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The price of travel is skyrocketing, and consumers eager to hit the road again following pandemic-related travel restrictions and lockdowns are now coming face to face with inflation-driven costs.
Even in my own recent travel booking experience, I’ve noticed outlandish pricing, including a $1,500 price tag for two round-trip economy flights from Fort Lauderdale to Las Vegas and basic rental cars running more than $100 per day. And with gas prices still exceeding $4 per gallon and surging food costs, it may feel like you need to look for alternative vacation options.
That said, just because costs are going up doesn’t mean you should feel like traveling right now is completely off the table. By using expenses and miles, you can still score deals on flights, hotels and other travel for much less than the retail price. And, there are deals available to quickly grow your stash of travel rewards, including valuable welcome bonuses on credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Below, Select details how consumers can save money on travel this summer by using hotel points, airline miles and credit card points, and what else you should keep in mind when redeeming credit card rewards.
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The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card’s welcome bonus
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is offering a welcome bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards® points for new cardholders who spend at least $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. What that really means is that you’ll end up with a minimum of 84,000 points after hitting the spending requirement. Those 80,000 points are worth $1,000 in travel when you redeem them directly for flights, hotels, rental cars and other activities through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal.
While the card has a $95 annual fee, the benefits it offers make it one of the best travel rewards credit cards on the market today. For starters, you’ll never have to worry about paying foreign transaction fees for using the card abroad and you’ll receive extensive travel insurance, including auto rental collision damage waivers, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance and zero liability protection.
Cardholders can also earn 3X points on dining (including delivery and takeout), certain streaming services and online grocery orders; 5X points on travel purchased via the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal — not counting hotels that qualify for the included $50 annual hotel credit, which is another great perk — 2X points for all other travel-related purchases and 1X points for any additional spending. You’ll also score a 10% boost in honor of your membership anniversary.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
$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, and 1X points on all other purchases
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
16.24% – 23.24% 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
How to maximize the welcome bonus
Once you hit your minimum-spending threshold and you have accumulated roughly 84,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, it’s time to start booking some summertime trips. There are a few things to keep in mind before you redeem your credit card rewards, however.
Booking through the Chase travel portal vs. transferring points
As a Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholder, you’ll be able to book award travel directly through the Chase travel portal, which automatically guarantees you a value of 1.25 cents per point. That said, you might actually be able to get an even better deal by transferring your points straight to one of Chase’s airline or hotel loyalty program partners. Here’s a look at Chase’s list of 14 travel partners — note that you can transfer points to each of these at a 1:1 ratio:
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- British Airways Executive Club
- Emirates Skywards
- Flying Blue (KLM and Air France)
- Iberia Plus
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- United Airlines MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- IHG Rewards Club
- Marriott Bonvoy
- World of Hyatt
If, for example, you wanted to book a room at the Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas for the July 4th holiday, you’d be looking at 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night by transferring points to the World of Hyatt loyalty program first . At the same time, booking the exact same hotel room would cost nearly 40,000 points per night by booking your stay through the Chase travel portal.
There are a ton of ways to get big value from the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s current 80,000-point welcome offer, for example you could:
- Transfer 50,000 points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to book a one-way flight in business class on Delta Air Lines from the US to Europe (retail price: $2,800+). You’ll still have 30,000 points leftover.
- Transfer 80,000 points to World of Hyatt and book four nights at the Hyatt Andaz West Hollywood (retail price: up to $2,100 incl. taxes and fees)
- Transfer 78,000 points to British Airways Executive Club and book three round-trip flights from West Coast cities to Hawaii on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines (retail price: $1,350)
For this reason, it’s always worth shopping around, checking the list of Chase’s travel rewards partners and seeing if there’s a better way to get the biggest bang for your buck with points before you commit.
Elite status is not recognized with Chase travel rewards
If you have status with any hotel or airline and decide to book travel through the Chase travel portal, know that your status level and associated benefits will not be recognized. If you’re looking to take advantage of your elite status during your upcoming travels, it’s best to book directly with your preferred airline or hotel, especially if you have a higher-tier status. If your status is with one of Chase’s partners, you’ll probably be better off transferring your points directly to that loyalty program instead of booking through the portal.
Consider saving your points and using alternative travel options
In some cases, especially if you won’t to avoid how expensive travel has become, you may want to save your points for a later date and just pay cash. For example, I could have used my Chase points to pay for a rental car in Las Vegas, but it would be a huge waste of points because of how inflated rental car prices are at the moment. Instead, I opted to rent a car through Turo, a peer-to-peer car rental site, instead. While saving money is the end goal of using points and miles, it’s best to try and be as strategic as possible with the rewards you’re earning to really make them work for you.
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.