Paying for hotels with Chase Ultimate Rewards points is one of the many ways to use Chase points. It’s also one of the many reasons I find Chase points to be the most valuable among all the transferable points currencies. Today I wanted to cover the main pros and cons when booking hotels with Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
First, the basics: If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card (my friends and family referral link) your points are worth 1.5 cents each towards any travel booked through the Chase travel portal. This means, since you get 3x points on travel and dining, any of those purchases give you a return of 4.5% when booking travel through Chase. Travel includes flights, hotels, activities such as tours, or rental cars.
Cons: Booking Hotels through Chase
Alright, now let’s dive into the specifics of the cons of booking hotels through Chase. I always like to start with the bad news!
You do not receive elite benefits at hotel chains
Any hotels booked through Chase are treated as third party bookings similar to Expedia or Orbitz. What this means is you do not receive elite benefits or points. This is because hotel chains are paying a commission to third party booking agencies and would like to avoid that so this is an encouragement to book with them directly.
There is a possibility certain hotels may honor elite benefits such as free breakfast, room upgrades, etc. anyways but it is not a right and should not be expected.
The redemption value is fixed at 1.5 cents per point
It is very possible with certain transfer partners to get an outsized value of 2+ cents per point. Here the value is fixed. Meaning, let’s say a Hyatt is 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night by booking an award, or $450/night, you would be spending more points to book through the Chase portal where you would need 30,000 Chase points.
Cancellation windows may be different
Because the Chase portal is a third party booking the cancellation policies may be different than the hotels. Many rates will specifically say “Refundable up until hotel’s cancellation window*”. You then need to specifically check that hotels policy. Some of the rates are non-refundable. Just make sure to check before booking
Pros: Booking Hotels with Chase
No elite benefits means freedom!
I often find myself selecting hotels based on where I can earn points and get elite benefits. Elite benefits which sometimes aren’t even that great. Because you don’t get elite benefits there’s no reason to be loyal to a hotel chain and you can just pick the hotel most appealing for you.
Ability to use points for independent, non-chain hotels
Going hand in hand with the above, often using Hilton or Marriott points means being stuck with a non-descript Marriott in a cool city. Booking a hotel through Chase means you have all sorts of cool, independent boutique hotels available to you. For instance, in my upcoming San Francisco trip I can use points to stay at Hotel Zeppelin, a quirky boutique hotel with very cool decor.
The value can be better by using Chase points.
Depending on the cash price per night sometimes you get more value by booking with Chase points vs. using traditional hotel points. This happens when rates are cheaper than normal. For instance, in my upcoming San Francisco trip the cash rate is $190/night for a Hyatt that costs 25,000 points per night. This means the cash rate is a much better value, but I don’t want to spend cash! Enter Chase points.
Some people do not use Chase points to pay for their travel through the Chase booking portal. They would much rather get the elite benefits and find outsized value in a hotel room. However, there are absolutely circumstances where it makes sense to do so!
For my upcoming San Francisco trip the hotel rates are far cheaper than normal so using traditional hotel points makes zero sense. So I have decided to pay with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. I could just pay cash and get elite benefits at a Hyatt, but I have points so I don’t have to pay for hotels! Now that I’m not attached to a certain chain it’s actually a challenge to sort through all the amazing independent (and chain!) hotels in the city and pick one!