Redeem Ultimate Rewards for Airbnb and Uber Gift Cards

Since I’m based in the Western United States, I usually wake up to an inbox full of mail. If you’re lazy about unsubscribing like I am, you probably get an email a day from just about anywhere you’ve ever purchased anything. Anyway, one caught my eye this morning from Chase. The subject line read “Benjamin, now you can redeem Ultimate Rewards for Airbnb and Uber gift cards!”. Could this be a partnership worth exploring?

Chase Ultimate Rewards Airbnb and Uber Details

Seeing Airbnb, Uber, and Ultimate Rewards together seemed really exciting. I should have known better. Most likely a result of not having had any coffee yet, I didn’t really think through what was probably being offered. Once I opened the email, it became clear what I should have already known. Chase is offering Airbnb and Uber gift cards at a 100:1 ratio, much like they do for other retailers. For example, if you have 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points, they would buy you $100 worth of Uber or Airbnb gift cards. Additionally, the minimum amount of points you can redeem is 2,500, or $25 worth of gift cards.

Chase: Uber and Airbnb

A Bad Redemption

Let me save you the trouble, just don’t this. Gift card redemptions at a 100:1 ratio make zero sense to me. This is so bad that Chase should be embarrassed to offer it to their customers. The practice isn’t just limited to Chase, you’ve probably seen it in other rewards portals as well. Here’s why I’m so confused by these offers:

You can already redeem your points for cash back at a 100:1 ratio. For example, with one click those same 10,000 points would deliver $100 directly to your checking account or as a statement credit. Why bother with a gift card? Furthermore, Chase allows you to redeem your points for travel via the Ultimate Rewards portal. In doing so, you’ll earn a 50% bonus if you’re using the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Your bonus is 25% with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. For example:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: 10,000 points = $150 in travel booked with Chase
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: 10,000 points = $125 in travel booked with Chase

Not bad right? Well, if you’re looking for the holy grail of Ultimate Reward redemptions, look no further than the Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partner Guide. Our guide teaches you how to turn points into luxury flights that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars. To lay this all out for you, let’s give four different examples of how you could use ~ 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points:

  1. $800 in Uber or Airbnb Gift Cards
  2. $800 cash back or statement credit
  3. $1,200 in travel booked through Chase
  4. Roundtrip to Europe in lie flat business class (SKYPASS)

Those gift cards don’t sound so great anymore, do they?

Bottom Line

Credit card companies want you to burn your points on gift cards. Don’t fall for that trap. I’d like to see Chase and others create better incentives to spend points with Uber and Airbnb. For example, a 50% bonus on Airbnb gift cards with put Airbnb level with other hotels booked through the chase portal. In the meantime, nothing to see here.

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