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, there is a way 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
In order to book through the Chase Travel Portal, you do not need any “fancy” card but it would be to your advantage to have 1 of 3 Ultimate Rewards earning cards; the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
If you have do not have 1 of the 3 cards mentioned above, the Chase Travel Portal will allow you to redeem your points for 1 cent each. However, with the premier cards, you can redeem points at the following rate(s):
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: 1.25 cents per points
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: 1.25 cents per points
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: 1.50 cents per points
Let’s walk through an example….
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 short, 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, business class ticket from Chicago to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (via google flights)…
The flights and price were confirmed on the United Airlines website:
The same flights also priced the same through the Chase Travel Portal:
You’ll notice the portal is giving me the option to “purchase” the ticket by charging $1017.78 to my credit card OR redeem 101,778 points (1 cent per point because I do not hold 1 of the 3 premier travel cards).
However, let’s say that you have earned the 100,000 points from a combination of welcome bonuses and/or spending on the Chase Sapphire Preferred and you were interested in flying to Brazil. You would be well on your way to Brazil without having to memorize any award charts with this amazing deal.
Additionally, if you’re doing the math, you’ll notice that if you do hold any of the premier cards the price would be as follows:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: $1017.78 / .0125 = 81,422 points
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: $1017.78 / .0125 = 81,422 points
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: $1017.78 / .0150 = 67,852 points
Do you remember when the welcome bonus for the Chase Sapphire Preferred was 80,000 points just a few weeks ago? 😉
Though 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.
It’s worth also noting that in the case of redeeming points through the travel portal, Chase actually uses your points to “purchase” a revenue ticket. Therefore, you will accrue miles on your ticket. Business class tickets can often accrue between 100-400% of the miles flown.
In other words, you could redeem ~67,000 – 81,000 miles through the travel portal and still accrue ~30,000 miles from the trip according to wheretocredit.com. I love discounts!!
PRO-TIP: Make be sure you’re maximizing the amount of miles you’re receiving from a flight and crediting them to the best loyalty program. 😉
Have you redeemed points through the Chase travel portal? What was your experience?
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