I use the Sapphire Reserve to increase the value of all my Chase points, and you can use the same strategy to effectively get up to 7.5% back on your spending

By Kevin Panitch

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I've always been a fan of the personal bank accounts and credit cards I have with Chase. So when it came time to open a credit card for my small business, Chase was one of the first places I looked.

I decided to open the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card because it has no annual fee, earns 1.5% back on all purchases, and comes with a substantial welcome bonus.

However, the best part about the card is that it earns rewards in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which I can transfer to my Chase Sapphire Reserve® card. From there, I can use points to book travel through the Chase portal or with Pay Yourself Back, and they're worth 50% more than if I left them in my Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card account.

It's a straightforward trick to boost the value of my credit card rewards, and I'll walk you through exactly how it works.

We're focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won't be worth it if you're paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it's important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

Use the Sapphire Reserve to upgrade all of your Chase points

First, to fully maximize Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you need to have a Chase Sapphire Reserve® card. It's one of the best premium credit cards and comes with a welcome bonus of 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.

The card has a $550 annual fee, but it's worth it if you can make the most of valuable perks like up to $300 in annual travel credits, Priority Pass airport lounge access, travel insurance, and purchase protections. You'll also earn 3x points on travel (after the $300 travel credit) and dining, and 1x points on everything else.

You can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points in various ways, including transferring points to Chase's airline and hotel partners, or cashing them in for gift cards, merchandise, or statement credits at a rate of 1 cent per point.

However, your points are worth 1.5x more when you use them to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal or for Pay Yourself Back statement credits toward grocery store, dining, home-improvement store, and eligible charity purchases made with your Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

That last sentence is the key to maximizing your rewards. That means, if you earned 3x points for dining out, those rewards are equivalent to getting 4.5% back (3 points per dollar x 1.5 cents per point) if you redeem points for travel or Pay Yourself Back categories. Plus, when you transfer points earned on other Chase credit cards to your Chase Sapphire Reserve® account, they'll get the same increase in value when you use them this way.

Credit card pairings with the Sapphire Reserve to maximize your points

You can extend the example above to the welcome bonuses and spending categories on other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, especially no-annual-fee cards that would normally only offer 1 cent per point in value for all redemptions.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is popular because it's simple to use and has no annual fee. You'll earn 5% cash back (5x points) on travel booked through Chase, 3% back (3x points) on dining and at drugstores, and 1.5% back (1.5x points) on everything else.

The card's welcome bonus is $200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening (20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points), plus new cardholders can earn 5% back (5x points) on up to $12,000 in grocery store spending (not including Walmart or Target) in the first year. The 5x grocery store bonus ends on January 13, 2021.

Here's the boost in value you'll get if you transfer rewards from the Chase Freedom Unlimited® to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® then redeem your points with a 50% bonus:

Using the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card for all expenses except travel and dining is a great strategy. Instead of earning 1x points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® itself, you can earn at least 1.5x points with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, then transfer them to your Chase Sapphire Reserve® account and redeem them from there.

Chase Freedom Flex

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ card is another great option to pair with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. It comes with a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening and the same 5% back (5x points) on up to $12,000 in grocery store spending (not including Walmart or Target) in the first year (also ending January 13, 2021.)

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ earns 5% cash back (5x points) in bonus categories that rotate every quarter when you activate, on up to $1,500 in combined spending (then 1% back). Until December 31 2020, this includes Walmart and PayPal, and for Q1 2021 (January through March), you'll earn the bonus on internet, cable, and phone services, wholesale clubs, and streaming services.

It also offers 5% back (5x points) on travel booked through Chase, 3% back (3x points) on dining and at drugstores, and 1% back (1x points) on everything else. Here's a breakdown of the value boost you'll get when you transfer rewards from the Chase Freedom Flex℠ to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and redeem with a 50% bonus:

If you use the Chase Freedom Flex℠ primarily in 5x categories then transfer your points to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and redeem with a 50% bonus, you could effectively earn a whopping 7.5% back on those purchases.

Chase Ink Business Unlimited 

The Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card is the card I use for my business, and it comes with a welcome bonus of $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

It's got a straightforward rewards-earning structure — 1.5% back (1.5x points) on all purchases with no cap. Here's a look at how that translates if you transfer rewards from the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and redeem with a 50% bonus:

Chase Ink Business Cash 

Finally, the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card provides another opportunity to get a big rewards boost when you pair it with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. It currently offers a welcome bonus of $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, but where it really shines is in its bonus categories.

With the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, you'll earn:

  • 5% cash back (5x points) on the first $25,000 spent (then 1x) in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services each account anniversary year
  • 2% cash back (2x points) on the first $25,000 spent (then 1x) in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year 
  • 1% cash back (1x points) on all other purchases with no cap

This is the rewards boost you'll get when you transfer points from the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card to the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, then redeem with a 50% bonus:

If your small business spends a lot in the bonus categories, it makes lots of sense to use the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card for those purchases, then transfer points to the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and redeem for 1.5x more value.

What about other Chase cards?

You can apply the same strategy by transferring points from these no-annual-fee Ultimate Rewards cards to a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, but you won't get as much benefit. Those cards only provide a 1.25x boost when you redeem points for travel or through Pay Yourself Back (note also that the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card Pay Yourself Back categories are different). 

One other important note: It's no longer possible to have both a Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card at the same time, so unless you opened and kept both cards before that rule came into effect several years ago, there's no way to transfer points between those cards.