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TPG reader Erin sent me a message on Facebook to ask about booking flights through Ultimate Rewards:

“When booking a flight using Chase Ultimate Rewards, are you able to choose your seat and pay baggage fees?”

One advantage of Ultimate Rewards is the flexibility to book flights, hotels, rental cars and more directly through the Chase Travel Portal. While you’ll generally get the best value by transferring to airline and hotel partners, premium cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus Business Card allow you to redeem points for 1.25 cents apiece toward travel expenses. That can come in handy when prices are low, or when transferring isn’t an option.

The Chase, Citi and Amex travel portals all function more or less like other online travel agencies when it comes to booking airfare. You can browse a list of available flight options, and since your ticket counts as a revenue fare, you’ll typically earn miles as if you booked directly with the airline. However, there are some important differences when it comes to seat selection and add-ons like priority boarding and baggage fees.

Ultimate Rewards sometimes allows you to make seat requests after completing a booking (either online or by calling an Ultimate Rewards travel agent at 866-951-6592), but all you can do is check availability and indicate a preference for an aisle or window seat — you won’t be able to choose exactly where you want to sit. Furthermore, those requests don’t carry much weight, and the airline is under no obligation to accommodate you. Basically, you could end up sitting anywhere.

However, once your ticket is confirmed, you can contact the airline directly to request a specific seat. Policies vary from one airline to another, so not all carriers will be able to confirm your request, but that’s your best bet if you have strong preferences about where you sit. Either way, it’s worth contacting the airline to confirm your reservation (and your frequent-flyer info) in the days leading up to your departure.

Ultimate Rewards points quickly add up if you make the most of the bonuses.
Ultimate Rewards gives you plenty of options to redeem your points, but not many when it comes to choosing your seat.

The Citi ThankYou Travel Center functions similarly, and seats can only be confirmed by contacting the airline directly. However, Amex Membership Rewards Travel works more like Priceline, Expedia and others, and does allow seat selection in some cases.

As for baggage fees and other extras, you can only redeem points for the cost of airfare. The travel portals aren’t equipped to process those transactions, but you may again be able to add services by contacting the airline directly.

For more info on redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

With great transfer partners like United and Hyatt, 2x points on travel & dining and a 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.