Unlimited® has a 3% cash-back rate on up to $20,000 in spending for the first year.

One other option is to swap out the Chase Freedom® for the Chase Ink Business CashSM credit card, which is what I've personally done. I like this combination more because I don't need to check what my bonus categories are every quarter. With the Chase Ink Business CashSM credit card, I know I can take advantage of the 5% back every month, because I use that card for my internet and cell phone bills.

Maxing out your points

Here's a quick before and after on what you'd earn in Ultimate Rewards® points with $2,250 in spending per month, of which $250 is in dining and $500 is in Chase Freedom® bonus categories. The before scenario is using the Chase Sapphire Reserve® alone, and the after combines that with the Chase Freedom® and the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.

Scenario $250 in dining $500 in Chase Freedom® bonus categories $1,500 on all other spending Total points earned per month
Before 750 points 500 points 1,500 points 2,750 points
After 750 points 2,500 points 2,250 points 5,500 points

Data source: Author's calculations.

Even if you don't quite double your points, you can certainly earn an extra 1,000 points or more per month. When you do that and learn how to get the most value from your Ultimate Rewards® points, you'll end up saving much more on travel every year.

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