As more and more Readers come to the site, almost everyday I get questions from Beginners asking which Credit Card is best.
Basically my answer is always the same, if you are absolutely new to earning miles, then you want to go with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
There are many reasons I recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred but the main reason is that most Beginners don’t really understand how Frequent Flyer Miles works and which programs are best.
Therefore with the Sapphire Preferred Card, they will earn Ultimate Rewards Points that can be transferred to United, British Airways (to then be used on American Airlines), Southwest, and a whole host of Hotels.
At the end of the day, they will have many more options for redemption, while they learn how frequent flyer programs work and which programs fit their needs best.
This is a much better approach than just randomly signing up for a specific Airline Credit Card such as Delta, and then finding out that the program is terrible.
Anyways, recently I realized that the Chase Sapphire Preferred also comes with another benefit that not many people are aware of.
That is the ability to get a 20% discount on your travel purchase when you pay with Ultimate Rewards Points.
Basically this works identical to United’s Choices Program that I talked about last month, however with Ultimate Rewards you get a nice 20% discount.
How The Program Works
1. Log Into UltimateRewards.com
If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Bold, you will see an option to redeem points.
Under the Travel header, you will find Book A Trip.
2. Enter Your Trip Details
You can use this travel search engine to book Fights, Hotels, or Rental Cars with your Ultimate Rewards Points.
In my example, I searched for a flight from Chicago to LA.
3. Check Results
Once you select both of the flights that you want, you will be taken to the final confirmation page.
Here you will see both of the flights that you selected, the total cost, and how many Points it is going to cost you.
As you can see in my example, the total cost of the flight is $336, but because I am paying with Ultimate Rewards Points, it is only 26,848 points when you factor in the 20% discount.
Normally 1 Ultimate Rewards Points is equal to .01 Cents.
On the next page, if you would like, you can actually change the amount of Points you want to redeem.
So if for some reason you only want to redeem 10,000 Points and pay the rest out of pocket, you can do that.
4. Cross-Check Results With Kayak.com
You always want to Cross-Check the price on Ultimate Rewards with Kayak.com or a similar search engine.
To my surprise, the price on Ultimate Rewards is normally the same as Kayak.
There is no additional mark up, however you still always want to double check Kayak.com to be safe.
For my example, I checked on Kayak.com and my ORD-LAX flight was exactly the same price.
When You Should Use Ultimate Rewards Points To Get A 20% Discount
While it is awesome that Ultimate Rewards allows you to get a 20% discount when you use their engine, there are only certain times you should use it.
The reason for this is because Ultimate Rewards Points are extremely valuable, since you can transfer them to so many different Partner Airlines & Hotels.
Therefore you don’t want to waste them on silly travel plans.
Similar to United Choices, you only want to use Ultimate Rewards Points if it is “cheaper” than redeeming miles with the Airlines.
Say you have 25,000 Ultimate Rewards Points and need a flight from Chicago to New York.
Due to the flexibility of Ultimate Rewards Points, you could hypothetically transfer your UR Points to United, British Airways, or Southwest.
For the sake of this example, we will say you love United and prefer to fly them.
If you were to transfer your UR Points to United, it would take 25,000 Miles for a free flight from Chicago to New York.
However in searching Kayak.com, you see that in fact the cheapest Revenue ticket is only $160.
This is where Ultimate Rewards Points come in.
If you were to search for that exact same ticket via Ultimate Rewards Search Engine, it would only be $160 or $160 X 80% = 12,800 UR Points.
Since Ultimate Rewards are so flexible, in this case it would be cheaper to purchase the ticket with Ultimate Rewards for only 12,800 UR Points, instead of transferring your 25,000 UR Points to United for a similar ticket.
The cool thing about doing this, is that because you are “purchasing” your ticket, you earn will earn miles on the AA flight. This is something that you would not normally get had you redeemed the miles via United for an Award Ticket.
That being said, if the flight from Chicago to New York cost 25,000 United Miles or cost $600 to purchase, in that case it would make sense to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to United, since that is the better deal.
Ultimate Rewards Points can also be transferred to Hyatt, Marriott, and Priority Club, which pretty much covers all the major Hotel Chains besides Starwood and Hilton.
That being said, similar to Airlines, there sometimes are pricing discrepancies between the cost of an Award and the actual price of the Room.
This is where Ultimate Rewards can be useful because if a room at Hyatt costs 25,000 Hyatt Points or only $200 to purchase, it would make more sense to purchase the room with Ultimate Rewards Points because it would only cost you 16,000 Points ($200 x 80%) instead of transferring your 25,000 Ultimate Rewards Points to Hyatt.
Similarly if you would like to stay at a Boutique Hotel that does not have a loyalty program, Ultimate Rewards can come in handy because it allows you to stay at your Boutique Hotel but “pay for it with points”.
For example, the Fontainebleau Hotel in South Beach, Miami doesn’t necessarily have a loyalty program because it isn’t a chain.
However with Ultimate Rewards, you could redeem 25,600 Ultimate Rewards ($320 x 80%) for a free night there.
Although many frequent flyer purists would say that redeeming this way is not the “best value”, in my book, you are still saving $320 a night which means it is a win!
I’ve never tried to redeem Ultimate Rewards Points for Rental Cars, but I suspect it is similar to Airline and Hotels.
Although since Rental Cars are typically fairly cheap, it might make sense to save your Ultimate Rewards Points for something more useful.
Overall, the Ultimate Rewards 20% Discount can really come in handy when you are travelling.
It essentially allows you to redeem your Ultimate Rewards Points on any Airlines or Hotels at a 20% discount.
This that really quite amazing because although American Airlines, Delta, Starwood, and Hilton are not Ultimate Rewards Partners, with this little trick, you can technically redeem your Ultimate Rewards Points with them because the Ultimate Rewards Search Engine shows all Airlines and Hotels, regardless of Brand.
If you use the Ultimate Rewards 20% Discount correctly, as you saw above with my Chicago to New York flight example, you can easily get Award Flights for 1/2 off the normal rate of 25,000 Miles, all while still earning miles on your flight.
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