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When you use your Chase card to buy travel directly — instead of transferring points to miles — you have the Ultimate Rewards online portal and you have phone reps. There are some things you cannot do online, like book Southwest Airlines flights. However there’s a new thing you can do online…
Most online travel sites present you with the lowest fare. But you don’t always want the lowest fare, at least not any more now that American and United have followed Delta’s lead with ‘Basic Economy’ fares and gone a step further by not even allowing you to bring a full-sized carry on bag onboard when booking one of these.
Sometimes it’s just an extra $10 each way, on average $20, to buy out of these restrictions — to be able to get a seat assignment at booking, to be able to make changes (for a fee), and for elites to still be entitled to extra legroom coach seats and to upgrades.
Fortunately the Chase booking portal has been updated to allow you to select the kind of coach fare you’d like to book. That includes avoiding basic economy fares and with Delta booking their extra legroom product which is considered a separate fare instead of just a paid seat assignment.
Here’s an example:
You can pick up the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card and that has an 80,000 point signup bonus after $5000 spend within 3 months. It earns 3 points per dollar on travel — that’s airlines, hotels, rental cars, tolls, even Uber — and 3 points per dollar on shipping and advertising on social media and search engines, so great for anyone who advertises on Facebook or Twitter, or who spends money advertising with Google.
Bear in mind that points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card — which has a 50,000 point signup bonus after $4000 spend within 3 months and earns triple points on travel and dining — are worth 1.5 cents apiece when spent directly on paid travel through Ultimate Rewards. And you can transfer points from other Chase cards to Sapphire Reserve, so that those points can then be spent at 1.5 cents apiece.
If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening; $0 annual fee the first year, then $95; double points on travel and dining) those points are worth 1.25 cents apiece towards paid travel in addition to transferring to airline miles and hotel points. Transfer the points to a Sapphire Reserve card and they become worth 1.5 cents apiece towards paid travel.
And now you can book that paid travel online while avoiding Basic Economy. Although sometimes basic economy fares are so cheap they’re worth it, or more accurately the ‘buy up’ from basic economy is so absurdly high you wouldn’t want to pay it.