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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?