I was tasked with booking the Four Seasons Chicago for my Wife’s birthday, but I found myself with a first time dilemma! Now that I was flushed with points from all four major credit card companies, I had no idea which one to use. Let’s break down how I got here:
U.S. Bank Altitude Points
I have the U.S. Bank Altitude Card and have been earning 3 points for every dollar spent using my mobile wallet. Since this card is a Visa card I earn more points at Costco that their own branded Citibank Costco Anywhere card. Each point is then worth 1.5 cents on travel including hotels. I didn’t have enough points to book the entire cost of the room, but each point takes off 1.5 cents on the booking:
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points (UR)
Earning UR points was accomplished by getting the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR), Chase Freedom, Chase Business Preferred, and Chase Ink Business Unlimited. Best thing to do it earn 5x on the Freedom category, and then the for the quarter then transfer points to the CSR to book for 1.5 cents per point:
Room price: $399.55
1 night: $340.00
Taxes & fees: $59.55
26,636 PTS redeemed: -$399.55
Total due today: 26,636 PTS and $0.00
Trip Total: $399.55
Note that when you log into the Chase Ink site you end up only getting 1.25 cents per point:
Citibank Thankyou Points (TY)
Citibank TY points can be earned with the Citibank Prestige card which had a sign up bonus of 50k for $4k spend. The real big earning is 5x on dining. Each TY point is worth 1.25 cents on flights only, and only if you have the Citi Prestige! This means the hotel was a bad redemption at 1 cent per point:
American Express Membership Rewards Points (MR)
I earned my points with: AmEx Personal Plat, AmEx Personal Gold, and AmEx Personal Green. Then it escalated to AmEx Biz Plat, AmEx Biz Gold, and AmEx Biz Green. This resulted in more than 250,000 MR points! Note that the personal green no longer takes applications.
When I pull up the Chicago Four Seasons they want $400 or 40,000 points or nominally only 1 cent per point. I could cash out 40,000 points for $500 in real money using my Schwab Platinum Card at 1.25 cents per point. I could alternatively cash out 40k points for a $600 flight at 1.5 cents per point. If I booked with AmEx I would however get $100 room credit, 4 pm checkout, and also daily breakfast for two but at the cost of $500. Not worth it in my mind.
Since I had no elite status with the hotel I had no problem with booking with expedia via Chase UR at 1.5 cents a point! Especially at a property that I could not have booked otherwise using their points system. I stopped by the Four seasons in Philadelphia and was pretty impressed:
I checked the Four Seasons site and found it to be 36 cents cheaper:
Since I can’t convert UR to cash, to get this room for 26,636 UR points was a great deal. You can earn this much with $5,327 spent on my Chase Freedom card on the select quarterly categories, then transferring them to your CSR.