How I used Chase's Pay Yourself Back feature to give my nephew the gift of travel
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I have a 10-year-old nephew and the similarities between us are unmistakable. He's a foodie. I'm a foodie. He likes sports. I like sports. We have similar physical features. A strong impulse plagues him to wanderlust. And well, you get my drift.
As his birthday was approaching, I struggled with what to gift him on his special day. What does a 10-year-old boy like? Video games? Legos? Sports?
Then, it hit me!
If the trend of resemblance continues with his uncle, my nephew would appreciate something that inspires the desire to travel. A meaningful gift that he can cherish for years to come. Something that will remain in his memory bank forever.
That's why I decided to purchase him a new piece of luggage. Not just any luggage, but a fancy Away carry-on bag to give my nephew the gift of travel (or at least inspire him to want to see the world). And I used points to cover the cost. Yes, that's right, I went against my own policy of never redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points for less than 2 cents apiece — which TPG also values at the same amount — to put a smile on my nephew's face for his birthday.
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What is the Chase Pay Yourself Back feature?
Early in the pandemic, Chase introduced an alternative option (besides travel) for credit cardholders to redeem points at up to 1.5 cents per point in value via the Pay Yourself Back feature. The categories you could redeem points for would change a few times per year. For example, you could redeem points for purchases at grocery stores, home improvement stores and even funding a vaccine ride with Lyft.
On Oct. 1, 2021, Chase switched up the Pay Yourself Back feature categories to include Airbnb, Away and restaurant purchases (the latter category only for Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders). Chase Sapphire Preferred Card members can redeem points at 1.25 cents per point toward Airbnb and Away purchases and Chase Sapphire Reserve (Airbnb, Away and restaurant purchases) can redeem at 1.5 cents per point.
While I almost always try to maximize the use of my Ultimate Rewards to at least get 2 cents per point (or much more) on any redemption, sometimes the flexibility afforded by this transferable points currency makes me consider using points for non-travel items.
Redeeming points using Chase's Pay Yourself Back feature
Once I decided I would use Chase's Pay Yourself Back option to cover the cost of my nephew's new Away bag, the process was simple. I purchased the bag directly on the Away website and waited for the transaction to post on my Chase Sapphire Preferred statement.
Once the Away purchase cleared, I logged in to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and clicked on the "Pay Yourself Back" icon.
After that, as a Sapphire Preferred cardholder, I am given the option to redeem my points at a rate of 1.25 cents per point. You can select to apply points to the "full amount" of the purchase or partially.
Once you've allocated the points to your purchase and clicked on "redeem," you can expect a statement credit to appear on your card within three days.
The more I pondered using my points for an Away bag through Chase's Pay Yourself Back tool (against my usual strategy of maximizing each redemption), the more it made sense. Sometimes, you can't put a price on intangible items. Or, in this case, a happy 10-year-old.