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One of my very first trips after committing to the miles & points hobby was a 3-day visit to Dubai.
I had been wishing and dreaming of a trip to the UAE for the previous ~8 years. Thankfully I had already opened the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, and points at the ready. It feels really great to accomplish pipe dream goals with the help of points!
I’ve been to Dubai twice now (once with a super cheap mistake fare!), and I absolutely recommend a visit to even the most skeptical traveler. The city surpassed my expectations, despite my building them up for nearly a decade!
I’ll give you a quick rundown of how I spent ONE SINGLE DAY in Dubai. And how I collected the Chase Ultimate Rewards points to achieve the trip! You can do the same thing by earning the sign-up bonuses on cards like the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Spending the Day in Dubai Thanks to Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
I’ll first just say that many of the highlights in Dubai are NOT cheap. You won’t accomplish a lot of the touristy things without spending a few bucks. But because it’s so unbelievably easy to reserve free flights and hotel rooms (and even free meals!), you should have some spending money.
1. Ski Dubai
On this particular morning, I headed to Mall of the Emirates to snowboard at the world-famous Ski Dubai, an indoor ski slope a quarter of a mile long. This is one feature of Dubai that I had always thought was so ridiculous and cheesy. But it was actually a LOT of fun.
There’s something defiant about snowboarding in the middle of the Arabian desert.
When you arrive, you rent a big jacket and snow pants to put over your shorts and t-shirt. It’s quite a shock to the senses to walk from 100 degree temperatures into a 240,000 square foot icebox.
I couldn’t stay here long, because I had made lunch reservations at one of the top hotels on the planet.
2. Afternoon Tea at the Burj Al Arab
The Burj Al Arab is a crown jewel of Dubai. Lots of folks know it as the world’s first 7-star hotel.
This amazing hotel was the reason I first took notice of Dubai all those years ago. It’s exclusive and absolutely gorgeous from the outside. The inside is a bit garish for my liking.
The Burj Al Arab is on its own island. And you’re not allowed on the island unless you are either staying at the hotel or have restaurant reservations. So, I created a reservation at the Skyview Bar at the top of the hotel for afternoon tea.
I hadn’t experienced high tea before. But I’ve had a few since, and none are even in the same ballpark as the Macy’s Day parade of edibles provided by the Burj Al Arab. I don’t remember how many courses the meal was, but looking at my pictures I was given at least eight.
Some of the food arrived with rose petals on top. Others with shaved gold. Ridiculous.
3. Palm Jumeirah
Another marvel of Dubai is its man-made islands. Its Palm Jumeirah is an island shaped like a palm tree, with hundreds of homes on each frond (all with prime beachfront property!).
After my meal at the Burj Al Arab, I explored the Palm Jumeirah. I was able to see Atlantis The Palm, and enjoy a nice view of the city from a quiet distance.
I’d have loved to stay at an underwater room (your window is a private view into Ambassador Lagoon, the hotel’s humongous aquarium!), but it was about $5,000 too expensive.
Unfortunately, I was only able to stick to the “stem” of the palm and the perimeter. You can’t drive on the fronds without a key code. They’ve all got guards.
4. Burj Khalifa
Dubai is in the business of creating “world’s tallest”, “world’s only,” “world’s first”, etc. And it breaks its own records frequently.
The Burj Khalifa is the tallest structure in the world. At least until construction is finished on the upcoming Dubai Creek Tower, which will stand even taller. I finished my Palm Jumeirah exploration and headed to the Burj Khalifa for dinner.
One absolute no-brainer trick for enjoying the anxiety-inducing views from the top of the Burj Khalifa is to make reservations for the At.Mosphere lounge. Many folks pay $50+ for a view on the observation deck on floor 125. But if you pledge to spend at least $95 per person, you can have a window seat meal at the At.Mosphere lounge just 3 floors lower.
Note: If you’re not concerned with a window seat, you can pay as little as $68 per person.
After nightfall, I was able to watch the spectacular Dubai fountains from my seat. They’re very pretty from above, but they’re much better from the ground.
After dinner, I leaned against the rails of the Burj Khalifa Lake and watched them a couple more times. They’re choreographed to music and perform every half hour.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Can Get You There
A few of these activities weren’t cheap. But I had money to spend because of all the cash I saved on airfare!
I transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines for award flights between Washington, DC, and Dubai on United Airlines’s partner, Turkish Airlines. Flights cost 42,500 miles each way. That’s no small amount of points, and looking back I probably could have used fewer points simply by redeeming them for flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal instead of transferring them to United Airlines.
Regardless, you can book this round-trip award flight to Dubai from anywhere in the US with as little as ONE credit card sign-up bonus! For example, you’ll have enough Chase Ultimate Rewards points to make the trip just by opening the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card and meeting the minimum spending requirements.
You could also use Chase Ultimate Rewards points for free hotel stays (though I used other points for that).
I used the points I had accrued from 3 sources:
Chase Sapphire Preferred Sign-Up Bonus
I had already used quite a bit of my Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus by the time I took this flight, but I did still have a stash of points.
The card currently comes with 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (10,000 points higher than when I opened the card!) after spending $4,000 in the first three months. It should be your absolute unquestioned first miles & points card. It’s just that good.
The card also earns double points for dining out. So I had plenty of points from that.
I wear holes in my Chase Freedom card because of its rotating quarterly bonus. I earn 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 for using the card on certain categories each quarter I activate (like gas, groceries, Amazon, etc.) up to $1,500 in combined expenses. A huge chunk of my Chase Ultimate Rewards balance comes from using this card.
Referring Friends and Family With My Cards
I’ve probably earned ~70,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points with my Chase Sapphire Preferred simply by referring my friends and family to the card. It’s so fun to share this hobby with folks and watch them get Big Travel while getting a kickback for yourself!
One of my most unforgettable trips was facilitated by Chase Ultimate Rewards points, namely, the Chase Sapphire Preferred. I spent a few days in Dubai, running around to all the larger-than-life spectacles like a complete tourist. If you’ve never been, YOU HAVE TO GO.
You can fly there simply by opening a card like the Ink Business Preferred and meeting its minimum spending requirements. Then once you get there, you’ll have plenty of spending money!
Let me know your most memorable trip with Chase Ultimate Rewards points! And if you’ve been to Dubai, I’d love to hear some miles & points strategies for saving big in the city!