I have always collected air miles and hotel points, but only recently really started to do the credit card points hobby. Chase Ultimate Reward points and the access you get have way more value than anything out there and I am going to tell you why.
I currently carry the Chase Sapphire card. The Sapphire card gets me the Chase reward points. There is an annual fee ($95, free for first year) but if you are earning enough points per year I think it’s well worth it. I get double points on any travel and dining out and 1 point per dollar on everything else. This doesn’t include the travel benefits such as rental car insurance or trip delay coverage.
Keep in mind when I signed up I got 61,000 points just for signing up and meeting spending requirements (50,000 bonus+5,000 authorized user+3,000 spending requirement or more if purchased travel, then 6,000). I currently have about 86,000 points. The one biggest perk of Chase is if I book through Chase, (which is the exact same as you booking through airline) I get more value with 25% more. My 86,599 chase points can spend as $1,082.49 if I book through Chase.
So here is the breakdown.
I was recently researching the possibility of going to Disneyland. I wanted to do it for as less out of pocket cash as I could. I figured it’s the holidays so why not keep it simple and cheap. I am using today’s pricing as a comparison just to show true and accurate pricing, but I actually had it even lower a couple weeks ago.
Scenario #1- Alaska & Marriott points
So, for this scenario I would use my Alaska air miles and my Marriott points. I am looking at the following dates as listed below. I chose these dates because the week of Christmas was really when I wanted to go, but the week of the 10th was much cheaper overall for points and dollars.
- December 10-13th, 3 nights hotel & 2 days at the park.
Flying SEA-SNA gave me some different options and here were a few of my options.
Miles+money- $536 for 4 of us plus 40,000 miles. I never really like this option. If I am using miles its so I don’t have to pay or perhaps for an upgrade.
12,500 option is 100,000 miles total for all four of us but with long layovers and about 7 hours of travel.
20,000 option is 160,000 miles total for all for us and included non-stop so 2 ½ hours each way.
In order to pay full price I would spend at least $972 and that’s for the options they want to give you.
This means 7 am flight etc. For the most part I don’t like layovers with the kids. For this trip, I conceded that it might be needed but wanted to keep what would normally be a 2 ½ flight to a total travel time of around 5 or 5 ½ hours. I really wanted short layovers which sometimes can actually be a nice break.
Looking at hotels in the area I will go with my preference which is a Marriott brand. For the sake of argument, I will find comparable hotels not Marriott to give you a good idea of pricing. In addition, we normally prefer a suite type room with separate bedroom or a king bed plus sofa bed or two queen beds and a sofa bed. Keep in mind many times when you book with points for a hotel brand, sometimes the better rooms are not available. With Chase Ultimate rewards you can spend more points for a better room, which honestly is how it should be.
I checked two different hotels in the area based off what I could compare to Chase. The two hotels which were a Fairfield inn and a Courtyard both averaged about $199 if I paid cash or 105,000 marriott points for the 3 nights.
I didn’t get into benefits such as free breakfast which is important to me but not to everyone.
I checked two other hotels and a Hilton cost $145 or 40,000 points per night. The holiday in express was $185, but IHG doesn’t usually have points available for upgraded rooms.
TOTAL using air miles and Marriott points
105,000 Marriott points+100,000 miles (lowest amount) =205,000
Scenario #2-Chase Ultimate Reward Points
As I stated, Chase gives you the choice to spend your money value with them or points. I already know airfare is over $900 with Alaska, although Southwest was slightly less. I would use my entire point dollar value ($1,082) almost just on flights. In this case, it makes more sense to use points. Here is how I will get air and hotel for my entire balance of Chase points.
I can transfer my point to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio and get 4 tickets for all of us for 48,488 points plus $44 total. As I stated earlier, I had it lower previously. I had it at 39,000 points and the $44. One of these flights is a non-stop and 1 has a layover with total travel time on that trip at 5 hours. Southwest has great value on their points if you are using your Chase points.
I can also transfer points to a hotel partner if I needed, Marriott included. However even 35,000 hotel points will only get me one night, when in fact I will use the points left for a three-night stay with Chase. Had I booked right away I would have had about 47,000 points available or using todays pricing only 38,000 give or take. I can pull up hotel bookings and again, either spend money or points. So, my 38,000 points can also spend as $475.
For Marriott, branded hotels I can book my three-night stay for as low as $498 or 39,902 points. For the Hilton hotel mentioned previously is on sale for 34,289 or $428.
In conclusion, instead of using over 200,000 air miles and Marriott points I can spend my 86,000 Chase points and get the same three-night vacation with air and hotel. For that reason, I try and rack up as many Chase points as I can. Remember you can get creative. Going on a family trip? Pay for all the travel and let family members pay you. I have done this with friends and co-workers. Friends know I am more than willing to book a flight for them. It’s a great way to build up points.