7 amazing awards TPG staff are booking with Ultimate Rewards points this year

Mar 29, 2021

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is currently offering a bonus of 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. If you’re under 5/24 and looking to stock up on Ultimate Rewards, now is a great time to apply.

But what exactly can you do with Ultimate Rewards points? Between the transfer partners and travel portal, the possibilities are endless. If you want to learn how to get the most value out of your points, check out our Ultimate Rewards Sweet Spots guide. Not everyone has the same travel goals, so you should use your points however you see fit. In that spirit, here’s a look at how TPG staffers are using their Ultimate Rewards points for travel this year.

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Flying Blue to Tel Aviv

TPG Senior News Editor Clint Henderson was considering transferring his Ultimate Rewards to Flying Blue to book a Delta flight to Tel Aviv. This is one of Flying Blue’s sweet spots, with economy awards out of New York starting at just 25,000 miles each way. Even business class is reasonable at 53,000 miles each way. That flight is booked now for December.

Tel Aviv Beach Promenade
Tel Aviv Beach Promenade (Photo by Dana Friedlander / Visit Tel Aviv)

With the Sapphire Preferred sign-up bonus, you could book a round-trip ticket to Tel Aviv, with one segment in economy and one in business. Not bad for a card with a $95 annual fee!

Related: The 6 best airline award chart sweet spots

Revenue flights to Alaska

SAN JOSE, UNITED STATES - 2020/02/25: Alaska Airlines Airbus A320-200 aircraft seen at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport.
(Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images)

TPG Senior Director of Engineering Mitchell Stoutin used his Ultimate Rewards recently to book two tickets to Alaska in the summer. He didn’t have enough Alaska miles and no transfer options. Due to flights being unavailable to partner airlines, he dipped into his Ultimate Rewards stash to offset the $1,041 cost.

As a Chase Sapphire cardholder, his points were worth 1.25 cents each, meaning he ended up redeeming 83,280 points. It’s worth noting that you can typically get around 2 cents of value per Ultimate Rewards point by redeeming for premium cabin flights. However, points and miles are meant to make travel cheaper. So if you’re able to save $1,000 on a flight, by all means, use your points to reduce your out-of-pocket cost.

Four round-trip domestic Delta flights

In addition to his upcoming Alaska flight, Mitchell saved on four short-haul Delta flights by transferring 60,000 miles to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. VA charges 7,500 miles each way for flights up to 500 miles in distance.

Delta 757
(Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

Mitchell notes that cash fares were more than $880 each. So the 60,000 points he transferred to Virgin Atlantic saved him $3520. That’s almost 6 cents per point in value, which is well over TPG’s valuation of both Ultimate Rewards and Virgin Atlantic miles.

Related: How to book cheap Delta awards with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

World’s longest flight in business class

Becca Manheimer, TPG’s director of marketing and communications, is using her Ultimate Rewards to splurge on a business class award on the world’s longest flight, to Singapore. A one-way ticket on the 18.5-hour flight starts at 99,000 Krisflyer miles.

Singapore Airlines A350 Business Class. (Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy)

Luckily, Singapore Krisflyer miles are one of the easiest miles to earn. In addition to Ultimate Rewards, you can transfer points from Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, Capital One and Marriott Bonvoy.

Park Hyatt awards

TPG Editorial Director Laura Motta is saving her Ultimate Rewards for a few Park Hyatt stays. “I’m definitely planning to transfer UR to Hyatt, probably at one of several Park Hyatts. I got the Chase Freedom Unlimited a few months back, so I could have a head start there.“

Park Hyatt St. Kitts
Park Hyatt St. Kitts (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

As Hyatt’s premium brand, Park Hyatt hotels tend to be in higher categories (5-7), requiring 20,000-30,000 points per night. With the Sapphire Preferred’s sign-up bonus, you could book up to three free nights at a Park Hyatt hotel.

Related: 5 easy ways to maximize Hyatt award redemptions

Tokyo for the 2021 Olympics

Here’s an award worth holding out for: Senior Writer Katie Genter is transferring her Citi ThankYou and Ultimate Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic for a round-trip ANA first-class award to Tokyo for the 2021 Olympics. At just 120,000 Virgin Atlantic miles, the award offers tremendous value.

However, there may be something standing in the way of this trip: “Since Japan reportedly won’t allow overseas visitors to attend the Tokyo Olympics, we may need to cancel or postpone this trip.” Here’s hoping that’s not the case.

Tokyo Cherry Blossoms
(Photo by Phattana Stock/Shutterstock)

Katie makes an excellent point about holding off on point transfers until there’s more clarity about travel requirements. “Since there’s so much uncertainty about when and how some countries will reopen their borders, I’m mostly waiting to transfer Ultimate Rewards to airline partners,” she said. “After all, if a program devalues and then I need to cancel my award because I can’t take a trip, I don’t want to be left with a sizeable rewards balance in a devaluated program.”

Low-category Hyatt hotels

While most people save up their hotel points for high-end redemptions, there is a lot of value found in low-category hotels. Hyatt requires just 5,000 points per night for Category 1 hotels so that an 80,000-point welcome bonus could cover up to 16 free nights. Assuming these nights average about $100 each, that’s $1,600 worth of paid stays.

Low-category hotels on Katie’s radar include the Category 1 Hyatt Regency Oryx Doha, and the Category 2 Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Hyatt Regency Dubai, and several hotels in Bali.

Keep in mind that once Hyatt implements peak and off-peak pricing this July, that valuation may change.

Bottom line

With travel making a comeback this summer, there are lots of exciting ways to get value out of the points you’ve been saving up over the last year. Transferrable currencies such as Chase Ultimate Rewards are more valuable than ever, since they’re less likely to get devalued.

And with so much uncertainty around when and where Americans will be able to travel in the coming months, it’s nice to be able to transfer Ultimate Rewards at a moment’s notice when you’re ready to book an award. Hopefully, hearing about how our staff is getting value from their points will inspire you to start planning your own adventure soon.

Featured image courtesy of Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

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