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INSIDER SECRET: Chase Ultimate Rewards points are some of the best points for traveling to Hawaii, especially since Southwest has begun service! That’s because if you have the Southwest Companion Pass, you can bring a friend with you whenever you fly Southwest for just the cost of taxes and fees.
Capital One miles are the dark horse of miles and points.
You know full well how we feel about Chase Ultimate Rewards points. For most of us, they’re far and away the most valuable points to collect. But if you use Chase points to buy travel through the Chase Travel Portal, you’re better off collecting Capital One miles.
Shameless plug (for your sake), there are some pretty unbelievable offers right now:
- Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card – 50,000 miles ($500 in free travel) after meeting minimum spending requirements. I have this card and have made some of my favorite travel memories from the bonus. And I’m not just saying that.
- Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business – 50,000 miles after spending $4,500 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Aren’t Always Better Than Capital One Miles
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are better for most of us for one reason: They’ve got BY FAR the most useful collection of airline and hotel transfer partners. For example, I could take the bonus I earn from a card like the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card and:
- Transfer the points to Singapore Airlines for 2 round-trip flights to Hawaii from anywhere in the US (continental)
- Transfer the points to United Airlines for 3 round-trip flights to anywhere in the US from anywhere in the US (continental)
- Transfer the points to Hyatt for 3 nights at a 5-star all-inclusive resort, like the Hyatt Zilara Cancun
But there’s a catch: Transferring points to partners means you now have to worry about blackout dates, available award seats, available hotel nights, etc. If your time off isn’t flexible, transferring your points might be a bad idea.
To solve this issue, Chase gives you another way to redeem your points: The Chase Travel Portal. Through this portal, you can “buy” airfare, hotel rooms, car rentals, and cruises with your points. Through the portal, your points are worth:
- 1.25 cents each if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Ink Business Preferred
- 1.5 cents each if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve
For example, if you’ve earned 60,000 points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred after spending $4,000 in the first three months, your points are worth $750 in the Chase Portal (60,000 points X 1.25 cents each). You can buy a flight through the Chase Portal and use those points to cover up to $750 of your flight cost.
I’ve used my points this way several times. When I can’t find a good deal by transferring my points to Chase partners, I’ll just use some points through the portal to discount my vacation.
Here’s why Capital One miles are better for these scenarios: If you’re not interested in bargain hunting, you’re probably more inclined to just redeem your points through the portal. It’s a quick and easy discount.
If this is you, you’ll almost certainly do better collecting Capital One miles from a card like the Capital One Venture instead of the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Capital One miles are easier to redeem, and they have one giant benefit that Chase points do NOT.
Why to Choose Capital One Miles Over Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Capital One cards can give you a better return: Capital One miles are worth 1 cent each. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents each through the Chase Portal. Chase points are the clear winner.
Oh wait, no they’re not. Here’s why:
- With the Capital One Venture, you’ll earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend
- With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn 1 point for every dollar you spend, and 2 points for travel and dining
If the lion’s share of your purchases happen to be travel and dining, you’ll come out ahead with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. If you have a more normal lifestyle, you’ll almost certainly come out ahead with the Capital One Venture.
Capital One miles are easier to redeem: You don’t have to go through a special portal to use Capital One miles. You literally use the card to purchase travel just as you would with any credit card:
- Buy your flight directly from the airline website
- Buy your hotel stay directly from the hotel website
- Buy your flight or hotel through Orbitz, Expedia, Hotwire, etc.
- Buy your rental car directly through the rental agency
- Contact a travel agent for your arrangements and pay them
It doesn’t matter how you reserve your travel. Just use your Capital One card when you do. Then you’ll have 90 days to visit your online account, find the travel purchase, and erase it from existence with your Capital One miles.
For example, if you reserve a $400 hotel stay, your Capital One card will show a balance of $400. You can then find the purchase in your transaction history, click “erase”, and you will instantly have a $0 balance on your card (and 40,000 fewer miles).
You can redeem Capital One miles for more things than Chase Ultimate Rewards points: As long as the transaction is travel related, you can redeem your Capital One miles for it. I have the Capital One Venture, and I redeemed the bonus for a three-night Airbnb stay in Barbados. You won’t find Airbnb in the Chase Portal.
You can also use Capital One miles to erase food purchases you make inside hotels, like room service or hotel restaurants. Because the bill codes as a hotel purchase instead of a restaurant purchase.
Capital One miles earn hotel points: The Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal uses Expedia to book travel. That’s BAD if you’re booking a hotel, because you won’t earn hotel points when you book a hotel through the Chase Portal.
If you book a hotel room anywhere but directly with the hotel, you will not get:
- Hotel points
- Elite night credits
- Your elite status benefits
When you book with Capital One miles, you can reserve your room directly with the hotel. For example, the Washington Hilton, DC, generally costs $250 per night. If you book two nights directly with this hotel, and use your Capital One miles to erase the purchase later, you’ll receive:
- 5,000 Hilton points (you get 10 points per dollar you spend on your room when you book direct)
- Any bonus promo points (Hilton always has something good going on)
- 2 elite night credits
- Elite status recognized (possible upgrades, welcome gift, late checkout, free breakfast, etc.)
If you book the same two nights through the Chase Portal, the hotel will give you shelter for the night, and then tell you to beat it. I’ve experienced a significantly poorer hotel experience at least a few times when I’ve booked through online travel agencies like Expedia.
Note: You can also transfer Capital One miles to airline partners, but they’re not a great deal. You can read about Capital One transfer partners here.
We often say the Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for newbies, because Chase Ultimate Rewards points are so incredibly useful! But if you find yourself habitually redeeming your points through the Chase Portal (instead of transferring them to airline and hotel partners), the Chase Sapphire Preferred might be the wrong card for you. Look into cards that earn Capital One miles instead, like:
You’ll almost certainly get a better return for your spending. And you can redeem them for a wider variety of travel purchases! You can read our Capital One rewards review for the full deets!
Let me know if you find yourself spending Chase Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase Travel Portal. And subscribe to our newsletter for more travel tips and tricks delivered to your inbox once per day.