Any good points-hoarder has a good stash of bank points – travel rewards that can be transferred to other programs OR spent as cash. For example, the much-extolled Chase Ultimate Rewards program not only lets you transfer to a variety of other programs, they also allow you to spend your points as cash. Thus, when you can find a great deal on flights AND use points to book it, you get a double benefit by being extremely efficient.
For example – most times a flight from SLC to PTY (Panama – a bastion of jungle adventure, among other things) would cost ~$900 or 72,000 UR points. But get that flight for $332 and you’ll only spend ~27,000 UR points. It gets even more exciting when you consider that you’ll also receive traditional FF miles when you fly ~6,000 of them.
Using Ultimate Rewards
In May, I was alerted to just such a deal and because I was prepared with points program proliferation, I booked my family of six to Panama in January for $261 in out-of-pocket costs. I used about 59,000 UR points and 60,000 US Bank Flexperks points. The US Bank points allow me to book any flight up to $399 for 20k points – so it would have been optimal to use them on a $395 flight – but I figured it was still a bargain. (They also give you $25 each ticket each way to spend on in-flight expenses). And, yes, if you’re doing the math, we’ll also get 6k AA miles for each passenger – a total of 36k AA miles – enough to fly to Central America again!
Hopefully you’ve been wanderlusting with us for long enough to have some of these puppies socked away so you can jump on this opportunity. If you don’t, here are some bank-point programs where you can begin piling up points for the next time.
- Chase Ultimate Rewards: Ink BoldSM with Ultimate Rewards or Chase Sapphire PreferredSM
- US Bank Flexperks
- Barclaycard Travelocity
If you’re not convinced that Panama or Central America is the kind of destination that would really draw you in, check out some of our previous posts:
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