Planning a trip with 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards

If you’ve been reading our site for a couple of weeks now, you’ve most likely read about planning a trip to Thailand using points and miles. Unfortunately, not everyone has hundreds of thousands of miles. We wanted to show that planning a weekend trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards is possible.

I’m a self-proclaimed points and miles nerd, meaning I enjoy doing random research about point redemptions. To show a weekend trip can be planned for just 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards, I’m going to plan a trip!

The situation & where to go

Planning a trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards can get you four days in San Diego.
The San Diego Waterfront. Photo Daniel Guerra, Unsplash.

Obviously, the hardest part of planning a trip is figuring out where to go. I’ve been wanting to go to San Diego – I’ve never been there and it’s a place that seems like a solid spot for a quick weekend. They have great Mexican food, a solid craft beer scene, and a cool downtown area along the water.

Even though I currently live in Seattle, for this article, we’re going to pretend I live in Denver to give it a more central location in the United States.

We are planning a trip with 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards – this needs to cover both flights and hotel. We might have to pay a little out of pocket, but points and miles are going to help take up a good portion of the cost.

I’m looking to book a three-night trip (either Friday through Monday or Thursday through Sunday). Being flexible with dates will help when it comes to purchasing flights!

Flight Options to San Diego

In a perfect world, we find some cheap flights and pay for them with cash so we can splurge on downtown hotel accommodations. You would be shocked at the cheap fares that can be found on domestic flights. Unfortunately, mid-summer isn’t a great time to find super cheap flights. but it’s always worth keeping an eye on Scott’s Cheap Flights to score good deals!

We’re going to look at three options for redeeming points for flights. First,
we will check out what the cash fares look like. Second, redeeming through the Chase Travel Portal for 1.5 cents per points since I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve. And third, by using one of Chase’s eight airline transfer partners. The many options are one of the reasons we love credit cards with transferrable points!

Paying for the flights with cash

Let’s first look at how much flight would cost if we paid for them. There are two options – neither which are horribly cheap.

Cash Option 1: Southwest Airlines

(Remember, Southwest Airlines doesn’t show up on Google Flights!)

  • DEN – SAN (direct) (Thursday, 7:05am – 8:20pm)
  • SAN – DEN (direct) (Sunday, 8:05pm – 12:01am)
  • Cost: $267.96 each

Cash Option 2: United Airlines

  • DEN – SAN (direct) (Thursday, 1:50pm – 3:07pm)
  • SAN – DEN (direct) (Sunday, 6:10pm – 9:27pm)
  • Cost: $267 (basic economy fare that doesn’t include seat assignment or carry-on bag. Must pay for checked bag)

Chase Travel Portal

Now let’s look at the Chase Travel Portal where each Chase Ultimate Reward will be worth 1.5 cents. Note that this is powered by Expedia, so you might see different fares on here than Google Flights. Additionally, you will not see any Southwest flights on the portal.

Chase Travel Portal: United Airlines

  • DEN – SAN (direct) (Thursday, 8:05am – 9:22am)
  • SAN – DEN (direct) (Sunday, 6:10pm – 9:27pm)
  • Cost: $266.60 or 17,773 UR points

Chase Travel Portal: United Airlines

  • DEN – SAN (direct) (Friday, 8:05am – 9:22qm)
  • SAN – DEN (direct) (Monday, 6:02pm – 9:20pm)
  • Cost: $236.60 or 15,773 UR points

Remember, as we cover in our Beginner’s Guide on how to redeem points and miles, you can use your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to cover a part of a flight in order to make it cheaper.

Planning a trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards allows you to use points to cover a percentage of the overall cost.
In this example, we used just 12,000 points to cover the cost of the flight and will still have to pay $56.60 for a flight.

Chase Airline Transfer Partners

Next, let’s look at some of the Chase transfer partners.

Using Southwest Rapid Rewards Miles

Southwest Airlines transfer at a 1:1 transfer ratio instantly from Chase.

  • DEN – SAN (direct) (Thursday, 7:05am – 8:20pm)
  • SAN – DEN (direct) (Sunday, 8:05pm – 12:01am)
  • Cost: 17,948 miles each

Other options

There are many other options for using your Chase Ultimate Rewards. When it comes to US domestic awards, only a handful are helpful. You’ll notice that a lot of these don’t have “availability”. What that means is that American Airlines, for example, hasn’t opened up any award space to British Airways. If I really wanted to use one of these options, something might open up if I were to check periodically over the next few weeks.

  • Aer Lingus: No options
  • Air France/KLM: Can redeem on Delta, however no availability on dates
  • British Airways Avios: Can redeem on American, however no availability on dates
  • Iberia Plus: Can redeem on American, however no availability on dates
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer: Didn’t check availability as cheapest domestic ticket goes for 25,000 miles.
  • United Airlines MileagePlus: Cheapest options were 30,000 miles roundtrip.
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Can redeem on American, however cheapest ticket was 50,000 miles one way.

Hotel Options in San Diego

There are a ton of hotels in San Diego – none of which are super cheap when it comes to paying for them. Thankfully, there are some options to use Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Hyatt

I’m a huge Hyatt fan because their redemption-levels are very reasonable. Their category one hotels go for just 5,000 points per night. Now, there aren’t any of those in San Diego but there are some options that are 8,000 and 12,000 per night. Other chains like Hilton, IHG or Marriott would charge 15,000-20,000 points per night at a low-tier property.

Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina – 12,000 points per night

Located just a little north of the city, three nights would run 36,000 points, but paying for one night is also an option. A single night would cost $276.

When planning a trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards, booking the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina is possible as they are a transfer partner.

Hyatt House San Diego/Sorrento Mesa – 12,000 points per night

Also located a little north of downtown, this property is close to UC San Diego and Torrey Pines.

When planning a trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards, booking the Hyatt House San Diego/Sorrento Mesa is possible as they are a transfer partner.

Hyatt House San Diego/Sorrento Mesa – 8,000 points per night

The cheapest option is in Carlsbad, 30 miles north of downtown. The property is literally three blocks away from the beach and adjacent to the interstate for easy access into the city.

When planning a trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards, booking the Hyatt House San Diego/Carlsbad is possible as they are a transfer partner.

Chase Travel Portal

Similar to flights, when planning a trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards using the Chase Travel Portal can be helpful because you can cover a percentage of a hotel with points. Jenny recently did this on her trip to Thailand with most of the hotels. It adds a lot of flexibility.

Unfortunately, there weren’t a ton of great options in San Diego that were cheaper than 12,000 points.

Hotel Karlan San Diego – a DoubleTree by Hilton – 12,788 points per night or $191.82

Located Northwest of the city, this Hilton is outside of the city center but is still a good price.

Moxy San Diego – 13,706 points per night or $205.60

I know nothing about this hotel as it’s not part of a major brand, but the reviews look good, and it’s in a great location. I’m not going to San Diego to sleep in the hotel, so as long as it’s nice and safe, it’s perfect for me.

Final Decision

In the end, I’m going to go with using points for the Southwest flights from Denver to San Diego. While it is a little more expensive than the United Flights through the Chase Travel Portal, I will be able to choose my seat and won’t have to pay $30 for a checked bag.

Final Flights Cost: 17,596 x 2 = 35,896 Southwest Rapid Rewards + $22.40

For the hotel, I’m going to go with the Hyatt House in Carlsbad just three blocks from the beach. I really went back and forth on this. While staying in the city was permit me to get away with not renting a car, I think a car would be useful since I would be there for four days. Carlsbad is a nice area with beach access and it’s easy enough to shoot into the city.

The second option was the Moxy San Diego downtown which would have cost me 24,104 Ultimate Rewards and $323.91.

However, staying at the Hyatt House in Carlsbad will be free as three nights will take just 24,000 points.

Final Hotel Cost: 24,00 Hyatt Points 

All in, I will spend just 59,896 Chase Ultimate Rewards and $22.40 for a trip for two to San Diego for four days and three nights. I’ll have to rent a car, but based on a quick quote from AutoSlash, I can get a rental for $156 for the weekend, not bad at all! Planning a trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards allows for flexibility by using both transfer partners and the Chase Travel Portal.

Additionally, holding a hotel credit card that offers a free annual night could also come in handy on weekend trips. The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card offers a companion pass once per year which can also lead to great savings.

If you have a destination in mind and a certain amount of points, we’re happy to help. Send it our way and we’ll help you plan a quick weekend getaway!


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