6 High Value Trips You Can Take With 80,000 Chase Ultimate Reward Points - Forbes

6 High Value Trips You Can Take With 80,000 Chase Ultimate Reward Points - Forbes


6 High Value Trips You Can Take With 80,000 Chase Ultimate Reward Points - Forbes

Posted: 23 Sep 2020 06:00 AM PDT

Chase Ultimate Rewards is one of the most revered credit card rewards programs. Users love these points because of their incredible versatility. Want to redeem points for cash back or a statement credit? No problem. If you prefer to use them to book travel with no blackout dates, you can do that too. Cardholders can even transfer them into partner frequent flyer or hotel loyalty programs to top off accounts or build up balances from zero. The world's the limit.

Generally speaking, the highest value redemptions come from moving your Ultimate Rewards into airline programs where rewards can be worth thousands of dollars. Luxury hotels and premium flights otherwise cost a bundle. However, that requires knowing where to look for the best value and we've got some inspiration on Ultimate Rewards sweet spots.

Credit Cards That Earn Chase Ultimate Reward Points

There are three main cards that earn transferable Chase Ultimate Reward Points: the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. All of these cards offer 1 Ultimate Reward point per dollar spent with varying bonus categories plus generous welcome bonuses for new cardholders.

The Chase Freedom®(Not currently available to new applicants), Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Chase Freedom Flex℠, Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card and Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card also earn reward points worth 1 cent per dollar on their own. However, when combined with one or more of the cards above, the rewards become full-fledged Ultimate Rewards points with the option to redeem points at an increased rate or transfer into partner travel programs.

With a welcome bonus, points are easy to earn. Get the Chase Sapphire Preferred and earn one of the best welcome bonuses available: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Add in the points you earn from your monthly spending and watch your points rack up.

What 80,000 Ultimate Rewards Points are Worth

Chase complicates things by setting different redemption values based on which points-earning cards you carry and how you redeem your points. At minimum, points are worth 1 cent each when redeemed as cash back or a statement credit. Therefore, you can expect 80,000 Ultimate Reward points to be worth at least $800.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred increase your potential redemption rate to 1.25 cents per point when redeemed for travel through Chase's travel booking engine. In this capacity, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 with no blackout dates or restrictions. The website works similar to other online travel agencies (OTAs)—in fact, it's powered by Expedia—and allows you to make reservations for flights, hotels, rental cars and even select tours or activities.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve upgrades your redemption rate to 1.5 cents per point when redeemed for travel. At that rate, the same 80,000 points are worth $1,200. Since the card requires a $550 annual fee, the upgraded redemption rate alone only makes sense for someone earning and redeeming enormous quantities of Ultimate Rewards points or travelers who use the card's other benefits. Learn more in our Chase Sapphire Reserve review.

These three cards also allow you to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to thirteen partner airline and hotel programs. In all cases, points transfer at a 1:1 ratio in 1,000 point increments. As you may expect, the value of 80,000 points depends on which partner you transfer to. Eighty thousand points might only buy you a single night at a high-end Marriott hotel but could buy you a round-trip business class ticket on some airlines.

Chase's airline partners include: Aer Lingus AerClub, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, British Airways Executive Club, Emirates Skywards, Iberia Plus, JetBlue TrueBlue, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

Chase's hotel partners include: IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Bonvoy, World of Hyatt.

As always, before making any redemptions you should do the math to see what your points are worth. Particularly for hotel stays, booking through the Chase travel portal at 1.25 to 1.5 cents per point can be a better value than transferring points to a loyalty program.

How to Spend Your Ultimate Reward Points for Exceptional Value

Here are some ideas to stretch 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points for more value than you'd get from redeeming points for cash or travel through their booking engine.

Round-Trip Business Class from the East Coast to Europe—Estimated Value: $2,500

Business class flights are out of the majority of travelers' budgets, but with points it can be a worthwhile splurge especially since you'll be treated to a lie-flat bed on overnight flights.

Transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Iberia Plus to book business class flights from New York, Boston, Washington DC or Chicago to their hub in Madrid and you'll pay 68,000 miles round-trip. This low price is available on off-peak dates: typically mid-September through mid-June with a few exceptions for holidays.

If you don't live in the northeast, no problem. Flights are also available from Miami, Los Angeles or San Francisco for 84,000 miles round-trip. You can add connections to other cities for a small upcharge, either in the U.S. or within Europe.

4 Nights at an All-Inclusive Resort—Estimated Value: $1,400

Hyatt currently has eight all-inclusive resorts across the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Mexico. The Hyatt Ziva brand focuses on family-friendly resorts while Hyatt Zilara is an adults-only brand, letting you choose the right style resort for your trip.

These resorts start at 20,000 points per night for the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos and Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. For your 80,000 points, you'll get four nights in a luxurious room including access to fabulous pools, select on-site activities and all you can eat and drink. The other six resorts require 25,000 points per night, but can still be excellent value given their cash-equivalent room rates. Simply transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards into World of Hyatt to book on the Hyatt website.

Since resorts are currently offering competitive cash rates while tourism demand is down, you'll get the most value for your points by redeeming for high-season travel. In the low season (often fall, coinciding with hurricane season), you might be better off by booking for a flat rate through the Chase portal.

Through January 4, 2021, members who register in advance can receive a 15% rebate on award stays (25% if you hold a World of Hyatt credit card). That works out to 12,000 points deposited back in your account after your stay is complete. Hyatt also has a Fall 2020 promotion offering 3 times the points on paid stays for members and 4 times the points for cardholders.

Tickets for a Family of 5 to the Caribbean—Estimated Value: $1,250

One of the best uses of British Airways Avios is for short, nonstop flights on their partner American Airlines. These flights start at 15,000 miles round-trip for flights to or from the U.S. and require low cash copays for taxes and fees. Moving your Chase Ultimate Rewards into British Airways is an instant transfer and flights are bookable online.

While there are dozens of routes available at this mileage cost, some of the best values are on the routes from American Airlines' hub in Miami to Caribbean cities. Head to destinations like Jamaica or Turks or Caicos. With 80,000 points, you'll have enough to cover tickets for up to five travelers.

You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to JetBlue or Southwest for flights to the Caribbean via Fort Lauderdale. Redemptions with these two airlines are correlated with the cost of a cash ticket so award prices vary. Because of this, you'll need to compare the cost of booking through Chase's online booking system versus transferring points to the airline.

Sapphire Reserve holders may do better by booking through the Ultimate Rewards portal at 1.5 cents per point, especially when you consider that you'll earn points in the airline program as you redeem Ultimate Rewards. Sapphire Preferred cardholders will usually do a bit better by transferring to the respective programs because redemptions through Ultimate Rewards offer 1.25 cents per point in value.

Round-Trip from Hawaii to Japan in Business Class—Estimated Value: $2,500

Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Virgin Atlantic for redemptions on their partner All Nippon Airlines. Although that sounds complicated, it's worth it to get a round-trip business class ticket from Honolulu to Tokyo for 70,000 miles. This nonstop flight will pamper you for nine hours and save you at least $2,500—more if your trip coincides with holidays or the 2021 Olympics.

Given the amount of competition now for flights to Honolulu, it's not difficult to find a separate ticket there to connect onward. If you have more points, you can skip the stopover entirely by booking nonstops from the west coast for 90,000 points or the east coast for 95,000. All are excellent values.

5 Nights in Notoriously Expensive Cities—Estimated Value: $1,250

Marriott Bonvoy isn't often a strong Ultimate Rewards partner, but if you play your cards right, there are some good redemptions (the rest of the time, use your points for a flat 1.25 to 1.5 cents through the Ultimate Rewards portal for booking hotels).

The program stands out with it's off-peak rewards dates, where hotel rooms can be as little as half the cost in points as they normally are. Additionally, if you book four nights, you'll receive a fifth night for free. Combine those two offers and you can reserve five nights in a category 4 hotel for 80,000 points.

One stand-out property featuring these criteria is the Westin Brisbane. Even in the low season, rooms cost around $250 per night, and sometimes more. Transferring points for five nights could save you $1,250, better than the value offered by the Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred travel portals.

Two Round-Trip Tickets to Central America in Economy—Estimated Value: $1,400

United is a popular Ultimate Rewards partner because it's so easy to book awards on its website. Once you have miles in your frequent flyer account, you can instantly search and compare award tickets on United and its partner airlines.

Straightforward travel plans might be a better value booking through the travel portal. Flights with a stopover and open-jaw (flying into one city and out of another) can be better deals by redeeming frequent flyer miles, though. For 35,000 points per person, you can book round-trip economy tickets to your choice of Central American destinations. Head to Costa Rica for a tour of volcanoes, rainforests and beaches or visit Belize for world-class scuba diving.

United also offers the ability to add connections within countries to reach more remote airports for a small upcharge. For example, you can add a segment from Panama City, Panama to David and explore the popular Boquete region or fly Guatemala City, Guatemala to Flores to see the Mayan ruins of Tikal. Expect to pay 2,000 additional miles each way, per person, when combined with an international ticket. Even with these add-ons, two passengers clock in under 80,000 points.

Where Will Your Miles Take You?

With Chase Ultimate Rewards, you have incredible flexibility in how you redeem your points. Booking through the Ultimate Rewards Travel portal brings you access to nearly all travel brands (including independent hotels and vacation rentals) and doesn't come with blackout dates or tax copays. With strategic redemptions, your points might provide stronger value by transferring to hotel or airline partners.

No matter how you choose to redeem your Ultimate Rewards, one thing is certain: it's not hard to turn 80,000 points into hundreds or even thousands of dollars of value.

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