I confess. I have two Chase Ultimate Rewards cards (one a credit card and one a debit card) but I’ve never shopped through their portal. The most I’ve done is browsed the gift cards and then opted for cash back rewards. This is available for cards like Chase Sapphire and Chase Freedom and for various other Chase cardholders.

In preparing to write this review, I logged into my account and discovered I had accrued more thefan 7,500 points. With a few clicks, I cashed it in for $50 direct deposited into my Chase checking account, with 2,500+ points lt over. (5,000 points equals $50. Basically, whatever your points total is, place a decimal two spaces in to get the dollar value of those points. 5,000 = 50.00.) I’ve had the card less than a year and pay a $25 annual fee. It’s already paid for itself two times over, and then some. It’s rare I’ll choose a card with an annual fee, but this one has clearly been worth it.

Chase also offers an interesting feature called “Pay Yourself Back.” If you’ve made a specific purchase, you can type in the purchase amount, select the date, and Chase will show you how many points you can redeem to “pay yourself back” for that purchase. This is a great way to get rid of odd points values, since store purchases rarely total even numbers. In other words, with my 2,534 points left, I could “pay for” a purchase up to $25.34. You need at least 2,000 points to select the “Pay Yourself Back” Option. If you’re wondering, I spent $22-and-change at Wal-mart the other night and I just had that transaction credited back to my account. Which is good since I don’t remember what I purchased, anyway.

But enough with the cash back and statement credits — on to the shopping.

Easy to Navigate

There is a lot of information and options on this website — a lot. Even so, I completed the two transactions I spoke about in less than 3 minutes. It’s very easy to navigate, switch accounts if you have multiple Ultimate Rewards cards, and go from redeeming points for cash back to redeeming points for gift cards (beginning at 1,500 points) or simply shopping.

Shopping With Points, Not Such a Great Deal

Poking around, I selected a book I’d like to purchase through Amazon. I knew I didn’t have enough points left to buy it, but I wanted to see what would happen. You can purchase points through your Chase Rewards card at a rate of 1,000 points for $25. This is more than the exchange rate for the points, since 2,500 points could be cashed in for $25. The book I wanted was 1,500 points, or about $15 retail. I checked the price at Amazon and, indeed, it retails for $16. It didn’t make sense to buy points; I could just go to Amazon and buy the book, use my Chase Rewards card, and earn points. Better yet, I could link to Barnes & Noble Booksellers through the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal, use my Chase debit card, and earn 6 points per dollar, or 96 points for the book.

Shopping Through Ultimate Rewards, Great Deals AND Earn Points Faster

The Ultimate Rewards shopping portal has a wide variety of retailers listed, and they are places that normal, middle class people actually shop, like Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond and the aforementioned Barnes & Noble. You’re not going to pay top dollar for name brands you don’t normally use when you shop through this site. Now I’m cringing because I could have earned 3 X bonus points for my earlier Wal-mart purchase if I had shopped online. Why didn’t I discover this website sooner?

You can shop by category, look for special offers, look for deals of the week, find sites that offer free shipping when you use your Chase Ultimate Rewards card or shop from a list of featured merchants hand-picked based on your buying habits, which offer up to 10X bonus points.

I’m definitely bookmarking this website because all my favorite online stores are listed here. I’m shopping in these places anyway, and I’m using my Chase debit card. Why not start shopping my way toward my next $50 check? Don’t you love “free money?”