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During the coronavirus pandemic, banks that issue travel rewards credit cards had to pivot and added bonus earnings in various spending categories, such as streaming services, groceries and home improvement stores, to make their products more compelling when travel was put on hold.

Since then, card issuers also have added more ways to redeem rewards and travel credits. One of the most noteworthy redemption options is Chase’s answer to Capital One’s Purchase Eraser—Pay Yourself Back. Chase has made it possible to turn purchases in certain spending categories into statement credits at higher-than-standard redemption rates.

Although Chase introduced the feature as a temporary option to use your rewards, the bank has extended it a couple of times already. At the moment, it’s valid through Sept. 30, 2021, but it could be extended again.

Let’s take a look at how Pay Yourself Back works and why you’d want to use it.

What Credit Cards Are Eligible for Chase Pay Yourself Back?

First of all, let’s determine who can use the feature and who can’t. Pay Yourself Back is available to members with the following Chase credit cards:

Although Pay Yourself Back is available on all the cards above, not all purchases can be erased and not all cards provide the same redemption rates.

How Much Are Rewards Worth When Used to Pay Yourself Back?

Not all credit cards in the Chase ecosystem are created equal, which means that rewards earned aren’t worth the same, either. When you use your Ultimate Rewards points or cash back to erase a purchase, expect the following redemption rates in the following spending categories:

Chase Credit CardEligible Spending CategoryRedemption Rate
Chase FreedomSelect charities1.25 cents
Chase Freedom FlexSelect charities1.25 cents
Chase Freedom UnlimitedSelect charities1.25 cents
Chase Ink Business PlusSelect charities1.25 cents
Chase Ink Business PreferredShipping, home improvement stores, select charities1.25 cents
Chase Sapphire Preferred CardDining, grocery stores, home improvement stores, select charities1.25 cents
Chase Sapphire ReserveDining, grocery stores, home improvement stores, select charities1.5 cents

As you can see, your cent-per-point value is the same as if you were to redeem your points for travel via the Chase Travel Portal before the pandemic, except now you have more opportunities to cash out your rewards at these boosted values (with the Sapphire cards).

Don’t forget that if you hold multiple Chase cards that earn either Ultimate Rewards or cash back, you can pool all your rewards onto one card and possibly increase your redemption rate that way.

The following charitable organizations are eligible for Pay Yourself Back:

  • American Red Cross
  • Equal Justice Initiative
  • Feeding America
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • International Medical Corporation
  • Leadership Conference Education Fund
  • NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • National Urban League
  • Thurgood Marshall College Fund
  • United Negro College Fund
  • United Way
  • World Central Kitchen

It’s important to note that it’s best to donate directly to the charity’s parent organization as donations to local chapters may not qualify for Pay Yourself Back.

How to Use Chase Pay Yourself Back

Log in to your Ultimate Rewards account and select Pay Yourself Back from the dropdown bar of features available to Chase cardholders.

Chase Pay Yourself Back

From there, you’ll see a list of eligible transactions made in the last 90 days. Remember that they vary depending on what type of Chase card you hold. Each transaction includes a merchant name, total purchase amount and the number of remaining days that a purchase is eligible for Pay Yourself Back.

Transactions

You can select multiple transactions (up to 12) per redemption order. Scroll down and click “Continue,” then select how many points you want to apply toward your purchase. Partial redemptions are allowed. Enter a custom amount in the blank field or check the box if you’d like to apply the full amount and wipe out the charge entirely.

Let’s say I want to apply $100 worth of rewards to this grocery purchase of $131.96. Because I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, my points are worth 1.5 cents each, so $100 comes to 6,666 points. My remaining balance is $31.96.

chase pay yourself back - Cash Value amount on statement

If I want to erase the entire purchase, I simply check the box, and the computer calculates how many points are needed to cover the full transaction amount.

cash value amount on statement

Click “Confirm & submit” and receive a statement credit against your eligible purchase.

Statement credits can take up to three business days to post. Once you submit a transaction for Pay Yourself Back, you won’t be able to do it again even if the purchase was erased partially. Keep in mind that although your credit-card balance is reduced, you’re still required to make a minimum payment on your next bill.

Why Pay Yourself Back with Chase

If You’re Unsure When You’ll Travel Again

The beauty of the Sapphire-branded cards is in their flexibility. You can transfer your points to airline and hotel loyalty programs or redeem points for travel via the travel portal at a rate that offers you 25% to 50% more value for your points. Points redeemed for cash back are worth just 1 cent apiece.

But what if you’re not traveling and aren’t sure when you’ll hit the road again? The most obvious reason to use the Pay Yourself Back feature is to be able to redeem your rewards for statement credits on purchases other than travel and still maintain the increased redemption rate offered with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

If You Plan to Cancel or Downgrade Your Card

The Sapphire-branded cards are great to have in your wallet, but they come with annual fees. If you’re not ready to pay another fee for a travel card while you’re not traveling, you might consider downgrading to one of the Chase Freedom cards. However, with the downgrade, you lose out on that 25% to 50% redemption bonus. It’s not the worst idea to cash out your points at the higher rate by paying yourself back before downgrading to a no-fee credit card.

If You Earn Ultimate Rewards Quickly

All of us spend money differently and in different amounts. If you’re someone who spends a lot of money in Chase’s bonus categories monthly and generates Ultimate Rewards easily, you might have more points than you know what to do with. Why not erase a purchase or two to put money back in your pocket?

If You Book Nights and Flights Directly with Hotels and Airlines

So you got your vaccine and are starting to get back out in the world. You want to book a hotel room, let’s say with Hyatt, but the redemption rate is too high for how inexpensive the room costs in cash.

If you look for the same hotel in the travel portal, you might find that the nightly rate requires fewer points than the rate set by World of Hyatt. However, you just reached Globalist and prefer to book directly with the hotel to receive the elite benefits. What a dilemma to have!

What you can do is book the room directly with Hyatt and erase one or multiple eligible charges close to the amount your hotel room would cost. This way you still redeem points and get to keep your elite benefits.

Let’s take a look at an example of how to do this. Say, you’re going to Universal Studios Florida and decide to book the Hyatt House across from Universal Orlando Resort. The hotel is a Category 3 property and requires 12,000 World of Hyatt points per night.

hotel rooms

However, cash rates are reasonable on your travel dates, and it makes more sense for you to book via the Chase Travel Portal where rates range from 7,933 to 8,600 Ultimate Rewards points per night. The problem is that if you book through the portal, you miss out on all your elite status perks.

hotel rooms

What you can do is book a room directly with Hyatt, which means you also receive a member discount on the same room. So, your Studio Kitchen Suite with two queen beds now costs $123.05 per night, or $138.43 including taxes.

Chase Pay yourself back - Hyatt house across from Universal Orlando Resort

Then visit the Pay Yourself Back page and pick any transaction (or multiple transactions) to erase $138.43 worth or charges.

chase pay yourself back

In this scenario, you redeem 9,228 Ultimate Rewards points at a rate of 1.5 cents apiece (in conjunction with the Chase Sapphire Reserve) instead of transferring 12,000 points to World of Hyatt to book the same room, erase the cost entirely, earn World of Hyatt points/elite nights and keep your elite benefits.

A similar principle applies to airfare. Everyone knows that booking flights directly with an airline leaves you with a lesser headache in the event you have to cancel it. Simply purchase a ticket with a carrier of your choice and use your Chase card to get a statement credit for groceries instead. Think of it as an indirect way to offset your travel purchases. It all ends up being the same in the end.

Final Thoughts

Chase’s Pay Yourself Back feature helps those sitting on a large stash of Ultimate Rewards points get cash back at rates that are higher than normal without compromising flexibility the rewards provide when travel is back.

Whether you’re looking to reduce your growing points balance or simply offset some of the costs of living, it’s not a horrible way to use your points.

Although the feature isn’t permanent, the bank recently extended the opportunity to erase certain purchases with Pay Yourself Back through Sept. 30, 2021.