Bad news: You still don’t earn hotel points on stays booked with the new Chase portal
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Earlier this month, TPG reported that Chase started switching some cardholders to its new travel portal powered by cxLoyalty. So far, we’ve mostly seen this for the Chase Freedom Flex card, while many customers with a Chase Sapphire Reserve card have largely remained on the older Expedia portal.
When we reported this news, we noted that the cxLoyalty portal asks for a hotel loyalty number when booking hotel stays through its interface. Traditionally, hotel stays booked through the Chase portal — or pretty much any other online travel agency — haven’t earned hotel loyalty points or elite qualifying metrics. Most hotels generally require you to book directly to earn those.
But one major reason that you would want to book through the Chase portal is to earn bonus Ultimate Rewards points on your booking. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve earn 5x and 10x points, respectively, on hotel bookings made through the Chase travel portal. Even without earning hotel points on paid bookings, these large earning bonuses could make it worthwhile for some travelers to skip on hotel points and elite status altogether.
In typical TPG fashion, we had a handful of reporters book chain hotels near their homes to see if the stays actually earned any type of points or elite metrics. This included stays at Hilton, Hyatt, IHG and Marriott properties. All stays were booked through the new travel portal and paid for with a Chase credit card.
Here’s a look at what happened in our experience.
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Testing hotel bookings in the new Chase travel portal
The short (and unfortunate) version is: None of our reporters earned elite status metrics or hotel points when booking through the new Chase travel portal.
This was the case across all of the hotels we tested, which was obviously disappointing.
What’s more, the stays didn’t even appear in our staff members’ loyalty accounts, with two exceptions. TPG reporter Chris Dong and points and miles editor Andrew Kunesh both booked inexpensive Hilton stays in New York City. Both added their Hilton numbers at checkout, and Andrew also asked to have his loyalty number added again at check-in.
After checking in, the stay appeared in Andrew’s Hilton app. Interestingly, the front desk agent noted that he likely wouldn’t earn points on his stay, but she could offer him water bottles, free premium internet and late checkout, benefits which were included with his Hilton Honors Diamond status.
Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that this will happen in the future — it could have just been the result of a nice front desk agent. And as expected, the stay earned zero points and no elite credit after checkout.
Chris — who only input his Hilton number on the Chase portal — did not see his stay appear on his Hilton account at all.
For his part, TPG senior editor Nick Ewen’s Hyatt stay appeared in his World of Hyatt account after he asked the agent to add it at check-in. However, no points were earned and his elite status benefits were not honored.
Unfortunately, IHG and Marriott stays didn’t appear in hotel apps or in our online membership accounts at all and elite status benefits were not honored at the properties we checked out, either. For reference, the TPG staff tested bookings at the following hotels:
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Alpharetta — Windward Parkway (IHG).
- Hampton Inn Manhattan — Times Square North (Hilton).
- Hilton Garden Inn Times Square (Hilton).
- Hyatt Place Tampa Airport/Westshore (Hyatt).
- SpringHill Suites by Marriott Amelia Island (Marriott).
Does it ever make sense to book hotels through the Chase portal?
Normally, you might assume the answer to this question would be a big “no” — but that might be changing for some travelers.
This year has brought a ton of major changes to hotel loyalty programs. Most notably, Marriott Bonvoy announced that it will move away from award charts in 2022 and transition to dynamic award pricing. This is in addition to IHG Rewards and Hilton Honors, which transitioned to dynamic pricing years ago. That means concentrating your earning and redeeming activity with a single hotel program might be taking more of a gamble than focusing on a transferable points currency like Ultimate Rewards.
On top of this, elite benefits have been diluted during the coronavirus pandemic. We saw many benefits like free breakfast and lounge access go away at the height of the pandemic, and they have yet to return fully at many properties. Why bother making sure all your stays count toward status if you’re not getting any tangible, useful benefits from doing so any more?
Then there’s the rewards-earning side of the equation. You might not earn hotel points when booking through the Chase portal. However, as mentioned above, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve now earn 5x and 10x points, respectively, on hotels booked through the Chase travel portal. This is a huge 20% return with the Reserve when you consider TPG’s Ultimate Rewards valuation of 2 cents per point. The Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Freedom Flex, meanwhile, both earn 5% (or 5x points) back on travel booked through the Chase portal, too. Those earning rates might just be too good to pass up.
By comparison, someone booking directly through Hilton with their Sapphire Reserve card would earn 10 Hilton points per dollar without elite status and 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on the hotel booking. We value Hilton points at 0.6 cents apiece, so that’s a 6% return in Hilton points and 6% back in Ultimate Rewards points.
Of course, the value proposition changes when you have elite status and earn more points on paid stays. Likewise, how you hope to redeem your points may help you decide. If you want to earn and burn Hilton points, then Ultimate Rewards won’t come in handy since Hilton is not one of Chase’s transfer partners.
That said, Ultimate Rewards can give travelers more flexibility in terms of hotel awards, especially if you’re transferring to World of Hyatt or Marriott Bonvoy, or if you hope to redeem your points directly through Chase at a fixed value for stays at independent hotels. Your points are worth between 1-1.5 cents apiece when cashed in this way, depending on the specific Chase card you carry.
Basically, with all of the recent changes to hotel loyalty programs and the experience you can expect during stays, now might just be the time to consider whether it’s better for you to book directly with hotels to earn points and elite credit, or if you want to switch your strategy to earn Ultimate Rewards points at accelerated rates instead by booking through the Chase portal.
Just make sure to double-check prices, cancellation policies and other nuances so you don’t get hit by any surprises if your plans change.
It’s unfortunate to see that hotel bookings made through the new cxLoyalty portal don’t earn hotel points or elite status metrics. But frankly, it was expected. Despite there being a field to add your loyalty number at checkout, earning up to 10x Ultimate Rewards points in addition to hotel points seemed too good to be true…and it was.
But this does raise an interesting point of whether it may be worthwhile to book through credit card portals going forward. If the nightly rate is the same versus booking direct and you don’t have elite status, you could come out ahead earning bonus Ultimate Rewards points when you pay with one of your Chase cards. And doing so might give you more options when it comes time to redeem your points for travel in the future than earning points with a single hotel points program would.
Featured photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.
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