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As you already know, Chase credit card customers love their points. They love them so much that they redeemed points “faster than anticipated” in the second quarter of 2018 to the tune of $330 million. Now Chase is making the process of using Ultimate Rewards points even easier by partnering with the Expedia Group, which owns Travelocity, Orbitz and Hotwire, to power their travel booking site. This travel booking site is where you can book travel plans using your Ultimate Rewards points at a fixed value, cash or a combination of the two.
CNBC reports that the switch from a site powered by Connexions Loyalty to the Expedia Group is viewed as an upgrade and will provide Chase users access to double the travel inventory with 272,000 hotels and 250 airlines. These changes began to roll out today, August 12, 2018, starting with the travel booking site associated with the Chase Freedom.
I spent some time playing with the new site using my Chase Freedom and then compared it to the “old” site still attached to my Chase Sapphire Reserve. There are indeed some differences, and while their claims related to access to increased inventory may be accurate, my initial impression is that users need to go slowly and be very thorough in their searches.
The “old” booking site attached to my Sapphire Reserve card did a very good job at highlighting when a Basic Economy fare is displayed and provided and an immediate opportunity to switch to a regular economy fare.
In contrast, the new site shown below does label the same displayed flight as Basic Economy, but it is not as prominent of a label and there is no immediate option that I could find to select a regular economy fare.
When I got to the end of the flight selection process, there was an opportunity to “upgrade” to a full economy fare, refundable economy fare or first class fare. Just be sure you don’t accidentally skip that step if your intention is to avoid Basic Economy fares that are full of restrictions. We certainly don’t want this to happen to you.
On my test searches in a premium cabin to Hawaii, the new site displayed only Delta flights when I selected business class and other carriers when I selected first class. In contrast, the old site displayed a combination first and business class flights together regardless of whether I selected first or business class. This is another case of being sure to do very thorough searches on the new site.
Some very good news for the new Chase Travel site is that it allowed me to price out airline tickets almost eleven months in advance whereas the old site only permitted bookings up to nine months in advance.
On the hotel side, I was hopeful that Disney Resorts would again be bookable online using Ultimate Rewards points on the new site, but that does not seem to be the case. They do display online when you search for hotels in the Disney/Orlando area, but they are displayed as “sold out” for all of my test dates, which is not accurate. Remember that you can book Disney Resorts using your Chase Ultimate Rewards points by picking up the phone.
In the hour or so I spent testing the new Chase Travel Site attached to my Freedom card I didn’t find the new site to be an across-the-board upgrade, though it certainly wasn’t all bad news either. The ability to secure flights up to a full eleven months in advance and hotels more than a year in advance are obvious upgrades. The expanded hotel and flight availability will also be a positive, assuming that claim is indeed accurate. While it is only displaying on my Freedom card as of today, the above referenced CNBC report states that the new site will be rolling out to the other Chase credit cards in the coming months.
If you want to learn a bit more about earning and maximizing Chase Ultimate Rewards, here are some of TPG’s most popular posts to get you started:
- Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for Maximum Value
- Maximize Your Wallet with the Chase Quartet of Credit Cards
- Best Ways to Redeem Ultimate Rewards
- The Best Business-Class Seats to Book Using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
- 10 Tips for Using the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Center
Featured image by Andrew Wilson / EyeEm / Getty Images.
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NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- 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, 60,000 points are worth $750 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