Category

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Using Ultimate Rewards For Car Rentals = Great Deal

Using Ultimate Rewards To Minimize Wedding Expenses

This upcoming weekend, I have to go to a friend’s wedding in Jacksonville, Florida.

In an effort to minimize expenses, I am using 18,600 Southwest points to get from Chicago to Jacksonville.

Not a bad deal, given that the cheapest flight on Kayak is $606 and isn’t even non-stop!

KAYAK Search Resultssd-1

For hotels, the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville was listed as one of the recommended hotels for the wedding and was going for $157 a night after tax.

KAYAK Search Resultsasdf

While that certainly wasn’t a bad rate, I had something like 12,000 Hyatt points in my account from using the Hyatt Credit Card, so I opted to burn those points.

The Hyatt Regency Jacksonville is a category 3 property and cost 24,000 points for 2 nights, which I think is a great deal. For the extra 12,000 points I was lacking, I opted to transfer points over from Ultimate Rewards.

Hyatt Gold Passport 2dd-1

While the issue of flights and hotels were taken care of, after doing some research on Wikitravel, it seems a car is a necessity in Jacksonville.

Unless you want to spend a lot of time waiting for buses, a car is a must to fully experience Jacksonville; due to Jacksonville’s size and low density, most destinations are not within walking distance of each other. Mass transit is limited to the city bus system, and an elevated rail system in the downtown district that links both banks of the river with a crossing on the Acosta Bridge. The bus system is minimally adequate; no bus runs past midnight, and many bus routes stop running at around 8 or 9PM.

In Chicago, I don’t own a car and even when I travel, I try to rely on public transportation as much as possible. However in Jacksonville, just getting to and from the airport in a cab would cost $50 each way. Therefore it seemed to make more sense to rent a car.

While I have a pretty good handle on frequent flyer programs and hotel programs, I literally know nothing about car rental programs!

Typically I just either use USAA (to avoid the under-25 fee) or peer to peer car rental services like RelayRides (which I have found to be way cheaper and have a better selection of cars)

Car Rental Search

To start off my search for a car in Jacksonville, I used Kayak.com to get a general base price for my weekend rental.

I was looking to spend around $50 total for the rental but for a 2 day rental, the cheapest option was $108 from Advantage!

KAYAK Search Results2dg

I remembered Daraius of Million Mile Secrets had a great 11 part guide on car rentals, so I went through and read it all and was surprised to see that in his examples, Chase Ultimate Rewards was the cheapest option!

Typically using points / miles for anything other than their intended purpose is a TERRIBLE value, so I was curious to see if Daraius had just gotten lucky or if using Ultimate Rewards for car rentals was actually a good deal.

I headed to UltimateRewards.com, logged in using my Chase Freedom Card, and proceeded to do a car rental search.

Car Results2

Astonishingly, the cheapest option was only 5,772 Ultimate Rewards Points or $57.72 in cash, while the most expensive “premium” option was 9,625 or $96.25. Both of these options were STILL cheaper than the cheapest option on Kayak…

What is cool about the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal is that you can either pick to pay with UR Points, Cash, or a mix of cash and points.

So even if you didn’t have any UR Points in your account, you could still use their portal to book a cheap car rental and just pay in cash!

Another neat thing is that unlike Hotwire or most discount car rental sites, according to the terms and conditions on Chase’s travel portal, as long as you cancel 2 days before your rental, there aren’t any cancellation fees!

Trip Cartasdf

I was about to book the car rental via Chase because paying either 5,772 UR Points or $57.72 was WAY BETTER than paying $108 via Kayak but I ended up getting distracted and came back a few hours later to book it.

Instead of logging in with my Chase Freedom, I accidentally logged in with my Chase INK Bold, which like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, gets a 20% bonus when you use it to book travel on Chase’s travel portal.

I have never used this “perk” before but wrote about it here. By solely logging in with my Chase INK Card, the price for the rental in points dropped 20% to 4,617 UR points!

Unfortunately the 20% only applies to using points and not if you are paying in cash (although it is still a great deal in my book).

Car Resultsd-1

Recap

Ultimately (no pun intended), renting a car for 4,617 UR Points was an offer I couldn’t refuse so I went ahead and booked it. However even if I didn’t have any Ultimate Rewards points, it still would have been a great deal to pay only $57.62 out of pocket instead of the normal asking price of $108.

To make things even better, Chase’s flexibility policy is fairly lenient and as long as it isn’t 2 days before your rental, you should be able to cancel free of charge.

While normally using points / miles for non-flight or hotel activity is a terrible deal, I have to say that using Chase Ultimate Rewards for car rentals seems to be a hidden gem.

I have a ski trip in January to Beaver Creek and will definitely be checking out the Chase travel portal when I need to book a car for that trip!

Using 46,767 points from Ultimate Rewards (4,617 points), Hyatt (24,000 points) and Southwest (18,600 points), I was able to cut the price of my 2 day trip to Jacksonville from $1,027 ($607 flight + $314 hotel +$106 car) to $0 out of pocket…

Getting the hang of frequent flyer miles and hotel points can be tricky at first, but once you understand the basics, the savings are unreal!

-Parag

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Return Of The Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard

Limited Options

Update: As of 6/6/13, the MasterCard link is currently down. It may come back at some time in the future but not exactly sure.

As a person new to the game of frequent flyer miles and credit cards, it is fairly easy to rack up 500,000 miles / points in a single round of applications without breaking a sweat.

However, if you are someone who has been doing this a while, it gets a bit more challenging as you saw in my post yesterday concerning my most recent round of credit card applications.

The reason for this is because over the past few years, I have gotten all the low hanging fruit (mostly Chase Cards with HUGE sign up bonuses). 

Since I already have 21+ open credit cards, when I went to do last week’s round of applications, I had to pick up some obscure cards like Bank of America’s Alaska Airlines card, US Bank’s Club Carlson, and American Express’s Delta Card (not exactly obscure but not really very valuable).

While there are some cards you can apply for and get the bonus repeatedly (like US Airways), with most cards you either have to wait a long time (2 years) to get the bonus again or for many cards you simply are not allowed to get the bonus again.

If the bank enforces the mandatory waiting period or “once in a lifetime” sign up bonus per a card, there isn’t really much you can do to work around it.

Surprise, Surprise

A FFU Reader and friend who I first met on the Star MegaDO 3, Kathy from WillRunForMiles.com, sent me an email today asking which new cards to get.

I sent her a laundry list of the typical cards I recommend, but she had all of them.

She then asked about the Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard.

Last October, I talked about the Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard in my post about which Chase cards earn Ultimate Rewards Points. I was under the impression that the MasterCard link was dead because I tried to sign up for the card last week.

She sent me back a link to FlyerTalk, where apparently someone had dug through FFU and found a working MasterCard link in that post from October!

So to my surprise, it looks like that the Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard link is back up and working!

Link To Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard

Why This Is Important

The reason why this is important is because Chase considers the Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa and Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard, 2 SEPARATE CARDS!

Although the cards look identical, have the same earning features, sign on bonus, etc, because one says MasterCard and one says Visa, Chase allows you to get the 40,000 Point Sign Up Bonus for each “flavor” of the Card.

This means you don’t have to wait 2+ years to sign up for it again, or worse, not be able to get the sign up bonus again!

Although the application in the above link doesn’t say Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard, Kathy went ahead and signed up for it and called Chase to confirm.

There are also other confirmed reports of it being a Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard in the FlyerTalk thread.

So if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck…

The only caveat is that if you currently have a Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa, you CAN’T also get a Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard at the same time. Kathy tried!

That being said, you certainly should be able to downgrade your Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa to a Chase Sapphire (regular) or Chase Freedom, and then apply for a Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard without issue.

Recap

The fact that the Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard link is back is great news because it was MIA (missing in action, not Miami), for a long time.

Even on Chase.com, they don’t promote or link to the Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard version!

That being said, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of the absolute best cards out there and Ultimate Rewards are the most valuable currency in terms of miles / points.

Had I seen this MasterCard link last week, I certainly would have signed up for it again!

If you are thinking about getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred MasterCard, I’d do it sooner rather than later because the link might disappear again!

-Parag

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Taking Advantage of Fifth Freedoms

For anyone that has tried to redeem miles to Europe during the Summer, you know what a huge pain it can be because there is such limited Award availability!

This past weekend I was trying to help a Friend use United Miles to get to Barcelona in August and unfortunately we ran into that exact problem.

While there was quite a bit of availability going to Barcelona (just as long as it wasn’t a Friday), coming back to Chicago was a different story.

Without any Award availability on United, it looked like the only option would be to buy a Revenue Ticket.

While tickets to Europe can be reasonable during the Winter off season, during the Summer the prices for Economy tickets go thru the roof due to high demand.

The cheapest flight on Kayak that didn’t involve 20+ hours in transit was a whopping $1,479 for an Economy ticket!

While I am normally pretty good at finding solutions to sticky situations like this, with no Award Availability or a $1,500 Revenue Ticket, it seemed like my Friend had reached a dead end…

Fifth Freedoms

While the situation looked dire, in a twist of fate, my Friend somehow inadvertently came across a “Fifth Freedom” route.

For those of you not familiar, a Fifth Freedom is where an Airline not based in the Country they are serving, flies Passengers as part of a connecting flight. You typically find these Fifth Freedoms on long Asian routes.

In this case, my Friend found a flight on Pakistan Airlines that goes from Chicago -> Barcelona -> Lahore.

Lucky had actually posted a thing about Pakistan Airlines and Fifth Freedoms earlier this month, but I had completely forgot about it until my Friend found the Pakistan Airlines fare.

As Lucky talked about in his post, some other Fifth Freedom Routes include:

In the case of the Pakistan Airlines fare, it was only $888 dollars roundtrip and non-stop!

The thing I found most surprising was that Business Class on Pakistan Airways was cheaper than an Economy ticket on most of the other Airlines, not to mention they are flying a 777 on the route!

Getting Reimbursed With Credit Cards

While $888 for a round trip ticket to Europe is certainly a better deal than spending $1,497, at the end of the day it is still $888 that is coming out of your pocket.

To cut that $888 down, there are 2 easy options:

1. One Way Award + One Way Revenue Ticket

Since there was Award Availability on United going to Barcelona, my Friend could burn 30,000 United Miles on a one way ticket and then spend $474 on the Return Flight via Pakistan Airlines.

So instead of spending $888, she would only spend 30,000 United Miles & $474 out of pocket which is not as terrible!

2. Sign Up For Chase Sapphire Preferred

When most people think of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, they think of it as an easy way to get Ultimate Rewards Points to transfer to United, Hyatt, Southwest, British Airways, etc.

I’d guess that is what 95% of Sapphire Preferred Cardholders use it for and that can be a great deal, however in the above case, there isn’t any availability for Award Tickets.

As I have talked about in the past, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can ALSO use your Ultimate Rewards Points to get “reimbursed” at 1 Cent per a Point for travel purchases. If you purchase your Ticket via the Ultimate Rewards Portal, you can even get a 20% bonus or 1.2 Cents per a Point!

Link To Chase Sapphire Preferred

In my friend’s case, if she was to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred, she could redeem 30,000 Miles for the ORD-BCN leg, and then charge the $474 Pakistan Airlines BCN-ORD ticket to her Chase Sapphire Preferred. By redeeming 47,400 Ultimate Rewards Points via reimbursement, it would save her $474 in out of pocket expenses.

Another option would be to save her 60,000 United Miles and just charge the entire $888 round trip Pakistan Airline ticket to her Chase Sapphire Preferred. She could then redeem her 50,000 Ultimate Rewards for $500 in reimbursement, thus cutting her out of pocket costs from $888 to only $388. What is nice about this option is that the $888 she will be spending on the ticket also counts towards the $3,000 minimum spend requirement!

Although reimbursement doesn’t necessarily offer the best “value”, as compared to transferring the Points over to United, at the end of the day getting reimbursed helps cut the cost of your out of pocket expenses substantially. In the example above, redeeming Miles for an Award Ticket wasn’t really an option, so reimbursement was probably the best bet.

Recap

Although I never would have thought to look for a flight to Barcelona on Pakistan Airlines, it turned out to be the quickest and cheapest way to get to there!

Not only will Pakistan Airlines save my friend around $600 compared to if she had to buy the $1,479 United Revenue ticket, but Pakistan Airlines is the only Airline that flies directly to Barcelona from Chicago (crazy I know!), so it will save my Friend from having to layover in Europe!

Although United Award availability was not exactly an option in this example, by getting a Chase Sapphire Preferred and using the reimbursement feature, my Friend could easily get to Spain during peak season for around $388 out of pocket instead of $1,479!

-Parag