The Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal is one of the best features of having a Chase credit card. Earning Ultimate Rewards® with credit cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® can deliver big value if you know how to navigate the Chase travel portal.
Much like third-party booking sites like Orbitz or Expedia, you can use the Chase travel portal to book flights, hotels and cruises, among other things. You can redeem points to offset the cost of the trip or pay in cash. You won’t have to worry about blackout dates or award inventory caps like you may find when using airline miles or hotel points for the same trip since you are essentially buying travel with cash.
Within the portal, you can also redeem points for merchandise or transfer them to other travel loyalty programs if you are short on miles and points there. In short, having a flexible points currency like Chase Ultimate Rewards® is one of the smartest routes you can take in the miles and points game. Booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® is simple. Here’s what you need to know about the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal.
Who can use the portal?
Not all Chase cards have the same benefits. Only some cards earn Ultimate Rewards® points; others may earn loyalty miles and points with an affiliated partner. For example, the United℠ Explorer Card earns United MileagePlus miles.
These are examples of cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® and give access to the Chase travel portal:
Benefits of booking travel in the portal
Earn points on paid reservations
The primary reason you may want to book travel via the Chase travel portal is that you earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® on paid reservations. You can earn 5x points on airfare booked within the portal and 10x points on hotels and car rentals.
That can really add up, but beware that when booking hotels through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, you are not eligible to earn points or elite status benefits since it is using a third-party service. The tradeoff can vary by property, but using the Chase travel portal is especially helpful when booking unaffiliated hotels or hotel brands where you usually do not collect points or have elite status. In those instances, you are less likely to be passing up the perks of points earning and elite status.
Earn points on airfare even for redemptions
When booking airfare through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, you do earn miles no matter if you pay with cash or points. This makes using points for airfare via the Chase travel portal more beneficial than redeeming for a hotel.
Earn bonus points for restaurant bookings
You can even earn bonus points when making restaurant bookings through the portal. This can be a great way to enhance your trips with great dining in advance rather than chatting with your hotel concierge.
Shop for the best value redemption
Since the value per Chase Ultimate Rewards® points is relatively constant, using the travel portal may not always be the best option. You may be able to spend fewer points if you book the same trip with the specific airline or hotel’s points instead of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. This is more common with itineraries with high cash prices, like a hotel night that’s particularly expensive. Always compare the cost of using traditional miles and points over using Chase points to see which offers better value. In some cases, you may want to transfer Chase points to partner programs to squeeze more value from them.
One example where that could be exceptional value is for expensive business class tickets that also have award availability. Let’s say you’re looking for a United business class ticket between Newark and London. If the cash cost of a one-way ticket is $2,505, that will cost you 250,500 Ultimate Rewards® points when redeeming at a value of one penny per point. In this example, it may be worth redeeming MileagePlus miles instead.
For this flight, the one-way mileage cost is 91,700 miles. Even if you don’t have enough United miles, you could transfer that amount from Chase Ultimate Rewards® (since they are partners), and save yourself a nice chunk of Chase points in the process. It is always best to compare the cash cost with the redemption cost using both Chase and the airline or hotel’s own loyalty program.
How to book travel in the portal
Once logged into your Chase account, you’ll find a sidebar on the right of the page with your Chase Ultimate Rewards® balance. Once you click on it, it brings up a variety of options for how to spend your points. Choose “travel” to take you to the standard booking page where you can enter your plans for flights, cruises, rental cars, hotels or other activities.
Depending on the card you have, your points are worth between 1-1.5 cents per point. The best value card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which offers 1.5 cents in value per point to redeem through the portal, while the Chase Freedom Unlimited® only values points at a penny per point. This means that Chase determines the number of points you’ll need to redeem for an award based on the cash cost of the travel you are trying to book.
It’s easy to search for the travel you want. Chase has partnered with Expedia to run the search engine, but this has limited the search function a bit with some low-cost airlines no longer appearing. Be mindful of this when making a reservation (perhaps check to see if the airfare is similar to the basic economy or main cabin price on the airline’s website first).
The advanced options button lets you sort by airline and class of service.
Much like other online booking engines, once you find the travel plans you like, you enter your personal details. The best part of using the travel portal is that you can pay in full with points, cash or use a mix of points and cash. You can adjust the amount of points you want to spend for your trip and the website will display how much remaining cash you owe. If you need more points, you can transfer them from other Chase Ultimate Rewards® earning accounts you may have to boost your balance.
The process for booking hotels or car rentals is similar to reserving a flight, giving you the option to use a mix of cash or points.
To book a cruise with points, however, you’ll have to call Chase directly.
Another exception is when making a reservation at Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection properties, you can only make a cash reservation (you pay upon checkout) and cannot redeem Ultimate Rewards® points. You may still want to reserve through the portal, though, since it means you are eligible for additional perks like daily breakfast for two and a special amenity that varies by the hotel.
You can also reserve activities at home or your destination and pay for them in cash or with points. These include tours, museum visits and other local experiences.
What else you need to know
Chase may charge a service fee on certain reservations. You will want to weigh whether this small charge is worth the benefit in Chase Ultimate Rewards® points you may use.
Many hotel companies offer member-only rates to entice you to book directly with them rather than through a third party. You’ll want to weigh whether earning Chase Ultimate Rewards® points is more valuable than the difference in the lowest rate booked directly with the hotel company.
When making any reservation through the Chase travel portal, you will be at the mercy of its own policies when it comes to changing or canceling a ticket. You will have to contact Chase Ultimate Rewards® directly to adjust your plans since you made it independently of the airline or hotel company. This can make it especially difficult with last-minute travel plan changes.
Final thoughts on the Chase travel portal
With a little comparison shopping for your travel plans, you can squeeze exceptional value from points via the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal. They can be redeemed like cash for travel, but always be sure to compare a reservation using Chase points to the cost of using hotel or airline points.
Sometimes, it may be less advantageous to use Chase points since you will lose out on travel-related perks. Other times, you’ll come out ahead since you can save cash using points, which is helpful when there is no award availability for your preferred travel plans.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for: