How Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Saved Me 20,000 Miles and ~$86 Off a United Airlines Flight

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This past weekend my sister flew into Missoula, Montana, from Santa Barbara to help my mom pack up her house.  When she went to book her ticket about a week earlier, flights on United Airlines were running nearly $700.  We needed her here to help, so I got to work figuring out the best way to use my miles and points to save her money.

In the end, I was able to save her from spending cash for a ticket AND saved 20,000 miles and $86 off the price of an award seat.  And I’ll show you how I did it.  It was yet another trip that, for me, reinforced the importance of collecting flexible rewards points with many of the best credit cards for travel.

I can’t count the number of times Chase Ultimate Rewards points have come to the rescue and saved me and my family money!

Save Big With Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

I went to United’s site to look at award prices and came away shocked and disappointed.  Before United Airlines announced it was eliminating its award chart, a round-trip coach ticket within the US would be, at most, 50,000 United Airlines miles.  It was usually fairly easy to find a saver-level award for just 25,000 miles round-trip.

This time though, the ticket I wanted was pricing out at 64,000 United Airlines miles plus the $75 fee for booking less than 21 days in advance.  Ouch!  I knew I could avoid the close-in fee but the thought of paying over 60,000 miles for the ticket made me nauseous.

So I headed over to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.  I collect Chase Ultimate Rewards points with these three cards:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (top rewards card for beginners)
  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card (top small business rewards card)
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve (top premium rewards card)

And knowing I get a value of 1.5 cents per point with my Chase Sapphire Reserve, I had a hunch I could save big using my Ultimate Rewards points.

Here’s what I found:

Sure enough, the exact same ticket only cost 44,800 Chase Ultimate Rewards points versus the 64,000 miles United was charging.  Plus, I’d avoid the close-in fee!  And I was again reminded of why earning flexible rewards points should be a part of everyone’s travel rewards strategy.

Want to learn more about Chase Ultimate Rewards points?  Be sure to check out these guides for more information on earning and using flexible travel rewards:

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Meghan Hunter is an editor for Million Mile Secrets. She covers points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. Her work has also appeared in The Points Guy.

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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