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 OPEN (learn how to apply) offers. And the Delta Sky Club admission included with the personal and business Platinum cards as well as both flavors of the Delta Reserve 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 (learn how to apply), with its 4X on worldwide dining and US grocery stores. And maybe the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express (learn more), which rewards a 6% on select streaming services and a capped 6% back at US supermarkets.
But in most other cases, they’re not worth swiping at restaurants, gas stations, or grocery stores 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 OPEN (learn how to apply), 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.
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.)
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 3% cash back on every purchase (up to $20,000 spent) in the first year as a cardmember. That’s worth up to $600 cashback. Beginning in year two, the earnings drop to 1.5% on each purchase.
The Chase Freedom 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, the Chase Ink Business Cash 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
And right now, you can receive $500 bonus cash back when you spend $3,000 in purchases during your first three months of holding the Chase Ink Business Cash.
Chase Ink Business Unlimited offers 1.5% back on every eligible purchase. Plus, this also currently offers a $500 cash back bonus (which can be used toward Ultimate Rewards) after you spend $3,000 in purchases within three months of being approved for the card.
American Express has only two no-annual-fee cards offering Membership Rewards: The Blue Card and The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express (learn how to apply). Neither currently offer points as part of a welcome bonus.
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 the 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 Chase Ink Business Preferred 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!