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And Million Mile Secrets team member Keith used all 3 to help his mom book an upcoming all-inclusive trip to Los Cabos, Mexico for nearly free! I’ll let him tell you about it!
Keith: Thanks, Daraius! Earning and redeeming miles & points to save money on travel is a team effort in my family. With my parents recently retiring, I’m happy to help them earn lucrative sign-up bonuses, so they can enjoy Big Travel with Small Money during their golden years!
Their miles & points strategy has been to earn mostly Chase Ultimate Rewards points with the below cards. Because this gives them flexibility to transfer points to fantastic airline & hotel partners when they’re ready to book travel.
And these flexible points, along with some other miles & points deals and tricks, came in handy to save $1,900+ on an upcoming trip to Mexico!
I’ll share 3 takeaways from booking this trip, which might help you save points the next time you redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a vacation!
Using Chase Points to Save $1,900+ on an All-Inclusive Trip to Los Cabos, Mexico!
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are useful for beginners and experts in the miles & points hobby. Because they’re flexible, relatively easy to earn, and you can transfer them directly to popular airline and hotel partners.
You can also redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points through the Chase travel portal. This means you can quickly book trips without worrying about blackout dates. And sometimes you’ll find better deals, which was the case when I helped my mom with her trip!
Here’s how my mom only had to pay ~$80 to get more than $2,000 worth of travel!
1. Southwest Companion Pass to Get 2-for-1 Airfare!
The Southwest Companion Pass is the best deal in travel! Because a friend or family member can travel with you for almost free on paid and award tickets for up to 2 years! You just have to pay taxes and fees for your companion’s flight!
My mom earned the Companion Pass in early 2016 by signing-up for 2 Chase Southwest credit cards (1 personal and 1 small business). At the time, the offers earned her the 110,000 Southwest points required to get the Companion Pass. And she designated my dad as her companion.
But as Lyn from GotoTravelGal.com shared, you can change companions up to 3 times in 1 calendar year AFTER you initially choose your companion. So for the trip to Los Cabos, my mom designated my brother as her companion.
2. Booking International Southwest Flights Through the Chase Travel Portal to Avoid Out-of-Pocket Taxes & Fees
My family loves to fly Southwest because they don’t charge change or cancellation fees. And you get 2 free checked bags!
For Southwest flights within the continental US (and soon Hawaii 😀), we typically transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly to Southwest. Then, book award flights.
But with Southwest award flights to international destinations, there are usually extra taxes & fees. So I’ve found it’s usually a better deal to book through the Chase travel portal with points linked to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. When you book this way, you:
- Always get 1.5 cents per point
- Can combine points with cash if you don’t have enough Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book a flight
- Earn Southwest points for your flight
- Do NOT have to pay taxes and fees with cash because they’re included in cost of flight
My mom’s round-trip flight from Orlando to Cabo cost ~$468 if paying cash, which meant I was able to book through the Chase travel portal for ~31,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($468 cash cost of flight / 1.5 cents). She could have transferred ~26,000 points to Southwest to book the same flight, but she would have also had to pay ~$80 in taxes & fees.
Remember, to book Southwest flights through the Chase travel portal, you have to call the Chase travel center at 866-951-6592.
And you can still add a companion to Southwest flights booked through the Chase travel portal. So my mom paid ~$80 in taxes & fees to add my brother to her flight. So she got 2 flights worth ~$936 (~$468 flight X 2) for just ~$80 in taxes & fees!
3. Paying Nothing for a ~$1,080 4-Night All-Inclusive Stay at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos
So after my wife and I recently enjoyed a trip to Los Cabos, I recommended my mom use points to stay at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos.
An award night at this hotel costs 20,000 Hyatt points. But depending on the nightly cash cost of the room, you can sometimes find better deals booking through the Chase travel portal.
For my mom’s booking, she used ~72,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a 4-night stay, which covers:
- Unlimited drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and meals for 2 adults
- Live bands and theatre performances
- Wi-Fi internet access
The same stay would have cost ~$1,079 if she paid cash.
Team member Keith helps his parents earn miles & points by applying for top credit card offers. And he recently helped his mom redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for an upcoming vacation to Los Cabos, Mexico!
His mom’s only out-of-pocket expense was ~$80 total for flight taxes & fees and she got:
- 2 Southwest flights to Los Cabos worth ~$936
- 4-night all-inclusive stay at the highly-rated Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos worth $1,079
This type of trip is a great example why Chase Ultimate Rewards points are my favorite type of flexible rewards. And Keith’s booking method (using the Chase travel portal) shows how easy it is to redeem points without worrying about blackout dates.