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You may have noticed that the cost of flights and hotels has increased significantly in recent years. Many hotels are either sold out or charge astronomical rates for a nightly stay. When planning your next vacation, using airline miles and hotel rewards can help you save money. It's a good time to add a travel reward credit card to the wallet.
Chase Ultimate Rewards, one of the programs we love best, offers a variety of credit cards that will get you started. Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, our top travel credit card overall, offers one of the highest bonuses it has ever offered. You can earn 80,000 bonus point after spending $4,000 within the first three month.
You can redeem those points for a variety of travel options. Here are the best ways to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points, from almost free flights to hotel stays covered.
The best Chase Ultimate Rewards bonuses
Spend $6,000 in the first 3 months on your Ink Business Unlimited (r) credit card to earn $750 back as cash.
How to redeem Chase Ultimate Reward points
The easiest way to redeem Ultimate Rewards points for cash is at 1 cent per point. However, there are many other options that will allow you to get more value from your points by doing a bit of extra work.
Transferring them to Chase's 14 partners (11 airlines and 3 hotel chains) is one of the best ways to maximize their value. All Chase points are transferable at a 1:1 ratio. For example, if you transferred 1,000 Chase points to United Airlines you would receive 1,000 United MileagePlus Miles. The majority of transfers are instantaneous, but a few may take up to a couple days.
Not all Chase Ultimate Reward credit cards allow for this option. The Chase Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred cards allow you to transfer your points to other loyalty programs. However, the same option is not available for the Ink Business Unlimited and Ink Business Unlimited no-annual fee cards.
As long as you have a premium Chase Ultimate Reward card -- a card which allows you to transfer directly to partners -- then you can transfer the points from Ink Business Cash or Ink Business Unlimited at a 1:1 ratio to the 14 partners.
We'll look at the best ways to use your Chase Ultimate Reward points. This assumes you have a premium Chase Ultimate Reward-earning card.
Knowing the best way to redeem your points is important because not all points are equal.
Hyatt offers all-inclusive hotels
Transferring your Chase points to Hyatt for a stay at an all-inclusive property is a great way to redeem them. Hyatt Ziva or Zilara resorts are the best option to redeem your Chase points. They can be found in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Jamaica and other countries.
Staying at an all-inclusive resort is my personal favorite way to use Chase points. My family has stayed in Hyatt Ziva Cancun four times. Although I have not yet visited one of the Zilara hotels, other travelers say they are also outstanding. The all-inclusive package is not cheap and you won't need to open your wallet even once.
A Ziva or Zilara Hotel costs between 25,000 to 40,000 Hyatt Points per night, depending on the property (or slightly less or more if you are staying during peak or off-peak dates). This includes all-inclusive services for two guests. You can pay cash for additional guests or use more points if you have them in the same hotel room.
Hyatt's portfolio has been expanded by more than 100 all inclusive properties in Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe. The properties include Dreams Resorts & Spas, Now Resorts & Spas, Sunscape Resorts & Spas, Secrets Resorts & Spas, Breathless Resorts & Spa Resorts, and Zoetry Wellness & Spa Resorts.
Hyatt’s award chart for all-inclusive properties has a lowest redemption rate of 12,000 points a night. This is applicable to Category A hotels on non-peak dates. You can stay up to six days at these properties if you have 80,000 bonus Chase Sapphire Preferred points. You don't need to pay for anything other than airfare and transportation from and to the airport. This includes food, alcohol and entertainment.
I have booked Ziva properties during my Christmas vacations in the past when cash rates were over $900 per night. Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun costs $675 per night for two guests during peak winter dates. You could use 87,000 of your points to pay for a 3-night stay, which would cover more than $2,000 in your next all-inclusive trip.
Fly United Airlines to Hawaii
United Airlines offers a wide range of routes, both domestically and internationally. You can travel anywhere you want with 100,000 United Miles earned through the Ink Business Preferred.
We are planning a big trip for later this year. To escape the Boston winter and the freezing temperatures, we chose to visit the Hawaiian Islands. We have limited flexibility in terms of dates but want to book the shortest possible flight since it is a long trip.
United has some excellent options for getting to Hawaii. And they can be had from Boston in as little as 22,500 miles. The Ink Business Preferred's 100,000-point offer is enough for you and your partner to fly to Hawaii and back with plenty of points left over.
Redeeming miles for my family of four can be more difficult at times. I transferred my Chase Ultimate Rewards miles to United for our outbound flight. We'll stop in California for several days on the way back, so we will use miles from another program. You could book your return flight using cash. This would cost half as much to fly round-trip to Hawaii.
United makes it easy to book flights online. You don't need to call United or ask about flight availability on the phone. Instead, you can search for flights via the United app or website. The points you earn through Chase Ultimate Rewards will transfer directly to United, so there's no need to worry that the flight may disappear while you are waiting for your points to arrive.
JetBlue is one the easiest airlines to redeem awards with. This is because there aren't any blackout dates, or problems with award availability. As long as there are seats available for cash, you can book any JetBlue flight using points.
The amount of points required is loosely tied to the price of the ticket -- the more expensive the ticket, the more you need. JetBlue points typically cost 1.4 cents each. While you may not get a huge return when you transfer Chase points to JetBlue you will still be better off than redeeming your points for cash or through Chase's travel portal.
My parents, for example, recently received a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card in preparation for a trip. I was able book round-trip JetBlue tickets for them for just 26,000 points each. They were able fly for free with 80,000 bonus points from the current welcome offer. Taxes and fees are the only costs.
JetBlue offers a flexible cancellation and change policy for customers who book using points. If their plans change, they can use the JetBlue points to pay for another vacation. Remember that once you transfer your points out of your Ultimate Reward account, it is not possible to get them back in case your plans change.
Fly Southwest to the United States, Caribbean or Mexico
Southwest Airlines offers award travel that is similar to JetBlue. You can fly anywhere in the United States as well as to the Caribbean and Mexico. Southwest points are only worth 1.5 cents each, so this is not the best option compared to other transfer options. However, you can still use your Chase Ultimate Reward points for this redemption.
Southwest Airlines is my favorite airline because of the Companion Pass. The Pass allows you to add a travel companion to your ticket and fly for free. They will only have to pay taxes and fees. This is one of the most generous airline benefits. The Companion Pass is not earned by earning points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred, but having those points can be useful.
As an example, I booked round-trip tickets for myself and my daughter to Washington, DC, using 14,000 Southwest Rapid Reward Points. As my daughter was my companion, I could add her to the flight and pay only the taxes. This means that I spent a total 14,000 points on the two tickets. Transferring 80,000 Chase Sapphire Preferred points to your Southwest Rapid Rewards Account will give you about $1,200 in Southwest flight value. If you have a Companion Pass, you can redeem your points and get about $2,400 worth of value. A friend or family member will be able to travel free.
Fly domestically within the United States using British Airways points
What are the British Airways reward points? British Airways is a member of the Oneworld alliance, and as such, it partners with American Airlines, amongst others. You can use British Airways Avios to fly with American Airlines, while Chase Ultimate Rewards can be transferred to British Airways.
It's important to note that these tickets are not booked through American Airlines. Create a British Airways Executive Club account on the British Airways site (which is completely free) and search and book American flights from there. On the British Airways website, you may also see different award seats than on the American site.
British Airways also charges different points for flights compared to American Airlines. The airline uses a distance-based chart for award points, so the number of rewards you need depends on how many miles you fly. The cost of an economy class seat for flights within the United States ranges between 7,500 points and 13,000 depending on where you are going.
You will be charged per segment, and not by the total distance, for an itinerary with a connection. This means you would need to pay for both the first and second segments as if it were individual flights. You'll want to use British Airways Avios on nonstop flights with American, rather than options that require a layover or connection.
Since I live in Boston, American Airlines has a good presence. I was able to transfer my Chase Ultimate Reward points to British Airways and fly all over the United States with American Airlines. Recently, I was able to book a flight for 9,000 Avios per person from Boston (BOS), to Ft. Lauderdale. This cost just 36,000 Avios for my four-person family.
Aeroplan points can be used to fly United Airlines
Chase will add Aeroplan, the Canadian loyalty program in August 2021.