Please note: this post has been edited to reflect changes to certain credit card names, images, and earning structures.
For better or worse, I’m a loyal Delta flyer. Delta’s co-branded American Express cards sort of come with that territory. But Chase’s credit cards, however, are starting to pique my interest (especially now that I’m finally dipping under 5/24!) when it comes to actual point accrual and redemption. And their low to no annual fees sure are interesting, too.
Being Chase-d Away from Amex?
Years ago, my Delta loyalty initially made me an American Express loyalist. Yes, I love their premium cards’ benefits — especially the 35% rebate when paying with Membership Rewards points The Business Platinum Card® from American Express offers. (And the Delta Sky Club admission included with the personal Platinum Card® from American Express and business Platinum cards as well as Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card is nice, too.
But many American Express cards carry high annual fees — for less than exceptional bonus point earnings. An outlier is the American Express® Gold Card, with its 4X on worldwide dining and US supermarkets (up to $25,000 in annual spending). And maybe the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which rewards a 6% on select U.S. streaming services and 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). Cashback is awarded in the form of Reward Dollars which can be applied toward statement credit.
But in most other cases, they’re not worth swiping at restaurants, gas stations, or supermarkets after you earn their welcome bonuses.
Most other Amex other cards are glorified airport lounge membership cards. And that’s fine. American Express Centurion Lounges are great. When you can find a seat and don’t plan on staying long before your departing flight. And never after you arrive at your ultimate destination.
So are Chase products worth it for Delta flyers? Should Amex cards be jettisoned by the jet-set?
Let’s take a look.
Can Chase Ultimate Rewards® Points Be Converted to Delta Sky Miles?
No. (That’s a plus for Amex.)
So Why Should Delta People Be Interested in Chase Credit Cards?!
A couple of reasons.
First, Chase Ultimate Rewards® transfer at a 1:1 rate to three major hotel chains: Hyatt, IHG, and Marriott. If you’re burning Membership Rewards points or Sky Miles on flights, you might need a place to stay, right? That’s where Chase Ultimate Rewards® points can come in very handy and save you money on hotel rooms. FWIW, American Express® Membership Rewards® points transfer to Choice, Hilton (at a nice 1:2 ratio), and Marriott (1:1.3). Really, it comes down to your preferred hotel(s). If you have The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, those MRs can be very valuable for flight redemptions instead of hotel transfers.
Second, Ultimate Rewards are redeemable to pay for flights booked through the UR travel portal. These code as cash flights — earning you MQM, MQS, MQD, SkyMiles, and entitling you to applicable Medallion benefits.
Most travel purchases made directly through Ultimate Rewards are valued at a penny per point.
However, cardholders of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred can redeem points for a minimum of 1.25 cents each.
And Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders receive an even better deal: they can redeem URs for a minimum of 1.5 cents per point. (Incidentally, all three of those cards offer trip interruption coverage, as well.)
I personally can confirm that the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card work for Chase’s Luxury Hotels & Resorts program (Chase’s answer to Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts).
Do Any No Annual Fee Cards Earn Ultimate Rewards Points?
Yes! A bunch! If you’re new to Chase’s Ultimate Reward cards, here are several that offer a nice chance to test the UR waters!
Chase’s cashback cards earn Ultimate Rewards. From there, you decide if how to convert them: cashback through statement credit or direct deposit. Or you can select gift cards or redeem them for travel.
Consumer card-wise, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers a minimum 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ earns 5% cashback on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in quarterly bonus categories. (You must manually activate the bonuses). All other purchases earn unlimited 1% cashback.
As for business cards, Ink Business Cash® Credit Card offers a nice selection of bonus category earnings.
- 5% back on the first $25,000 combined spend each year at office supply stores and cellular, landline, internet, and cable television purchases.
- 2% back at restaurants and gas stations — up to $25,000 spent each anniversary year.
- 1% back on everything else
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card offers 1.5% back on every eligible purchase.
A Great Strategy for Chase Ultimate Rewards® Cards
Remember the Chase Sapphire Reserve® allows cardholders to redeem Ultimate Rewards with a 50% bonus through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal.
So if you get all the above no annual fee cards, take advantage of their respective earning bonuses and any applicable welcome offers, (and maybe throw in the $95/year Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card card) and also hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can load up on points and redeem them at almost a 7.5% return.
In fact, this is how René racked up several hundred thousand Ultimate Rewards points this summer alone (yes, really – I so want to be him when/if I grow up)!
I foresee many more cruises in his future. What about yours? 😉
If not cruises, then plenty of Delta flights (or trips on other airlines) and nice hotel rooms!
So How Can Chase Cards Be Beneficial to Delta Flyers?
As I mentioned earlier, flights booked directly through the Chase portal are considered “cash flights” by airlines, earning you points and miles.
If you can find on the Chase UR travel portal some of the mileage runs we post, your UR points could earn you a lot of MQM and/or MQD.
Even the premium price Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with a $300 annual travel credit. It’s good not just air travel expenses such as flights, checked luggage, onboard food and beverages, but also charges “on the ground” such as hotels, ride-sharing, parking, and tolls. And the Chase Sapphire Reserve® also still has restaurants as part of its Priority Pass benefit — whereas Amex ditched that part of the perk.
Or just load up on Ultimate Rewards and redeem them for hotel stays — on trips you booked with your Amex cards. 🙂
Will I Dump My Amex Cards?
Heck no. I may not renew as many because of the high annual fees or redundant benefits I don’t use. But I still love me some Amex. I’ll focus more spend on Chase cards and still use the great benefits of both the personal and business Amex Platinum cards.
Do You Use Chase Ultimate Rewards®?
Share your tips and experiences in the Comments section!
- To see rates and fees for The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, please visit this link. Terms apply.
- To see rates and fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express, please visit this link. Terms apply.
- To see rates and fees for the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please visit this link. Terms apply.
- To see rates and fees for the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card, please visit this link. Terms apply.
- To see rates and fees for the American Express® Gold Card, please visit this link. Terms apply.
- To see rates and fees for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please visit this link. Terms apply.
Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.
I use UR, but I find the prices on Chase’s UR site to be higher than I can book elsewhere.
i only have the preferred and have done nothing with the points yet??
I use UR points almost exclusively for my Aeromexico business flights. Prices are the same as on AM site or Expedia. Great way to earn MQMs/MQDs.
Call the booking number rather than the UR website and tell them the flights you want. They found them at the same price as the Delta website when they weren’t initially listed on the UR booking page.
You forgot to mention that UR xfers to Virgin Atlantic, and you can use them as a partner to reserve Delta flights.