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

April 15, 2021
4 min read
New York City NYC skyline
The Points Guy: Why Chase Ultimate Rewards points have been my go-to redemption method during the pandemic
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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.

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

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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 80,000 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 Getty Images/iStockphoto
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
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4 / 5
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Rewards

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5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
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The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

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Recommended Credit

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Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
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  • Terms Apply.
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.