Should I Book Through the Chase Portal If I'm Not Redeeming Points?
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Reader Questions are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.
Booking travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal is a popular way to redeem Chase points. While you can often get greater value by transferring your points to partner airlines, the ability to book any flight you want without hunting for award space is nice. So is the 25% bonus you receive if using points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, or the 50% bonus if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve. However, TPG reader Linda wants to know if she should still consider using the Chase portal when not using her points ...
[pullquote source="TPG READER LINDA"]Is there any advantage to booking through the Chase portal even if I'm using cash for the entire purchase?[/pullquote]
When you shop for travel on the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, you're given the option to either use your points or pay for the purchase outright. However, if Linda is planning on simply paying for her ticket or hotel room, the answer to her question is almost unequivocally no. Chase's travel portal is powered by Expedia, so this would functionally be the same as booking through Expedia, Orbitz or any other Online Travel Agency (OTA). If Linda is worried about receiving all the excellent travel benefits that come with many Chase cards — including trip delay/interruption/cancellation insurance and baggage delay coverage — those benefits apply to covered trips no matter where they were booked, as long as a portion of the trip was charged to your Sapphire card.
Assuming the prices are the same between the Chase portal and the travel provider, it wouldn't be the worst thing ever for Linda to book with Chase, but there's really no benefit in doing so — in fact, it could wind up hurting her. In the event of delays or cancellations, you'll have a much easier time getting assistance if your booking was direct with the airline. The same holds true for issues with a hotel — like getting "walked" if the property is oversold. In fact, the case is even stronger with hotels, as most programs don't award points, give you elite credits or provide elite benefits for third-party bookings. If Linda is booking a major hotel, she should absolutely book directly instead of forfeiting her hotel points by going through the Chase portal.
When in doubt — and when prices are identical — a direct booking with an airline or hotel is always the way to go. The Chase portal has some unique benefits, but most of those revolve around point redemptions and not straight-up cash purchases. While we all hope our travel will go smoothly as planned, in the event that something goes wrong, Linda will have an easier time getting her trip back on track if she books directly with the airline or hotel.
Thanks for the question, Linda, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.