A Beginner’s Guide to the Delta Mileage Program

If Lewis Carroll created a frequent flyer program — one full of logical inconsistencies, nonsense rules, and a seemingly sadistic sense of humor — it would be Delta’s SkyMiles.

“How much is a one-way domestic ticket?” Alice asked.

“Oh that’s simple. It’s the price of a one-way ticket.” Delta replied.

“Yes, but … but can you tell me how many miles it will cost?”

“Of course I can.”

“Will you?”

“Hmm …” Delta puffed meditatively at its pipe. “No.”

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Here are three good ways to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

You’ve got a steaming heap of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points sitting in your account. You know they’re great. You know you can use them in tons of different ways. But the options seem overwhelming. And you want to get as much value from them as possible. Ack.

Fear not. I’ve got three great, simple options for using your points to help you overcome the paradox of choice and start traveling.

Option 1: Stay at an Andaz for God’s sake

The Andaz is a concept hotel chain from Hyatt, and it’s excellent. I’ve stayed at the Andazes Maui, Wall Street, San Diego, and Tokyo and they all rank among my favorite hotels ever. They didn’t pay me to say this — I just love the cut of their jib.

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to the Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio and stay at their Category 6 hotels for 25,000 points a night, compared to the $350-$600 you might pay for them out of pocket (TL;DR it’s a good use of points).

Option 2: Fly to Hawaii from the West Coast

This one’s a bit counter-intuitive: You actually transfer points to British Airways and then book a flight on their partners — Alaska and American — between major West Coast cities (including Phoenix) and Hawaii. Each ticket runs 25,000 miles in economy.

These flights are usually pricey ($500-$800) and rarely on sale, so it’s also a good bang for the Ultimate Reward buck.

Option 3: Book flights directly through Chase

If transferring points and looking up award availability sounds like a pain (and it often is), make it easy on yourself and book flights through the Chase Travel Portal. Points earned from the Sapphire Preferred card are worth 1.25 cents apiece and points earned from the Sapphire Reserve are worth 1.5 cents apiece, which ain’t bad at all.

In fact, if you find a great flight deal (through MyTravelNerd of course), booking directly through Chase can be an excellent use of points. Plus it’s super simple — just plug your destination and dates into the travel portal and book it.

Nerd Note: Flights booked through the Chase Travel Portal way earn you frequent flyer miles and elite-qualifying miles (to get status). Awards tickets (like Option 2) do not.

That’s it — stop thinking about it and go book something with your trove of points already.

Here Are 3 Good Ways To Use Alaska Miles If You Live In Seattle

Everybody wants to know the “best use” of their miles, which is sort of like wanting to know the “best use” of their money. There is no best use. But there are some better deals than others.

Most travels blogs will tell you to use your miles for first- and business-class tickets, since those provide the most $/mile “value,” but they also require hundreds of thousands of miles and lots of time searching for availability. If you’re planning a crazy honeymoon splurge, save your miles for premium seats. If you’re a normal human, use them for economy fares.

You’ve got scads of good options for using your Alaska miles out of Seattle. To keep things simple, here are 3 of ’em.  Continue reading

Review: The Andaz San Diego (And Its Golden Bathroom Duck)

Does anything curdle your blood more than hearing that a giant multinational corporation is trying to “attract young people”? It summons to mind Toyota’s Scion cars, Comcast’s Seeso streaming service, and Poochie. 

So it’s surprising that Hyatt’s hotel chain aimed at attracting young travelers — the Andaz Hotels — don’t suck. In fact, they’re my favorite hotels on the planet.

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Here are three good ways to use your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

You’ve got a steaming heap of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points sitting in your account. You know they’re great. You know you can use them in tons of different ways.

But the options seem overwhelming. And you want to get as much value from them as possible. Ack.

Fear not. I’ve got three great, simple options for using your points to help you overcome the paradox of choice and start traveling.

Continue reading