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Travel has officially returned. Flight fares are much higher than at any point in recent memory and many hotels are sold out or charging exceptionally high nightly rates. But one of the best ways to not break the bank when you’re planning your next trip is to utilize airline miles and hotel points. Now could be a great time to consider adding a travel credit card to your wallet that earns points and miles toward that much-needed vacation.
Fortunately, our favorite travel credit card for beginners currently features a solid sign-up bonus offer. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is offering new card holders 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months after opening the account.
The easiest way to use these Ultimate Rewards points is to redeem them for cash back at 1 cent apiece, which would make 80,000 points worth $800. But, that’s also one of the worst ways to use them, because you can get a lot more value for your points with a little extra work. Here are some of our favorite ways to spend 80,000 Chase points on an amazing vacation.
Stay at Hyatt’s all-inclusive properties
The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points. There are a number of ways to redeem these points, but one of the potentially most valuable is transferring them to any of Chase’s 14 travel partners, which include 11 airlines and three hotel chains.
All Chase points transfer at a one-to-one ratio, meaning that if you transfer 1,000 points from Chase to United Airlines, for example, you’ll end up with 1,000 United MileagePlus miles on the other end. Most transfers are also instant, though a few will take a day or two to process.
But not all points are created equal. For example, it requires roughly triple the number of points to book the same caliber room at an InterContinental Hotel versus a Hyatt property. So knowing the best ways to utilize your points will help you redeem them for the most value.
One terrific option is to transfer your Chase points to Hyatt and redeem them to stay at one of the chain’s all-inclusive Ziva and Zilara properties. Specifically, the Hyatt Ziva and Zilara all-inclusive resorts are located throughout Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica, and include the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos, the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta, the Hyatt Ziva Cancun, the Hyatt Zilara Cancun, the Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana, the Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana, the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall, the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall and the Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun.
Personally, this is one of my favorite uses of Chase points. The Ziva properties are amazing for families — my family has stayed at Hyatt Ziva Cancun on four different occasions. While I have yet to visit one of the Zilara properties, travelers report that they’re outstanding as well. There’s no skimping on the all-inclusive experience and you truly don’t have to break out your wallet once.
Depending on the property, a Ziva or Zilara hotel costs between 20,000 and 25,000 Hyatt points per night for a standard night (or slightly more or less if you stay during a peak or off-peak date), which covers all-inclusive amenities for up to two guests. Additional guests in the same room require additional points, or you can sometimes pay a cash fee per guest.
Additionally, with the recent acquisition of Apple Leisure Group, more than 100 all-inclusive properties across Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and Europe will be added to the Hyatt portfolio. These properties include Dreams Resorts & Spa, Now Resorts & Spa, Sunscape Resorts & Spa, Secrets Resorts & Spa, Breathless Resorts & Spa and Zoëtry Wellness & Spa Resorts.
The lowest redemption rate on Hyatt’s all-inclusive award chart is 12,000 points per night, which is for Category A properties on off-peak dates. If you earn 80,000 bonus points when you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can use those points to stay at one of these all-inclusive properties for up to six nights. Aside from airfare and transportation to and from the airport, you truly don’t have to spend anything else on food, alcohol, entertainment or even a kids’ club.
In the past, I’ve booked a Ziva property during Christmas vacation when cash rates were over $700 a night, so using 100,000 points for a four-night stay saved me $2,800. And while those rates are on the high end, most dates throughout the winter run between $500 to $600 per night, which means you could use your 80,000 points toward a three-night stay, costing 25,000 points per night, to cover $1,500 on your next all-inclusive vacation.
Fly United Airlines to Hawaii
There’s no shortage of flights when it comes to United, as the airline offers many routes both within the United States and internationally. And fortunately, 80,000 Chase Sapphire Preferred points — which can be transferred to 80,000 United miles — gives you plenty of leeway to go wherever you desire.
Although my family took close to a 20-month hiatus from travel due to the pandemic, we’re now trying to make up for lost time and go somewhere big later in 2022. To escape the cold Boston winter, we landed on a trip to the Hawaiian Islands. We don’t have a lot of flexibility with dates, but we also want to make sure we book the shortest flight possible since it’s a long journey to begin with.
Although there are many options to get to Hawaii, United offers some great choices — and for as few as 22,500 miles one-way from Boston. You could use your Sapphire Preferred for all your purchases to earn another 10,000 points on top of the 80,000-point sign-up bonus to get two people there and back.
It’s a little more complicated for my family of four. I’ll use 90,000 United miles for all of us for the outbound flight, and then we’ll be stopping in California for a few days on the way back, so we’re utilizing miles from a different program to pay for it. But you could also book your return flights using cash, which would still mean spending only half what it would have cost to fly round trip to Hawaii.
Booking flights on United is also incredibly easy to do online. No need to call the airline or inquire about availability over the phone — you can look up flights using the United website or app. And points from Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to United immediately, so you don’t have to worry about the flight disappearing while you wait for the points to arrive.
Book JetBlue flights
When it comes to booking award travel, JetBlue is one of the easiest airlines for redemptions. That’s because there are no blackout dates or issues with award availability. You can always book a JetBlue flight with points as long as there’s a seat available on the flight for cash.
The number of points you’ll need is tied loosely to the ticket price — the higher the cost, the more points are required. For the most part, JetBlue points are worth about 1.4 cents apiece, which means while you won’t get outsized value when transferring Chase points to JetBlue, you’ll do better than redeeming them for cash back or even through Chase’s own travel portal.
For instance, my brother recently got a new Chase Sapphire Preferred card in preparation for an upcoming trip, and I was able to help him book a round-trip JetBlue flight for him, his wife and his daughter for 26,000 points per person. With the 80,000 bonus points in hand from the current welcome offer, his family of three was able to fly for free — without worrying about award availability — all for no out-of-pocket cost, except for the minimal taxes and fees.
And with JetBlue’s customer-friendly change and cancellation policy when you book with points, if his plans happen to change, the JetBlue points redeemed will go straight back to his JetBlue account for no fee and can be used toward another vacation in the future. Just remember, once your points are transferred out of your Ultimate Rewards account, they can’t be transferred back in if plans change.
Fly Southwest throughout the United States, Caribbean and Mexico
Similar to JetBlue, booking award flights with Southwest Airlines couldn’t be easier and can allow you to travel throughout the United States, Caribbean and Mexico. Although this might not be the best redemption compared to some of the other transfer options, since Southwest points are worth about 1.5 cents apiece, it’s another good option with your Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Southwest is one of my favorite airlines because of its valuable Companion Pass. With the Pass, you can add one traveler to be your companion and they can fly with you for free — they’ll just have to pay the taxes and fees on a ticket. It’s one of the best airline perks out there. While points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred don’t count toward the Companion Pass, it can still be beneficial.
For example, I booked a flight for my daughter and myself to visit Washington, D.C. for 14,000 Southwest Rapid Reward points round trip. Since my daughter is my companion, I was able to add her to my flight by paying only the taxes and fees, which means I am spending a total of 14,000 points for the two tickets. With 80,000 points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred offer, that’s ultimately worth about $1,200 towards Southwest flights when transferred to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account. And if you’re a Companion Pass holder, that’ll give you about $2,400 in value — since a friend or family member can travel for free — while also redeeming your points.
Use British Airways points to fly domestically in the United States
What? How can you use British Airways rewards to fly in the US? Well, British Airways is part of the Oneworld airline alliance, which means the airline partners with many other carriers across the world, including American Airlines. This means you can use British Airways points –— known as Avios — to fly on an American Airlines flight, and Chase Sapphire Preferred points can transfer to British Airways.
Now, it’s important to remember that you’re not booking these tickets through American Airlines. You have to use the British Airways website to create a British Airways Executive Club frequent flyer account (which is free to do) and then search for and book your American flights there. You also may see different award seat availability on the British Airways site than you would on the American website.
You’ll also need to keep in mind that British Airways charges a different number of points for flights than American. The airline has a distance-based award chart, which means the number of points you’ll need for a flight depends on the number of miles you’re flying. For flights within the United States, it costs between 7,500 and 13,000 points for an economy class seat, depending on how far you’re going.
Also, if you’re flying an itinerary that has a connection, you’ll be charged by distance per flight, not for the entire route, so you’d need to pay points both for the first segment and the second segment as if they’re individual flights being booked. This is why you’ll typically want to use British Airways Avios for nonstop flights on American instead of options with a connection or layover.
Living in Boston, there’s a decent American Airlines presence, and I’ve been able to transfer my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways to fly around the country with American. Most recently, I booked a flight from Boston (BOS) to Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) for just 9,000 Avios one way per person. For my family of four, that cost me just 36,000 points.
Use Aeroplan points to fly with United
In August 2021, Chase added Aeroplan — the loyalty program for Canadian-based airline Air Canada — to its Ultimate Rewards partnership list. It’s a great addition, as Aeroplan points can open up many doors for travelers.
Just like you can use British Airways Avios to fly domestically with American Airlines, you can use Aeroplan points to fly on Air Canada’s partners within the United States. And since Aeroplan is part of the Star Alliance airline partnership, you can use your Air Canada points to book flights on many other airlines, including United Airlines.
Now, Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer directly to United’s loyalty program as well as Aeroplan, so when should you use Aeroplan instead of United MileagePlus to book United flights? Simple: When you find the same flight for fewer points by booking through Aeroplan rather than United.
Since Aeroplan has a distance-based award chart, short-haul flights throughout the United States — routes that are 500 miles or less in distance — only cost 6,000 Aeroplan points, which is often less than what United charges for the same flights. At that rate, you could potentially fly as many as 13 short-haul flights with the 80,000 bonus points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Of course, you can also use Aeroplan points on longer United Airlines flights, but it’ll cost you more points. Flights between 501 and 2,750 flight miles cost between 10,000 and 12,500 Aeroplan points, which covers most flights throughout the U.S. and even flights to Mexico.
The one exception is if you’re looking to fly to Hawaii from either the Midwest or East Coast. Flights from those parts of the country are more than 2,751 miles, which means you’ll need to redeem 22,500 Aeroplan points. You can use the airline’s award predictor tool to see how many points you’ll need for a flight.
In order to search and book awards on United with Air Canada points, you’ll need to create an Aeroplan account and look for a United flight on the Air Canada website. Then, if you’re able to find an award ticket that works for you, you’ll want to transfer your Chase Sapphire Preferred points to your Aeroplan account — not your United account — to book your United ticket with Aeroplan.
Use Iberia Avios to fly to Spain
While you can also use British Airways Avios to fly with British Airways itself to the United Kingdom and beyond, you can instead transfer your Chase Sapphire Preferred points to Iberia Avios — another international airline, based in Spain.
One of the best ways to use Iberia Avios is to redeem them for flights from the US to Spain, specifically Madrid and Barcelona. Similar to British Airways, Iberia has a distance-based award chart, so the best options are flying out of Boston and New York since they’re closest to Europe. Both cities are in the same award chart zone and cost just 20,000 Iberia Avios to book a one-way economy ticket.
However, if you’re able to fly during an off-peak date based on Iberia’s award calendar — which is a surprisingly long portion of the year — you’ll only pay 17,000 Avios each way. So for as few as 34,000 Avios, you can fly round trip from the East Coast to Madrid or Barcelona, plus taxes and fees.
Iberia also offers nonstop flights from Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco, but only to Madrid, and the number of points you’ll need is slightly higher than it is from the Northeast cities (though it’s still a great redemption). And if you’re looking to fly in style, you can book one way from Boston or New York in business class to Spain for 34,000 points off-peak, or 50,000 points during peak dates.
Use Virgin Atlantic Virgin Points to travel with All Nippon Airways
Although Chase Ultimate Rewards points typically transfer to partners at a one-to-one ratio, there are a few times throughout the year when there are bonuses for transferring points. Fortunately, for a limited time through June 15, 2022, transferring your points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club will earn you a 30% bonus. This means for every 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points you transfer, you’ll end up with 1,300 Virgin Atlantic Virgin Points.
One of the best uses of Virgin Atlantic Virgin Points is with partner All Nippon Airways. For a round-trip flight in an economy seat from the US to Tokyo, you’re looking between 60,000 points to 65,000 Virgin Points, but with the current 30% bonus, this means you’ll only need between 46,000 points and 50,000 points to fly to Japan — plus, you’ll have to pay the taxes and fees.
Or, if you really want to fly in style for such a long flight, you can fly business class or first class for slightly more — between 90,000 points and 95,000 points in business class and 110,000 points and 120,000 points in first class. Taking the 30% bonus into account, you’re looking at anywhere between 70,000 and 93,000 miles to sit in the front of the plane.
Of course, Japan’s borders remain closed to tourists, so this is a redemption you might have to hold off on for the time being. But with the 80,000 bonus points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred, this redemption is a good idea to consider now for an eventual trip.
Fly Delta One business class to Europe with Virgin Atlantic Virgin Points
If you want to take advantage of Chase’s 30% bonus to Virgin Atlantic Virgin Points by June 15 but flying to Japan isn’t in the cards, another great opportunity is for flights to Europe. With your Virgin Atlantic Virgin Points, you can also book flights with the airline’s partner, Delta Air Lines.
With Virgin Atlantic points, you can book a nonstop Delta One business-class seat — where you’ll travel in a 180-degree lie-flat seat — for just 50,000 points one way or 100,000 points round trip. Add in the 30% transfer bonus and you’re looking at just 77,000 miles round trip — well within the range of the points earned from the current Chase Sapphire Preferred sign-up bonus.
These low-level awards are to all nonstop European destinations — except the U.K. Flights with a layover will cost significantly more and are most likely not a worthwhile redemption. Some popular routes include departing from Atlanta, Boston and New York and arriving in Amsterdam, Rome and Paris.
You’ll find that booking through Virgin Atlantic — even though you’re flying with partner Delta Air Lines — will cost you significantly fewer miles than booking through Delta directly.
Utilize Chase’s travel portal to book any flight
Finally, if you’re eyeing a particular airline or hotel that isn’t a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can always redeem your points for any travel experience through Chase’s own travel portal. No need to worry about blackout dates or award availability — you can search for any flight or hotel just like you normally would (or even car rentals, cruises, vacation homes or activities) and then use your points instead of paying cash.
When you redeem your Ultimate Rewards points this way and you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, your points are worth 1.25 cents each, which makes the 80,000 bonus points from the sign-up offer worth as much as $1,000 toward your next vacation. Note that if you have the more-expensive Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you’ll get an even higher 1.5 cents per point when redeeming this way.
Even if you’re able to transfer your points to a partner airline or hotel, there are times when booking through the Chase travel portal is actually the better option. Depending on the cash price, for an inexpensive flight or hotel room, you might find that you can use fewer points by booking through the travel portal instead, so it’s always worth checking the cost on the portal before you transfer points.
Even if you’ve been thinking about getting back on the road but aren’t quite sure yet when you’ll be ready, getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and grabbing the 80,000 bonus points while they’re available is a great way to have the right points in your arsenal when you want to travel, or to even have options if you elect to stay home for a while longer.
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