Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal: The Complete Guide To Booking Flights

Filed Under: Chase, Credit Cards
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I often joke about my disinterest in using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to book flights as my focus is on redeeming points for first and business class flights. What can I say? I like lying down when flying and enjoying a glass of champagne (or three).

However, when it comes to saving some cash or getting tons of economy flights with your Ultimate Rewards points, the portal is often the best way to use your points. In fact, you might find the occasional business class fare which makes using the Chase portal a better deal than transferring Chase points to a partner airline.

I have some posts coming on the best ways to use Ultimate Rewards points by region, where I’ll focus exclusively on how to leverage transfer partners. But to ensure you make the best use of your points in all situations, we’re going to dig into the Chase travel portal and discuss when you should use it instead.

Now, let’s get into it!

What is the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal?

The Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal is an online travel agency (OTA) just like Orbitz when you think about it. In fact, it’s soon to be powered by Expedia. The distinguishing factor is that rather than only providing an option to pay cash for flights, the Chase travel portal allows you to redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for the cost of a flight — if you don’t have enough points, you can cover the remainder with cash.

Since these are cash fares rather than award tickets, you won’t be restricted by award availability. If a seat is available for purchase, you’ll be able to get it. Kind of like all those Capital One commercials with Jennifer Garner — no blackout dates!

What are Ultimate Rewards points worth in the Chase portal?

If there’s one confusing aspect to the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, it’s keeping track of what your points are worth in the Chase travel portal. Depending on the Ultimate Rewards cards you have, the points can have three different values.

When you consider the value of the points in the portal, Chase mentions that they can be worth 25% and 50% with certain cards. However, I find it helpful to think of the cents per point value. With that in mind, these are the values of Chase points by card:

Ultimate Rewards cardValue of points if redeemed for cash backCan points can be transferred to partners?

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

1.5¢ per point when redeemed towards travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal
Yes, and having this card makes all your Ultimate Rewards points transferable

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

1.25¢ per point when redeemed towards travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal
Yes, and having this card makes all your Ultimate Rewards points transferable

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

1.25¢ per point when redeemed towards travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal
Yes, and having this card makes all your Ultimate Rewards points transferable

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

1¢ per point
No (or only in conjunction with a premium card on this list)

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

1¢ per point
No (or only in conjunction with a premium card on this list)

Chase Freedom Flex℠

1¢ per point
No (or only in conjunction with a premium card on this list)

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

1¢ per point
No (or only in conjunction with a premium card on this list)

As you can see, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the clear winner at 1.5 cents per point but the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card both have a solid rate of 1.25 cents per point as well. Basically, you need an Ultimate Rewards card that has an annual fee to get a bump in value.

Let’s say you have 50,000 Chase points. Rather than get $500 in travel (1 cent per point), you could get $750 in travel (1.5 cents per point) with the Sapphire Reserve or $625 (1.25 cents per point) with the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Preferred.

Combine Ultimate Rewards points for max value

With the Chase Freedom FlexSM (5x quarterly bonus categories) and Chase Freedom Unlimited® (1.5X on all purchases) both staples for many, the ability to combine Ultimate Rewards points under one card is very valuable.

Rather than redeem your points from these cards in the portal, you can move them to a card with an annual fee so you can get the bonus when used in the Chase travel portal. This means the 1.5X you earn with the Freedom Unlimited can quickly become 2.25 cents per point if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Business owners can take this to another level with the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card 5X bonus categories and the Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card’s 1.5X earn rate on all purchases — basically, the Freedom Unlimited for businesses.

How to book flights in the Chase travel portal

The Chase travel portal has one clear advantage over transferring Ultimate Rewards points to a partner airline. Rather than needing to find limited saver-level award space, you can book any flight that has a seat available for purchase.

Navigate to the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal

From your Chase account, you’ll notice a button that lists your total Ultimate Rewards points balance. If you have multiple cards that earn Chase points, you’ll be taken to a list of your cards. You’ll want to select the card that provides the best rate within the portal.

As we discussed above, the Sapphire Reserve is the best option followed by either the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Preferred.

Use the flight search tool

To begin your search, you’ll want to select “Travel” from the drop-down menu at the top of the screen. You can also search for hotels, rental cars, activities and cruises but flights will be the default option.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal Flight Search

As with any other flight search, enter your itinerary, number of passengers and class of service. You can also choose whether you only want non-stop results and if you want itineraries that include multiple airlines.

From the results page, you will have the option to filter the results based on your desired price range, airline preferences, number of stops and the departure and/or arrival times of your outbound and return flights.

If your search results include flights with a Basic Economy option, the Chase portal will also show you the economy (or main cabin) option side by side so you can easily compare prices on any given flight.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal Search Results

Pay with Chase points

Once you’ve selected your flights and moved to the checkout page, you will have the option to pay for your flight with Chase points or points and cash. If you have enough points for the flight but want to pay a portion with cash, you can adjust the number of points to apply to the booking.

Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal Checkout

Even if you don’t have the necessary points for a flight, you can use points to help defray the cash cost of your ticket.

Before completing your booking, you’ll also have the opportunity to enter the Known Travel Number and Redress Number of the passengers on your reservation.

Earn redeemable miles (and qualifying miles toward elite status)

Since booking through the Chase travel portal means booking a cash ticket, you will earn redeemable miles on these flights. I’d suggest crediting these flights to a program in which you have or can easily acquire the necessary miles for an award booking sooner rather than later.

You’ll also earn elite qualifying miles, so travel booked through the Chase travel portal can help you reach the next elite status tier.

As an aside, for the vast majority of people in the U.S. with access to credit cards, earning elite status won’t be worth the cost required. This becomes quite clear when you do the math but I’ll leave that for another post.

Airlines that can’t be booked online, but can via phone

While you can book flights on many airlines through the Chase travel portal, there are some that require a phone call and some that can’t be booked at all. You can call Chase (1-866-951-6592) to book flights with the following airlines:

  • Allegiant
  • GOL
  • Norwegian
  • Southwest Airlines

Do you really want to fly Allegiant, though?

There are a number of low-cost carriers that cannot be booked either online or over the phone. if you want to book one of the following, you’ll have to pay cash, or use a card that allows you to “erase” travel purchases with your points, like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard®:

Air AsiaLion Air
Cebu PacificMonarch
IndiGoWizz Air
InterjetWOW Air

When to book flights in the Chase travel portal

In my opinion, there are two reasons to book flights with Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase travel portal instead of transferring to an airline partner.

Better points redemption

This should be self-explanatory but, if the Chase portal will require fewer points than transferring to an airline partner, just book through the portal.

With a portal booking, you won’t have to pay taxes and fees in addition to the points you use as the points cover that — unlike award bookings. Additionally, you can earn redeemable miles on these booking as kind of small rebate. It probably won’t be much, but it’s a small boost.

When you consider the taxes and fees required on an award as well as the miles you could earn with a portal booking, it might even be worth booking through the portal if it requires a few more miles than an award. I’ll let you decide when this makes sense for you.

No award space when you have to travel

Of course, if there’s no award space available and you need to travel on a specific date, you’re really left with two options: pay cash (or a cash-equivalent card), or use Ultimate Rewards points through the travel portal.

If you prefer to save your points for international premium cabin awards and are in a position to pay cash, that might be the way to go for you. However, you might prefer to save the cash and just apply points to the booking.

Travel protections on portal bookings

One of the concerns I hear most often is whether the travel protections that come with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred will apply when booking with points through the travel portal.

Rest assured, if you pay with points, you will receive the same protections as when you pay cash with your Sapphire card. This means those pesky trip and baggage delays will be covered so you can be reimbursed.

Bottom line

As is often the case with award travel, it all comes down to figuring out your priorities. If free flights are the goal, the Chase travel portal can help you book a bunch of economy flights when you see fare deals. If business and first class flights across the world are the goal, the travel portal probably isn’t for you — yes, occasionally, you’ll find a business class deal that makes it worth it.

To make sure you get the best deal, I’d suggest that you compare the points required via the travel portal and what an award would cost before making a decision. There’s no point in spending more points than necessary when all it takes is a quick check.

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  1. Spencer – great post. Just did this for my honeymoon. Was able to find two saved seats one-way in biz to Fiji from the East Coast for next year (160k AA miles total), but no availability on the way back.

    However, found a relatively cheap ($1,250 per person) one-way back to the US that I booked through the UR portal. ended up being 166K UR points, but it made sense for me given no award availability. I booked it as a Qantas ticket (at the time Fiji didn’t have the arrangement they do now), so I’ll have a good chunk of requalifying toward Gold next year also.

  2. I have never had luck using the portal. Just last night I was trying to book a Delta flight. Award seats were available per the Delta site on 4 separate morning flights. Over at the Chase Portal only one of these flights was available. This morning when I checked back Delta still had 4 morning options open but Chase didn’t have any until that afternoon. These were Delta award seats vs Chase portal seats. This makes NO SENSE!!!

    Another time it was going to cost more in Chase points than Delta points so it didn’t make sense to use it.

    My daughter just booked an ATL LAS flight. Delta award seats took less points than the Chase portal as well. I don’t see the value in Chase points to tell you the truth. Convince me!!!

  3. The biggest difference between award flights and UR paid flights is what you can get “refunded” if your travel plans change. If you book with points/miles, you can get those redeposited back into your account if you pay the penalty fee, for use anytime in the future. If you paid with points, it’s like cash and nonrefundable, or best case scenario you end up with travel funds that expire 1 yr from when you paid for the original booking.

  4. Please remove the comment on Allegiant: “Do you really want to fly Allegiant, though?”
    As the article has been proven bias.

    Plus all the MD-80s from Allegiant will be replaced by brand new Airbus by end of this year.

  5. It’s also better to book flights through the portal if you’re flying cheap Y longhaul flights on OW.

    IAD-CLT-SEA-DFW-DCA for $271
    from AA, you would get ~1066 base miles and 214 EQD
    booking through the Chase portal gets you ~ 2726 base miles and 545 EQD

    check the terms and conditions of the fare to to ensure the word WHOLESALE is mentioned. if it is, you should be all set. I usually pay all cash through the portal because EQD’s are the hardest for me to earn when traveling.

  6. Hmm……so
    I just used 100K chase points on a ATL-LHR flight in premium economy on Virgin Atlantic. It was less points than to go thru them or Delta and I get the credit back to my account for miles flown which will help me push past Diamond this year on Delta so for me it made sense and was worth it.

  7. @GetToThePoints Award space on an airline has nothing to do with whether you can purchase a seat through the Chase Travel Portal. You’re simply redeeming 1.5 cents per point toward the cost of a cash ticket. So Delta having 4 seats available as an award means nothing if you want to book using Chase UR points.

    @Eric this is a blog, not a politically correct news website. He can say whatever opinion he wants to say.

    @Nawaid Ladak I have also heard that you can book through AAVacations (obviously only booking the flights) for the same earning rate as you mention above because it will be a special fare.

  8. Please remove the comment from @Eric.
    As he has been proven bias.

    Plus he has never heard of the First Amendment, which roughly translates to free speech. =D

  9. Well, at least for Icelandair, neither the UR portal or a telephone agent were able to book any economy seat other than “economy light’ to KEF from the US. The phone agents tried on calls that I made twice in the last 24 hours, and were unable to find the fare class for regular economy, or book it. This was a frustrating 2+ hour experience, to put it mildly.

  10. Spencer, great article, very helpful as always.

    If I can make one, small correction:

    Disinterest = neutral, not take a position (“disinterested third party”)
    Uninterest = No interest, lack of interest, not special, unworthy of my time

  11. Solid post. Haven’t used the portal yet but I suspect I’ll be going the route you suggest when cheap economy fares are available and I don’t want to pay cash.

  12. @Eric — I lol’ed at the Allegiant comment. I don’t think anybody *wants* to fly Allegiant, but I do get if you fly them for convenience or price.

    Perhaps one of the best values, and the reason why I do DL’s Pay with Miles, is that you accrue elite miles towards status. And in the case of the Chase portal, you’ll also get elite dollars.

  13. The airlines and booking procedures are likely to change shortly with Chase’s change-over to Expedia as the booking agency.

  14. For those of you who frequently book Southwest revenue flights (and the 3 of you who fly Allegiant), US Bank Altitude with real-time rewards is worthy of consideration. Booking by phone with Chase takes time and is painful. US Bank Real-Time Rewards allows you to purchase any flight on any airline, and immediately receive a text message asking if you want to redeem points to get a statement credit for the flight purchase. The only downside is that you must have enough points in your account to cover the full credit – US Bank does not allow “cash and points” redemptions.

    I could not find Vueling flights on the Chase portal last summer. Not sure whether I could have booked them by phone.

  15. United and American often have saver flights to Brazil, or wherever, for 30k points. Are those available through the portal?

  16. I’m not sure I understand what the benefit is to booking a Southwest flight on the Chase UR portal. I have a Saphire Reserve. Booking direct on Reno-Cabo rt costs 34,250 points. Booking through Chase UR Travel Center costs 49,637 points. What am I missing?

  17. Mike – your question about 30k points on United or American. When booking through the Chase portal, you are using Chase points, which are actually treated like cash to buy the airline ticket. It has ZERO relation to award tickets as they use AA or UA miles for those.

  18. Treesha above said you could get your chase points refunded if you cancel. Pretty sure that is not always the case. The rules of the ticket take priority. If the ticket is a non-refundable ticket, then it is done. It happened by mistake on a hotel booking I did once. I did not notice I was buying a non-refundable hotel room and could not change or cancel it. So, just like the tickets most people buy from airlines, once you cancel, you get nothing back. SOMETIMES the airline may provide funds for future travel. But even that is only sometimes and some airlines.

  19. I need more clarification. I have been racking up points to go biz class to Europe using my Chase Portal. Flights will be in summer. Is it very difficult? Is earlier better? Help!

  20. So I just called 2 different customer service numbers in order to book a flight on Allegiant using my UR points and neither of the customer service reps could help me, both stating that Allegiant is a “low cost carrier”. Does anybody happen to know the trick to get through the Allegiant booking process with Chase?

  21. Very poor customer service while booking flights. I was trying to book a flight and got some error. Called multiple times with representative, supervisers for more than 4 hours. One superviser named Angel told me that chase portal wont allow to book international flight with infant and suggested me to book directly from airline. What a blunder was that. And nobody could help me. All were repeatedly asking same questions and trying and transferring to another specialist or so. Such a pathetic customer support where they had a software issue while booking.

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