By now, you probably know that Chase has moved its Ultimate Rewards portal from Expedia to cxLoyalty. Or should I say moved back because Chase already used cxLoyalty before hitting it up with Expedia. Of course, cxLoyalty used to be a separate company back then, but then Chase bought it and the rest is history.
For most people it’s like a slow news day. One portal, another portal – what’s the big deal?
The big deal is: you can’t use Chase points to book vacation rentals anymore!
When the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal was powered by Expedia, you had all kinds of lodging options including apartments and houses.
Now, with the new Chase travel portal these options are gone. From now on, it’s hotels only. I’ve managed to find a few apart-hotels here and there, but not nearly in the numbers available before the transition.
Look, I get it. Over 70% of Americans prefer hotels to vacation rentals anyway, so for them, it’s not a huge loss. For the rest of us, though, who crave more traveling choices and who may prefer more space (and sometimes awesome amenities) to bellhops and room service, it’s a clear devaluation. While there are a number of options to use loyalty points at hotels, the same can’t be said about rentals. OK, a few hotel chains offer villas, houses and apartments for points, but their footprint is minuscule, and in most (although to be fair, not all) cases, the chains’ involvement assures that their curated rental properties remain quite costly.
If you still want to use Chase points to get a better deal on vacation rentals, you can – but only if you have one of the Sapphire cards. You’ll get 25% more value on the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and 50% more on Sapphire Reserve.
One of the new Pay yourself back categories now includes Airbnb, and you don’t even need a portal. Just book your Airbnb stay with one of these cards, then come back within 90 days to apply points and get your money back. A $1,000 Airbnb stay, for example, will cost you 80,000 points with the Sapphire Preferred card and 66,670 points with the Sapphire Reserve.
The Airbnb category will be part of the Pay yourself back program until at least April 1.
Due to the latest transition from Expedia to cxLoyalty, we have lost access to thousands of vacation rentals, which represented a huge percentage of points-bookable accommodations on Expedia. Chase’s partnership with Expedia provided a premium-cardholder the option to get a 25% – 50% bonus with Ultimate Rewards points at any rental property that would show in the portal. That functionality is gone. RIP!
However, until April 1, Chase Sapphire cardholders will be able to use Chase points (with corresponding 25% – 50% bonuses) for booking vacation rentals on Airbnb within the auspices of the Pay yourself back program. Unfortunately, this is not a permanent solution, so use it while you still can.