Cashing in the Ultimate Rewards points

By now you know I’m not a points or miles chaser. My goal is cash, but the Chase Sapphire Reserve card was the exception. I earned 100,000 bonus points and by the summer I was itching to to use them. My plan is to drop the card before the next $450 annual fee. I’ll miss the lounge access and perks, but I can’t justify the fee.

Until then I can take advantage of the bonus Chase gives Reserve holders when booking travel with points. Rather than each point being worth $.01, it’s worth $.015 or $1,500 in bonus points.
We find September/October and February/March some of the cheapest times to fly because it’s off-season. My goal was to find something less than $400 round-trip and while Wow Air tempted me with a few $99 fares, the return fares of $299.99 meant that wasn’t an amazing deal when you factor in baggage.

We then tried turning our attention to Cuba. Given President Donald Trump’s remarks in June on Cuban travel we thought our window for individual people-to-people visits might be coming to an end. I tried to use our Ultimate Reward points for a $370 deal on JetBlue, but Chase wouldn’t do it. Apparently Chase won’t book legal travel to Cuba (along with North Korea, Sudan and Syria). One agent claimed it was because the U.S. doesn’t have an embassy there (it does). Another said Chase didn’t want the liability if the trip fell through. If the deal were on Southwest I would have just done a 1:1 UR points to SWA points, but that option doesn’t exist for JetBlue so I moved on.

Instead I noticed flights to Asia starting to come down. It started with Vietnam going below $500 then I found I could swap in Singapore and Bangkok to drop the price even lower.
In the end we settled on a $450 round-trip deal and put the rest of the points toward hotels. It did require paying for AirAsia tickets out of pocket since Chase won’t book with them either, but it was worth it.
Cashing in the Ultimate Rewards points Cashing in the Ultimate Rewards points Reviewed by Brandon on August 15, 2017 Rating: 5

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