Thursday, October 10, 2013

Free flights to Portland for the holidays

I received an email from Southwest Airlines a few days ago that advertised some great low fares starting at $49 for a one way ticket.  With the holiday season quickly approaching, I decided that it was a sign for me to look into our holiday travel plans.

As I've shared before, my wife's family is from Portland, Oregon and we try to visit her family at least once or twice a year.   Unfortunately, there were no discounted flights from our airport (SNA) to Portland (PDX) this time.
Pricing out our December flights in cash, it looks like two round trip tickets would have cost us a total of $809.20. Wow, pretty pricy if you ask me. Thank goodness we never pay full price for our flights.

I like to regularly share how me and my wife travel for free whenever possible because I want to emphasize just how easy it is to accomplish. Here's how I booked two round trip tickets to Portland, Oregon for $20 and points:

First, I checked on the fare pricing of the same round trip flights in Rapid Rewards points. The total came out to be 43,320 points for 2 round trip tickets from SNA to PDX.

Next, I noticed that I did not have enough Rapid Rewards points in my Southwest account to purchase these flights with points. I only had 6,236 in my account and was short by 37,084 points.
No worries. Thanks to my recently acquired Chase Ink Bold card (with 60,000 bonus points), we have earned more than enough Ultimate Rewards points. The 5x points on office supply stores, cellular phone, and internet purchases made with the Ink Bold card also help to quickly rack up Ultimate Rewards points. 

Ultimate Rewards points can very quickly and easily be converted into Southwest Rapid Rewards points (1:1 point transfer ratio).

To transfer my Ultimate Rewards points, I went to and transferred 38,000 Ultimate Rewards points into Rapid Rewards points. Points must be transferred in increments of 1,000.
I then logged out of my Southwest account and logged right back in to see that the transfer of points happened immediately:
I then booked our flights with my newly transferred Southwest Rapid Rewards points.  This whole process of finding our available flights, transferring my Ultimate Rewards points, and booking our trip took less than a few minutes. 

The flights were free, but I was responsible for paying a government-imposed September 11th Security Fee of $10 for each roundtrip flight. Instead of paying $809.20 in cash for our flights, I only paid $20 and spent 43,320 points! 

Of course I used my wife's Chase Sapphire Preferred card to earn 2x points on this travel purchase.

My 4 favorite Chase Ultimate Rewards earning credit cards are the: Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, and Chase Ink Plus cards.

This post is another reminder of why I always pay with credit, and prefer points versus cash back.  Making normal everyday purchases can easily earn you free travel with little effort.  Where will your points take you this holiday season?
Downtown Portland
Chase has several Ultimate Rewards points earning personal credit cards including the: FreedomSapphire Preferred, and regular Sapphire credit cards. Chase also has several Ultimate Rewards points earning business credit cards including the: Ink CashInk ClassicInk Bold, and Ink Plus credit cards.  

While all of these cards earn Ultimate Rewards points, only the premium chase credit cards: Chase Sapphire PreferredJ.P. Morgan PalladiumInk Bold, and Ink Plus cards allow those points to be transferred to select travel partners (British Airways, Korean Air, Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic, and more).

Also worth mentioning, Chase also has several personal and business Southwest credit cards.  These cards currently offer 50,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points after spending $2,000 in your first 3 months of account opening. This card does have a $99 annual fee, which is offset by 6,000 bonus points every year of being a cardmember.  I currently don't have any Southwest credit cards because I have several other Chase cards and I prefer the flexibility of the Ultimate Rewards point transfer system instead.

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