How can I get a weekend in Nashville for $22? Asking for a friend.
No seriously, my friend really did ask. And we really did find a way!
Great redemptions do not always have to be planned months in advance! Last month, a friend texted me and asked if I had any ideas for Nashville on points for 2 people in October.
- This friend lives in Baton Rouge, so airport options are Baton Rouge or New Orleans
- The trip was for a wedding, so she needed specific dates
- She had about 84,000 Ultimate Rewards points
There are two things that help when you’re trying to book with miles and points. The first is time. As in, if you’re booking many months in advance, you’re more likely to find a good deal on miles and points than if you’re booking closer to your departure date. The second thing that helps with a successful booking on miles and points is flexibility with dates. Being flexible by even a few days can make a huge difference. In this case, we had neither time nor flexibility. I wanted to post this to show that although booking in advance and having flexible dates is helpful, it is not required!
Here is how she was able to book Nashville for $22.
Flights to Nashville
First of all, one of the best deals for short distance flights within North America is to transfer Ultimate Rewards to British Airways. Any flight under 1150 miles costs 7,500 British Airways Avios each way. A few things:
- These flights will be booked on British Airways OneWorld Alliance partner American Airlines
- This means that American Airlines must have award space available at the MilesAAver level.
- BA charges per segment, so this is a great deal only if there are nonstop AA flights between your departure airport and your destination.
Since there are no direct American Airlines flights between Baton Rouge and Nashville or New Orleans and Nashville, the British Airways option is out. Usually my next step is to check Southwest. Remember that Southwest is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards. The amount of Rapid Rewards that Southwest will charge for an award ticket depends on the cash price of the ticket. Southwest generally charges 1 Rapid Rewards point per 1.6 cents of the ticket price on a ‘Wanna Get Away’ fare.
There were direct flights between New Orleans and Nashville for her dates, and the prices were reasonable. The tickets were around $130 each way, or a little under 8,000 Southwest points. So that’s $260 or 16,000 Southwest points roundtrip per ticket. Plus it’s a nonstop flight. Doesn’t get much better than that.
So, I told my friend to transfer 32,000 Ultimate Rewards points to her Southwest Rapid Rewards account and then use the RR account to book the flights.
If you want step-by-step instructions on transferring Ultimate Rewards points, click here.
Cost of two roundtrip tickets from New Orleans to Nashville: ~32,000 Rapid Rewards and $22.40 (taxes and fees)
Hotel in Nashville
Since my friend has Ultimate Rewards points, she has two options for hotels and flights:
- Transfer Ultimate Rewards to travel partners and then use the travel partner account to book. For example, she can transfer points to Hyatt then use her Hyatt account to book free hotel nights.
- Use the Ultimate Rewards travel redemption portal to book. The portal will show the price of the flight or hotel in cash and then she would use her Ultimate Rewards points as cash. Since her card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred, she can book any flight or hotel on the Ultimate Reward redemption portal at a rate of 1.25 cents per point.
As I’ve stated multiple times, I usually try to stick to transferring my Ultimate Rewards points to partners because I can usually get more than 1.25 cents per point (or 1.5 cents per point with the Chase Sapphire Reserve).
Chase Ultimate Rewards has 4 hotel partners
Each hotel partner has some potential for a great redemption value. Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and IHG have some sweet spots, but Hyatt is likely going to be the best value. So I always start with Hyatt.
A quick search on Hyatt’s website showed that there are 6 Hyatt properties in the Nashville area. All are the Hyatt Place brand. Since my friend was looking for hotels in downtown, I selected the Hyatt Place Downtown Nashville property. I saw that rooms were going for about $350 per night, but a room was available to book on points for my friend’s dates. This property is a World of Hyatt Category 4 property which costs 15,000 points per night.
I looked up this property on TripAdvisor and found that it is a new Hyatt property and it has great reviews. So I told my friend to create a Hyatt account if she did not already have one (you should too, it’s free!). Then transfer 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points to the Hyatt account. Then use the Hyatt account to book two nights!
Total cost: 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Hyatt
Total value: ~$700 (~$350 per night)
For reference, Marriott (another Ultimate Rewards partner) options in Nashville start at 50,000 points per night. No thanks.
If you have Amex Membership Rewards points or Hilton Honors points, Hilton properties are available starting at about 30,000 Hilton points per night. Considering the relatively low cash rates of these properties, I would not use my Amex MR to book any of these.
Starwood properties range from 7,000-20,000 points per night. These are decent redemptions, but I’d probably save my Starpoints and use Ultimate Rewards to book the Hyatt property mentioned above!
When my friend texted me she said “we would like hotels and flights but realize that may not be possible.” Well, for a little over 60,000 points, she was able to book her hotels and flights for her trip to Nashville!
Cents per point values:
If you want to read more about calculating the value of miles and points, click here to read that post.
Flights: 1.6 cents per Ultimate Rewards point.
When booking Southwest flights, this value will not change since Southwest uses the cash fare to determine the amount of Rapid Rewards needed.
Hotel: 2.3 cents per Ultimate Rewards point.
The lowest rate at the Hyatt Place Downtown Nashville on my friend’s dates was 350$ per night, so I will use that number to calculate.
- 0.2333 X100=2.3
- 2.3 cents per point
If my friend wanted to use the Chase Ultimate Rewards booking portal, she would have had to use more points. With Chase Sapphire Preferred, points are only worth 1.25 cents per point when booking through the portal! With Chase Sapphire Reserve, the value when booking through the portal would be 1.50 cents per point, but transferring points is still a better deal in my friend’s case. This is why I highly encourage checking transfer partners first!
Want to earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points? Consider signing up for a Chase Sapphire card.
Need help deciding which card is right for you? Click here for my post that compares them.
Apply here for Chase Sapphire Preferred
Apply here for Chase Sapphire Reserve