Disney Dreams, a Hawaiian Wedding, and a Mother-Daughter Getaway to Paris: Top 3 Most Fun Ways I’ve Used Chase Points

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My favorite thing about our hobby is being able to make lifelong memories with family and friends thanks to miles and points.  There’s nothing better than the excitement of planning a dream vacation with the kids, and it feels good to snuggle up and reminisce about the crazy adventures we’ve had.

Chase Ultimate Rewards points have made it possible for my family and me to take some pretty epic trips.  And while I usually like to stretch my points by booking coach flights and mid-range hotels, we’ve had a few splurges here and there.

Even Though the Kids Were Really Little, They Still Talk About the Amazing Time We Had at Walt Disney World

Here are just a few of my favorite travel memories using Chase Ultimate Rewards points, and a refresher on how to earn them.

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

A Dream Trip to Walt Disney World

There’s nothing quite as sweet or satisfying as the first big miles and points redemption you make, and this trip was no exception.  The kids had been angling for a trip to Walt Disney World since they were toddlers, but as we all know, visiting Mickey Mouse can be a pricey proposition.

After stumbling on our hobby and signing-up for my first few rewards credit cards (the Chase Sapphire Preferred was my first – there’s good reason it’s our top card for beginners!) I set about planning a trip to Disney.

It wasn’t free.  Walt Disney World tickets are expensive, though I was able to save a bit by booking multi-day park passes through Undercover Tourist.  But the biggest expenses – flights and hotel – were easily covered with points!

My Daughter Was Proud of Having Survived the Rock’n Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

To get there, I transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest for round-trip flights between Rochester, New York and Orlando.  I don’t remember exactly how many points I spent, but there was a Southwest sale at the time so the flights were pretty cheap.

And for our stay, I redeemed 25,000 IHG points per night at the Staybridge Suites Lake Buena Vista (the award price has since gone up).  I didn’t have quite enough points in my IHG account, so I transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to IHG at a 1:1 ratio to make up the difference.

These Crazy Girls Rode Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Half a Dozen Times Because the Crowds Were Light the Day We Went (Once Was Enough for Me!)

We also saved a fair bit of money because Staybridge Suites hotels include free breakfast and evening snacks and drinks on certain weeknights.  It’s actually one of our favorite hotel brands just because of this perk!  Earning IHG points directly is easy, too, with cards like the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.

A Friend’s Wedding in Hawaii

One of the great things about miles and points is the freedom they give you to take impromptu trips you might otherwise have to plan for years to afford.  I’d already jetted off to Berlin for my buddy’s 40th birthday party (who flies to Berlin just for a party?), so when another friend invited me to her wedding in Hawaii, I knew I could make it happen.

I booked United Airlines award flights from the mainland to Hawaii, but I didn’t use United Airlines miles!  Although United Airlines is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, it’s actually cheaper to redeem Singapore Airlines miles for the exact same United Airlines award flights.  You’ll save 10,000 miles on a round-trip coach ticket by booking this way.

So I found saver-level United Airlines award seats, then transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Singapore Airlines to book.

So Gorgeous!  One of the Most Beautiful and Intimate Weddings I’ve Ever Attended

For the first few days, all the wedding guests stayed at the same condominium resort near Princeville, Kauai.  But at the end of the trip, I splurged on 2 nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt.  Rooms cost 25,000 Hyatt points per night, but there was a promotion at the time to get 20% of your redeemed points back if you were a Hyatt cardholder, so I ended up spending just 20,000 Hyatt points per night.

It’s Every Bit as Spectacular as They Say. The Grand Hyatt Kauai Did NOT Disappoint

Standard room rates at the time of my stay were over $800 per night, so redeeming points was an incredible value!  I only wish the kids had been along for the trip, because they would have very much enjoyed the lagoon, lazy river, and waterslide.

Mother-Daughter (and Grandma) Trip to Paris

All 3 of my kids love acting and singing, but last fall, when my oldest daughter and son were chosen to perform in a professional theater production, my middle girl (who’d also auditioned) was feeling really down.  My mom suggested that a surprise trip for her while the others were in rehearsals might just be the thing to cure her of her blues.

Mom’s an airline retiree, so she has access to discounted standby (space available) airline tickets.  She said she’d take care of the flights if I covered the hotels with points.  Yay, teamwork – thanks Mom!

We created a loose plan to fly to Paris, but we weren’t 100% sure we’d make it because flights were looking super full.  And we didn’t tell my daughter where we were going (she didn’t even know my mom was coming) until we got to the airport!  In the end, we ended up flying to Amsterdam first, then took the Thalys train to Paris.

Visiting the Louvre Was a Dream Come True for My Daughter.  And There Weren’t Any Lines Because We Traveled in November

I hadn’t made firm hotel bookings because I wasn’t sure where we’d end up or when.  So when our time in Paris was confirmed, I quickly transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt to book the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile, which costs just 15,000 Hyatt points per night.  I also redeemed an anniversary free night certificate from the Chase Hyatt card (no longer available) because this is a category 4 hotel.  You can earn similar anniversary nights with The World Of Hyatt Credit Card.

That’s where the flexibility of Chase Ultimate Rewards points really came to the rescue.  Points transfers to Hyatt are instant, so I was able to make a last-minute award booking with no fuss.  And when we decided to extend our vacation by an extra day, it was as easy as transferring another 15,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt for an additional night.

Waking up Groggy and Confused at the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile … Until She Saw the View and Remembered Where She Was

We saved over ~$250 a night by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt for this award stay.  And my daughter came home with fun memories and a renewed spirit after getting to visit a city on her bucket list.  It was great bonding time with Grandma, too.

Bottom Line

I’m so grateful that this hobby has given my family and me the opportunity to travel to so many incredible destinations.  Without Chase Ultimate Rewards points, many of our favorite trips would never have been possible.

Whether you’re meticulously planning a trip of a lifetime to Disney for your kids, or spontaneously sneaking away to Europe, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are indispensable.  With so many transfer partners and the ability to move points to airline and hotel accounts instantly for a last-minute getaway, this flexibility is what makes Chase Ultimate Rewards points truly valuable.

I’ll never forget the gleeful squeal my daughter let out when my mom and I surprised her with a trip to Paris.  Or the ecstatic look on the children’s faces when we first walked into Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando.  That’s what makes miles and points worth it for me.

What about you?  What’s been your favorite Chase Ultimate Rewards points redemption?

Jasmin Baron was an editor at Million Mile Secrets. She covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel. Her work has appeared in The Points Guy and Business Insider.

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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