Puerto Vallarta on Points: Two Ways to Use Ultimate Rewards

Puerto Vallarta on Ultimate Reward points
View from the patio of our friends’ family’s home in Puerto Vallarta

There are two ways to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards

Actually there are more, but as I have stated before, please don’t ever use reward points or miles for gift cards or merchandise! Your points are most valuable if you use these 2 methods:

  1. Transfer points to airlines or hotels at a 1:1 ratio
  2. Book hotels and/or flights through the Ultimate Rewards portal (not to be confused with the shopping portals I mentioned for earning) which is basically using your points as cash for 1.25 cents per point if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred and 1.50 cents per point if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Most of the time, you’re going to get more value out of transferring your points to partners, but I’ll give examples of both scenarios.  Remember that in general when it comes to redeeming points, I try to get at least 2 cents per point in value.  But as I have said before, there may be scenarios where I will redeem for less than that, and redeeming in the Ultimate Rewards portal is one of these scenarios.

I’m going to use Puerto Vallarta for this example, because we love going with our awesome friends and maybe said friends will take this as a hint that we need to go back soon.  Also, Happy Cinco de Mayo!  First, let’s talk about the flights.

You can learn more about which credit cards earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points here.

Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards with the booking portal

You could log into your UR account and book through the portal.

Chase Sapphire Reserve
Chase Sapphire Reserve Portal. The only 2 options you need to worry about are Explore & Book Travel and Transfer to Travel Partners

Explore & Book Travel (by using points as cash)

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The cheapest roundtrip flight in economy is $622 or 41,494 points with Reserve at a 1.5 cents per point rate or 49,792 points with Preferred at a 1.25 cents per point rate
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The roundtrip non-stop flights in economy are $775 or 51,694 points with Reserve or 62,032 points with Preferred

Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards by transferring to airline partners at a 1:1 ratio

OR  you can transfer your points to British Airways to book the non-stop AA flights for only 7,500 each way or 15,000 roundtrip in economy.

OR you can transfer to BA to book the AA flight in business class for 15,000 points each way or 30,000 roundtrip.

Now of course this is assuming BA/AA has the award ticket available.  As I’ve stated before, but I can’t say it enough, NEVER TRANSFER YOUR POINTS UNTIL YOU’VE CONFIRMED AVAILABILITY ON YOUR DATES!

Update May 2019: British Airways has slightly increased redemption prices. This route would now be 9k each way in economy, which is still a better redemption price than if you were to use AAdvantage. It’s also most likely going to be a lower amount of points than if you were to redeem through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

In this case, the ticket is available in both economy and business.

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One way economy ticket from DFW to PVR booked on AA with British Airways costs 7500 Avios each way
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One way business class from US to Mexico on AA but booked through BA is 15,000 Avios

To Summarize:

You can book a business class ticket on an American Airlines flight by transferring Chase points to British Airways for less than the amount of points an economy ticket would cost if you were to book through the portal.

For more info about booking American Airlines flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards (or Amex Membership Rewards) points transferred to British Airways Avios, including instructions, see this post: How to book American Airlines flights with British Airways Avios.

I’m going to play devil’s advocate and give an example of a better use of the redemption portal than points:

Update: Since SPG and Marriott have merged, there is a new Marriott redemption chart. But this is still a great example of when using the portal makes sense.

You can find a more current post specific to booking Marriott with Chase Ultimate Rewards points here: How to book Marriott stays with Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Looking at hotels in Puerto Vallarta, there is a Marriott category 7 property.  Since Marriott is a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards, you could transfer your points to your Marriott account and book through them. Or you could book through the Chase UR redemption portal at a 1.25 cents or 1.50 cents per point rate (depending on which Sapphire card you have).

To book through Marriott:

Puerto Vallarta Marriott

30,000 points per night

To book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption portal:

Puerto Vallarta Marriott Chase Ultimate Rewards

8,601 points per night with the Chase Sapphire Reserve or 10,320 points per night with Chase Sapphire Preferred. 

So in this case, booking the hotel with 8,601 or 10,320 points per night is clearly a better deal.  I know I’ve said I like to try to get at least 2 cents per point when redeeming, but there are some instances where it may make sense to use the booking portal to redeem, especially with points such as Chase Ultimate Rewards where it is easy to earn more than 1 point per dollar on the earning side of the equation.

Enjoy your Cinco de Mayo, book a trip to Mexico, and send us pics! Follow on Instagram and Facebook!

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