As a team, we’ve booked hundreds of award flights over the years and London is one of our sweet spots especially seeing that England is my homeland!
To book this trip, you’ll need “Chase Ultimate Rewards” points, which we’ll just refer to as “Chase Points”, a bit less of a mouthful 🙂
These are simple rewards points that are earned through owning (and using) specific Chase credit cards.
Chase points are very easy to earn and they’re valuable because you can use the points to offset the cost of a flight or hotel stay, when booked within the Chase portal.
For example, if a flight costs $625 you can use your Chase points to pay for (all) of that. It would cost 50,000 points in that example as each Chase point = 1.25 Cents.
These points can also be transferred to other airlines and hotels, which maximize your options for using them which is definitely a good thing! But, we’ll get to that another day…
This guide will focus on using Chase points within their Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to pay for your travel.
Today, I’ll show how you can use sign-up bonus points from just one Chase credit card to pay for your direct, round-trip flights to London.
And, if you use the card regularly it’ll probably pay for a return flight across the pond to London EVERY year 😉
The award-winning rewards card that you’ll need is called the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
I’m sure you’ve probably already heard of it? Perhaps a lot of your friends and family have the card, but here’s why it’s a fantastic product.
You’ll earn 50,000 bonus points for signing up to the card after meeting their minimum spend requirement!
50,000 points are worth $625 towards travel, when you redeem through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal which you’ll get access to as a cardmember.
(If you’ve ever booked a flight online at Google Flights or Expedia etc then you’ll easily be able to use Chase’s portal).
In numerous cases, the bonus points will easily cover your trip to London from the US for one traveler.
No, we’re not talking about super low cost carriers (and from “unknown” airports that no-one wants to go to!), these are flights with United or British Airways or American Airlines etc, and from tons of major airports in the US such as San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, JFK, Denver and so on.
Pretty cool, eh?
Here’s a few more details about the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card before we dive into the easy strategy:
- You’ll earn 2 points for every $1 you spend on travel and dining purchases with your card. All other purchases get you 1 point per $1 spent.
- The 50,000 sign up bonus is earned after spending $4,000 on the card within the 1st 3 months of opening the account. Not many find it tricky to hit that bonus seeing you can use your card for almost any transaction, such as online purchases (e.g. Amazon.com), groceries, restaurants and dining, gas, travels, cable, phone, gas – the list goes on.
- The annual fee is $0 for the first year, then $95. Considering that 50,000 bonus points are worth $625, many instantly see the huge value 😉
We put EVERY expense (that doesn’t incur a fee) on our credit cards so that we’re continually accruing these valuable points.
(Obviously, this is only worth it if you can pay off your monthly card balance. Don’t spend money on a credit card if you’re not 100% sure you can pay it off).
I honestly can’t remember the last time that I used a debit card as their rewards are pretty much non-existent. That’s why I always use a credit card whenever I spend.
To Give You An Idea…
If you spend, for example, $3,000 per month generally in your life, you’d probably earn an average of 3-4k points at least per month (as some of that spend would earn you 2pts/$1 on travel and dining expenses).
Fair to assume?
Well, over the course of a year, that means you’d likely earn 35,000-45,000 points which is effectively a round-trip ticket to London, EVERY YEAR!
And that’s for having just one card.
In the 1st year of having your card, when you add the sign up bonus to your ongoing points accrual, expect to earn ~100,000 Chase points. That’s enough to take you and your spouse/friend/family member on that trip to London you’re planning!
Is that worth it to you for a $0 annual fee in the first year? 🙂
Even in the second year with a $95 annual fee, if you’re earning about 35-45k points that’s literally worth about $430-$560 in travel.
Getting excited yet?
Ok, time for a…
Bonus tip: If you’re married or a couple, then each of you could sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and each earn the 50,000 sign up bonus. That’s exactly what my wife and I do each time we want to get a valuable credit card that will earn us lots of points to use on travel.
Ok, here’s how you do it… Psst – when you’re ready to book, it’ll only take about 5 mins to make that booking through the Chase portal.
Step 1 – Sign up to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, meet the minimum spend and you’ll be credited with at least 50,000 bonus points (they get posted a week or two after you’ve hit that minimum).
You’ll actually have more than 50k because you’ll be using your card and therefore earning more points for each transaction, but I digress…
Now, when you’re ready to book your trip (woo hoo!) follow…
Step 2 – Go to Chase.com and login to your Chase Ultimate Rewards account (which you get access to soon after you’re approved for the card). Click on your Ultimate Rewards balance and then Select your “Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card”.
Step 3 – Hover over the “Use Points” dropdown, and then click “Explore & Book Travel”
Step 4 – You’ll land on the booking screen (see below). Just like with any other travel booking site, enter in your travel details (airport, dates, nonstop etc).
Hot Tip: Try to fly on a weekday (Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursdays are best) and you’ll save paying extra points! Also, you’ll typically need to use less points when you book in advance, (2-4 months or so). If you can be prepared, do book early and you’ve save some points!
5 Examples Routes To London (That I Randomly Found)
* Each is for a round-trip, direct flight from the US > London
* $0 total – that includes 1 x Free Carry-on and 1 x Checked Bag
* One example is even under 44k Chase points, which would leave you with 6,000 points leftover!
HERE’S THE KICKER!
By using the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, you could book a ticket ANYWHERE and use your points to offset the cash!
Now, the further the distance you fly, the more it’s going to cost — but there are still several routes where you could go for 37,000 – 60,000 points in Europe. You just need to search a little!
Direct, Round-Trip Flights for $0 in 2018:
* Washington DC (IAD) to Reykjavik, Iceland (KEF) – 37,768 Pts (April 10-18th)
* New York (JFK) > Paris, France (CDG) – 42,704 Pts (July 10-17th)
* Miami (MIA) > Madrid, Spain (MAD) – 43,568 Pts (May 22-29th)
* Boston (BOS) > Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) – 47,128 Pts (May 23-31st)
* Washington DC (IAD) to Amsterdam, Netherlands (AMS) – 53,688 Pts (May 23-30th)
* Miami (MIA) > Rome, Italy (FCO) – 57,096 Pts (April 10-18th)
* Chicago (ORD) > Dublin, Ireland (DUB) – 60,640 Pts (June 6-13th)
There are many options for you to use your Chase points, just dig around and have fun with it!
A few common questions…
* How far in advance should I book these flights?
Treat this situation exactly the same as you would if you were buying flights off Expedia, Google Flights or any travel portal. Generally, the best time to book is about 2-6 months ahead of time so that gives you a really nice window to plan!
* When will the 50,000 bonus (worth $625) be credited to my account?
You’ll typically see the bonus credited to your Chase Ultimate Rewards account within about a week or two after hitting the minimum spend.
Make sure you do meet that minimum within 3 months of opening the account, otherwise you won’t get the bonus and that would really suck!
* I’m seeing that some flights cost more than 50,000 points, why is that?
When you search for a flight, the Chase portal tells you how much that flight costs in $. Each Chase point is worth 1.25 cents when you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, so all the portal is doing is taking that cost and dividing it by 1.25 cents. That gives you the total in points!
For example, if a flight costs $600 in the Chase portal, that would be 48,000 points ($600/0.0125).
If you find a flight that costs $1,000, then the total amount of points required would be 72,500. It’s as simple as that!
The reality is that many more flights than you think (especially to London) cost $625 or less, especially when you can book a little in advance. As $625 = 50k points that’s why this card is so awesome.
Don’t forget you can top up your bonus points by adding an authorized user (which gets you 5,000 more and through using your card regularly for purchases where no fees are incurred!).
* What if I already have a credit card or multiple cards?
Applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred might be tricky if you’ve been approved for 5 or more credit cards in the last 24 months. If you’re under this threshold, then this rule won’t affect you.
* What credit score do I need to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred®?
There’s no exact score, but 680+ is a good spot to be in! There are plenty of cases where people have been approved for a score of 660+ but the higher, the better.
* How will taking out a card affect my credit score?
I genuinely have over 15 credit cards and have a credit score of 737. Anyone who tells you that taking out a credit card permanently hurts your score is telling you fibs (or they just don’t know they are).
Your credit score isn’t to do with the number of cards you have, it’s how you manage your account. If you pay off your statements, don’t go over your credit limit and avoid missing payments, you’ll probably have a great credit score!
Using a credit card sensibly is one of the best ways to actually get good credit, and having good credit gets you lower interest rates on any future mortgages or loans you may take out. This can easily save you thousands of dollars over the years.
Now, your credit score does goes down about 6-8 points when you take out a card, that is true. But what most people don’t know is that it’ll then climb back up soon after you’ve paid off your statement for a few months, and avoided things like missing a payment
* Can I check my credit score for free anywhere?
A good place to check your credit score if you’re not sure is Credit Sesame. It’s free, so that’s cool 🙂
* What is the annual fee of this card?
The annual fee of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is $0 the first year, then $95. Remember though, 50,000 bonus points are worth at least $625 toward travel so definitely take that calculation into mind!
As I pointed out above, you accrue points every single time you use your card and that will quickly offset that annual fee after that first year.
That’s all you need to know about getting that trip booked to London! 😀