Using Chase Ultimate Rewards: Six Roundtrip Tickets to Panama for $261

San Blas Islands Panama – Island Paradise

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

US Bank Panama Redemption

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!

Ultimate Rewards Panama Redemption

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.

  1. Chase Ultimate Rewards: Ink BoldSM with Ultimate Rewards or Chase Sapphire PreferredSM
  2. US Bank Flexperks
  3. 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:

  1. Eight Great Things to do in Panama
  2. A Loop Through Costa Rica
  3. Portobelo, Panama

Thank you for wanderlusting with us!  Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook so you never miss the alerts on these kinds of deals.

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6 Responses to Using Chase Ultimate Rewards: Six Roundtrip Tickets to Panama for $261

  1. Nam says:

    Hey Brad, I was thinking of going to Panama City over Thanksgiving with my boyfriend, but articles about safety concerns and “express kidnappings” which freaked me out. How legitimate are these concerns? Thanks

    • bradleyjai says:

      I wouldn’t worry in the slightest. Panama is extremely safe and modern. As with anywhere, there are areas which are unsafe. Don’t go wandering through the Darien jungle and don’t stumble around drunk in the wrong part of Panama City and you will be totally fine.

      I was there in November of 2009 and it was great – a little rainy in the afternoons sometimes, but overall very nice. I have a friend who lives in Panama City with 4 young children. They love it there.

      The people are very friendly and tourists and expatriots abound. I would very much recommend the San Blas Islands – a veritable paradise that go largely undiscovered.

      Thanks for wanderlusting and please holler with any more questions or thoughts.

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