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Normally I like to transfer my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airline frequent flyer miles or to Hyatt points. However I recently had an interesting use case to spend Ultimate Rewards points for paid travel.
Chase Ultimate Rewards has the following transfer partners:
- Airlines: United, Southwest, JetBlue, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Air France KLM, Singapore, Iberia, Aer Lingus
- Hotels: Hyatt, Marriott, IHG
In addition to transferring to loyalty programs Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card let you use your miles for paid travel at 1.25 cents apiece. If you have a Sapphire Reserve or J.P. Morgan Reserve you can use points at 1.5 cents apiece.
One feature of Chase’s travel portal is that you can make split tender payments — part cash and part points. You can choose the exact number of points you want to use and pay the balance of any trip in cash.
I had a flight I needed to book where the trip’s sponsor would pay for an economy ticket. However with domestic first class not much of an upcharge, and return travel on a Thursday afternoon, I decided I wanted paid first.
I could have bought the coach ticket and called American to ‘upfare’ but I hate the phone and it just seemed easier to book first class straight away. I paid the cost of a coach ticket in cash (and .pdf’d documentation showing such for reimbursement purposes) but booked a first class ticket using points for the difference. It seemed like this would save time.
However as a result of American Airlines irregular operations I was re-accommodated on United and downgraded to coach (which was all that was left).
- I emailed American Airlines for ‘original routing credit’. I got an email telling me they do not offer the miles for flights I didn’t take, and also that I wouldn’t get a refund between coach and first for difference in fare since they put me on United.
- I rang up American and they gave me the miles while I waited on the phone. The miles posted instantly.
- Customer relations processed a refund for the difference in fare.
Unfortunately they sent the refund check in the mail to the travel agency making the booking rather than to me. So I’d have to work with the Ultimate Rewards travel folks to get the money.
And between the time I made the booking and the time the refund was sent Chase transitioned from using Connexions Loyalty to Expedia to handle their travel portal bookings. The check was sent to Connexions, but calling Ultimate Rewards travel gives me Expedia.
I called the phone number for Ultimate Rewards travel. They had to transfer me to the department at Connexions Loyalty handling these bookings from before the cut-over. Connexions then told me they needed “their help desk” and transferred me into a phone tree without any relevant option.
I called back, waited on hold for an agent who put me on hold to transfer me over to the relevant Connexions folks. There I was told that I needed to wait “1-2 billing cycles” for them to process the refund received by American Airlines and that I would either get cash or points back they could not say which.
On my insistence I was given a phone number to reach their department directly along with a tracking number for my issue. When I told them I assumed that the process wouldn’t take care of itself as promised, and that I’d need to follow up, they advised that I should wait 4-6 weeks before doing so.
Anyway I thought this was an interesting enough experience to pass along — the use case for paying for travel with points and the process of dealing with a refund — indeed one where money was sent to a vendor who is no longer primary with Chase.