Credit Cards The Basics

The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s Game-Changing Feature

reconsideration strategy
Written by Charlie

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a whole lot going for it. One feature in particular is quite the game-changing feature when it comes to purchasing travel.

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The Chase Sapphire Reserve is clearly the best card of the year and has the popularity to back that up. There are many great things to love about it – the 100,000 point sign-up bonus, the $300 annual travel credit, and the excellent Priority Pass membership. But, there is another feature that I believe is the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s game changing feature.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s Game-Changing Feature

This feature of the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the 1.5 cents per point that you get when you redeem for travel directly through the Ultimate Reward portal. This is up from 1.25 cents per point that the Chase Sapphire Preferred gives.

There are several ways this is great and I want to break them down to show you how great of a feature this really is. For the first time, I actually go to book some tickets through the Ultimate Reward portal instead of looking for reward availability.

It Makes Booking Paid Tickets Cheaper Than Many Award Tickets

Airlines have continued to shift the award charts for what it takes to redeem for “free” travel. This shift has happened mostly on the premium cabin side while the economy award structure has largely stayed the same.

But, there continue to be some amazing airfare deals that pop up on a weekly basis to points all over the world. For a point of comparison, we will look at redeeming an economy ticket from the US to Europe on United (since Ultimate Reward points do transfer to United). It costs 60,000 miles for a roundtrip coach ticket to Europe. On top of that, you will also have to pay some taxes and fees. Fortunately, United does not pass on the fuel surcharges but the fees can still go from around $20 roundtrip to over $150 depending on your airports of transit and your final destination.

If you were to redeem those same 60,000 points through the UR portal instead of transferring them to United, it would give you $900 in redemption value from your Chase Sapphire Reserve account. With many of the sales that have been running, that could give you 2 tickets to Europe (or close to it) instead of just a single one! Plus, the taxes and fees are built right in!

This can be the same for other regions of the world as well.

It Gives Airline Flexibility

What if you want to get a “free” ticket on an airline that is not in an alliance (JetBlue, for example)? Or what if you want a ticket on American Airlines? Being able to redeem your Ultimate Reward points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve account is a great way to book what you want, when you want.

Another upside under this is that you are not subject to airline award availability!

You Can Earn Miles on Redeemed Travel

Unlike award travel where you do not earn miles when you travel, trips booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal will let you accrue miles on your trip! So, it can help you to requalify for your elite status or to top off a particular account with miles you earn when flying paid travel

You Can Choose How Many Miles

chase sapphire reserve

You get to choose how many points you want to use

Just like as is the case with the regular UR points from cards like the CSP and the Chase Ink Plus, you can choose how many points you actually want to use for your travel redemption. Unlike an award ticket where you have to have the full amount, you can actually book using a mixture of points and money to only spend what you want to spend – but getting the 1.5 cents per point.

It Even Helps With Business Class Tickets

We have seen some pretty good business class tickets yet the out-of-pocket cost can still be more than some people want to pay. If the ticket in business to Europe is $1,400 roundtrip, you could redeem some Ultimate Reward points from your Chase Sapphire Reserve account to offset that cost or totally wipe it out. A $1,400 travel charge would take a total 93,000 Ultimate Reward points to eliminate. Consider that, if it is to Europe, you would pay 140,000 United miles if that is on a Star Alliance partner and you are coming out waaay ahead. Also, you are earning valuable miles from the premium ticket as well. Plus, you can be eligible for promotions that airlines run!

In the example below, I looked at JetBlue’s Mint class from JFK to LAX. JetBlue’s Mint is their business class seats which people rate as being the best way to get across the US. Those tickets can be purchased for $599 most of the time.

chase sapphire reserve

The point cost from JetBlue for JetBlue’s Mint

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The cost using points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve account

If you were to use JetBlue points, you would need to use 45,000 points and $5.60. If you booked instead through the Ultimate Rewards portal using points in your Chase Sapphire Reserve account, it would only cost 39,000 points! Not only are Ultimate Reward points easier to come by than JetBlue points but it actually takes fewer points to redeem for business class!

How to Use Your Chase Sapphire Reserve Account Points at 1.5 Cents

To use this feature, you need to have the points in your Chase Sapphire Reserve account. If they are in a Chase Freedom or even a Chase Ink Plus account, transfer them over.

Go to the Ultimate Rewards site and sign in. Select your Chase Sapphire Reserve account.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Select your Chase Sapphire Reserve account

Next, you can select from the menu at the top to Use Points and book travel or you can select the top option on the awards screen that gives you all your details.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Search for your travel

From there, just search like you normally would for travel! After you make your selection, you can choose how many points you actually want to use.

Summary

Those are just a few of the ways that I believe that the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a game changing feature. Yes, the Citi Prestige used to offer 1.6 cents per point redemption when redeemed for AA flights, but that feature is no longer offered (for new customers and will go away for good next year). Getting 1.5 cents on a wide range of travel is a really great deal!

It gives a whole new level of flexibility for Ultimate Reward points, especially if you are used to booking economy awards. True, you cannot get some things like the Wanna Getaway rates from Southwest but that is more of an exception. You can use your points from your Chase Sapphire Reserve account for all kinds of travel and get a consistent 1.5 cents per point in redemption.

Yes, the above items are all true if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred already as you can use those points directly for travel. But that .25 per point can be a big difference! If you were to redeem a total of 50,000 Ultimate Reward points like this per year, it would give you a total savings of $125 over what the Chase Sapphire Preferred account would give you when used the same way! That could be yet one more way to get more out of that annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Reserve!

Have you used the 1.5 cent per point value to book travel through the UR portal?

Editorial Note - Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

6 Comments

  • It’s the main reason i got the Sapphire Reserve. However, I have been trying to book tickets for four days now on the Ultimate Rewards website and it is so broken it is completely unusable (have tried from three computers in three different locations using multiple browsers, all with the same results). The flight searches often return only two or three flights from a single airline when hundreds of flights exist for that day. Multiple searches on the same trip brings back different results each time. The filter options don’t give the right options for choosing airlines. (It frequently goes back to the welcome page to start over when search for flights. I have used it a number of times this past year when I could only get 1.25 cents per point and never had a problem booking until now, but they have changed the website. Chase says they have no control over it and they do not operate the Ultimate Rewards website. By the time they fix it, I will miss the two trips I’m trying to book. Also phoned the Ultimate Rewards people and they are clueless to what is happening and since choosing the flights would take hours to find the right flights on these routes, they can’t help. The greatest feature is turning into a disaster.

  • I have also utilized the CSR 1.5 benefit and really scored. I booked a stay at all-inclusive Hyatt Zilara Cancun and due to a timely discount did so to the tune of a hair over 19,000 UR pts per night. Also, our stay occurs during the current Hyatt promo so I’ll get 3,000 HGP pts/night in addition to my Hyatt points I’ll earn as a “paid” customer. Awards there start at 25,000 HGP pts/night and I was unable to find availability for less than 40k/night over any of our available trip times. Finally, I’ll be using a DSU to maximize our experience. Total score!

    • JakePB – what dates did you see the hyatt zilara at 19,000ish? It is one of our favorite hotels and I am looking got a little getaway with the wife some time in the next 5 months, but can’t find a decent price at all. I have a bunch of hyatt points, but I would rather use 19,000 UR if it is still available. Thanks!

  • JakePB, Have you already applied your DSU? I have tried to do this in the past and since it was not booked directly with hyatt it was not allowed for me, also my stay did not yeild points either, it shows it as a expedia stay. Let me know your results.

    • @John, I needed to call the diamond line and have the rep find my reservation to link it to my account. First time I called, the rep essentially said “tough luck, pal” you’re not going to get diamond benefits. Because the property was booked solid and even paid stays became unavailable, I called in again and explained that the UR portal was the only way to book and this rep was absolutely happy to ensure I receive HGP benefits and points for my stay. Those diamond line reps are almost always like the 2nd person – happy to do all they can to help.

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