Open the #1 Travel Credit Card
My wife and I love cruising and credit card rewards, so it would only make sense that we’d try to figure out how to combine the two to save money on our next cruise. In the past, we’ve simply redeemed points or miles from cards like the Capital One Venture.
However, it has recently been brought to my attention that I could be saving even more money by using Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book my next cruise. Note: there are a handful of Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards, but two of the best are the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You’re going to want to have one of these cards in your arsenal, though the points can be supplemented with other Ultimate Rewards that you earn on other Chase cards.
Once you have a nice stash of Ultimate Rewards, you can put them toward your cruise. Here’s how it works, how much you could save and what you need to watch out for.
Why You May Want to Use Chase Ultimate Rewards to Book Your Next Cruise
If you have a premium Chase credit card, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred, booking a cruise using Chase Ultimate Rewards points could save you a big chunk of change. Most cruises easily cost north of $1,000 and sometimes even north of $10,000. Booking using one of the methods below will give you a 1.5 cent per point value if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card or a 1.25 cent per point value if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred. That’s a pretty good discount off of a multi-thousand dollar cruise.
At those redemption rates, you would only need 80,000 points to have $1,000 worth of redemptions with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. So in other words, a $1,000 cruise would be essentially free when booked this way. As a quick example, the signup bonus from the Chase Sapphire Preferred alone would total 64,000 points. You earn 60,000 when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months you have the card. You will earn at least 1 point per dollar too, so you’ll at least get an extra 4,000 points, for 64,000 total. There is a $95 annual fee. But basically, just one signup bonus will get you in the ballpark of the 80K points mentioned above.
Of course, it could be difficult to come up with 66,667+ points without the signup bonuses (if you already hold these cards). Thankfully, Chase allows you to pay for part of your cruise with points and the balance with your Chase card, giving you a ton of flexibility here.
Booking a Cruise Through the Online Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal
Booking a cruise online through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal may not seem like it is possible, but it is. You just have to do some digging to find where the cruises are listed. After logging in to your Chase account, click over to the Ultimate Rewards section of their website. Under the Use Points menu, click Explore & Book Travel.
Next, you’ll want to click on the Explore tab.
Finally, scroll down and click on the Cruises option.
Once you’re on the cruises page, you’ll notice something that’s a bit disappointing. Chase has a VERY limited selection of cruises to choose from. When I logged in, I only saw eight options ranging from seven to 16 nights on four different cruise lines. If you’ve ever booked a cruise before, you know you have hundreds of cruise options. Thankfully, there’s another way to book cruises using your Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Calling Chase to Book a Cruise
You aren’t limited to the short list of options available online through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Instead, you can call 1-866-951-6592 to speak with a representative that will help you book the cruise of your dreams. Cruise advisors are available Monday through Friday 9 am to 9 pm and Saturday 9 am to 5 pm. All times are Eastern.
It appears you can book almost any cruise by calling in, but it helps to know what you want ahead of time. Make sure you know the cruise line, cruise ship and sail date at a minimum when calling to make life easier for yourself.
From what I’ve read, you’ll essentially be talking to a travel agent Chase has contracted to book your cruise. As with any service, your agent may know a great deal or may know next to nothing. You may want to search the internet for a great agent or try your luck by calling back a couple times if you don’t get a good agent the first time. You’ll still get the enhanced Ultimate Rewards point values using this service.
Ultimate Rewards Points May Be More Valuable Elsewhere
Of course, using Ultimate Rewards points to pay for your cruise may not give you the optimal value for your points. With Chase’s long list of points transfer partners, you may very well be able to find higher redemption rates elsewhere. That said, if you’re dead set on booking a cruise, you’re still getting a decent value for your points if you have a card that gives you a higher redemption rate.
Booking Directly Through the Cruise Line May Be More Beneficial
You may want to be careful booking through Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for other reasons, too. Sometimes, booking directly through a cruise line gives you the most flexibility.
I’ve seen that booking directly with Carnival often makes life easier if you have to make changes at a later date or have a special request you’d like taken care of. Travel agents aren’t always able to get the same information a Carnival employee can, and if you don’t book through Carnival they won’t access your booking and will instead refer you to your travel agent.
Next time my wife and I book a cruise, we will seriously consider using some of our Chase Ultimate Rewards points to pay for at least part of the cruise. In the end, our decision will be based on our future plans for our Ultimate Rewards points to make sure we get the best value we can.
And if you don’t want to use Chase Ultimate Rewards, remember to consider the Capital One Venture (see our review here), which offers easy and flexible redemptions that are perfect for cruising.