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With the right amount of planning, it’s possible to book your entire vacation, including flights, hotels, cruises, car rentals, tours and other activities, entirely on points through the Chase travel portal.
But are you getting the best deal by doing this instead of transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points to travel partners and booking directly? It turns out there’s a lot more to consider — everything from travel date flexibility and brand variety to the credit card you’re using — if you want to get more value for your points by booking through the Chase travel portal.
Below, Select breaks down the best ways to book flights, hotels, cruises, tours and vacation activities through the Chase travel portal with Ultimate Rewards points.
To access the Chase travel portal, you’ll need to have a credit card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card, Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, Chase Freedom Unlimited® or Chase Freedom Flex℠.
The easiest way to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points quickly is by taking advantage of the lucrative welcome bonuses offered by certain rewards cards:
The card you’re using to redeem UR points will also affect your point redemption value. For instance, if you’re using the Chase Sapphire Preferred to book through the Chase travel portal points are worth 25 percent more (1.25 cents per point). But if you’re booking with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, points are worth 50 percent more (1.5 cents per point) — the other no annual fee Chase cards each carry a redemption rate of 1 cent per point.
That means the 100,000 points you’d earn from the Chase Sapphire Preferred‘s welcome bonus are worth $1,250 towards travel, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve‘s 60,000-point sign-up bonus is worth $900 in travel rewards.
$50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases, 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022, and 1X points on all other purchases
Earn 100,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
15.99% to 22.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers
Balance transfer fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
Foreign transaction fee
To reach the Chase travel portal, log into your Chase account, then click the arrow near the right side of the screen where it says the amount of your Chase UR points. Depending on how many Chase credit cards you have, you may be asked to choose which one you want to proceed with.
The next screen is your credit card’s main dashboard, showing how many UR points you currently have, as well as any deals or bonus opportunities. Click the arrow at the top where it says, “Earn / Use” and the number of points you have. A menu will appear, offering various options for earning and redeeming UR points.
While not the best redemption in terms of overall value, you could choose to use your Chase points for Apple and Amazon purchases, cash them in for gift cards and experiences, or reimburse yourself for certain recent charges through Chase’s nifty Pay Yourself Back tool. This is also where you can transfer points directly to one of Chase’s 14 travel partners if you have a specific flight or hotel in mind. Otherwise, click “Travel” to enter the Chase travel portal.
From here, you’ll be able to search for flights, hotels, Luxury Hotel & Resort collection properties, rental cars, things to do (vacation activities and tours), vacation rentals and cruises. Simply choose your category, plug in your desired dates and details, and book with points, cash or some combination of the two. The search engine is powered by Expedia, with a similar user-friendly interface. You should see booking options similar to if you were booking directly with Expedia itself.
There are a few pros and cons to consider when booking flights through the Chase travel portal. You won’t have to worry about blackout dates or limited award availability, which makes it great if you’re not flexible with dates and flight times. Just make sure you compare the amount of points needed through the Chase travel portal with how many points the airline would require if you were using its own miles, especially if you’re hunting for a good deal on economy seats.
The catch with using the Chase travel portal is you won’t be able to shop for tickets on low-cost carriers like Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, or Allegiant Air — you can search for flights on Delta, JetBlue, American, and United. You’ll also be able to book flights on most international carriers.
And while you can’t bring up Southwest Airlines flights through a regular search, you can still transfer UR points directly to the airline at a 1:1 ratio since it’s a Chase travel partner, or call 1-855-233-9462 to book with UR points by phone through the Chase Travel Center.
Another thing to consider now that the Chase travel portal is powered by Expedia: you won’t be able to tell whether you’re booking a basic economy seat or a main cabin seat until you reach the fare selection page, so pay attention if you’re trying to avoid basic economy.
Remember that you can still earn miles and elite credits on flights, as tickets booked through the Chase travel portal are categorized as “paid” rather than as an award flight, since you’re “paying” for them with points instead of cash. Consider the taxes and fees you might have to pay if you were to transfer the points straight to one of Chase’s travel partners versus booking directly through the portal, and to calculate and compare how many points and miles you’d earn by booking with either method.
You’ll be able to search, filter, and sort by price, airline, departure time, arrival time, and departure airport. For this example, below, consider a round-trip flight from Washington, D.C. to Nashville with sample dates of November 5–12, 2021, booked through the travel portal with a Chase Sapphire Reserve card (redemptions are worth 1.5 cents per point):
Results included an American Airlines flight from $248.80 or 16,586 points, as well as a few options through United. For comparison’s sake, if you go to the American Airlines website and price out the same flight, you’d need 28,500 American miles. In this case, you’d end up saving 11,914 miles by booking through the Chase travel portal instead of redeeming AA miles directly with the airline, which isn’t a Chase partner.
Remember that an initial Chase travel portal search won’t reveal the class of seat until later in the booking process. In this same search, when you choose the United flight for 15,119 points, it’s later revealed to be a basic economy seat for 15,119 points, but you can upgrade to a regular economy seat for 20,453 points, or a first or business class seat for 40,587 points.
In this case, it comes down to your personal preferences. Sticking with the basic economy seat for 15,119 miles would mean you’d save 12,381 points by booking through the Chase travel portal, while upgrading to the main economy seat would save you 7,047 miles compared to transferring UR points and booking through United (which requires 27,500 miles for a regular economy seat on that same flight).
To finish booking your flight through the travel portal, select your route(s), review the details, choose how many points you’d like to use and complete your purchase.
While the best redemption rates are usually realized when you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio to hotel partner Hyatt, if you’re not a huge fan of chain hotels or prefer boutiques or brands like Hilton, Choice Hotels, or Wyndham, it can be a good idea to book them through the travel portal.
As with flights, you won’t have to worry about blackout dates or limited award night availability. However, keep in mind that hotels treat the Chase travel portal as a third-party booking agency since it’s powered by Expedia, so you won’t be able to earn hotel points on stays or enjoy elite perks and status-related privileges as you might by booking your stay directly with the hotel.
Hyatt hotels usually offer better deals when you book directly, and since it’s one of Chase’s hotel partners, you can transfer UR points instantly at a 1:1 ratio. Marriott and IHG are usually more varied, so you may score a better deal by booking via the Chase travel portal instead of transferring points over. For this reason, it’s a good idea to ring up how much your hotel stay would cost in points through the portal as well as the hotel’s website.
Start by searching by destination so you can see a list of all the hotels that are available. For this example, let’s try looking for hotels in Downtown Nashville from November 5–12, 2021. Once the results appear, you’ll be able to narrow down your search with filters based on price, amenities, star ratings, guest ratings, property type, number of bedrooms, neighborhood and whether the hotel is LGBTQ, business or family friendly.
Let’s go over three options within the Chase travel portal, each booked with a Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card (redemptions are worth 1.5 cents per point): JW Marriott Nashville (Marriott), which is listed for 25,171 points per night; Holiday Inn and Suites Nashville Downtown–Convention Center (IHG), which is listed for 22,066 points per night; and Thompson Nashville (Hyatt), which is listed at 24,610 points per night.
When booked through the Marriott website, you’d have to redeem 380,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (which breaks down to 54,285 per night) for the same stay at JW Marriott Nashville. You’d end up saving 29,114 points per night by booking your stay through the travel portal.
If you were to book a seven-night stay at the Holiday Inn and Suites Nashville Downtown – Convention Center, you’d need 41,714 IHG Rewards points per night, which means you’d save 19,648 points per night by booking through the portal.
As for Thompson Nashville, you’d have to redeem 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night for the same seven-night stay, saving you 390 points per night by booking through the travel portal.
As you can see, it’s worth comparing points required by the travel portal and each hotel’s website, as the time of year, location, and other factors may play a part in pricing. To book your stay through the travel portal, select your room type, review the details, choose how many points you’d like to use and complete your purchase.
It’s a pretty similar process if you want to book rental cars, tours and other travel activities through the Chase travel portal. Cruises can also be booked as well, but you’ll need to call.
As far as car rentals, make sure you’re booking through the travel portal with points that are connected to Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve in order to take advantage of extra perks like primary rental car insurance — you’ll also need to decline the rental car company’s auto collision damage waiver when you book to activate this. You’ll want to charge at least a few dollars to the card and not use points to cover the entire booking which ensures that you’re still “paying” for the car rental with your Sapphire card, which means you’ll be entitled to the card’s rental car insurance.
Beyond that, simply plug in your itinerary and search. Here’s an example for a rental in Nashville from November 5–12, 2021, booked with a Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card (redemptions are worth 1.5 cents per point):
You’ll be able to filter your search by capacity, car type, price per day, company, and car options (like air conditioning and automatic transmission). For a seven-day rental, it would cost 31,756 points or $477 for the cheapest option. As with other travel portal purchases, you’ll be able to enter how many Chase Ultimate Rewards points you wish to put toward the final price. It works the same way for booking tours and other travel activities, so you could potentially enjoy a free — or nearly free — vacation solely on Chase points if you were to plan it all out properly.
Booking through the Chase travel portal can be a great use of your Ultimate Rewards points, but make sure to compare the rates against booking directly with an airline or hotel itself. Finally, consider transferring your points to one of Chase’s travel partners, especially if you’re looking to book a luxury hotel or flight in business class.
Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.