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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.
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees