How to Book Big Sur Hotels With Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Advertiser disclosure: The Miles Genie has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products.  The Miles Genie and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Editorial disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses, and recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any of these entities.

Located on the central coast of California along the Pacific Coast Highway, Big Sur is known for its dramatic coastlines, Redwood forests, stunning views, hiking trails, and other outdoor recreation. There are a wide range of lodging options in the area from camping to luxury hotels. Hotels in the area can be pricey, but there are lots of ways to redeem points to save money. Another option is to stay in the Carmel area, which is about 30 minutes north (the drive is very scenic).

For our anniversary trip to Big Sur, we were able to redeem transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points to cover our hotels and flights. Our out of pocket grand total was only the airline taxes which came to a total of $22.40 ($5.60 each way per ticket). The total value of our trip was almost $8,000. A large chunk of that is the Ventana stay, a property that can be booked with points at an excellent redemption rate.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for flights, hotels, or both. There are 2 ways to redeem transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel:

  1. Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a fixed rate for travel purchases in Chase’s redemption portal. How to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel via the Chase redemption portal
  2. Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airline or hotel partners. Chase Ultimate Rewards points become airline miles or hotel points. You can redeem them according to the rules and redemption prices of the airline program to which you transfer.

Here are some helpful posts that cover Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption options in greater detail:

Carmel Beach… with Pebble Beach golf course in the background

Chase redemption portal vs. transfer partners

This post covers the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal in greater detail.

Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal

Chase’s redemption portal allows you to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel by essentially paying with points. The value of a point depends on which Ultimate Rewards card or cards you hold. For example, if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, each point is worth 1.25 cents. That means that 50,000 points are worth $625 when redeeming Ultimate Rewards points this way.

When you redeem through the portal, you are not limited to the Ultimate Rewards transfer partner programs. Chase’s redemption portal inventory comes from Expedia, so anything bookable by Expedia should be available to book in the portal.

Because the amount of Ultimate Rewards points required is directly tied to the hotel rate, the redemption portal is best to use when rates are lower. When rates are higher, it’s always good to see if using a transfer partner makes more sense. This goes for both airline or hotel redemptions when redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel transfer partners

Chase Ultimate Rewards has 3 hotel transfer partners. When you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to a hotel program, your points become hotel loyalty points and you can redeem them for free nights or as otherwise allowed by the hotel program to which you transfer.

Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel partners 2020

When you redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points in the portal, the value is always fixed at 1.25 or 1.5 cents per point. The value of a point varies when you use transfer partners and sometimes, values are significantly higher.

Chase’s partnership with Hyatt provides some amazing value in this area

Note that World of Hyatt has a co branded credit card issued by Chase. This card earns World of Hyatt points. World of Hyatt points cannot be transferred to other programs, but you can use the points to book free nights at Hyatt properties as described in this section. While the World of Hyatt credit card is a good card to keep for the benefits, I suggest collecting Chase Ultimate Rewards points instead. If you collect transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you have the option to transfer the points to Hyatt, but you also have the option to redeem them with other transfer partners or through the Chase portal.

Chase’s other hotel transfer partners do not really have any great value opportunities in the Big Sur area, but you can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points via the redemption portal for other hotels.

How many Chase Ultimate Rewards points are required for a Hyatt stay?

You can read a complete guide to booking Hyatt stays with Chase Ultimate Rewards points here.

When you transfer Ultimate Rewards points to World of Hyatt to book a free stay, you are ultimately using the World of Hyatt program to book. Therefore, the amount of Ultimate Rewards required depends on the category of the property you want to book.  Below is Hyatt’s award chart. These are the amounts of points required per night no matter what the paid rate of the stay is.  

For example, a free standard room at a World of Hyatt category 7 hotel requires 30,000 points whether the rate for your dates is $500 per night or $1,000 per night.  On the other hand, the amount of points required when using the Ultimate Rewards redemption portal is based on the paid rate, so the amount of points required is higher when rates are higher.

world of Hyatt award chart 2019

There are 4 Hyatt properties in this area. Further north there is the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa; in Carmel there are 2 properties- Hyatt Carmel Highlands and Carmel Valley Ranch; and finally there’s the Ventana in Big Sur.

I am going to show the difference between using Chase redemption portal vs. transfer partners to book a Hyatt property. I’ll start with using the transfer partner (World of Hyatt) and I’m going to use the weekend of November 20-22 for these examples. Paid rates (and thus, redemption portal prices) will vary on other dates, sometimes drastically.

When you search on Hyatt, you will see a list of available properties with a points amount. That number is the amount of points required for a standard room, however, it does not necessarily mean a room is available to book with points. To confirm availability, you need to click “view rates”and check with the individual property. Click here for more info about booking World of Hyatt stays with Hyatt or Chase Ultimate Rewards points, including step by step booking instructions.

Keep in mind that these paid rates do not include taxes and fees, so the total would be even higher. When you use World of Hyatt points to book a stay, there are no taxes and fees.

When you redeem Hyatt points for a free stay, the redemption price is fixed. This means that no matter how expensive (or inexpensive) the room is, the amount of points required remains the same. This will change slightly next year when Hyatt introduces peak, standard, and off peak pricing, but even then, you’ll have a range to go by. For now, all free nights are subject to standard pricing.

Here are the Hyatt options for the Big Sur area:
  • Ventana Big Sur $1,975 per night (World of Hyatt category 7-30,000 points per night)
  • Carmel Valley Ranch $594 per night (WOH category 6-25,000 points per night)
  • Hyatt Carmel Highlands $477 per night (WOH category 7-30,000 points per night)
  • Hyatt Regency Monterey $170 per night (WOH category 4-15,000 points per night)

The lowest priced option (for paid rates and in points) is the Hyatt Regency Monterey. As a category 4 property, a free night for a standard room requires 15,000 points when redeeming through World of Hyatt. If you have the World of Hyatt credit card, the annual free night certificate could also be redeemed for this property. Ventana’s paid rates are high, but it is a semi all inclusive property. All meals are included as well as some activities.

Redwood Forest at the Ventana Big Sur. Ventana will set up a picnic lunch at that table upon request
Earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card has a welcome bonus of 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Chase Sapphire Preferred 2019 Best credit card offers

Current offer: Earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. Earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. The annual fee is $95, but the welcome offer alone is worth a lot more than that. You can find 25 great ways to redeem some of the bonus points here.

Important: Cards such as the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, but they aren’t the same as transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points. They are basically cash-back cards. Points earned from these cards cannot be transferred unless you also have a CSP, CSR, or CIBP. With that said, pairing the no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited with a CSP, CSR, or CIBP is a great way to boost the amount of Ultimate Rewards points you earn on everyday spending. Click here for more information.

Now, let’s search the same dates in the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal.

There are several options when you use the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal

There are several options when you use the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal. But I’m going to show each of the Hyatt properties so that we can compare. I’ll circle back and briefly discuss the other hotel options in the portal after we discuss the Hyatt properties.

Redemption prices using the Chase redemption portal to book Hyatt properties:

I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve which makes my points worth 1.5 cents each when booking through the portal. If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred, points are worth 1.25 cents each. This means that redemption prices would be higher since points are slightly less valuable.

Points required when redeeming in the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal (based on Chase Sapphire Reserve redemption rate of 1.5 cents per point)
  • Ventana Big Sur $1,975 per night (131,667 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per night)
  • Carmel Valley Ranch $660 per night (44,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per night)
  • Hyatt Carmel Highlands is not available. I’ll discuss this more a little later. But if it was available at the Hyatt rate above ($477), the price would be 31,800 points per night
  • Hyatt Regency Monterey $169 per night (11,277 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per night)

Again, these rates do not include taxes and fees, so the amount of points is actually going to be higher once you get further into the booking process. For example, after taxes and fees, Ventana comes to over 145,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per night.

If the Ventana is available to book with World of Hyatt points, then that is absolutely the way to book in this scenario

A standard room is 30,000 points. Availability can be tough to find at Ventana, but Ryan and I were able to find it kind of last minute (within a few weeks of arrival). I suggest checking back often even if your dates aren’t available the first time you check. There were several dates around our trip that had no availability when we first booked the trip, then when I checked again as the trip got closer, I found availability.

It made me curious and in an effort to provide y’all with the best information about availability patterns, I kept checking availability every few days. I found decent availability for really far out dates and really close in dates (within a few weeks). I guess my advice for anyone trying to book Ventana with points is keep checking back if no rooms are available the first time you look. It may make sense to book one of the Hyatt properties in Carmel (but check the cancellation policy) and then keep checking Ventana. If you do not want to stay in Carmel, you could book a Big Sur hotel through the Chase redemption portal that has flexible cancellation. If and when Ventana becomes available, cancel Carmel (or your other hotel) and book Ventana.

I think part of the availability issue at Ventana is that there just are not that many standard rooms. The entire property only has 50 something rooms, and of those, some are suites. Suites are also bookable with World of Hyatt points, but at higher rates. For category 7 hotels, a standard suite is 48,000 per night and a premium suite is 60,000. Premium suite was the only room type available for our dates, but we still booked it. Paid rates for our room type were over $2500 per night. I know. Insane.

Anyway, even at 60,000 points, it’s less than half the amount of points you would need in the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal for a standard room (over 145,000 per night after taxes and fees, plus you still have to pay the resort fee at check in).

Carmel Valley Ranch

Transferring Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt is also the best way to book Carmel Valley Ranch. World of Hyatt requires 25,000 points per night, but booking through the Ultimate Rewards portal for these dates requires over 44,000 points per night after factoring in taxes.

When rates are lower, the Ultimate Rewards redemption portal may be a better way to book

The rates at Hyatt Regency Monterey for these dates are low enough to consider booking through the Chase portal. Even with Taxes and fees, the total comes to ~$193 or ~12,500 points per night. You can transfer points to Hyatt to book this property, but the redemption cost is 15,000 points per night.

Why are some of Chase’s paid rates different than Hyatt paid rates?

There are a few possible reasons for a discrepancy between World of Hyatt’s paid rate and the rate in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

First, Chase’s inventory comes from Expedia. It is possible that Hyatt holds a few rooms and doesn’t release all available rooms to third party booking engines such as Expedia. Only having access to certain room types would explain a discrepancy. But the more likely scenario (as is this case) is that Hyatt is showing you the member rate. If you actually click on the property while searching Hyatt’s website, you’ll see that the standard rates start at the same price shown on the Chase portal in this case ($660).

The fine print

This sounds great, right? If you haven’t done the math, 30,000 points for a room with rates over $1900 is a redemption rate of over 6.5 cents per point. I will show all the math at the very end of the post, so scroll down if you’re interested.

But it would actually be more because that rate would be over $2,000 after taxes and fees. When you transfer Ultimate Rewards and use World of Hyatt to book the stay, you do not have to pay taxes and fees.

Hotel redemptions are subject to availability

The catch is that hotel redemptions are subject to availability. This is the case whether you’re planning to transfer points to World of Hyatt to book or if you’re redeeming points through the redemption portal.

In the Ultimate Rewards portal, available hotel options come from Expedia. Like I said a little earlier, Expedia may not necessarily have access to all available rooms. For example, the Hyatt Carmel Highlands is available to book through Hyatt (with cash or with points) for the dates I used, but it is not available to book on those same dates with the Chase redemption portal.

With World of Hyatt, the general rule of thumb is that if a standard room is available on a paid rate, it should be available to book with WOH points. This is not always the case, though, and the amount of standard rooms varies from property to property. The bottom line is, always check for availability, and do not transfer any Chase points to Hyatt until you have confirmed availability.

Once you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to World of Hyatt (or other partner airlines or hotels), you cannot get them back

Do not transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt (or any transfer partner) until you have confirmed availability.

When you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to a partner airline or hotel, your Ultimate Rewards points become the currency of the airline or hotel program.  For example, if you transfer 20,000 Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt, you now have 20,000 World of Hyatt points.  Those points are subject to the award chart and policies of World of Hyatt.

You cannot transfer those points back to Chase Ultimate Rewards.  For that reason, it is best to wait until you are certain your dates are available before transferring any points.

Which Hyatt properties do we recommend?

Ventana restaurant that overlooks the Ocean

We stayed at Ventana and Hyatt Carmel Highlands on our recent stay, both of which I do recommend. I should probably point out that Ventana is adults only.

I have more details about our trip and those specific properties coming soon, but I do want to point out that due to Covid restrictions in California, some services and amenities may be limited or suspended. If you’re going to be visiting Big Sur in the near future, check your specific hotel for more information.

For example, the restaurant at Hyatt Carmel Highlands is known to have some of the best views in town, but it is closed at the moment. This was not a problem for us because our patio view was so nice. In fact, it was so nice that we cancelled our dinner plans in Carmel-by-the-sea and ordered takeout so that we could watch the sunset from our patio. Ventana also had a few amenities that were limited or suspended, but we didn’t even notice because the stay was amazing.

Dinner view from our patio at Hyatt Carmel Highlands

We did not stay at Carmel Valley Ranch but we did play a round of golf there. We ate breakfast (and had mimosas) at one of the restaurants and it was delicious. According to the website, the fitness center, spa, and kids club are currently unavailable. Also, food and bar service is limited according to the website, but this could just mean reduced capacity. Pools were open, at least one restaurant was open, and golf was open. Anyway, we thought it seemed to be operating mostly like normal (other than face coverings and maybe reduced restaurant seating), especially compared to Hyatt Carmel Highlands.

Spend your money on golf, not hotels!

We have to nothing to report about Hyatt Regency Monterey, but it does seem to be in a good location, especially if you’re wanting to play some golf. It is on the Monterey Peninsula and an easy drive to the 17 miles drive entrance. It is probably about a 45 minute drive to Big Sur, though.

scenery from the 17 mile drive

Other options using the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal

The options when booking with Chase Ultimate Rewards points in the redemption portal have nothing to do with Chase’s hotel transfer partners. In other words, you are not limited to hotels that fall into the Hyatt, Marriott, or IHG umbrellas. There are over 50 options in the area for these dates ranging from less than $100 to over $1900. You can narrow down the results using several filters such as star rating, price, and guest rating.

I obviously can’t advocate for or against any of the properties (other than the ones we’ve stayed), but that’s what Tripadvisor and reviews are for, right?!

There are several options when you use the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal

Getting to Big Sur

You can redeem your transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points for flights by booking through the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal, or you can transfer your points to 10 different airlines.

I ended up separating this post because it was getting so long. This post about flights to Big Sur and the Bay Area is also a good reference when you’re trying to book other domestic routes with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Obviously prices may vary if you’re going somewhere else, but you can get an idea of how many points you need depending on which airline you’re trying to book.

Redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points for flights with airline transfer partners

With the redemption portal, your redemption value is always going to be 1.25 or 1.50 cents per point (depending on which card you have). When you redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points with airline partners, the value could be higher.

Chase Ultimate Rewards airline partners 2019

Of the 10 transfer partners, you may notice that only 3 are based in the US: JetBlue, Southwest, and United. Other US common carriers such as American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Delta are notably absent, but you can still book these airlines with other Chase partners. For example:

I go into much greater detail in the post about booking flights to Big Sur with Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Final thoughts

There are two ways to redeem transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points for free hotel stays. You can either book via the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal or you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to World of Hyatt (or Marriott or IHG).

Using the Ultimate Rewards booking portal is like using your points as cash to book travel.  You’re going to have more options for hotels and you are not limited to Ultimate Rewards transfer partners.  But like cash back credit cards, the value of a point is fixed, so a higher hotel rate is going to cost more points.

Some of our best hotel redemptions have been at Hyatt properties, most of which we booked by transferring Chase points to World of Hyatt.

Earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card has a welcome bonus of 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Chase Sapphire Preferred 2019 Best credit card offers

Current offer: Earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. Earn 2 points per dollar on travel and dining, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. The annual fee is $95, but the welcome offer alone is worth a lot more than that. You can find 25 great ways to redeem some of the bonus points here.

Important: Cards such as the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, but they aren’t the same as transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points. They are basically cash-back cards. Points earned from these cards cannot be transferred unless you also have a CSP, CSR, or CIBP. With that said, pairing the no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited with a CSP, CSR, or CIBP is a great way to boost the amount of Ultimate Rewards points you earn on everyday spending. Click here for more information.

If you already have a card that earns transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards, opening a World of Hyatt credit card is a great way to earn up to 50,000 World of Hyatt points. This card has a few benefits that make the card worth keeping year after year.

World of Hyatt credit card from Chase
chase world of Hyatt credit card 2019

Welcome bonus: The welcome offer on the World of Hyatt credit card from Chase is tiered with a total potential of 50,000 World of Hyatt points.  After spending $3,000 in 3 months, you earn 25,000 Hyatt points.  After spending $6,000 total in 6 months, you earn an additional 25,000 points.  50,000 World of Hyatt points is enough for 2 nights at a category 6 property.

Earn rate: The earn rate is 4 World of Hyatt points per dollar at Hyatt, 2 points per dollar at restaurants, 2 points per dollar on airfare purchased directly from airlines, 2 points per dollar on local transit, and 2 points per dollar on gym memberships.

Other benefits: There is a great benefit that may make this card worth keeping year after year. At your first cardmember anniversary and each anniversary thereafter, you will receive an annual free night certificate which is good for any Hyatt property that is category 1-4.

This card also comes with Discoverist status, which is mid-tier at best, but Discoverist status will get you free premium internet and late checkout. in our experience, Hyatt is also generous with room upgrades, even for lower status!

The annual fee is $95, but there are so many properties for which you can use the annual free night with rates significantly higher than $95. This is a 5/24 card, so it’s a card you will want to open before opening cards from other banks. Click here for the top cards for beginners.

As promised…

The math of booking Hyatt properties with Chase points

Option 1: Transfer Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt
  • Ventana Big Sur $1,975 per night (World of Hyatt category 7-30,000 points per night)
  • Carmel Valley Ranch $594 per night (WOH category 6-25,000 points per night)
  • Hyatt Carmel Highlands $477 per night (WOH category 7-30,000 points per night)
  • Hyatt Regency Monterey $170 per night (WOH category 4-15,000 points per night)

Ventana

  • $1975/30,000= 0.0658
  • 0.0658 X 100= 6.5 cents per point

Carmel Valley Ranch

  • $660/25,000= 0.0264
  • 0.0264 X 100= 2.64 cents per point

Hyatt Regency Monterey

  • $170/15,000= 0.0113
  • 0.0113 X 100= 1.13 cents per point
Option 2: Use the Ultimate Rewards booking portal
  • Ventana Big Sur $1,975 per night (131,667 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per night)
  • Carmel Valley Ranch $660 per night (44,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per night)
  • Hyatt Carmel Highlands is not available. I’ll discuss this more a little later. But if it was available at the Hyatt rate above ($477), the price would be 31,800 points per night
  • Hyatt Regency Monterey $169 per night (11,277 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per night)

Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Business Preferred:

Ventana

  • $1975/1.25= 1580
  • 1580 X 100= 158,000 Ultimate Rewards points per night

Carmel Valley Ranch

  • $660/1.25= 528
  • 528 X 100= 52,800 Ultimate Rewards points per night

Hyatt Regency Monterey

  • $169/1.25= 135.2
  • 135.2 X 100= 13,520 Ultimate Rewards points pernight

Chase Sapphire Reserve is slightly better:

Ventana

  • $1975/1.50= 1316
  • 1316 X 100= 131,667 Ultimate Rewards points per night

Carmel Valley Ranch

  • $660/1.50= 440
  • 440 X 100= 44,000 Ultimate Rewards points per night

Hyatt Regency Monterey

  • $169/1.50= 112.67
  • 112.67 X 100= 11,267 Ultimate Rewards points per night

So here are your totals:

Ventana

  • Transfer to Hyatt: 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points per night (6.5 cpp)
  • Booking portal:
    • CSP or CIBP: 158,000 Ultimate Rewards points per night (1.25 cpp)
    • CSR: 131,667 Ultimate Rewards points per night (1.50 cpp)

Carmel Valley Ranch

  • Transfer to Hyatt: 25,000 Ultimate Rewards points per night (2.64 cpp)
  • Booking portal:
    • CSP or CIBP: 52,800 Ultimate Rewards points per night (1.25 cpp)
    • CSR: 44,000 Ultimate Rewards points per night (1.50 cpp)

Hyatt Regency Monterey

  • Transfer to Hyatt: 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points per night (1.13 cpp)
  • Booking portal:
    • CSP or CIBP: 13,520 Ultimate Rewards points per night (1.25 cpp)
    • CSR: 11,267 Ultimate Rewards points per night (1.50 cpp)

Advertiser disclosure: The Miles Genie has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products.  The Miles Genie and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Comments below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. The comments have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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