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The Chase Sapphire Reserve allows cardholders to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal at a rate of 1.5 cents per point. This is one of the most valuable perks of the Sapphire Reserve card in my opinion and something I’m always tempted to use. But when it comes to hotels, you need to be aware that the Travel Portal may not show all bookable hotels online.
Booking the Marriott Renaissance St. Pancras in London
I used to go to school in the UK, and I remember always seeing the building that the Marriott Renaissance St. Pancras in London is in at King’s Cross and always wanting to check it out. It’s a beautiful, iconic structure in central London and has been seen in films like Harry Potter. So when I found out it was a Marriott property, I knew it’d only be a matter of time before I stayed there.
I looked at award redemptions online at Marriott. A basic room costs 45,000, but I wanted to stay in a suite in the Chamber’s Wing, which offers guests a complimentary VIP transfer to EuroStar with concierge service (normal rooms in the Chamber’s Wing offer this too). Since I have Marriott Platinum Status, I would’ve gotten Club access so I really only wanted this suite for the additional room and expedited EuroStar access.
The Junior Suite required 45,000 Marriott points + 170 GBP to book with Marriott points. Since I was using my Chase Ultimate Rewards for this redemption, I knew I needed to check with the Chase Travel Portal to compare prices and that’s when things got interesting.
Finding the Marriott Renaissance St. Pancras
I found the suite I was looking for for $530 or 35,398 Ultimate Rewards. So it would obviously make way more sense to book this through the Chase Travel Portal (as I find often to be the case with Marriott properties). I didn’t have a problem finding the property when I searched online but wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay at that hotel yet so I didn’t book it.
But when I searched online about a week later, the property was nowhere to be found. I tried over and over and with different browsers and still this property would not show up.
So I decided to call into the Chase Travel Portal just to check to see if they could see the property. They assured me that they could see exactly what showed up online on my end, but when they searched for the property they found it. Again, I tried over and over to see it but it wouldn’t show up.
I was waiting for some points to post so I told them that I would be calling back in a couple of days to book the hotel suite.
So after a few days I called back and we ran into the same issue again. I couldn’t find the property online and this time the phone agent said it wasn’t showing up either!
She said it was probably because all of the rooms were booked or possibly because their contract changed with the property. I told her I didn’t think that was the issue because I’d experienced issues with this property disappearing in the past but that led nowhere and we ended the call.
One last effort
I decided to try back one more time. So after about 3 hours, I got on the phone with another agent and this time he pulled up the property easily. I didn’t waste any time and ended up booking this for 35,398 Ultimate Rewards. For a $500+/night hotel, I was definitely okay with using that many points, considering the lounge has great reviews and we’ll get the VIP EuroStar treatment. And for a nice junior suite, that’s not too bad.
So the lesson I learned here is to always call in to check if a property is bookable if you don’t see it showing up online. If I hadn’t found the property once before online, I probably would have just assumed this hotel was not bookable through the Chase Travel Portal. I don’t know how rampant this “glitch” is so this could be a pretty rare occurrence but you never really know so it never hurts to check.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the digital smart wallet, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.