Welcome to a weekly feature on the Eye of the Flyer blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.
I always try to use points. I try not to waste points and over pay for things vs. what I personally value my points at but still the standing rule is spend them whenever I can.
Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) is one of the most simple and flexible points programs to use. Sure you can send them to many programs 1 for 1 but for me I love to spend them for travel “stuff” and get 1.25 cents per point value towards say a car rental or a resort. You can just pick all points or part cash & part points or all cash to earn more points (since starting at the Chase portal). Just do what you value the most!
Having redeemed well over ½ million UR points I have learned a bunch. I have learned when it comes to cars, you will not lose your Visa Signature protection when redeeming points or points and cash for your car and blogged about it HERE.
With airline tickets, it is simple. Once you are ticketed, UR is, for the most part, out of the loop. You have with say Delta, just purchased the ticket and you deal with Delta for say a flight change or a plethora of other travel issues.
With hotels or resorts, it is another matter and you need to understand how this all works. Chase uses a travel agency to do all the bookings. It is, btw, the same one that Citi Thank You also uses.
Anyway, as a simple example let’s look at my trip to Grand Cayman at the Reef Resort. To get the 1.25 cents per point value you have to pick a resort that partners with Chase. Then, the Travel Agency (TA) books this for you. Many times it will NOT be direct. For me, the Chase travel agency used “Fun Jet” to do the booking with The Reef. You see the steps and the connections going on here. I had: Chase→UR Travel Agency→Fun Jet→The Reef. WOW! So, what if something goes wrong? You don’t call Chase, you call the UR TA. They are your go to point. But, this is not always simple. Say you have an issue with the resort, they have to answer not to you or to UR TA but to Fun Jet. Fun Jet does not deal with you, they deal with the UR TA. Now I am not saying any of this is “bad”, and when I had a major issue with this year’s booking, it all worked out very well and everyone worked hard to make it right and they did. But it did take time, stress and many many MANY e-mails to get it all worked out and I got some credit back to my card and a check for the difference as they could not put the points back into my account.
Are the extra steps worth it? You bet. I mean think about this, Chase‘s INK BOLD card or the INK PLUS card both, once you meet the $5000 in spend (thus 55,000 points), will give you $687 in travel value when redeemed at the 1.25 cents per point through the UR portal. If a husband and wife each got both cards in one year, after spend requirements on each card, you are talking $2,750 credit towards your vacation! You could even each also add a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, after $3000 spend pick up another 43,000 total points, and have another $1075 added to your totals! For me, to not have to come up with that much cash for a vacation is truly amazing and a great travel value (many will say you should ONLY redeem for premium cabins etc – if that’s what you want, fine – for others like me I like this way)!
As a Delta flyer, I will use my Delta Skymiles and fly business class, use my UR points to rent cars and pay for resorts and the result is amazing vacations year after year. How about you? – René
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