The Points Guy: Why Chase Ultimate Rewards points have been my go-to redemption method during the pandemic

Apr 15, 2021

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Like many TPG readers, the pandemic shifted my spending habits significantly. I wasn’t traveling as much and I was spending more time outside of the city. I actually ended up moving out of my New York City apartment to live in Pennsylvania, about 90 minutes from the city.

I love having more space for my Points Pups Marshall and Celine, and I’ve enjoyed being able to go horseback riding. But I still consider myself a “New Yorker” and visit the city frequently — to visit friends, work out with my trainer, see my barber and more.

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(Photo courtesy Brian Kelly/The Points Guy)

Historically, booking hotel stays in the city would have meant transferring my points to book award nights. With some of my favorite hotels in the city closed (either temporarily or permanently) and others offering lower cash prices for rooms, I’ve been using my Chase Sapphire Reserve’s 50% redemption bonus through the Chase travel portal more regularly.

In fact, this has been my go-to redemption method for my NYC trips. Here’s how I do it.

In This Post

Using the 50% redemption bonus

One of the best things about Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program is its redemption flexibility. Now more than ever, having different options for redeeming points is incredibly valuable, and my Chase Sapphire Reserve offers that with its 50% bonus through the Ultimate Rewards portal.

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Chase has 10 airline and three hotel partners where you can transfer points. And in the past, transferring points at a 1:1 value for flights and hotel stays was a no-brainer for me. These days, that’s changed.

Many international destinations aren’t currently welcoming Americans (though I am hopeful that will change soon), which means I’ve been redeeming my Chase points for more than just first-class flights to Europe and Asia or hotel suites at my favorite points hotels. Now, I regularly use my Chase points to book hotel stays in New York.

Related: How to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for hotels 

I’ve been able to find luxury hotel rooms and suites at cash prices through the Chase portal, making it more beneficial for me to book at 1.5 cents per point over transferring points.

I booked a suite at the Andaz 5th Avenue earlier this year with Chase points. (Photo by Brian Kelly/The Points Guy)

For example, back in January, I booked a suite at the Andaz 5th Avenue using Chase points. Standard suite redemptions start at 40,000 Hyatt points per night. But I was able to book two nights (including taxes) for less than 74,000 Chase Sapphire Reserve points — total.

I’ve also used my points on unique hotel stays at properties that don’t fall under major hotel chains such as Hyatt or Marriott.

In February, I booked a one-night stay (in the Brooklyn Room rather than a suite) at the Four Seasons New York Downtown. What would have cost me more than  $760 in cash was only 51,000 Chase points and some change.

Bottom line

I never thought I’d be someone to use the 1.5-cent redemption method for travel — at least not regularly. But now that my travel needs have changed and I’m booking more unique hotel stays, the flexibility of my Chase Sapphire Reserve has made it more valuable than ever. Even when I stay at points hotels, I’ve found that using the Chase portal is often more beneficial than transferring points since cash rates are down.

Remember that the Chase Sapphire Reserve is currently offering new cardholders 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.

Apply here for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Featured image by TomasSereda / Getty Images. 

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