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Like most Chase customers today, I received e-mails “encouraging” me to use my Ultimate Reward points for holiday gifts. Chase normally sends these out with some regularity throughout the Christmas shopping season. They will show you many different things that may entice you to use your points on – please don’t do that!
I understand that not everyone that gets a Chase Sapphire Preferred card does so with award travel in mind. Many may sign-up for the 40,000 point bonus to cash it out as a $400 statement credit or to use on gift cards at 1:1. That is understandable, though obviously not the way to achieve chief value. The worst value is to use the points for merchandise. This is what Chase is going to want you to do. It allows them to clear the points from their debit sheet at a smaller value while keeping the customer happy.
Rather than using points to purchase merchandise, you would be better off using the points as a statement credit and purchasing the merchandise with a credit card. This way you will earn points for the purchase plus receive purchase protection for using certain cards.
That being said, a couple of years ago, the Ultimate Rewards mall had one of the best deals ever. They were offering 25% off Best Buy redemptions (Best Buy fulfills the electronic merchandise orders). This was coupled with the huge discounts that Best Buy was already having for Cyber Monday. This worked out to give incredible deals on Apple hardware. For instance, a Macbook Air which normally sold for $1,099 could be had for 70,000 Ultimate Reward points! It only takes 60,000 points (as United miles) for a ticket to Europe but there may not be a ton of cities that would be a lot more expensive than $1,200 (the cost of the computer plus tax). So, for some, this was an awesome deal. Many were expecting it to happen last year but it did not happen. Could it happen this year? Maybe, but I am doubtful. If it does, this would be the only circumstance in which I think it would make sense to use your valuable Ultimate Reward points for merchandise.
What type of a deal would you need to see to use points for merchandise? Have you ever done it?