If I had to pick only one points or miles program to earn points for free travel it would be Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Why I Love Chase Ultimate Rewards
There are a few reasons I love Chase Ultimate Rewards points so much:
1) Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to a wide variety of frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be directly or indirectly transferred to frequent flyer or hotel loyalty programs. Chase transfer partners include United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Southwest, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy, IHG Rewards Club, Ritz Carlton. (Here is a guide on how to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to a travel partner.)
For me, the best use of Ultimate Rewards is Hyatt, United Airlines and Singapore Airlines. I have not used my Ultimate Rewards points for Hyatt yet but have booked several first class and business class awards with United and an award in Singapore Suites.
2) Ultimate Rewards are very easy to earn.
There are many ways to earn Ultimate Rewards points such as online shopping, applying for credit cards, making referrals and every day spending. Chase Ultimate Rewards cards are not only great for the initial sign up bonus but are great for everyday spending since they offer extra points for certain categories. There are not as many ways to earn Membership Rewards.
How I Keep Earning Ultimate Rewards
Making Sure I Apply for New Credit Cards when the Sign Up Bonus is Higher than Usual
One strategy I use when applying for credit cards is to wait till the sign up bonus is higher than normal. That way I earn more points for applying for credit cards.
Taking Advantage of Category Bonuses
All the Chase credit cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points offer good category bonuses.
The Ink Plus and Ink Business Cash earn 5X points per $1 at office supply stores and on cell phone, landline, internet and cable TV services. I pay my cell phone, internet and cable bills with my Ink Business Cash on autopay so I earn over 12,000 Ultimate Rewards points a year just for paying those bills. Occasionally I will also purchase gift cards at office supply stores.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card earns 2X points per $1 on travel and dining so I make sure to use it whenever I spend money in those categories.
I also take advantage of the Chase Freedom rotating 5% category bonuses by trying to maximize my spending in that category for that quarter.
Taking Advantage of Chase’s Refer a Friend Program
Chase periodically offers the opportunity to earn points for referring its credit cards through chasereferafriend.com. Basically the way Chase Refer a Friend works is that if you send a referral link to a friend (or family member) and they apply and are approved for that card you can earn 5,000 or 10,000 points. You can make referrals for up to 10 people and earn a maximum of 50,000 bonus points per calendar year.
I use Chase Refer a Friend to earn points when a close family member applies for a Chase card and we try to time our applications to take advantage of the referral bonus. Here is a list of current Chase Refer-a-Friend opportunities.
Unlike other flexible points programs, Chase has an online shopping portal (Shop through Chase) meaning you can earn Ultimate Reward points for online shopping which most people do anyway. I used to earn Ultimate Rewards points for booking hotels through hotels.com but unfortunately this is no longer an option.
Using these methods I have earned tons of Ultimate Rewards points and I hope I can continue to do so.