You don't have to depend on their website to book things, but you get an additional point per dollar if you do. You get 2x points on travel and dining at restaurants. You get 3x points by using their booking tool. I always check prices too because they may not have access to all the fares. The prices are the same for airfare as far as I can tell on recent purchases. I am much less inclined to trust them for anything besides airfare booking, and I would always compare the direct price from the airline. Something that really ruined it for me is that you cannot search with flexible dates now because they've just "upgraded' the travel booking. I think you can now use points for more types of travel, but not having the ability to search multiple dates in addition to multiple airlines in one place is inconvenient, but 3x points are better than I can get any other way.
Here are the specifics for travel points: "You will earn an additional 1 point for each $1 of net purchases made in any of the following categories: travel; dining – when you use your card at restaurants." and "You will also earn an additional 1 point for each $1 of airfare and hotel accommodation net purchases when you book at chase.com/ultimaterewards (for a total of 3 points)." You also get an annual 7% point dividend and your points are 1 point to 1.25 cents when used on the UR travel site. So if you booked $100 of travel through the tool, you would get 300 points which are worth $3.75 so that is a 3.75% back. I think I'll break that down for the other points too.
Points earned through UR Travel:
3.21% with the 7% dividend which is not applied to signup bonus points or previous dividend points
3.75% if used on UR Travel
4.0125% when used on UR Travel after 7% dividend
Points earned through other travel and dining at restaurants
2.14% after 7% dividend
2.5% if used on UR Travel
2.675% when used on UR Travel after 7% dividend
All other points earned
1.07% after 7% dividend
1.25% if used on UR Travel
1.3375% if used on UR Travel after 7% dividend
Obviously the best return is when used for travel, and the benefits are all geared towards travel such as travel and car rental insurance and assistance.
Here is the current fine print, but if you are using an offer make sure to check benefits shown on your offer page:https://creditcards.chase.com/sapphire/offer-details