UR Points Not = 1.5 Cents For Me. How to Maximize Travel?

UR Points Not = 1.5 Cents For Me. How to Maximize Travel?
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#1

I keep reading how UR points are worth 1.5 cents for travel purchases, but what doesn’t seem to be accounted for is that the costs are higher when booking through Chase. In some preliminary searching it’s about 20% more expensive to book a Marriott hotel through Chase than directly from the Marriott website. It’s 30% more expensive for rental cars, because I can’t use my corporate discount code.

I can’t book Southwest Flights directly on the Chase UR portal, but I’ve heard you can call them in. Let’s ignore the waste of my time (could easily be 1/2 Hour from the time I dial the phone to the time the flight is booked, unsure since I haven’t tried).

What happens if you book a WGA fare with UR and then cancel it? Since it was a revenue flight, I’m guessing you are locked into the purchase and have 1 year to spend the money on another flight. Whereas if you book with Southwest points, then if you cancel, the points get refunded back to you. And SW points are worth 1.6 cents each for travel, and UR transfers 1:1 to SW.

However, I believe if you book a SW flight from UR then you get to earn points on the trip since SW sees it as a revenue ticket.

I’m struggling to figure out how to maximize the UR travel benefit at 1.5 cents, and every blogger vaguely says “at the bare minimum, I get 1.5 cents per point” and it seems like 1.2 cents per point for me if the travel costs are 20% more expensive booking through UR.


#2

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#3

I’ve found the same thing with direct UR portal hotels and cars. Cars I usually end up with a costco rate. Hotels are much cheaper directly, and can include status benefits and large rebates (Hilton, anyways… with Diamond it’s 20pt/$+14pt/$aspireCC+2000/stayQuarterlyPromo = 47pt/$ on a $150 1-night stay, or about 23% since points are worth about 1/2 a cent. Although I do have 2 reward nights next week where it only cost me 30k pts for rooms that were $240 cash price, which is 0.8 cents/HH point.).

All airline flights I have compared are exactly priced the same as at the airlines themselves.

It shouldn’t take half an hour to call in. I will first adjust down slightly the value you posted for SW points. 1.6/1.7 points does not account for not earning ~1/10 or 1/11 back in SW points when you book with SW points, you also need to carefully account for the 5.50 fee you must pay on top of the points (easy to miss. For example, $100 ticket booked with 6000 points. The value is not $100/6000 = 1.666, it’s only $94.50/6000 = 1.575. Then subtract the 9-10% for “not earning RR”). So you’re back to around 1.5cents/pt best-case scenario for Rapid Rewards points. Which is roughly equivalent to booking through Chase Travel with CSR. However, the cancellation scenario is much better with RR points. Cancelling a southwest flight booked by Chase is like cancelling a cash booking – most or all other airlines are similar. So, if you book a WGA through Chase Travel on southwest and cancel that gives you a credit good for only 12 months and the same traveler name. This makes Chase->SWRR points transfer and booking with Rapid Rewards superior in most cases for WGA, mainly for the flexibility. Cancelled travel booked with Rapid Rewards is simply refunded as points into your Rapid Rewards account with no additional restrictions (and even for some reason is still exempt from the No Show penalties, although I’d not recommend or suggest to No Show).

Exceptions: Southwest does not have a set redemption value for points anymore. Even for WGA. If the lowest fare buckets fill up and the WGA’s get more expensive then it gives you lower redemption values. Over thanksgiving, I’ve seen $240 WGA fares that cost 26k RR points to book. Additionally, Anytime/Bus fares are way more expensive to use RR points to book. For any of these scenarios, booking directly through Chase Travel will be superior. Additionally, it may be useful if you’re going for SW status. I am not currently.

Additionally, Booking through Chase Travel is often useful for booking flights on airline transfer partners other than southwest, since the point values at american/delta/etc are often very poor. Or for booking on airlines that aren’t transfer partners, where you can get your exactly 1.5c value.

UR point transfers to Hyatt can also work out better than 1.5c per point. With my limited travel I have been unable to really find more than one or two cases where there was a cheap point cost but nice looking Hyatt, and I pay for Diamond at Hilton and am just more familiar with them so no Hyatt usage for me yet.


#4

The “I get 1.5 cpp” claim also includes transfers to airline programs for awards.

You have to always figure it both ways, Sometimes the revenue ticket will be a better deal booked through a bank portal- other times an award beats it. Except for the Southwest case y’all mentioned in which the points are worth around 1.5 anyway.

I tend to fly last minute, so it’s very rare that a revenue fare is cheaper than an award. But it happens, especially with all the basic economy fares in the market without advance purchase restrictions,


#5

(Prepaid) hotels are kind of a fail though any bank portal due to loss of elite benefits if you have them. The bloggers certainly aren’t booking prepaid hotels using Chase points.


#6

I really value SW points a little over 1.5cpp, even though that’s the cash value I apply to them.

I have cancelled and/or re-fared a lot of flights… Tracking the individual leftover funds plus them being tied to separate people is painful as hell. ONLY using RR points makes it easy. I’d have to see under 1.3cpp using RR to get me to book through Chase travel directly. Usually in those cases it’s cheaper to book on another airline. Like I did for my flight tomorrow. $400 through southwest or $166 through AA. 11k points each through chase travel portal.


#7

I agree bend3r. I’ve lost enough expired funds here and there over the years that I prefer points over revenue fares, especially since I book lots of sales fares on spec and then fly or cancel later.

And I tend to mostly book those edge cases of $100 or less fares in which you get closer to 1.6 cpp.


#8

I’m moving the thread to “Travel.”


#9

Speaking of basic economy, it can sometimes be a ridiculously good value in bank points vs. an award. A $50 oneway would be 3,333 UR or Amex but would be as much as 12,500 in miles. You’d have to be able to accept losing the change flexibility and hopefully still get bags via elite status or a cobrand credit card.

The Amex portal sometimes offers further discounts off the published fare but it’s somewhat random. I bought a ton of cheap fares while Amex biz Plat was allowing redemption at .02.


#10

I’d call that more of a terrible value on those carriers in their points than a ridiculously good value. 1.5c is a good value but not ridiculous.


#11

Keep in mind that a few point currencies, notably Hyatt, can be transferred to third parties without running afoul of T&Cs.


#12

For the record, I have booked a rental car for a few bucks less on the UR portal than either Costco or Hotwire (my usual sources for rental cars) and I’ve seen other reports of similar experiences. When it’s not cheaper, you could probably call Chase reservations and ask for a price match.


#13

Came across a guy on Flyer Talk mentioning that UR are worth a minimum of 1.7 cents each for him. Still not sure how that’s happening.

Could it be that he’s booking WGA fares on SW at 1.5 cents per UR point due to 50% Sapphire bonus, and then earning 12 points per dollar spent on SW because he’s A+ list, and valuing each of those points as 1.6 cents each?

That would be an additional 0.192 cents of value per UR point, so about 1.69 cents per point.

Maybe…


#14

I am guessing that refers to the value he gets from partner programs he transfers the UR points to, like Hyatt.


#15

Someone could be thinking that way but clearly that’s a flawed line of thinking. You’d get those same points when you pay cash. That’s why it reduces the value vs cash quotes if you pay with rapid rewards points.

Airlines (with first class tickets few people normally buy) is one of the high redemption value options. The other easier one is Hyatt if they’re where you’re traveling and in the price range you’d normally stay at. See attached example ~$190 cash price (after adding in taxes) or 8000 Hyatt points. I haven’t stayed at Hyatt so dunno how much point value you usually earn, so I’ll discount by 10% for not earning rewards, = 2.1375 cents per point.


#16

He’s probably transferring to southwest RR miles then booking WGA fares there. You are not charged the taxes on these trips so the value can approach or exceed 1.7cents on cheap WGA fares. Do some sample date bookings on SW and flip between booking with cash and points and see what it looks like.


#17

I’ve never stayed in a Hyatt in my life but I might need to investigate since the more I read, it sounds like people are getting 3 cents per point for some Hyatt stays.

Are Hyatts considered a lower, middle, or upper tier of hotel? What would the Marriott equivalent be?


#18

Interesting, I just always assumed it was 1.6 cents per point for WGA fares and then pay $5.60 per flight. Not sure what you mean by not being charged taxes on trips… I thought if you do transfer UR to RR and pay with RR then you pay taxes, but if you pay with UR then no taxes?


#19

There’s a 7.5% Federal excise tax
Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) ~$15
Flight Segment Tax ~$15

So a $185 fare might be $149 after the taxes are stripped out, then your points are calculated against that.

$185 fare is 10,985 points, 1.68 cents per point.


#20

When you pay with UR directly, you do pay taxes. At 1.5cents/pt.
When you transfer to rapid rewards you don’t pay the taxes or segment fees in the points calculation and you pay the tsa fee separately with $. They originally had a direct conversion of 60 RR per $1 of the fare portion. Then they changed it to 70 RR/$. Then they changed it where it is variable with a max value of 70RR/$ but it’s lower value on certain routes or when the WGAs get into higher fare buckets as the plane fills.

This makes some really low priced fares (like if you ever find $49 fares) come out at better redemption rates because the taxes and fees that go away make up a significant portion of the full cash price. $100-$150 WGA fares generally come out at 1.7c/RR point, or near 1.5c/RR point when you adjust for not earning RR. Higher priced WGA fares (and partially filled flights) can come out at worse than 1c/pt.

You do not get an “extra” 10% vs cash when you pay with UR directly due to earning RR. You get parity with cash, and exactly 1.5 cents value. Or if you really want to get specific, you get ~1.42 cents value (no 3 UR for travel earned when you spend the UR. But then you have to go and adjust down the RR transfers another 4.5% too).

Someone paying with RR and comparing directly with cash price would need to discount cash price by ~10% to properly value spending the RR points, because they don’t earn RR on the RR redemption flights.