I saw an article a couple of weeks ago that mentioned a large percentage of Americans that cannot afford to take a vacation (something like around 40%). That got me thinking about how fortunate we are with travel reward credit cards that help us to travel on the cheap and what I would say is the single best credit card offer for a family vacation.
The Single Best Credit Card Offer for a “Free” Family Vacation
Sure, these points won’t help with a free family vacation for this summer but it will give you a head start on getting ready for next year’s vacation so you can have a minimum of $1,250 in travel redemption for a free family vacation next year!
Note: I use the word “free” like that above in the title because you will still be missing out on the points or cash back you could get if you put this spending on another card. For example, if you put $20,000 on something like the Chase Freedom Unlimited at 1.5%, you would get $300 back. If you put it on a 2% cash back card, you would receive $400. So, you are not getting that cash back by putting the spending on this card, but the reward is far greater. Just an explanation for the “” around “free”! 🙂
The Credit Card Offer – The Chase Sapphire Preferred with 80,000 Points
There are some cards that have some large bonuses but I wanted to select a personal credit card that would give the best bonus for points to be used for a free family vacation. That single best credit card offer is the Chase Sapphire Preferred – but the one that offers the bonus of 80,000 points (not the one that is available through affiliates or referrals as it only offers 50,000 points). Read all about that offer here.
Meeting the $20,000 In Spending for the Full Bonus
Since it will require $20,000 in spending to get the full 80,000 points, I will suggest planning to use this card for all of your credit card purchases over the next year (you must spend $4,000 in the first 3 months and then a remaining $16,000 over the course of the first 12 months of having the card account open). To do that spending, you will need to spend an average of $1,666 per month on the credit card. Think of putting the following things on the card to help with spending:
- Parking permits
- Rent (using a service like Plastiq)
Translating These Points Into a “Free” Family Vacation
Now, after meeting all of that spending, you will end up with 100,000 Ultimate Reward points. If you redeem them for travel through Chase (for hotels, airlines, rental cars), you will get $1,250 in redemption value out of that!
Let’s take a look at a 4/5 night vacation for a family of 4. Here is how that could be broken down with various ideas.
5 Night Vacation to St. Louis with Flights
A nice Hyatt in the Category 2 ranking would cost 8,000 points per night. By transferring 40,000 Ultimate Reward points to Hyatt, you can get 5 nights for free at such a Hyatt property.
That would leave you with 60,000 points which you could transfer to Southwest. It would give you a minimum of $900 in airfare redemption with Southwest (so $225 per person – that is quite easy to find tickets for that!). Here is an example.
- 5 Nights at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch – 40,000 points (would cost from $750 if paid with cash, depending on time of year)
- 4 tickets on Southwest for 15,000 points each (at least $225 in ticket cost).
- Total cost if paid with cash – minimum of $1,650 for a family of 4
4 Night Vacation to Washington, DC
Washington, DC is one of my favorite places to visit! Not only is it a very well-laid out city with a lot of history, there are a lot of free things to do there! I could easily spend one week there with the different things to do!
Hyatt Place Properties
Again, we can transfer the Ultimate Reward points to Hyatt for a Hyatt category 3 (requiring 12,000 points per night). For a 4 night vacation, you would need 48,000 points. Fortunately, there are several Hyatt Place properties in DC which are great for families and come with free breakfasts!
Flights – Southwest or British Airways (for American Airlines)
Baltimore is a major hub for Southwest so you can again transfer 52,000 points to Southwest and get some cheap award tickets to Baltimore, depending on where you are coming from.
You could also transfer to British Airways and use 7,500 per person for each direction to fly American Airlines flights from all over the East Coast to Reagan National (that would require 60,000 Ultimate Reward points so you would need to spend more on your card or stay one less night in DC).
4 Night Vacation to California
If you are on the other end of the country, you could always hit Los Angeles, San Francisco, or even San Diego with your points also!
Hyatt Place Properties
Hyatt Place and Hyatt House hotels are the best Hyatt properties for families, thanks to the room layouts and the free breakfasts. Fortunately, there are plenty of them in California in the Category 3 (12,000 points per night) range. Again, you would transfer 48,000 Ultimate Reward points to Hyatt for your 4 free nights.
Flights – Southwest or British Airways (for American Airlines)
Again, Southwest or American will be great choices for airlines. You can choose to fly into Long Beach, CA which has some very low fares, depending on where you are coming from. You would have 52,000 points left to transfer to Southwest which would give you a minimum of $195 per person in airfare.
Going Airline Independent – Going Where the Deals Are
One of the great things about Chase Ultimate Rewards is that you could use your points to book airfare at a rate of 1.25 cents per point through Chase. This means you don’t need to transfer your points anywhere, you could choose to fly the route and airline that is cheapest for you.
Let’s use Google Flights and pick a destination based on cost. We will use my hometown of Rochester, NY as our example (it is a smaller market so flights are typically more expensive from there).
As you can see, Google tells me that New York City is actually not bad at $626 for 4 people for August of this year. That equates to 50,000 Ultimate Reward points.
Now, we have 50,000 Ultimate Reward points left for 4 nights of hotels in New York City. I can tell you right now – you will not get 4 nights of a Hyatt with that amount of points in NYC! So, let’s let Chase’s travel portal be our solution again. We will have 50,000 points to work with which would give $625, or $156 per night.
It can be difficult, but you can absolutely find hotels in NYC for that range. They will not be upscale but they will be in the city and allow you to be near whatever action you are looking for!
You could also rent a car through Chase’s travel portal. You could even use points to get gas gift cards (I don’t recommend that, but if you really do not want to pay anything!), and then use your points as well to book a hotel. Doing all of that, you could literally pay only for food for a 3 – 5 day vacation on the road!
This way, you are still getting a vacation and it is not going to cost you beyond what you would pay for food! Renting a mini-van from my home airport (for this example) would cost 33,000 points for 5 days. If I chose to pay my own gas, I would have 67,000 points left for a hotel at my destination!
That works out to having $167 per night in travel value! After that, all I would have left to pay is the gas and tolls (plus whatever food I would buy anyway). That is not bad!
Those are just some examples but it should give you an idea and get you excited for next year. If you are not able to go on a family vacation this year due to cost, hopefully you can get working on this Chase credit card offer so you will be able to take advantage of a “free” family vacation next year!
If you wanted to just get away for a weekend, you could even pay for everything – gas and food with gift cards using points – with your 100,000 points! Sure, flying first class on Lufthansa would be cool but that is just one way and for one person. You could put these points to use however you want and, if you want, you could turn them into a free family vacation!
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