I must confess, I have an obsession, I’m obsessed with planning travel even though I can’t alway travel when I want, I’m obsessed with reading credit card offers because the next offer could help make my next trip free or lighter on my wallet. I love the thrill of a new credit card, especially a Chase credit card! I have many types of credit cards from different banks, but Chase is my favorite. They have many types of reward credit cards, while consistently offering some of the best sign up bonuses (worth hundreds of dollars!!), deliver great customer service and their reward program is top notch.
Chase’s reward program, Ultimate Rewards, lets you redeem your points directly through their site, either for gift cards, credit statement or direct deposit in an account at 1 cent per point, travel at 1.25 cents per point, or you have the ability to directly transfer to one of 11 different transfer partners at 1:1 transfer rate. The best value is typically transferring to a transfer partner. Their 11 transfer partners are: Southwest, United Airlines, British Airways, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Amtrak, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott and Ritz-Carlton. My personal favorite to transfer points to are Southwest, Hyatt and United. If you are willing to learn about their 11 transfer partners, you can get more mileage out of your points. They also have cards that are co-branded directly with airlines or hotels, but my favorite credit cards are their “bank points” credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, and I’ll explain why.
What is a “bank point” credit card?
Companies like a Southwest Airline or United Airline have their own credit cards. You earn points or miles for that particular program you have the credit card. You’d redeem your miles on that particular airline or airline alliance, if they have one. Those types of credit cards give less flexibility. Bank point credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, offer you more flexibility, you’re not tied to one particular program, which I LOVE because I enjoy making the most out of my points. You have the ability to withdraw points from the “bank” and deposit them into the account that you want, hopefully receiving the best deal possible!
Look at this example:
Lets say you need 1 ticket from Boston to visit family in San Diego leaving January 24, 2015 and returning January 31, 2015. If you have an United credit card, it will currently cost you 25,000 miles and $11.20, which isn’t bad! But if you look at Southwest, flying the same dates, it will cost you 18,884 points and $11.20, which is 6,116 points less! You could use that for a future redemption! The bad news is, if you had a United co-branded credit card, you can’t transfer your points to Southwest!! Having a Chase Sapphire Preferred would let you have the flexibility to transfer points to whichever airline cost you the least amount of points! There are times when having a certain branded credit card, like United Airlines, is better, I’ll explain that in a future post.
The ability to transfer points directly to airlines or hotels can increase the value of your points and in most cases they do. Transferring points to hotel chains IHG, Marriott or Ritz-Carlton is usually a poor decision, unless you are needing to top off your accounts for an award stay. The exception would be Hyatt. Hyatt is usually the best hotel transfer program through Chase and they have some amazing redemption deals. A few months ago, I was needing a hotel in Dallas and it was going to cost me over $700 for 2 nights!! But, I was able to transfer 10,000 of my Ultimate Reward points to my Hyatt account and received 7 cents per point and spent no money out of pocket !! That is over 5 times better than I would have gotten booking directly through Chase and it saved me over $700!!!
Using your points to book airfare is typically the best option for your points. Let’s go back to the San Diego example above. Paying for your flight on Southwest would have cost $339.5 before taxes and fees, I don’t include taxes and fees because you still pay them on award flights. Your would redeem 18,884 points for a flight costing $339.5, you would be receiving just shy of 1.8 cents per point! The United flight would cost $329, before $11.20 in taxes and fees, but at 25,000 points to redeem, you receive about 1.3 cents per point. So you would redeem more points and receive less value!! In this case both examples give a greater value than the 1.25 cents per point you’d receive booking your award travel through Chase directly. Sometimes booking through Chase directly can cost you less points. It’s always a good idea to do your research!
To maximize my points earning with Chase, I have what I like to call the “Chase Trifecta.” It consist of the Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Ink Plus. Those 3 cards are a very powerful combination and will help you travel for less on your wallet faster than by themselves individually. I will explain each card future post and show you how well they complement each other to increase your point earnings!
I’m always looking for the best deal and I like having options to make the most out of my points. Bank point credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, help give me flexibility to make the most out of my points. Making the most out of my points is just an obsession I can’t stop chasing.
What ways do you like to travel? How do you make it lighter on your wallet?