Around the world: How to spend 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points
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Throughout the pandemic, many travelers have amassed large points and miles balances. We have had lots of spending on groceries, takeout, home improvements and other everyday expenses while locked down at home. At the same time, we’ve had no easy way to redeem a bunch of miles as many international borders remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
So in this edition of TPG’s 1 million miles series, we’ll take a look at how the TPG Points & Miles team would spend 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points. We’ll discuss our dream trips, and how we’d use Chase points to cover airfare and hotel stays along the way. Use this as inspiration for how to redeem your own stash of Chase points as the world reopens.
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Andrew Kunesh, senior reporter
I would use a million Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book an epic tour of some of my favorite cities in the U.S., Asia and Europe.
First, I’d book a positioning flight from New York-JFK to San Francisco (SFO) in United Polaris business class. I’d do this by transferring 23,000 Chase points to Singapore KrisFlyer. I’d spend two nights in San Francisco to visit friends.
In San Francisco, I’d transfer 40,000 points to World of Hyatt to stay at the Park Central Hotel. This hotel has a great location in downtown San Francisco and is a perfect place to spend a brief trip.
Then, I’d transfer another 130,000 Chase points to Singapore Airlines and book Singapore first class from San Francisco to Singapore (SIN) via Hong Kong (HKG). This is expensive for one flight, but with 1 million points to spend, it’s hard to mind too much. I can add the stopover for $100 on top of the standard taxes and fees.
Again, I’ll transfer Chase points to World of Hyatt to book hotels in Hong Kong. I’d use 60,000 points to book three nights at the Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui. It’s located in the heart of Kowloon and near many of my favorite restaurants in Hong Kong.
In Singapore, I’d transfer 60,000 points to World of Hyatt to book three nights at the Andaz Singapore. This is a property I’ve always wanted to check out due to its stellar location and posh amenities.
I’d fly from Singapore to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA), in Singapore Suites for 125,000 Chase points transferred to Singapore KrisFlyer. Again, this is a lot of points, but I can’t think of a better way to travel between the two cities.
I’d spend three nights in Mainz, Germany, at the Hyatt Regency Mainz to explore a new city. This hotel costs just 12,000 World of Hyatt points per night, which is a great deal for a centrally located hotel.
After this, I would start my journey home by booking Frankfurt to Prague (PRG) on Lufthansa, stopping over in Prague for a week to see family, and then continue by flying Austrian Airlines to Newark (EWR) via Vienna (VIE). This ticket costs 75,000 Chase points transferred to Air Canada Aeroplan in business class, including the stopover in Prague.
In Prague, I would transfer 240,000 points to Marriott Bonvoy to book five nights at the Augustine, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Prague. I usually advise against transferring Chase points to Marriott, but if confined to Chase points, it makes more sense than paying $330 per night to stay at the property.
This brings me to a total of 789,000 points spent for the trip of a lifetime. The remaining 211,000 points would go toward domestic trips around the U.S. to see friends and family. Not all of these redemptions were the best use of points, but this trip would help me revisit many of my favorite cities. That’s truly priceless.
Benji Stawski, strategic travel reporter
With a million Chase Ultimate Rewards points, I would go on a DIY around-the-world adventure.
Although I’d be able to save some points by booking an actual around-the-world award, booking each flight separately will give me greater flexibility in the airlines I can fly and destinations I can visit. I’ll stay exclusively at World of Hyatt properties because the program offers far greater value than Chase’s other hotel partners and I personally think Hyatt offers more unique hotel options than the other chains.
I’ll visit a total of six destinations and spend three nights at each one. As you’re going to see, relaxation and Instagram-worthy pools are going to be a theme of the trip.
My first stop of the trip would be Marbella, Spain. Since there are no direct flights, I’d fly from New York-JFK to Malaga (AGP) via Zurich (ZRH) in Swiss business class. Although flying Spain’s flag carrier Iberia might seem more logical, the total travel time would be about the same and I think that Swiss offers a much better business-class product overall. I’d book the flight by transferring 70,000 points to Chase’s newest partner, Aeroplan.
Once there, I’d stay at the Nobu Hotel Marbella on the city’s so-called Golden Mile. The hotel itself is ultra-chic, can satisfy my constant cravings for sushi and is home to Marbella’s hottest nightclub, La Suite. Award nights cost 30,000 Hyatt points per night. Plus, although I don’t have Hyatt Globalist status, since it’s a Small Luxury Hotels of the World property, I’ll still get elite-like perks including free breakfast and upgrades.
From there I wanted to head straight to Seychelles, but because there are no direct flights, I’ll add a stopover in Istanbul. I’d fly Turkish Airlines business class for both segments and book them through Aeroplan again so that I can take advantage of its new stopover rules. Altogether, the flights from Spain to Turkey and Turkey to Seychelles would cost 70,000 points.
In Istanbul, I’d stay at the Park Hyatt Istanbul. Aside from offering a great location and amenities, it costs just 15,000 points per night so it’s a bargain. Then, in Seychelles, I’d treat myself to a stay at the top-tier Category 8 L’Escale Resort Marina & Spa for 40,000 points per night. The hotel’s idyllic setting will make it the perfect place to disconnect for a few days.
For my next stop, I’ll fly Emirates business class straight to Dubai (DXB) for about 53,000 miles through Emirates Skywards. Although Emirates business class doesn’t get the highest marks, and first class is available on this route, I don’t mind “roughing it” and saving the points here since the flight is only 4 1/2 hours long.
In Dubai, I’ll stay at the Park Hyatt. It’s Hyatt’s most luxurious hotel in Dubai and costs a reasonable 20,000 points per night. Amenities include an infinity lagoon that leads into a private beach, a golf course, spa and more.
The real reason I didn’t mind skipping first class for the flight to Dubai was that I knew I’d be booking Emirates first class for the next segment, to Tokyo (HND). With Emirates making it harder to book first class through partners, I’ll book the award directly through Skywards again for about 118,000 points. Perhaps most excitingly, this route is operated by one of Emirates’ few Boeing 777-300ERs with the new game-changer first-class suites.
In Tokyo, I’ll stay at the Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills for 30,000 points per night. Although there also is a Park Hyatt nearby for the same cost, I’ll opt for the Andaz this time around for the fresher design and better views.
From Tokyo, I’ll fly direct to San Francisco (SFO) on Japan Airlines first class for 103,000 points through British Airways Executive Club. I’ve had terrific experiences with JAL and I’m a huge fan of the sushi bar the airline has in its first-class lounges.
So, why San Francisco? I’d like to drive a bit south and check out the Alila Ventana Big Sur after hearing so many amazing things about it. The resort is all-inclusive so meals and activities are included in the 30,000-point nightly rate. And who knows, maybe I’ll run into Andrew while I’m in the area.
Then, to get back to New York, I’ll book United business class for 23,000 points through Singapore KrisFlyer. To get the most out of my experience, I’ll try to avoid the 757s and pick a flight that offers the true Polaris business-class seats.
If you’ve been keeping track, you’ll know that I’d still have about 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points left over. I’ll save these for activities and car rentals booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. As a Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder, I can redeem points for 1.5 cents apiece through the portal so these points are worth about $600 altogether.
Katie Genter, senior writer
Frankly, I’d never use 1 million Ultimate Rewards points on a single trip. After all, I’d prefer to use such a large amount of points for many modest redemptions across multiple trips. But, if I had to use all 1 million points on one trip, I’d plan an extended multidestination adventure. In particular, I’d utilize various Ultimate Rewards transfer partners for flights as follows:
- 50,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points (50,000 Chase points) per person to fly Delta One nonstop from Atlanta (ATL) to Munich (MUC). Then I’d buy cash fares to travel to and within eastern Europe on trains and buses.
- 52,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles (52,000 Chase points) per person to fly in business class on Turkish Airlines from Bucharest, Romania (OPT), to Cape Town, South Africa (CPT), via Istanbul (IST).
- Book South African Airlink in economy class from Cape Town to Skukuza, South Africa (SZK), through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. I’d need to redeem between 19,743 and 31,457 points per person as a Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholder on most dates.
- Book South African Airlink in economy class from Skukuza to Johannesburg (JNB) through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. On most dates I searched, I’d need to redeem around 11,700 Chase points per person.
- 40,500 Singapore KrisFlyer miles (41,000 Chase points) per person to fly in business class on Egypt Air from Johannesburg to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (AUH), via Cairo (CAI).
- 24,000 British Airways Avios (24,000 Chase points) per person to fly in first class on Qatar Airways from Abu Dhabi to Doha, Qatar (DOH). After staying in Doha, book an inexpensive FlyDubai cash fare to fly from Doha to Dubai (DXB) — or book a British Airways Avios award if there’s availability.
- 76,500 Singapore KrisFlyer miles (77,000 Chase points) to fly Turkish Airlines in business class from Dubai to Atlanta via Istanbul.
After flights, I’d have between 712,843 and 724,557 Ultimate Rewards points left if I traveled by myself. But, I’d likely travel with my husband, so let’s assume I’d have between 425,686 and 449,114 Chase points left.
I’d use these remaining points to book Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt hotels for my trip since these two programs are Ultimate Rewards transfer partners. I’d stay in five-night increments at Marriott Bonvoy hotels to maximize the fifth night free on awards perk.
Here’s how I’d use my Ultimate Rewards points to book hotels for my extended trip:
- Moxy Munich Ostbahnhof: 60,000 to 80,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (40,000 to 54,000 Chase points if transferred by Aug. 31) for a five-night stay.
- Hyatt Regency Sofia: 25,000 World of Hyatt points (25,000 Chase points) for a five-night stay.
- Hyatt Regency Belgrade: 25,000 World of Hyatt points (25,000 Chase points) for a five-night stay.
- Moxy Bucharest Old Town: 40,000 to 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (27,000 to 40,000 Chase points if transferred by Aug. 31) for a five-night stay.
- Hyatt Regency Cape Town: 40,000 World of Hyatt points (40,000 Chase points) for a five-night stay.
- Protea Hotel Kruger Gate: 80,000 to 120,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (54,000 to 80,000 Chase points if transferred by Aug. 31) for a 10-night stay.
- Protea Hotel Pretoria Loftus Park: 20,000 to 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (14,000 to 27,000 Chase points if transferred by Aug. 31) for a five-night stay.
- Andaz Capital Gate, Abu Dhabi: 40,000 World of Hyatt points (40,000 Chase points) for a five-night stay.
- Four Points by Sheraton Doha: 40,000 to 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (27,000 to 40,000 Chase points if transferred by Aug. 31) for a five-night stay.
- Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai: 140,000 to 200,000 Marriott points (94,000 to 134,000 Chase points if transferred by Aug. 31) for a five-night stay.
Marriott hotels have peak, standard and off-peak pricing. And Hyatt hotels will also use peak, standard and off-peak pricing for stays booked starting in mid-October for March 2022 and onward. But, for simplicity, I only considered standard award rates for Hyatt hotels. So, the 52 hotel nights listed above would cost between 386,000 and 505,000 Chase points.
How to earn 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points
One credit card won’t earn you 1 million Chase points in any near-term time frame, but it will get you a good head start. Here’s a look at Chase’s current lineup of Ultimate Rewards-earning cards with high sign-up bonuses. Putting your everyday spending on these cards can help you rack up points quickly.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on dining and 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel purchases.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel and dining purchases.
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 in the first three months from account opening. Earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent per account anniversary year (then 1 point per dollar) on shipping, internet, cable, phone, advertising with social media sites and search engines and travel.
As you can see, a million Chase Ultimate Rewards points can take you very far and in a lot of style. But even with a fraction of the number of points, you can book some incredible trips. Check out our full guide to Chase Ultimate Rewards points for even more inspiration on how to redeem points for luxurious trips around the world.
Featured photo by Pham Le Huong Son/Getty Images.
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