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Because of the ongoing pandemic, credit card issuers have been changing up benefits and features to meet a broader range of customer needs and to account for the fact that travel perks currently aren’t as relevant.
The Pay Yourself Back program from Chase may just be the most useful shake-up to date, and that’s especially true for people who have quite a few points to burn but aren’t ready to travel yet. This feature is especially valuable for those who have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, because it allows you to redeem points toward select everyday purchases at an improved rate.
Here’s what to know about Chase Pay Yourself Back to help you decide if you want to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points this way.
Chase Pay Yourself Back lets certain cardholders redeem rewards for a higher rate than the 1 cent per point normally offered for cash-back redemptions. The eligible categories and bonus value vary depending on the card:
If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can currently redeem your Ultimate Rewards points with bonus value toward purchases in the following categories through September 30, 2021:
- Grocery stores
- Dining (including restaurants, takeout, and eligible delivery services)
- Home improvement stores
- Eligible charity purchases
Other Chase cards, like the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, Chase Freedom Flex℠, and Chase Freedom Unlimited®, currently only have select charitable organizations as a Pay Yourself Back category, through December 31, 2021. Eligible charities include:
- 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
If you have a card that eligible for Pay Yourself Back, here are the steps you need to take to redeem your points.
You’ll receive a statement credit equal to the cash value of the points you redeemed within three business days.
Being able to redeem rewards for a higher-than-usual rate is always a good thing, but Chase Ultimate Rewards points are also incredibly valuable for travel. Here’s everything you should consider before using Chase Pay Yourself Back:
If you might travel in the future, consider the value of Chase travel partners
While it may be tempting to cash in Chase points to cover your grocery bill, don’t forget about the long-term value of these rewards if you plan to travel in the future.
Let’s say for a moment that you have 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points in your Chase Sapphire Reserve® account. You could use the Pay Yourself Back feature to cover $750 in grocery purchases made with your card (1.5 cents per point), but you could also transfer these points to over a dozen airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio to get more value.
For example, 50,000 points are often enough to cover a round-trip flight to Europe when you transfer them to Air France-KLM Flying Blue — and that ticket might cost well over $1,000 otherwise.
That said, the advice to save points for future travel is really only applicable if you do plan to travel later. If finances are tight, then it’s likely scoring $750 in groceries or using Chase points for other non-travel redemptions would help you considerably more in the short term.
You’ll still earn rewards on any purchases you erase with Pay Yourself Back
Remember that the Pay Yourself Back feature is just another way you can redeem your rewards, so it won’t affect the earning rates you have with your Chase card. You’ll still earn 3x points on travel (after earning the $300 travel credit) and dining with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and 2x points on travel and dining with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. You’ll also earn 10x points on Lyft rides with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and 5x points on Lyft rides with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card through March 2022.
You can also still click through the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal to earn bonus rewards on online purchases made with participating stores. To do this, log into your Chase account, head to the Ultimate Rewards landing page, and click “Earn Bonus Points” under the “Earn/Use” dropdown. Then, select the store you want to make a purchase with, and click through.
For example, Home Depot sometimes offers bonus points through the Chase portal, so you could make a purchase and erase it with points because it’s in the home improvement store category.
If you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you should also consider applying for another Chase card that could help you maximize this benefit. Chase lets you combine points between accounts, so by moving all of your points to the card with the best redemption options, you’ll get the most value.
For instance, if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you could pair it with the Chase Freedom Unlimited® to earn 1.5% cash back (1.5x points) on non-bonus category spending, or with the Chase Freedom Flex℠ to earn 5% back (5x points) on up to $1,500 spent (then 1%) in quarterly rotating bonus categories after activation.
Both of these Freedom cards also offer a substantial welcome bonus of $200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening. You could use these cards to rack up more rewards over time, then move your points to your Chase Sapphire account to take advantage of the Pay Yourself Back feature in more categories.
Holly Johnson is a credit card expert, award-winning writer, and mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting, and travel.
Jasmin Baron is an associate editor at Personal Finance Insider, where she helps readers maximize rewards and find the best credit cards to fit their lifestyles. She has covered credit cards, points and miles, and loyalty programs for over seven years, and she’s a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF).