How I used Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to pay less than $15 for my trip to Phoenix

Last week, I wrote about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card which currently has a sign up bonus offer of 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after completing the minimum spend of $4,000. I’ve had my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card for about 18 months and have put quite a bit of spending on the card to maximize my points. Here is how I used Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to pay less than $15 for my trip to Phoenix.

Phoenix Cactus in downtown Phoenix. How I used Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to pay less than $15 for my trip to Phoenix.
Cactus in Downtown Phoenix

The Flight

I started with the flight portion of my trip from my home city of Philadelphia and chose Southwest Airlines which is a transfer partner of Chase. The great thing about transfer partners is that you don’t have to have any of the particular partner’s points or miles in your loyalty/rewards account in order to search for flights or hotel options.

I found the round trip flights that I wanted on Southwest which required 28,929 Southwest Rapid Rewards points in order to book. When I first signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card I had set up my Southwest Rapid Rewards Account Number on the Chase Ultimate Rewards Website. This was in anticipation of transferring Chase Points for future flights.

Sign up for Loyalty Programs

I recommend that you join airline and hotel loyalty programs now. It only takes just a minute or two and is free so that you will be able to make transfers with ease. You can see the list of Chase Transfer Partners on my post from last week: Your First Travel Credit Card

Transfering the Points

Chase points can only be transferred in 1,000 point increments. So I transferred 29,000 points with a few clicks on the Chase Ultimate Rewards Website (you can do this through the Chase App on your phone as well). These points transferred to my Southwest Rapid Rewards account. In less than a minute, the 29,000 points showed up in my Southwest Account. I used 28,929 of those points to book the round trip ticket and paid just $11.20 in taxes and fees.

Southwest Cancellation Information

Note that if I need to cancel this trip, Southwest has one of the most hassle-free refund policies and I would be able to have all the points redeposited in my Southwest account and the money refunded. Unfortunately, you can not transfer Southwest points back to Chase. Luckily, I am happy to have points sitting in my Southwest account to use for future trips.

The Hotels

Next I found a a Hyatt Hotel for three of my four nights which is a transfer partner of Chase. I transferred 36,000 points (12,000 points per night) to Hyatt and booked my hotel room. There is no cost at all for this stay. Yes, you read that correctly!! Again, if I need to cancel, the points will be redeposited to my Hyatt account.

Finally, I found a hotel room at a Westin Hotel for the final night of my stay. In this case, I used the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal to book the stay. I used 11,448 points an even better value than for my first three nights at the Hyatt. Had I been able to book all four nights at the Westin, I would have as it would have saved me 1,656 points. There are people out there who squeeze every last bit of value out of their points. I do the best I can in order to be happy with the value and not drive myself crazy. Again, there is zero cost to me for this hotel stay.

Total Points and Out of Pocket Cost

In total, I used 76,377 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points and $11.20 for this trip. The cost of the trip if paid out of pocket would have been $1,444.02. I got a value of 1.88 cents per point by using my Chase Ultimate Rewards Points. This is a solid redemption and I’m very happy with it.

As you can see from this trip to Phoenix, using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points can take you away for a long weekend within the United States. In a future post, I’ll show you how to get some great value on trips out of the country.

Right now, you may be thinking this is too good to be true. I assure you that you can easily do this as I have. I am so grateful for the opportunity to travel this way using points and miles. It cost me a tiny fraction of the money I would have spent out of pocket. So there you have it. That is how I used Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to pay less than $15 for my trip to Phoenix

I’d like to hear from you about where you’d like to travel . What the burning questions do you have after reading this post? Please leave your comment below. I’m here to help you make traveling for pennies on the dollar part of your life.

Your First Travel Credit Card

You’re finally ready to take the plunge into travel hacking and apply for your very first travel credit card. The card you choose will depend on which cards you currently have open and the goals you have for traveling with points and miles. In general, the first card I recommend for the majority of people who don’t already have this card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

The Sapphire Preferred Current Offer Details

The current sign up bonus is 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after you meet the minimum spend of $4,000 in the first 3 months from the date of approval . These 60,000 points are worth at a minimum, $750 if used to purchase travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal. That equates to a value of 1.25 cents per point.

Using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

If you use some or all of these points and transfer them to an airline or hotel partner, the value can be much higher. Transferring points to Southwest Airlines can get you values of 1.7 cents per point as I did when booking my upcoming round trip airfare to Phoenix.

I was able to get a value of 10.48 cents per point when I transferred my Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to United Airlines to fly Business Class on partner airline Lufthansa on my trip to Oslo last summer. This is an example of how far your points can go in terms of value when you do a more complex transfer of points.

Of course, it’s perfectly fine to derive the basic value of 1.25 cents per point when you consider that Chase is literally handing over these points once you’ve completed your minimum spending requirement. This is what I love so much about this hobby. Points and miles are such a gift!

You can also earn an additional 10,000 Chase Ultimate Reward Points per approved signup (up to 5 per year) for referring others to the card. The points really can add up.

Note that this card used to be offered with no annual fee in the first year but now requires payment of the $95 annual fee on your first billing cycle. This fee does not count toward your $4,000 minimum spending requirement. I still believe that given the 60,000 point sign up bonus is worth $750, the $95 annual fee is well worth paying.

The Perks of the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Earn 2 points per dollar spent on all travel and dining

Earn 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.

No foreign transaction fees which saves you money when using the card while traveling abroad.

Chase offers comprehensive travel insurance with this card.

You’ll also have access to extended warranty protection

One fun thing about the card is that it’s made of metal

Current List of Chase Transfer Partners

Airline Transfer Partners:

Aer Lingus,
Air France-KLM
British Airways
Iberia, Jet Blue
Singapore Airlines
Southwest Airlines
United Airlines
Virgin Atlantic

Hotel Transfer Partners:

Intercontinental Group (IHG)
Ritz Carlton

Points transfer on a 1:1 basis for all of the above listed Airlines and Hotels. The transfer of points is so easy to do either in the Chase Online Portal or the Chase App for mobile. The transfers usually take less than a minute too!

When you look at all of the above, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a great card to apply for first. It’s also a great card to keep in your wallet long term as Chase Ultimate Rewards Points are so versatile. I’ll be writing more about this great card in a future post.

Please contact me if you currently have this card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve as there are plenty of other options for you which I’ll be happy to discuss.

Please comment below if you’re planning to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card. I want to hear from you. Please contact me with your questions.

Editor’s Note: You may see a credit card referral link. I earn points if you are approved for a credit card. This helps me to run this site. Thank you

Destination in Mind

So you’ve decided that you want to start traveling for pennies on the dollar. What a great decision! You’re probably wondering where to start. The best place to start is by figuring out your travel goals. That means having a destination (or two) in mind. It will also involve determining the type of travel that works best for you in your situation.

Spending Goals

Some folks are looking to spend as little money as possible out of pocket to travel. You might not care that much about fancy hotel accommodations or luxury airline flights. Others are definitely looking to save money on their travels but want a more comfortable and upgraded flying experience (like I had when I traveled to Norway).

Perhaps you really appreciate the extra touches found at 5 star Hotels and Resorts. Maybe you want to travel to exotic locations. Your travel plans may have you visiting your children, grandchildren and close friends who live afar. Still, you may be the person who wants to take all the savings you would realize from using points and miles and put that money toward a special project or charity. I’m sure there are as many possibilities as there are people interested in this hobby.

I started out in Travel Hacking by signing up for an American Airlines credit card while online booking a flight to San Diego to an annual gathering of dear friends over two years ago. A little message popped up on my computer screen offering me a $100 credit toward the flight I was booking at the time and a chance to earn 40,000 American Airlines miles that I could use toward a future trip if I met a minimum spending requirement. In this case the minimum spending requirement was $3,000 spent in the first 90 days after being approved for the credit card.

The Savings Potential

Immediately, I realized there was a great opportunity to save $100 right away. It also became clear that 40,000 American Airline miles would likely be enough for a round trip flight to San Diego the following year. I was hooked from that very moment. The following year, I did book that trip to San Diego by redeeming the American Airline miles I had earned on that Credit card.

Maturing in the Hobby

Since then, I’ve learned quite a bit about how this hobby works and I’m looking forward to sharing what I know with you so you can experience the joy that I do every time I use my points and miles to take an almost free trip ( I just pay the taxes and fees which are usually less than $15 round trip for domestic flights).

The point is this; it is really great to know that you can collect lots of points and miles by jumping into the Travel Hacking hobby, but if you don’t have a destination in mind, those points and miles won’t do you much good. Where do you want to go? Dream big, the sky is the limit!

Please comment below and tell me where you want to go as well as when you’d like to travel. I want to help you make it a reality.