How I Spent 50,000+ Chase Ultimate Rewards Points This Year

In the beginning of the year, I opened the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card to take advantage of the 50,000-point welcome bonus, but soon after the annual fee rose to $550 and I wasn’t sure if the card was a good fit for me anymore. At the time, I decided to keep the card and wait to reevaluate it at the end of the year.

Soon after opening the Sapphire Reserve, I earned the bonus by spending the required $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. Then I used the 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to book an anniversary vacation to Savannah, Georgia for late April. But in March, I canceled it due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nonetheless, I still found a way to use all of my Chase points this year and receive 50% more value on every redemption.

The best part was that I didn’t have to go crazy crunching numbers — like I do when planning to pay for a vacation with points — to get the best value.

You typically get the best value using Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Sapphire Reserve for travel bookings — like flights, hotel stays and rental cars — made through the Ultimate Rewards portal since points are worth 50% more this way.

But thanks to the mid-year launch of Pay Yourself Back, select Chase card members receive 25% to 50% more value on additional types of reward redemptions. You can use your points for Pay Yourself Back statement credits to cover purchases at grocery stores, dining (including restaurants, takeout and eligible delivery services), home improvement stores (such as Home Depot and Lowes) and contributions to eligible charities for a limited time.

Pay Yourself Back quickly became a favorite among cardholders, so much so that Chase extended the accelerated redemption rates from September 30, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Plus, Chase expanded the tool to other Ultimate Rewards cards, like the Chase Freedom Flex℠ and Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card.

Learn more about how to use Pay Yourself Back.

50,000 points are worth $750 toward eligible food

I spent the majority of my rewards on food. Thanks to Pay Yourself Back, I was able to use my points to pay for many takeout orders and weekly grocery trips.

For instance, a $75 Greek food order that would typically require 7,500 points only needed 5,000 points. This was a great way for me to save extra money on common expenses and stretch the value of my points.

If you’re holding onto Chase points right now, consider using Pay Yourself Back, especially during the holidays — it’s a nice way to order takeout during the busy holiday season and get a statement credit to cover the cost. Just don’t forget to tip the delivery guy!

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

On Chase’s secure site

  • Rewards

    10X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, 3X points on travel worldwide (immediately after earning your $300 annual travel credit), 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out, 1X point per $1 on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening — worth up to $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

    16.99% to 23.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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