Chase is offering a new way for Sapphire card holders to redeem their Ultimate Reward (UR) points. But does it make sense for you? Let’s move about the socially-distanced cabin and take a look.

What is it?

Chase has dubbed it the “Pay Yourself Back” feature. It allows Sapphire card holders to redeem their points for a statement credit. Another way to look at it is as a purchase eraser.

As with redeeming UR points in the Chase travel portal, the redemption rate will depend on which card you have. In Chase’s words,

Sapphire points will be worth 25% or 50% more when redeemed.

In plain English, 1 UR point is worth 1.25 cents for Chase Sapphire Preferred card holders while 1 UR point is worth 1.5 cents for Chase Sapphire Reserve card holders. If you remember our chart on what each UR point is worth when redeeming for travel through the Chase travel portal, these numbers will look familiar.

When logged in to your Ultimate Rewards account, you’ll be able to choose past transactions and essentially erase part or all of that purchase. There is no minimum amount of points needed to redeem. As we’ll see in the step-by-step below, you are able to use as few or as many points as you want.

Which transactions are eligible?

Per Chase, the current categories include purchases made at grocery stores, home improvement stores, and dining including restaurants, takeout and eligible delivery services.

Any purchase in those categories made in the last 90 days is eligible. And great news – this includes purchases made before the offer went live! So in the somewhat likely event that you bought groceries or ordered from a restaurant back in April and even back into March, those purchases will be eligible as of the time of writing.

This purchase was made in March, before the offer was live, but is eligible to be redeemed

How long will this offer last?

“Pay Yourself Back” runs through September 30, 2020. You’ll be able to redeem purchases all summer long. There are no more excuses for putting off those home improvement projects!

Stack with a Special Promotion

Through June 30, Chase is offering 3-5 points per dollar on grocery spend. This is up to $1,500 in spend per calendar month. The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns x3 points per dollar while the Chase Sapphire Reserve earns x5 points per dollar. You can not only earn increased UR points, but then can also erase all or part of that purchase with the “Pay Yourself Back” feature.

Say you hold the Chase Sapphire Reserve and spend $300 on groceries here in June. With the increased bonus, you’ll earn 1,500 Ultimate Rewards points. Then you can effectively erase those purchases using 20,000 UR points.

As Doctor of Credit confirmed, you will not lose the points you originally earned on the purchase if you choose to redeem via “Pay Yourself Back.” The 1,500 points we earned in our example above are there to stay and will not be forfeited if you choose to then redeem points via this offer.

K2 Top Tip: Sarah Page has the details on current special bonuses for the major premium travel cards. Chase as well as Amex and Citi are currently offering bonus categories you should be sure to take advantage of if you have such cards. Other Chase cards are offering bonuses on groceries, but it is just the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve which can be redeemed with the Pay Yourself Back offer.

To redeem or not to redeem?

That is the question which is sure to divide the room, and for good reason. The decision will be quite unique to each traveler. In the end, there is not a right-or-wrong approach. Here are a few considerations towards making your decision.

Reasons to pass on this offer:

  • You always get more than 1.25-1.5 cents per point in redemption value by transferring to travel partners
  • Those who book premium travel, such as business or first class, by transferring to airlines, generally get more than 1.5 cents per value
  • Saving or stockpiling for a future trip – K2 Top Tip: Have at least a rough sketch of how you will be using these points so you can spread your spend accordingly and also book ahead of time
  • You have a small amount of Chase UR points or do not easily earn many UR points – it may simply be better to keep saving

Reasons to take advantage of this offer:

  • You often book travel through the Chase travel portal – more on this below
  • Those who are sitting on a large stack of UR points or easily earn lots of UR points
  • You have a bunch of points and miles spread out over other credit card and airline programs
  • Those who primarily fly economy and budget travelers
  • A little extra “cash in your pocket” wouldn’t hurt

If you routinely book travel through the Chase travel portal, this is a no-brainer to take advantage of this offer. You are getting the same value as redeeming through the portal. Furthermore, you can take advantage of two critical points.

  1. When redeeming through the portal, you do not earn points on the travel you book. You redeem your UR points and that’s it. But with “Pay Yourself Back” you can then use that “cash” to book travel with your Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, which will earn points as with any purchase.
  2. You do not get travel protections when redeeming your points through the portal. Upon using the “Pay Yourself Back” feature, you can then use your credit card to book travel; thus, you’ll have the trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, baggage delay insurance, etc. which are offered on both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Even if you do generally get more than 1.5 cents per point in redemption value, you may want to look closely. Mark Ostermann at Miles to Memories cleverly points out that while he usually gets 1.8 cents per point through transferring UR to Hyatt, he can get the same value by using this offer and then booking those hotel stays with cash. You may get even more value if another hotel is cheaper. Your options are wide open with cash as opposed to more limited by specific transfer partners.

K2 Top Tip: If booking hotels through a third party, such as the Chase travel portal, keep in mind you generally do not earn hotel points and do not get to use any elite status perks. That would mean no late check out or free breakfast or other perks you are used to when booking through a third party.

There are many more valid points for consideration as well. Lucky at One Mile at a Time shrewdly notes it may be a good idea to avoid booking travel through a travel portal amidst the current industry chaos. Schedules, routes, aircraft and even country borders are all going to be constantly changing over these coming weeks and months. Booking travel via the travel portal or any third party simply puts another hurdle in between you and the airline when an issue arises.

Step-by-step

If you’re in, here’s how to go about redeeming this offer.

Navigate to Ultimate Rewards from the main page of your Chase credit card profile, or log-in directly to Ultimate Rewards. Under the drop down menu at the top, select “Pay yourself Back.”

The next page will show you eligible transactions. Select which transactions you would like to redeem. Unfortunately, there is not a “select all” option so you’ll have to manually check each transaction.

After clicking “continue” at the bottom of the page, you’ll then be able to enter the cash amount you would like to redeem for each transaction.

If you only want to redeem part of the cost, you can enter that amount manually:

Note: it will automatically calculate the amount of points needed to redeem on the right

If you want to redeem the entire cost, which is most likely the case, simply check the box underneath:

The running total will be at the bottom of the page. You will not be able to “confirm and submit” until all entries are completed. If you included a transaction which you do not wish to redeem, you can return to the previous page.

Note: there will not be a confirmation page – once you click this button, it is final

The next page will provide your order number and a list of the redeemed transactions. An email should arrive promptly with this information as well.

Chase indicates the credit will post within three business days. In our case, it posted later the same day:

Rinse and repeat this process as necessary through September 30, 2020.

What did K2 do?

At first, we dismissed the idea, thinking surely more than 1.5 cents per point in value is no problem. But upon further reflection, we did indeed cash in some points on this offer.

Looking at our future travel plans, we’re not doing any premium redemptions (e.g. business class or expensive hotels). Economy prices have been great. We expect good deals to continue as airlines are cash hungry while they struggle to recover from the effects of COVID-19. We are also sitting on a healthy stash of UR points. Additionally, we have plenty of points and miles spread out over several programs. This will allow us to fulfill our redemption needs for the rest of this year and into the next at the least. So it made sense for us to jump on this offer and put almost $600 back in our pockets.

We encourage you give this some thought and look at the big picture when it comes to your points and credit cards. You may find, like us, that between your current points and future plans this offer can be worthwhile.

Final Approach

“Pay Yourself Back” is certainly an interesting offer. It’s good to see Chase being more proactive than they had been.

In Chase’s own words, these are the “current categories” on offer. Could we see this extended or expanded? There is no word yet, but keep an eye out. It would also be great to see Chase extend the grocery bonus offer or make it a permanent fixture on some cards.

Will you take advantage of this offer? What are your considerations for doing so, or letting it pass? Let us know in the comments below.

Cheers and redeem on.

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