There’s little I love more than boarding a plane and jetting off to a new and exciting destination. Since learning about travel hacking nearly a decade ago, I’ve refined my strategies to maximize my miles and points earning opportunities. After all, the only thing that makes an exciting trip better is going for free, or close to it.
But it isn’t just about how you earn your miles and points. The methods, places, and times you redeem matter just as much. If you’re like me and have a growing balance of Chase Ultimate Rewards points from your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, consider these awesome trips you can go on for a fraction of the list price.
1. 33,000 Points: Round-Trip to San Diego
My wife and I spent a week in San Diego several years ago, and it is still one of my favorite trips of all time. The weather is absolutely perfect, and there’s so much to do. From tourist attractions like the San Diego Zoo and Sea World to the stretches of sand along Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach and Lajolla — there’s something for everyone. If you’re ambitious (like we were), you could attempt to see everything the city has to offer by driving San Diego’s historic 59-Mile Scenic Drive. To enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife, head downtown or to the Gaslamp Quarter.
Depending on your departure city and the timing of your trip, you can find great deals within Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal. For example, I found roundtrip airfare from Salt Lake City to San Diego for just 33,024 points.
2. 23,800 Points: Non-Stop Round-Trip Flight to Nassau, Bahamas
A great use of Chase Ultimate Rewards is a romantic getaway to the Bahamas. Staying at one of the many all-inclusive resorts in Nassau has been on our bucket list for a long time. Picture yourself poolside with an umbrella drink in your hand without a care in the world. The beaches are amazing too, as well as the food and everything else that comes with staying at a luxury resort.
Nassau has a little bit of everything — nightlife, culture, casinos, shopping and golf courses. Don’t forget plenty of water sports like snorkeling, kayaking, and fishing. Many of the resorts offer larger suites and amenities geared towards children if you want to bring the whole family. Check out popular tourist spots like Cable Beach, Paradise Island and the Ardastra Gardens & Wildlife Conservation Centre.
You can find plenty of flight deals to Nassau in the Ultimate Rewards portal. I found a non-stop roundtrip flight on JetBlue from Fort Lauderdale to Nassau for 23,847 points.
3. 15,700 Points: Non-Stop Round-Trip Flight to Miami Beach
One of the most popular beaches in the U.S., Miami is known for its beautiful sun-soaked beaches, upscale shopping and dining and energetic nightlife. The luxury Atlantic coast stretch is also known for its arts and culture scene. If you end up near Nikki Beach, I suggest ordering the Tempura Shrimp Tacos. You won’t be disappointed. Miami Beach offers several public beaches and parks and private beach access at most oceanfront hotels and resorts. You can lounge on the beach during the day and take to the sights and sounds of Miami at night.
Finding flight deals to Miami Beach shouldn’t be an issue no matter the departure city. I found non-stop roundtrip airfare from LaGuardia to Miami for as low as 15,744 points on Delta an end-of-summer getaway.
4. 33,500 Points: Non-Stop Round-Trip Airfare to Florence, Italy
As more countries open up travel to Americans, you can find great deals on international flights, including Italy. Florence is located in the Tuscany region of Italy and is one of the great cultural destinations in the world. From museums, cathedrals and architecture to the city’s natural beauty, a trip to Florence is guaranteed to captivate your senses. One of the best ways to explore Florence is through walking tours. Be sure to spend time experiencing real Italian food and wines from the region during your visit.
If you’re going to travel to Italy, why not extend your trip and tour other parts of the country like Rome, Naples, San Marino, Venice and more? There’s no way to see everything that Italy has to offer, especially if you travel off the beaten path. With travel deals available, though, you can save up Ultimate Rewards points for a return visit. I found roundtrip airfare on TAP Portugal from Chicago to Florence in November for 33,572 points.
5. 26,000 Points: Non-Stop Round-Trip Flight to Honolulu, Hawaii
Booking flights directly through the Ultimate Rewards Portal isn’t always the best option. Chase also lets you transfer points to airline and hotel partner rewards programs. Often you’ll find that by transferring points, you can receive even greater value from your points.
Hawaii is open to travel once again, and it’s the perfect time to score a cheap flight using your rewards points. Some of the best Hawaii deals are for inter-island flights, but you can also find great flight deals from western U.S. departure cities. I found a great roundtrip flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu in October and November.
You could book the flight directly through the Chase portal for 31,040 points. One of Chase’s transfer partners is British Airways. The airline is part of the Oneworld alliance. That means you can book flights on Oneworld partner airlines, like American Airlines, using Avios, the points currency of British Airways Executive Club. Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Avios at a 1:1 ratio. You can book the same American flight through British Airways for 26,000 Avios plus $11.20 for taxes and fees.
6. 12,000 Points per Night: Orlando Hotel Accommodations
Millions of Americans travel to Orlando each year to visit tourist destinations like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World and more. Because of the sheer number of flights coming into Orlando International Airport, there are almost always deals available. The same goes for finding accommodations with the enormous volume of hotels, resorts and vacation homes in the surrounding area.
Our family just returned from a week in the Orlando area. Every time we come, we’re amazed by the number of amazing hotels in the area, all with the best amenities you could want. Booking flights might be one of the best uses of Ultimate Rewards points, but you can still get plenty of value by booking accommodations through the portal. One of the top resorts within minutes of the Disney parks is the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. The 1,500-acre resort features 779 rooms and suites, three restaurants, a spa, fitness center, tennis, golf and an enormous pool with 12 waterfalls and a waterslide.
You can book a standard room with a king bed at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress for only 12,000 points per night.
7. 45,000 Points: 7-Day National Parks Road Trip Out West
Chase points are good for flights, hotels, car rentals, activities, cruises and vacation rentals directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. One of my favorite places for a weekend getaway is San Luis Obispo, California, about two hours from my home in Ventura. After all, every trip can’t be a fancy international adventure!
Traveling with three little kids, sometimes a vacation rental is easier than a hotel. I found an awesome loft in the heart of town for about $300 per night on the Ultimate Rewards search tool. I could cover two nights there for 40,000 points at the 1.5 cents per point rate from the Sapphire Reserve card. For about $500 per night or about 67,000 points for a whole weekend, you can bring the entire family and book a three-bedroom rental with room for eight guests.
Make the Most of Your Points
Points are only worth something to you if you really use them. I have friends who sit on their miles and points accounts waiting for last-minute trips and other excuses to tap into their balances, but that’s the wrong attitude to take. Points often become worth less and less over time due to inflation, just like money. Using them today, you can lock in a great value and experience. That’s what miles and points rewards are all about.