The big excitement this week in the travel credit card world is the new (June 16-22 only) 60,000 Ultimate Rewards point sign-up bonus on Chase’s Ink Bold® Business Card & Ink Plus® Business Card. But with all those points (65,000 after the $5,000 spend requirement), where are you going to go with them?
The great thing about Ultimate Rewards points is their gymnastic-like flexibility. You can transfer them out to Hyatt, United, Southwest, British Airways, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Korean Air, Virgin Atlantic, Marriott, Priority Club, and Amtrak. This post will hopefully point you in the right direction with some ideas on what programs have the best hidden deals, and a few examples on how I’ve burned Ultimate Rewards points in the past.
With 65,000 points, you have a lot of options for transferring to British Airways’ Avios. I’ve written about Air Lingus (a British Airways partner) before, but because it’s such a good deal, I wanted to make sure I mention it in this article. Since British Airways is notorious for its high fuel charges, booking an Air Lingus flight (like the one I booked from Boston to Dublin) avoids this, and with Avios’ distance-based award chart, you can book a round trip ticket for 25,000 miles or 50,000 miles in business!
Searching for award availability is easy – you can read up on the specifics in this post. The picture above is from Qantas’ website, which is your best option for finding availability. With this deal, you’ll have plenty of Ultimate Rewards points left over. Balling.
And of course, I use Avios for domestic short hauls on American Airlines and international short hops. It’s a sweet spot. Some of my other recent posts on how to burn Avios are below:
You can get just about anywhere in the world using Ultimate Rewards points on United. Of course, you can use the points for domestic travel on United metal, but I prefer to use British Airways (on AA) or Southwest points for domestic flights. I find that the best value with United miles is flying internationally on their Star Alliance partners. A good redemption is to Southeast Asia – one round-trip economy class ticket will set you back exactly 65,000 miles. With flights like this often going for over $1,500, you get a great return on all those miles.
For example, a sample search found plenty of saver award availability flying on Asiana and Thai Airways to Bangkok from Los Angeles. Using United miles for Star Alliance flights will really stretch out their value. Check out my First Class flight on Thai Airways.
One of, if not my favorite use of Ultimate Rewards, is for flights on Lufthansa. As a Star Alliance member, transferring your Ultimate Rewards points to your United mileage account will grant you access to Lufthansa’s Business and First class products, which is some of the best in the business (check out my recent trip report from First class here!)
Finding award availability for First class is tough, but if you check using ANA’s website, you may find availability. Lufthansa doesn’t release First class seats until 14 days before departure.
As you can see, First class on one of United’s Star Alliance partners is 67,500 miles each way, so just 2,500 more miles than what you’ll have after opening an Ink Plus or Ink Bold credit card and meeting the spend requirement! Business class is a reasonable 50,000 miles each way, and economy is still a great option, too, at 60,000 miles round-trip.
Ahhh. Y’all know I’m a Hyatt man.
Another reason Ultimate Rewards points are great is that you don’t have to only redeem them for flights – they have hotel partners as well! Hyatt’s award chart is very cheap compared with other hotel programs, especially when you consider hotels in its highest category, Category 6. At 22,000 points a night, you can get two nights at a 5-star property for less points than in another program – like Marriott’s, which can charge 70,000 per night at its Ritz Carlton properties.
Paris’ Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome hotel is one of the best redemptions around because of how expensive rooms are each night.
A sample date in July shows non-refundable rooms at 535.50 euro per night (yikes!). But with just 22,000 Ultimate Rewards points, you can stay a night there for free! With 65,000 miles, you are 1,000 points short of a free three-night stay. Jordan and I just booked another Park-Hyatt Vendome stay for the end of September when the rates are over 800 euro per night! We loved our stay there last year, and refuse to stay anywhere else in Paris. Kidding, kind of. You can read my review of the property here.
We also found great value at the category 4 West Hollwood Andaz, which is only 15,000 points a night! You can check out my review here. We love Andaz properties and highly recommend them.
Southwest Airlines is an interesting option for Ultimate Rewards points, since their program is tied directly to the price of the ticket you are purchasing. But since they often have fare sales, you can get good value on domestic flights. Also, with the Southwest – AirTran merger, cheap flights to the Caribbean and Mexico are now in reach. Check out my post on transferring Southwest miles to AirTran here. I’ll have a review of the Air Tran flight soon…it was nothing special.
With the two airlines slowly but surely merging together, Southwest is expanding its own branded network. This year, they’ve started flights to Key West and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
So, only 7,812 points each way will get you to San Juan from Austin. That’s an INCREDIBLE deal!
Jordan and I have mostly used our Ultimate Rewards points to top off our Southwest account, because we have the Companion Pass. Points transferred over don’t count towards the Companion Pass, but it’s a nice way to top off an account for an award redemption.
So, by now, I’m sure you can see how valuable 65,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points are. The deals I’ve highlighted here just scratch the surface of their flexibility. There are other transfer partners that we didn’t detail here, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use your points with them! These are your points and you should use them as you please! Remember, if you want take advantage of the new Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Bold credit card offers, they expire on June 22nd.
— Noob MasterRead More
- Planning the Trip
- Buenos Aires
To begin our journey to Argentina, we had to get to San Fransisco, since that’s where I found the great deal. I had booked us tickets on United the night before, and it was easy enough to connect both of us through Denver, and selected seats together even though we were on separate reservations.
I used a free category 1-4 night that I had earned through Marriott’s Megabonus promotion (stay 2 times get a free night) to book us the Fairfield Inn San Francisco Airport/Millbrae. I was hoping the full service Marriott near the airport would be available, since I’ve stayed there before, but it is a category 5 and I would much rather use a free night when rates were $189 or above in either hotel. The hotel was a pretty standard Fairfield Inn, and they had a shuttle but we arrived too late and took a cab, which was pretty cheap.
The next morning we had a lovely breakfast with a friend (skipping the free hotel breakfast) and headed to the airport to begin our long journey to Argentina. The first flight to Chicago was pretty uneventful, and once in Chicago we paid a visit to the United Club. If you’ve been in one United Club domestically, you’ve been in them all. Honestly, I can’t even find a picture I’ve taken of one. But here’s a review if you’re interested.
One great thing about the club is they go ahead and pre-clear your immigration so you don’t have to do that at the gate. Next came our 10 hour flight to Sao Paulo. We had seats in the bulkhead, so a nice bit of legroom.
My only beef with bulkhead seats on long-haul flights is the screens in the seat, so you have to contend with that. Overall, a pretty uneventful flight.
Transit in Sao Paolo was strange, since they just sort of pulled us from the stream of people headed toward immigration back into the terminal. We then set out to find the lounges, and tried out the United Club first. It was nice, with a good spread of food and self-serve drinks. It was especially nice since it was almost empty, which was not the case as we prepared to fly home.
Then we tried out the TAM lounge. It was significantly smaller, which surprised me since this is a TAM hub, but there was still plenty of seating, and a decent food/beverage selection, though the United Club actually had the better options of the 2 Star Alliance Lounges.
The TAM Lounge did have 3 computers to use, and a piano! The wifi in the TAM lounge, however, required signing up to receive what looked like marketing emails, while the United Club had free wifi to use.
Overall, it was a good experience at the lounges, and we only had a short 2.5 hour flight to Buenos Aires. We got loaded on one of the people mover buses to a remote stand to board our A320. The plane was older, but still relatively nice, and about what you’d expect on a short flight in economy. They did this weird thing where they fumigated the plane with what apparently is an insecticide, just to make sure no critters followed us from Brazil to Argentina.
It was a pretty comfortable ride (notice they provided pillows and blankets for a 2.5 hour flight!), and we got through Argentine customs with no problems. Overall we had a good experience on the flights, even though we were in economy. It was certainly a lot of flying, but worth it for all the miles we earned!
— Ethan CarterRead More
Just in time for swim suit season – United is rolling out a new promo for 2,000 miles after you enroll in a gym that’s in their network.
I enjoy working out, but ever since I started blogging, the gym time has been sacrificed. I’m not blaming y’all, but I am.
United ran this promo earlier in the year as well, so if you didn’t take advantage of it then, get off your butt and do it now.
My gym isn’t one of the eligible gyms, but I saw many name brand gyms when I searched the United website, including 24 hr fitness, Curves, and Cross Fit. Watch out for up front fees and cancelation fees when signing up for a gym membership, but you’re guaranteed the lowest rate going through the United site, and 2,000 miles.
Just a heads up if you’re looking to join a gym this summer!
— Noob MasterRead More