What's better than scoring an insanely cheap flight deal? Just one thing: Booking it with credit card points to make it free. And there's no better way to pull it off than booking through the Chase travel portal with your Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
That's why we're big fans of both the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. These cards earn Chase's valuable Ultimate Rewards points which can greatly reduce the cost of your travels. Booking through the portal using those points is one of the easiest ways to do it.
We'll walk you through exactly how to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book the flight deals you find right here at Thrifty Traveler or from your Thrifty Traveler Premium membership through the Chase Travel Portal.
Using Ultimate Rewards Points in the Chase Travel Portal
Before we get into the mechanics of using Chase points in the Chase travel portal, let's back up. Just what value you get from your Chase points depends on which Chase card you have – certain Chase credit card points are worth even more when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal.
If you hold the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, each point you earn will be worth 1.25 cents when you redeem them through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, each point you earn will be worth 1.5 cents when booking travel through the Chase rewards portal.
So you're getting a better deal on your points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve than the Preferred card, but either card is great. Here's an example of how it works.
We recently featured a deal via our Thrifty Traveler Premium service from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP) to Cancún (CUN) for just $345 roundtrip – flying nonstop on Delta, to boot! Here's a look at what's bookable directly via Delta.
But it gets even better (and cheaper) if you book the same flight using points through the Chase travel portal.
If you hold a credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points like the Reserve or Preferred, just log in to your online Chase account, navigate to the travel portal, and search for this exact same fare. Once you're logged in, select the “Travel” button on the Ultimate Rewards homepage top navigation bar, which is highlighted below in red.
From here, you can search for the exact same cheap fare you just found. Most (but not all) of the flight pricing you see through Google Flights or in your inbox with a Thrifty Traveler Premium membership should be bookable at the same rates – though you may occasionally see pricing mismatches.
And even though Chase has a list of Chase travel partners for hotel and airline point transfer where you can transfer your points to book flights and hotels, if you are using this method to book, you can book with almost any airline through Chase. Some budget airlines are not available, unfortunately – and that includes Southwest.
If you hold the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, this $345 fare can be booked for 27,564 Ultimate Rewards points.
But the deal gets better with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. With each point worth 1.5 cents, you can book the exact same fare for just 22,970 Ultimate Rewards points.
You'll go through the exact same process with any cheap fare or flight deal you find, using points to book instead. The cheaper the fare, the fewer points you'll need to book it and make it free. The Chase portal even walks you through the different kinds of fares and lets you pick between them, just in case you'd like to avoid booking a basic economy fare.
Is the Chase Travel Portal Worth It?
Pros of Booking with Chase Points
One of the best parts of booking flights through the Chase travel portal is that you will also earn airline miles and elite status credits when you actually take your flight. That's not the case for standard airline award redemptions you might book with American Airlines AAdvantage miles, Delta SkyMiles, or United MileagePlus miles. And unlike those redemptions, booking with Chase points this way makes your flight completely free. It covers any taxes and fees you'd otherwise have to pay using miles.
Don't have enough Chase Ultimate Rewards points to complete your booking – or don't want to blow all your points? Don't worry, you can use any combination of points and cash that you would like. You can select the number of points you want to use, and the remaining balance will be billed to your credit card.
Because of how easy it is to book flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards points, these two cards crack our list of the best card for booking flight deals with points.
Cons of Booking with Chase Points
That said, there are some potential pitfalls – especially with the current state of travel in as the coronavirus pandemic rages on. In good times and bad, it's almost always better to book directly with the airline – not an online travel agency (OTA). And when you book with Chase points, you're essentially booking with an OTA.
Major airlines have made the process of changing or canceling flights easier (and free!) during these trying times. While wait times may sometimes be long, it’s relatively easy to make a change. Booking with Chase or any OTA means they're your middleman. And that means you'll need to work with Chase to cancel your flight – and not the airline directly. So proceed with caution.
Finally, there's no question that there are ways to squeeze much more value out of your Chase points by using Chase transfer partners. Still, this is a valuable option. And if you're not looking to dive deep into the weeds of maximizing airline programs, it doesn't get much easier than this.
How to Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Here's a quick overview of what Ultimate Rewards Points you can earn from Chase credit card welcome bonuses:
|Chase Card||Spending Requirements for Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Bonus||Credit Card Review|
|Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card||Earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $15,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.||Chase Ink Business Preferred Review|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.||Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.||Chase Sapphire Reserve Review|
|Ink Business Cash® Credit Card||Earn $750 cash back bonus (75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $7,500 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.||Ink Business Cash Credit Card Review|
|Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card||Earn $750 cash back bonus (75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $7,500 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.||Chase Ink Business Unlimited Review|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!||Chase Freedom Unlimited|
|Chase Freedom Flex℠||Earn $200 cash back bonus (20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.||Chase Freedom Flex Review|
In order to earn and use these Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you need to hold one of the Chase Sapphire credit cards. And there's no better place to start than the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card which offers 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
Those 60,000 points are worth $750 when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal since the points redeem at 1.25 cents each. Not bad for a card with an annual fee of only $95, right?
In addition to the sign-up bonus points, the card also earns 2x points per dollar spent on all travel and restaurant purchases and 1 point per dollar on all other spending. You’ll also earn 5x points per dollar spent on Lyft rides through March of 2022.
Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
There is also the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase's premium travel rewards credit card that comes with a ton of travel benefits. It also comes with a hefty annual fee price tag of $550. You can earn 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of card membership. And since these points can be redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal for 1.5 cents each, the sign-up bonus is worth at least $900.
In addition to the sign-up bonus points, the card also earns 3x points per dollar on all travel and restaurant purchases and 1x point per dollar on all other spending. You’ll also earn 10x points per dollar spent on Lyft rides through March of 2025.
Click Here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Chase Freedom Credit Cards
If you've already got a Sapphire card, there are some other Chase credit cards that can help bolster your Ultimate Rewards points balance. While Chase Freedom cards typically earn cashback, holding one of these no annual fee cards in tandem with a Sapphire card makes them exponentially more valuable. That's because you can transfer the cashback these cards earn into your Chase Ultimate Rewards points balance.
But there are two new Chase Freedom cards to choose from, and each version differs. Read up on the differences between the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited to see which card is right for you.
Click Here to learn more about the Chase Freedom Flex Card.
Click Here to learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited Card.
Chase Business Credit Cards
Chase also has a number of business credit cards that also earn Ultimate Rewards points. If you are a small business owner, this is another great opportunity to bolster your Ultimate Rewards points balance. See our guide to help you pick the Ultimate Rewards earning business card that is right for you.
Click Here to learn more about the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
It's important to mention that all Chase cards are subjected to the bank's 5/24 Rule. So if you've opened five or more credit cards in the last 24 months (from any bank, not just Chase), you won't get approved. That's why we always suggest starting with Chase credit cards.
Leveraging Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book flight deals through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal is one of our favorite benefits Chase credit cards. It allows you to make a cheap flight even cheaper (or free), and it is a great tool to pair with our Thrifty Traveler Premium flight deal subscription service.