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The process of redeeming points can be confusing. There are so many variables, including departure city, arrival city, flight connections, airline alliance, economy, premium economy, business class and first class. It becomes even more confusing when you discover one airline charges 40,000 miles and another airline charges 70,000 miles for same business class seat. Where do you even start!?
Well, it doesn’t have to be so confusing. In fact, I’m going to show you how to redeem points without ever having to memorize (or even look at) an airline award chart.
REDEEM POINTS FOR CHEAP FLIGHTS
If you’re not interested in studying award charts and learning how to maximize your points and miles, you can simply redeem your points through a travel portal. For this example, we’re going to focus on Chase.
HOW TO BOOK THROUGH THE CHASE PORTAL
You can redeem points at the following rate(s):
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: 1.25 cents per points
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: 1.50 cents per points
- Chase Ink Business Preferred: 1.25 cents per points
Login to the Chase Travel Portal and locate your balance of points.
Click on your points balance and a dropdown menu will appear (photo below). Select “Travel.”
You will notice the next page is very similar to most travel search engines. Simply, enter your ‘Origin’ and ‘Destination’ with your dates and click “search.” You’ll notice the Chase portal is powered by Expedia which, theoretically, means if you can find the fare on Expedia, then you can book it through the Chase Travel Portal (with cash or points).
PRO HACKING SKILLS REQUIRED
This is where it gets good! A few years ago, “error fares” were all the rage. In essence, someone would discover an ultra-cheap ticket between city pairs, they would share the pricing error with their friends, and everyone would purchase a ticket.
These errors were not just a few dollars off the original price, but more like…whoops, this $1600 flight is pricing at $160. I can remember several errors fares like… the ~$350 roundtrip flight from the West Coast to Hong Kong (normally, $700+), the ~$400 roundtrip from New York to Singapore, and the ~$150 roundtrip flight from the US to Dubai. <–this is the reason ALL of your friends were posting photos from Dubai.
Today, we don’t see as many “error fares” as we saw a few years ago but they still happen, in both, economy and business class. For example, I saw this fare earlier this week…
Roundtrip, economy ticket from Pittsburgh to Tokyo (via google flights)…
The price was confirmed on the Air Canada website:
Interestingly, the ticket was not pricing the same through the Chase Travel Portal but the price was still extremely low:
You’ll notice that you can “purchase” the ticket by charging $211.54 to your credit card OR by redeeming 16,923 points.
Let’s say that you earned the 60,000 point welcome bonus from the Chase Sapphire Preferred and you were interested in flying from Pittsburgh to Tokyo, Japan. You would have enough points to purchase roughly FOUR roundtrip economy tickets to Japan. You don’t have to understand award charts to recognize this is a deal!
If you’re doing the math, you’ll notice that I am using a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred because $211.54/.0125 = 16,923 points. If I had the Chase Sapphire Reserve, this ticket would only cost 14,102 points ($211.54/.0150).
Although, the trip above is extremely cheap, there may be cases where you’re not interested in spending cash for a trip. This strategy does not require understanding any award charts or understanding airline alliances and partners.
We’re only touching the tip of the iceberg in this example. Business class tickets are astronomically expensive but you can often find “error fares” (or at least more reasonable fares). If you can “purchase” those business class tickets for less than redeeming through a traditional loyalty program, it’s a win.
Additionally, if you redeem points through the travel portal, Chase will redeem your points for a revenue ticket, and you will accrue miles. Business class tickets can often accrue between 100-400% of the miles flown. In other words, you could redeem 70,000 miles through the travel portal and accrue 30,000 miles from the trip. I love discounts!!
Have you redeemed points through the Chase travel portal? What was your experience?