A Week of Unlimited SCUBA Diving, Exploring Culture in Singapore, and Fireworks in the Nation’s Capital – The Top 3 Most Fun Ways I’ve Used Chase Points

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Chase Ultimate Rewards is one of the most flexible and valuable point programs out there.  That’s why our favorite card for beginners is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

I am a frugal points user.  I like to find good deals and book coach tickets over fancy First Class flights to make my points go further and enjoy MORE vacations with my points.  That’s how I’ve been able to stretch my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to take some amazing trips within the US and overseas!

My Favorite Trip With Chase Ultimate Rewards Points was a Scuba Diving Adventure in Cozumel, Mexico
My Favorite Trip With Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Was a Scuba Diving Adventure in Cozumel, Mexico

Here are my 3 favorite trips I’ve taken with Chase Ultimate Rewards points and a reminder of how to easily earn them, too!

Here’s How to Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

And once you have one of the powerful premium cards above, consider adding 2 of these:

3 Fun Ways I’ve Used Chase Points

7 Days Unlimited SCUBA Diving in Cozumel, Mexico

I love SCUBA diving and often plan where I travel based on good diving.  The eastern coast of Mexico includes some of the best diving in the world.

I have stayed in Cozumel many times before and I have a favorite dive shop that I trust and use while down there.  Last year I got an email from them with a special offer for a full week of unlimited diving for just $269.  We planned out 15 dives (while the deal was “unlimited diving” there are still physical limits to how much the body can handle) over the course of 7 days, making the cost per dive just ~$18 ($269 / 15 dives).

I’ve never in my life seen a deal this good, especially with a dive shop that has as incredible boats and equipment as this one.  So I booked it immediately.  Now I needed to get airfare and hotel.

Dressel Divers in Cozumel is My Favorite Dive Shop, With Great Boats and Facilities in the Stunning Background of Mexico's Blue Waters
Dressel Divers in Cozumel Is My Favorite Dive Shop, With Great Boats and Facilities in the Stunning Background of Mexico’s Blue Waters

I wanted to book the Iberostar Cozumel because I’ve stayed there many times before, so was actually pleasantly surprised that the resort showed up in the Chase Travel Portal.  I found a full week at my hotel for ~75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points!

This was an especially amazing deal because it wasn’t just my accommodations.  This is an all-inclusive resort and includes food, drink (including alcoholic beverages), and entertainment for a full week!  So after I booked this hotel stay in the Chase Travel Portal, I never needed to pull my wallet out again during the trip (other than for a round of golf I played once which is not included).

Organizing my flight to Cozumel was a bit more complicated than I would have hoped.  Cozumel is an island off the east coast of Mexico.  The island does have an airport, but I was struggling to find flights to this airport that were reasonably priced (even with points) and which used Chase travel partners.

I eventually decided to call the resort themselves and ask for advice.  They told me to book a flight to Cancun, and that they’d handle the rest for me.  I found a flight from Salt Lake City to Cancun on United Airlines for 35,000 United Airlines miles round-trip.  I already had ~25,000 United Airlines miles, so I transferred 10,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to my United Airlines account to top it up.

Iberostar Cozumel Is an Amazing Resort That I Have Stayed at 4 Times. I Keep Going Back Because of the Intimate Setting With Private Bungalows and Incredible Staff

Once I got to Cancun, I was greeted with a Town Car that drove me ~1.5 hours to Playa Del Carmen where I was dropped off at Iberostar Quetzal (a sister hotel to where I was going).  They were expecting me and gave me a day pass to enjoy the resort facilities (and food / drink) until my boat left that evening to Cozumel.

I then hopped on a supply boat that travels between the resorts and was dropped off at the dock inside the Iberostar Cozumel resort.  The Town Car was billed to me at the previously agreed-upon $65 (including my return), while the rest of the transportation was covered by the hotel.

The diving in Cozumel was incredible as usual.  Most Cozumel dives are 100 to 120 feet deep, so I don’t recommend it for beginners, but once you have 50+ dives under your belt it is one of the best dive spots in the world.  It honestly rivals dives in the Great Barrier Reef, but the cost of traveling to Cozumel is easily half or a third of the cost of visiting Austrailia.

Dressel Divers is my preferred dive shop.  Its divemasters are fluent in English, they have excellent gear and boats, and they put an emphasis on safety.  If you are certified to dive on Nitrox, they will also give you Nitrox tanks for no additional cost over air (which is useful for how deep most dives are here).

Exploring the Beautiful Sights of Singapore

Singapore is known as one of the most expensive cities on earth, with a high cost of living.  This means that flights and accommodations don’t come cheap.  Once I knew the dates of my proposed trip to Singapore, I struggled to find anything even somewhat reasonable.  Flights from Seattle to Singapore cost ~$2,000 round-trip in coach.  This is when I decided to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points 1:1 to Singapore Airlines.

I booked a non-stop flight from Seattle to Singapore for ~57,000 Singapore Airlines miles.  This felt like an awesome deal because my points were worth about 3.5 cents each!

Merlion in Singapore
The Merlion Spraying Into the Clark Quay Is a Must-See Attraction in Singapore, in Addition to the Gardens and Marina Bay Sands Rooftops

With flights taken care of, I turned my sights on determining hotel accommodations.  I love the Sofitel brand of hotels, and the Singapore location was perfect for my needs.

Sofitel (part of Accor hotels) is not a Chase transfer partner, but because Chase Ultimate Rewards is so flexible, you can redeem points for just about any hotel through the Chase Travel Portal.  With my Chase Sapphire Reserve, my Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.5 cents each.  I found the SO Sofitel Singapore Hotel for ~$190, or ~12,600 Chase Ultimate Rewards per per night.

Watching Fireworks From the Washington Memorial Lawn

One of my favorite use of points is to book last-minute flights that otherwise would just cost too much for me to justify.  In this case, my girlfriend had been talking about how she wanted to visit Washington, DC, over the 4th of July to see the world-famous fireworks display on the Washington Monument lawn.

I wanted to surprise her and because work had been so busy, I actually hadn’t used any points in quite some time, so I had a small stockpile collected.

We were in Dallas at the time, and Southwest has a hub there, so flying Southwest was usually the easiest (and cheapest) for us.  You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio.

I did found flights from Dallas to Washington, DC, for ~15,000 Southwest points round-trip.  I booked 2 tickets, costing me only 30,000 points to surprise her with a long weekend trip in the nation’s capital.

Fireworks over Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial
Enjoy the Best Fireworks Show From the Washington Monument Lawn in Washington, DC.  But Remember to Get There Early Because It Will Be Packed

I grossly miscalculated how much a hotel was going to cost me over 4th of July in the Washington, DC.  Hotels were going from ~$300 a night for run-down motels up to $1,000+ a night for premium hotels.  I found the Holiday Inn Washington – Central that is located in the heart of downtown Washington, DC and was retailing for ~$395 per night or 50,000 IHG points.

Being a frugal-minded points user, I opted to make my points go significantly further by using IHG’s Points + Cash option.  This saved me a lot of IHG points because I only used 25,000 IHG points (compared to 50,000 points) and paid $75 cash per night.  To use the Points + Cash option you need to have IHG points (as opposed to using Chase’s Travel Portal), so I transferred basically every point I had left at the time from Chase Ultimate Rewards to IHG to complete the transaction.

For those who have not experienced fireworks in Washington, DC, it is an experience I highly recommend.  It is the longest and most advanced firework displays I have ever seen.  There is something magical and patriotic about watching the fireworks reflect on the Lincoln Memorial’s Reflecting pool.  Get there early to reserve a spot (we got there around 1:00 pm for the 9:00 pm fireworks display and it was already quite full).  You need to pass through security (admission is free), but once inside you can wander the park and visit various monuments while waiting for the start of the show.

Bottom Line

Stretching my Chase Ultimate Rewards points for the most flights and hotels is how I’ve been able to enjoy many trips to fantastic destinations.  So you’ll usually find me in coach or seeking out the best hotel deals for the lowest price.

My top 3 favorite trips with Chase Ultimate Rewards were:

  • 7 days unlimited SCUBA diving in Cozumel, Mexico
  • Exploring the beautiful sights of Singapore
  • Watching fireworks from the Washington Memorial lawn

To get started earning Chase Ultimate Rewards, points we recommend applying for one of these 3 cards:

What’s been your favorite trip using Chase Ultimate Rewards points?

Alex Curtis is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, he covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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