Credit Cards Destinations Marathons

Running With Miles 101 – Part 3

Ok, now we are at the good part! This little series has been to help guide you through specific card applications for a specific trip. I get many people asking me all the time about what they should do to take these trips. Many people are very cautious and want to make sure that there are not these huge hidden fees involved in taking these trips and want to make sure that this is the real deal. So, I decided to start this series to take you through step-by-step with applications for cards that I have personally applied for and used. Next, the goal is to again take you step-by-step to show you how to use those points and miles for a specific trip and show you how much it costs you in the end. So, with that, here begins the fun stage – using those points earned in Part 1!

In case you have missed or forgotten the first two parts, here they are:

Running With Miles 101 Part 1 – Airline Miles/Points

Running With Miles 101 Part 2 – Hotel Points

Destination – Vancouver, British Columbia

Dates – May 3 – 6, 2013

Event – Vancouver Marathon (or just to check out this beautiful city!)

Vancouver, British Columbia - from

In Part 1, we showed how to apply for two separate cards – the first one was our primary application that was intended for those with a fairly decent credit score while the second one was our secondary application that was to be used if your credit history might not have been at the appropriate level for the primary. I will start by showing you how to use the points derived from the primary card – the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

As I have mentioned many times, this card is viewed as one of the premier personal point earning credit cards. Points earned with this card are in the Ultimate Reward system which has many good options for travel. One of the best is the transfer partnership with United. United Airlines has many great partners that you can book awards with through the United MileagePlus program. Using Ultimate Reward points was how my family and I recently went on a trip that would have cost us a LOT of money but instead was done with just points and taxes.

So, now that you have those 40,000 Ultimate Reward points (actually, it would be at least 43,000 Ultimate Reward points because of the inclusion of the points from your minimum spending), how do you go about converting those into a useful airline currency?

Login to the Chase Ultimate Reward site

  •  Next, go to the Point Transfer tab and select United MileagePlus.

Transfer Points to United MileagePlus

  • On this page, select the amount of points that you want to transfer to your MileagePlus account (remember, you should already have a United MileagePlus number, if not, sign-up for one before going to this part – Sign-up freeImportant Note: You should have at least 43,000 Ultimate Reward points. At this point, you need to decide if you are going to purchase one-ticket or two tickets or if you are going to purchase one first class ticket or one economy ticket. Two economy tickets will cost you 50,000 United miles as will one first-class ticket. A single economy ticket will cost you 25,000 miles. If you want to go with one of the options that requires 50,000 miles, check the bottom of this post to find out how to get closer to that 50,000 mark.

Transfer to United

  • Now, United is an instant transfer meaning when you login to your United account, you should see the points. The longest I have had to wait was 10 minutes (even though the rep I was talking to on the phone saw them in my account the instant I transferred them). So, login to your United MileagePlus account at

Login to United

  • Now, we are going to search for our tickets. I put Cleveland in as my departure city, but you will put whatever airport there that you would normally fly from (or be willing to fly from). Select Advanced Search at the bottom of reservation window. Once you are there, put your departure airport in and your destination city (in our case here, it is Vancouver, British Columbia). Next, select the dates that you would like to travel. For our purposes here, I am selecting May 3 – 6 (because of our hotel points – you may want to make it longer, but I am trying to do this trip for as little as possible). Make sure you select Award at the bottom and select to show 50 flights. I always make sure I hit that one as it allows some flights to pop up with partners that would otherwise not be available.

Make your travel selections

  • When the award calendar pops up, you will see many options on the calendar. The best shade is green as it means there is Economy and Business/First class available. Yellow means Economy and Blue means Business/First. White means there are no flights available but that normally means that there are no United flights available. You can still find partner flights near the bottom most of the time.

United Award Calendar

  • Since this is a fairly quick trip, I am going to opt for the earliest arriving flight I can get – which at this time is a 6AM departure arriving at 10:49AM. Not bad! I select that one and it takes me to the next page to book my return flight.

Our selected out-going flight

  • Coming back, there are a ton of options. Again, since this is such a short trip, I will select the latest departure time with the earliest arrival time – leaving on the 6th at 7:30PM and arriving in Cleveland at 6:15AM on the 7th.

  • Now that we selected both of our flights, it will bring us to the booking and confirmation page. On this page, you will see that it will cost you 25,000 miles and $60.30 in taxes and fees. This is because of Canadian taxes. When you book tickets with the US, your taxes and fees are only $10 total. So, go through and put in all of your information to book it! Remember, United has a 24 hour cancelation policy – if you need to cancel it within 24 hours after booking, there is no fee. If you need to cancel it after the 24 hours, it will cost you a $150 redeposit fee (assuming you do not have elite status with United). If you need to make any changes (dates, flights, class of service, etc), you can make them for free up until 21 days before departure. Once you are within the 21 days, it will cost you a $75 close-in booking fee. Remember, the only thing you cannot change are your departure and arrival cities.

Our summary page

Breakdown of taxes and fees


That’s it for step 1! You have just successfully made your award booking. It has cost you 1 credit card application, 25,000 of your 43,000 points and $60 for a flight that would have cost over $700. Not bad! The next installment will show how to book your hotel.

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About the author


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.