Chase Travel Portal Review: (Airlines, Hotels, Car Rentals, Cruises) [2021]

The Chase Travel Portal can be one of the best ways to utilize your hard-earned reward points.

But how exactly does the Chase Travel Portal work and is it worth using?

This review article will walk you through step-by-step on how to use the portal for all forms of travel (airlines, hotels, rental cars, cruises) and I’ll also look at if travel through the portal is more expensive. 

But most importantly, I’ll show you when to use and NOT use the Chase Travel Portal in order to maximize the value of your points!

What is the Chase Travel Portal?

The Chase Travel Portal is an exclusive online travel agency (OTA) powered by Expedia that allows select Chase cardholders to book travel with their Ultimate Rewards or by paying via a credit card.

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

How do I get access to the Chase Travel Portal

This travel portal is only for Individuals with Ultimate Rewards earning Chase cards. So if you had a card like a Chase Southwest credit card you would not get access. Instead, you would need one of the following cards:

Chase Travel Portal redemption values

When you use your Ultimate Rewards points to book travel you’ll get different levels of value from your Chase Ultimate Rewards earning credit cards, depending on the type of card that is used.

Take a look at how each point is valued based on the card you are using:

  • Chase Freedom: 1 cent per point
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited: 1 cent per point
  • Chase Ink Cash: 1 cent per point
  • Chase Ink Unlimited: 1 cent per point
  • Chase Ink Business Preferred: 1.25 cents per point
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred: 1.25 cents per point
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: 1.5 cents per point

Keep in mind that you can transfer Ultimate Rewards between spouses and household members so you can also use the card between you and others that has the best redemption rates for your travels.

The Sapphire Reserve with the 1.5 cents per point redemption rate is one of the top benefits of the Sapphire Reserve. It makes it much more tempting (and worthwhile) to use your points for travel redemptions when using the Chase Travel Portal.

But the Sapphire Reserve comes with a number of other stout perks including:

All of these perks make the Sapphire Reserve one of the top travel credit cards on the market without a doubt.

Point values compared to to other programs (Amex)

You can get a sense of how great the value is with the Sapphire Reserve’s portal redemption rate by comparing its rate to other programs.

Just take a look at the Amex Travel portal. For airfare you can redeem Amex Membership Rewards at a rate of 1 cent per point but things aren’t as good for other travel redemptions. For hotels, vacations, and cruises you’ll be redeeming at 0.7 cent per point.

So as you can see, redeeming points through the Chase Travel Portal with the Sapphire Reserve is much more lucrative than utilizing points with some other travel portals. 

Chase Travel partners

Chase allows you to use your points to travel in different ways. You can either use the Chase Travel Portal or you can transfer your points out to transfer partners.

Chase travel partners

Chase has a great line-up of airlines and also has the best hotel selection out of any other major transferrable points program, in my opinion.

Here are all of the current Chase transfer partners:

Chase Ultimate Rewards Airlines

  • Aer Lingus
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates
  • JetBlue
  • Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
  • Iberia Airways
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Chase Ultimate Rewards Hotels

  • World of Hyatt
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Bonvoy

Whether or not you should transfer points to these partners depends on a few factors and I will discuss those below when giving advice on when to use and not use the travel portal.

How do I use the Chase Travel Portal?

  • Log-in to your Chase Ultimate Rewards dashboard
  • Click on the travel button on the side panel
  • Select your type of travel
  • Book and enjoy!

Log-in to your Chase account

The first step to access the travel portal is to simply log-in to your Ultimate Rewards dashboard. You can log-in to the travel portal here.

Click on the travel button on the side bar

Once you are in the Ultimate Rewards dashboard you need to pull up the Chase Travel Portal by selecting travel. Simply navigate to the side panel and you will see the travel menu button.

How to enter the Chase Travel Portal.

Select for your type of travel

Once you are in the travel portal, you will need to select the type of travel that you were interested in booking. Here are the different types of travel that you can choose from:

  • Flights 
  • Hotels
  • Cars
  • Cruises 
  • Things to do
  • Vacation rentals
Photo of Chase travel portal booking menu
You can choose from all major forms of travel.


The last step is to simply book your travel.

Keep reading below for more details on how to get to that step.

When to NOT use the Chase Travel Portal

There are a number of reasons why you might not want to use the portal.

Outsized value

One of the biggest reasons to NOT use the Chase Travel Portal is because you can get so much more value when transferring points to travel partners.

When you book through the Chase Travel Portal you are limited to the point value of the credit card account that you are using for the portal.

So if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’re only going to get 1.5 cents per point out of your redemptions. That sounds impressive until you realize that if you transfer your points out to travel partners you could be getting redemptions at well over 10 cents per point.

So the benefit of transferring points is that you can receive amazing outsized value for your points that’s just not possible with the Chase Travel Portal.

Unforgettable travel experiences

And it’s just not about the monetary value, transferring points out to airlines allows you to experience some truly unforgettable flying experiences.

That’s because you’re able to fly in business class and first class cabins in some of the top airlines. You can experience your own private suites and live the high life rather than being stuck in economy.

These tickets can also get you access into some of the top airline lounges in the world for an unforgettable luxury experience. I’ve had some of my most memorable flights because of Chase Ultimate Rewards and some of the experiences that stick out are:

If I would have used my points to book travel through the Chase Travel Portal, I would have never gotten a chance to experience those amazing flights.

Hotels can offer cases of outsized value, too. I recently finished a stay at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vedome and received over 3 cents per point in value. 

I would have been limited to 1.5 cents per point with the Chase Travel Portal so transferring points would have made a lot more sense.

Hotel perks

One of the main reasons why you’d want to avoid the travel portal is when booking hotel stays.

That’s because when you use an OTA, there’s a chance that you won’t receive all of your elite benefits/credits and you won’t earn hotel points for the stay.

So if you’re a Hilton Gold member for example you might not receive your free breakfast and potential upgrade that you would have had. Some programs won’t even allow you to get complimentary wifi unless you book directly.

The good news is that sometimes you can still get these perks.

You just need to call into the hotel beforehand and give them your elite information. If you do that and work a little charm at check-in you might be surprised to receive your elite benefits.

Korean Air First Class on the A380 courtesy of Chase Ultimate Rewards.

When to use the Chase Travel Portal

There are sometimes when it really makes sense to use the Chase Travel Portal.

Cheap domestic flights

Sometimes flights are pretty cheap and it makes way more sense to just use the portal to book them.

For example, if you wanted to fly on United Airlines from Houston to Orlando, you may have to transfer 25,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards for a roundtrip flight in economy.

But if you used the travel portal, you’d be able to book that Orlando flight for much cheaper during many times of the year and potentially save thousands of points.

You will still earn your frequent flyer miles, too, so there’s no loss in value there.

Cheaper hotels

The same principle applies to hotel stays as well. Sometimes it will just be cheaper to book through the portal than to transfer your reward points.

The major exception to this is Hyatt which often has point redemptions worth over 1.5 cents per point.

You’ve also got to really think about the value you might be losing out on if you don’t receive your elite benefits. It’s not hard for two free breakfasts to add up quick on a trip and if you’re giving that up, it might be more worthwhile to ditch the portal for that booking.

Not good with points

The thing about transferring points is that you need to aware of how the process works. You need to know how to transfer your points and how to use those points efficiently once you have them.

Then you’ve got to deal with finding award inventory, black-out dates, and the actual booking process which can be tricky with some foreign airlines.

Not everybody has the time to learn how to do that (or even the desire to do it). And for those people, the Chase Travel Portal is often a much better suited option.

First class on the Singapore A380.

Booking different travel types

Since this is powered by Expedia, you’ll find robust filters for searching and filtering your particular type of travel. But just to give you an idea of all the possibilities, I’ve broken down some example search filters below for the different types of travel.

Chase Travel Portal Flights

The Chase Travel Portal allows you to easily search for flights.

Simply input your departure location and your destination, along with dates and passengers. You can also choose to search with your preferred airline or preferred class by using the “Advanced options.”

When I searched, the Chase Travel Portal pulled prices listed from the cheapest flights (which was directly on par with the lowest prices found in Google Flights).

I should note that many people complain about the pricing found on the portal and claim that many flights are also missing. So I would always double check the pricing with Google Flights and if I still had questions then I would just call the Chase Travel Portal number at 1-866-418-8872. 

Also, be on the lookout for basic economy fares like the one below which state “Basic Economy” under Select.

You can utilize several filters to narrow down the results including nonstop flights and also by airlines and preferences for departure time and arrival time.

You can also search the prices with the flexible dates feature. I prefer this search feature as it’s easy to spot the cheapest roundtrip prices and compare them to other websites.

Once you select your flights, you’ll be taken to another screen where you’ll need to confirm or upgrade your fare class. You’ll see the prices for upgrades and be able to confirm the options that your fare has or doesn’t have, such as seat choice.

At the next screen you’ll need to enter the names of the travelers and you’ll have a chance to enter in credentials for things like TSA Pre-Check and frequent flyer information.

You’ll also be able to choose how you want to pay for the travel. You can choose to pay with points, credit card, or a combination of the two. You’ll then confirm your booking on that screen.

Note that all booked flights can be canceled within 24 hours. 

Booking flights on Southwest

Southwest flights do not show up on the Chase Travel Portal. However, you can call in to request a booking with Southwest Airlines if you’d like.

Where can I view my flight booking confirmation?

  • Go to My Trips to view, email, or print your itinerary or receipt.
  • View your confirmation email.

How to change your seat

For most flights, you can choose your seat during booking. Chase should send your seat selection to the airline at the time of booking, but they note that they cannot guarantee your seat assignment.

You can access your seat assignment for most flights in your itinerary, or when you view your flight booking confirmation.

Your seat selection may not be confirmed if you:

  • Booked a fare with an airline that assigns seats at the gate
  • Booked a Basic Economy fare which doesn’t allow seat selection

Chase Travel Portal Hotels

The search feature for hotels is pretty standard as well.

The Chase hotel car itinerary selection.

There are a lot of helpful filters that you can apply to help you efficiently search for the right hotel.

Some of these include:

Property Class

This allows you to sort by star ratings.

Price Per Night

Sort properties based on price.

Vacation Rental Bedrooms

  • Studio 1
  • Bedroom 2
  • Bedrooms 3
  • Bedrooms 4+ Bedrooms

Guest Rating

  • Exceptional!
  • Very good!
  • Good!


Sort through many local neighborhoods.


  • High-speed Internet
  • Air conditioning
  • Swimming pool
  • Breakfast Included
  • Babysitting service
  • Business services
  • Childcare Children’s club
  • Fitness equipment
  • Airport Transportation
  • Included Newspaper
  • Included Parking
  • Included Hair dryer
  • Kitchen
  • Kitchenette
  • Laundry facilities
  • Dry cleaning/laundry service
  • Pets allowed(conditions apply)
  • Restaurant in hotel
  • Room service
  • Spa services on site

Property Type

  • Apartment Hotel
  • Private vacation home
  • Guest house
  • Bed & Breakfast Hostel/Backpacker accommodation
  • Cottage
  • Inn
  • Apart-hotel
  • TownHouse
  • Condo
  • Lodge
  • Motel
  • Villa
  • House boat
  • Country House
  • Chalet Hotel resort
  • Hostel (Budget Hotel)

You can even search based on popular locations. Here are some examples from London that I found when searching for a hotel.

  • Tower of London
  • University of London
  • London Bridge
  • London Dungeon
  • The Shard
  • South Park
  • Sky Garden
  • Big Ben
  • Buckingham Palace
  • O2 Arena
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • Olympic Stadium
  • University College London
  • East London Mosque
  • Museum of London
  • Natural History Museum
  • Wembley Stadium
  • London Stock Exchange
  • Chessington World of Adventures
  • Hyde Park


Accessible bathroom In-room accessibility roll-in shower.

Hotel pricing might be on the cheaper side sometimes or it may not.

For the most part, I’ve always found competitive prices but I would highly recommend that you check the prices with other OTAs before booking. Just like with airfare, there are plenty of reports of the portal not displaying the best prices for hotels.

Whenever you finally find the hotel you were interested in, be sure to view the cancellation policy. You should find it in green next to the room description and also under “price details.”

Tip: Use WalletFlo for all your credit card needs. It’s free and will help you optimize your rewards and savings!

Chase Travel Portal Rental Cars

Searching for rental cars is pretty straightforward as well.

There are advanced search options for searching for car by type and by rental company. You can also filter for special equipment for things like infant seats, snow chains, navigation system, etc.

The Chase rental car itinerary selection.

Things to do

You can also find things to do in the Chase Travel Portal. You’ll find many of the major tourist options in the search results but there will be some unique things to do like craft beer tours.

What’s cool about these activities is that you can truly travel for free if you use your points. It’s pretty easy to cover hotels and airfare with points but it’s much more difficult to cover an entire trip with points (including activities).

With the Travel Portal, this is a possibility though.

What kind of activities show up?

When I searched for San Francisco, it pulled “154 things to do.”

Some examples of the things to do that popped up were:

  • Golden Gate Bridge Tour
  • Alcatraz Tour 
  • San Francisco Mega Pass
  • Yosemite National Park tour 
  • Napa Valley wine tasting tour 
  • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

You can then sort the activities based on certain criteria.


  • Local Expert Picks
  • Family Friendly
  • Likely To Sell Out
  • New on Chase Travel


  • Tours & Sightseeing
  • Walking & Bike Tours
  • Day Trips & Excursions
  • Cruises & Water Tours
  • Air, Balloon & Helicopter Tours
  • Hop-on Hop-off
  • Private Tours


  • Attractions
  • Food & Drink
  • Sightseeing Passes
  • Nightlife
  • Multi-Day & Extended Tours
  • Adventures
  • Water Activities


  • Shared transportation

Vacation rentals

You can also book vacation rentals through the portal.

Chase Travel Portal Cruises

You can book cruises with points, your Chase card, or both. Here are some examples of cruise lines and cruise ships you can find in the Chase Travel Portal.

  • Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Equinox
  • Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Jade
  • Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Gem
  • Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Pearl
  • Princess Cruises Regal Princess
  • Royal Caribbean International Allure of the Seas
  • Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas
  • Royal Caribbean International Harmony of the Seas
  • Royal Caribbean International Oasis of the Seas

For cruise information, call 1-866-951-6592.

Travel profile

Under your Travel profile you can edit your travel details including:

Frequent Flyer Membership

This is where you’ll enter your frequent flyer numbers for various programs like United, Delta, American Airlines, etc.

Personal Info

This is where you can enter your personal contact information.

Flight Preferences

You can set your flight presences for things like window or aisle seats (sorry, no preference available for the middle seat).

TSA Info

Known Traveler Number and Redress Number. The Known Traveler Number will allow you to receive benefits like TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry if you are signed up for them.

Chase Travel Portal Promo code

Chase will sometimes send out emails with special promo codes for the Chase Travel Portal.

For example, there once was a code for $100 off $300.

However, it’s not clear who exactly gets targeted for these offers and they seem to be pretty rare so I wouldn’t go around expecting them to arrive in your inbox.

I’m not aware of publicly available promo codes.

If you do get a code it can be entered at checkout.

Price match

Others have tried their luck with seeking a price match from Chase but they haven’t been successful.

If you have any luck report back with your data points!

Chase Travel Portal (in the App)

You can use the Chase Mobile App to search and book travel through the Chase Travel Portal.

First, you just need to log-in to your Chase app on your mobile device.

Then select the “…” next to the card that you’d like to use and select “Redeem rewards.”

Next hit the three bars at the top of the screen and then select “”Travel” and that will take you right to the Chase Travel Portal on the mobile app.

Chase Travel Portal on the mobile app.

Refunds and Cancellations

There are always a lot of non-refundable options when dealing with booking travel through an OTA so you always want to be on the lookout for any bookings that won’t allow you to collect a refund.


You can cancel most flight bookings online.

Keep in mind that for airfare if you cancel within 24 hours, there are usually no cancellation fees.

If you cancel a non-refundable flight reservation, the airline may issue you a flight credit for a future booking instead of a refund.

But note that some flight reservations are not eligible for a flight credit after cancellation. Canceling one of these will force you to lose the value of your ticket.

To cancel your flight booking online

  1. Go to My Trips to view your bookings.
  2. In Upcoming, select the itinerary you wish to cancel.
  3. Select Cancel Flight under Manage Booking


Chase allows you to cancel most hotel bookings online.

If your hotel’s free cancellation deadline has passed, you will have to pay a cancel fee and if you booked a non-refundable hotel, you will have to pay the entire cost of your stay.

To cancel your hotel booking

  • Go to My Trips to view your bookings.
  • In Upcoming, select the itinerary you wish to cancel.
  • In Manage Booking, select Cancel Room and follow the instructions.

Chase Travel Portal Phone Number

To speak to a Chase Travel Specialist, call 1-866-418-8872.

Advisors specializing in flights, hotels, car rentals and activities are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Advisors specializing in cruises are available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.

Other OTAs

The Chase Travel Portal is just one of the many type of OTAs that you can find online. Here are some other OTAs and OTA aggregators you might consider trying out:

1. Bonwi
2. Expedia
5. Orbitz
6. HotelTonight
7. Priceline
8. Hostelworld
13. Trivago

You can read more about these OTAs here.

Since the Chase Travel Portal is powered by Expedia you’d expect their results to be identical but I know from experience that things can get tricky on OTAs so I’d always double check the prices elsewhere before booking.

Chase travel notifications/alerts

The Chase Travel Portal will have travel notifications for certain countries if applicable and you should be able to see those when you log-in.

You should obviously do follow-up research with the US State Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure there are no travel advisories even if the Chase travel portal doesn’t mention these.

Also, if you’re wanting to set Chase travel notifications so that your debit card or credit card won’t have issues abroad, you can read how to do that here

Chase Shopping portal

If you’d like to utilize Ultimate Rewards to shop you can use your points at Amazon or to purchase gift cards. But if you’d like to earn more Ultimate Rewards via your shopping then consider trying out the Chase Shopping Portal where you can earn points when you shop at retailers including:

  • Apple
  • American Eagle
  • Bose
  • Macy’s
  • WalMart
  • Sam’s Club
  • Samsung
  • Microsoft
  • Nike
  • Old Navy
  • HP
  • Under Armour
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Kohl’s
  • Levi’s
  • Walgreens
  • Staples
  • Sephora
  • And many, many more…

Read more about the portal here. 

Chase Travel Portal not working?

For the longest time I though that the Chase Travel Portal was down but it turns out that there was caching issue with my computer.

All I had to do was clear out my browsing history (or use an Incognito browser) and I was able to log-in and search for travel.

The portal might not be working from time to time but I’d also try to clear your browsing history/cache and see if that works if you ever run into performance issues.

Final word

The Chase Travel Portal is a great way to truly travel for free and in many instances it can be a much more valuable use of points.

The key is to be aware of what benefits you might be missing out on and to always compare prices across OTAs so make sure you’re getting a great deal.

Should I Book My Travels with An OTA?

Online Travel Agencies (or “OTAs”) are becoming more and more popular and widespread as new OTAs continue to enter the picture. OTAs are websites like Expedia,, RocketMiles, and that allow you to book your travel via a third party. But it’s not always so clear if these OTAs are better deals for your travels, so here are some things to consider.

Why should I use an OTA?

OTAs are popular because they simplify the searching and booking process by allowing you to easily sort and compare prices for different properties. Since they often buy rooms at wholesale rates, they are also sometimes able to offer better deals than booking directly with the hotel.

You can find my list of the top OTAs here.

Great search features

One of the things I love about OTAs is that you can often search cities by neighborhoods, districts, landmarks, etc., and that makes searching much more efficient. For example, when planning a stay in London I can search for hotels located around iconic locations like the Tower of London or center them around areas like Covent Garden.

Searching near landmarks is an effecient way to find the right hotel for you.

Also, you can utilize features like map views to scan the price ranges in different neighborhoods. Filtering your searches by price or by “stars” is another easy way to get rid of all of those hotel options that aren’t in your price range.

Thus, even if you’re not planning on booking with an OTA, you might still consider using it as a preliminary search tool to find a hotel that’s right for you.

Cheaper prices

You can often find cheaper prices on OTAs, too. It’s true that some hotels will price-match what you find on OTAs, but based on my personal experience, this isn’t very common and hotels often have a minimum floor which they will not go below, regardless of what price is found on an OTA.

As an example, I once found a Marriott hotel in Houston listed on an OTA for around $80 cheaper than the price listed on the hotel’s website but when I called in to get a match, I was told that there was no chance of that happening.

So OTAs can provide you with a host of benefits but you should be aware of certain things when booking airfare and hotels.


There aren’t many drawbacks to booking airfare through an OTA. This is because you’re still able to earn your frequent flyer miles even when you’ve booked through an OTA. You should always check to make sure that the OTA is providing you with all of the flight routing options and that the prices are competitive, since OTAs won’t always show you all of the possible routing options and prices.

Another one of the potential drawbacks is that some cards like the The Platinum Card® from American Express only allow you to earn 5X on purchases made directly with the airlines. This means you might be losing out on some bonus points by purchasing airfare through an OTA , although the purchase should still code as “travel” so for cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’d still likely be earning bonus rates.

Hotel stays

Booking hotel stays through an OTA presents different concerns than airfare. The biggest issues are that you probably won’t earn any credits for nights or stays and that you might not get your elite status perks honored.

Marriott Renaissance — San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Earning stay credits and hotel points

When booking through an OTA, you’ll almost certainly not earn any credits for stays/nights or even points for that hotel’s loyalty program. I’ve heard of people getting credit/points when booking through an OTA before, but those cases usually involve some type of a glitch.

This is why you always want to compare your savings/rewards that you’re receiving from the OTA to what you would’ve earned if you booked directly with the hotel.

Elite perks

Receiving elite perks can be hit or miss when booking through OTAs. Generally, both Marriott and Hyatt are great about honoring your elite status even when you make a booking through an OTA.

On Marriott stays, I’ve been able to still receive Marriott Platinum Elite benefits like free breakfasts, free internet, lounge access, upgrades to suites, and late check out.

The trick is to call in to the front desk before you arrive and request them to insert your loyalty number into your reservation. While Marriott and Hyatt are good about honoring their elite perks, you might still have some luck with other hotels chains on a case-by-case basis.

Upgraded to a Marriott suite when booking through an OTA.

Limited inventory

OTAs have a limited inventory of hotels and rooms. For that reason, you may not ever see a hotel you’re looking for on an OTA. And it’s also possible that the hotel you’re looking at is only showing you a fraction of the room choices available to you. Typically, finding standard rooms isn’t terribly difficult, but if you’re looking for specific rooms like ocean-view rooms or corner rooms, they don’t always show up in the searches.

Pre-paid bookings and cancellations

When booking anything through an OTA, it’s very important to know what exactly your cancellation policy is. Many OTAs now offer you different options, such as pre-paid bookings or pay when you arrive bookings. Take extra care to read what the cancellation policy is, since sometimes OTAs give you somewhat arbitrary cut-offs for cancellations.

If something happens and you need to cancel your booking, the decision to offer you a refund is usually made by the property. Sometimes the OTA will act as a liaison to assist you with obtaining the refund, but often you are on your own.


Not many OTAs offer great rewards when compared to what you earn when you book directly with hotels. What’s more, it takes a lot of booked nights to earn enough points to have a worthwhile redemption opportunity when booking through Expedia.

However, some OTAs, like, offer fantastic rewards. I was even able to earn over a 40% return on a Hyatt booking before, which is phenomenal. With sites like BonWi, it’s possible to earn enough points for worthwhile redemptions with only a couple of stays.

Even if the rewards are not that lucrative, some rewards are still better than none. At some point you’ll probably visit destinations that don’t have many (or any) properties belonging to your hotel loyalty program of choice. When booking these properties, it often makes sense to go with an OTA since you can earn rewards on top of your savings.

Booking for friend and family

Also, OTAs are great because you should be able to make bookings for your friends and families. This means that even if you’re not going to be involved in the actual traveling at all you can still book the travels through an OTA and earn rewards for that OTA’s program.

Other options

When choosing to book through OTAs you always have to weigh your other options. For example it’s possible to earn alternative savings with:

  • Discounted hotel gift cards (sometimes even purchased with 5X)
  • Seasonal hotel promotions (e.g., double the base points)
  • Online cash back portals
  • Amex Offers

Many times you can stack some of these options together and create savings that outweigh the savings/rewards you’d receive from the OTA. So again, it’s important to do some basic math before booking with an OTA so you don’t limit your savings.

Final word

Overall, there’s nothing wrong with booking with OTAs. In some circumstances you’d probably want to avoid them to earn stay credit and points with your favorite loyalty program but sometimes the savings will be so high with an OTA that you’re better off forgoing what you would earn with that hotel’s loyalty program.

Get up to 40% Back on Hotel Stays with This New OTA

There’s a new rewards-focused OTA that’s out that you should definitely know about. It’s called, and I’ve tried them out twice now and earned 40% and 30% back on two bookings, which is rock solid. I’ve had the chance to get with the creators and learn more about the program (no affiliate links here), and I’ve come away thoroughly impressed.

What is BonWi?

BonWi is a new OTA similar to,, etc. where you can book hotels and car rentals. They source out tons of wholesalers to provide you with the lowest price (or guarantee it within 24 hours of booking). While getting a low price from an OTA isn’t exactly revolutionary, BonWi’s award system is unlike any other.

The BonWi award system

When you search for hotels, the default search settings will sort the hotels in order based on the highest number of points earned (note this is not the same as best return %).

LA search results showing returns of 32%, 19%, and 36%.

Each BonWi point is worth 1 cent per point, and the value of of Bonwi points earned can be substantial in some cases.

For example, I recently stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas and earned 35,476 BonWi points. The base rate was $876 for a 40% return (or $354 back).

On another stay at the Marriott Renaissance in Phoenix, I earned 10,017 points on a $319 base rate for a 31% return (or $100 back).

These returns are exceptional even when compared to what I’d earn with even top tier elite status with Hyatt and Marriott.

For example, here’s what I’d earn with Hyatt and Marriott below:

Hyatt Globalist at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas

  • 876 x 5 = 4,380
  • 1,314 elite bonus points
  • = 5,694 points at 1.5 cents per point = $85.41
  • $85.41/$876 = 9.75% back.

That’s $85 back versus $354 back. A difference of $269!

40% back at the Hyatt Regency Dallas.

Marriott Platinum at the Marriott Renaissance in Phoenix

  • 319 x 10 = 3,190
  • 1,595 elite bonus points
  • = 4,785 points at .8 cents per point = $38.28
  • $38.28/$319 = 12% back.

So here it’s $38 versus $100 back.

And Marriott like Hyatt will often honor your elite status benefits, so on this stay I not only received a free breakfast, lounge access, and free internet, but I also received an upgrade to a suite with my Marriott Platinum status.

So this was an all-around win for me using BonWi and it’s why I consider it one of the top OTAs.

Marriott Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel
Upgraded to a suite at the Marriott Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel.

Marriott Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel
Elevate Lounge at the Marriott Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel.

*It’s important to note that other hotel loyalty programs like Hilton and IHG are known to deny elite benefits when booking through an OTA (IHG even does this sometimes when you make an award booking).

How to redeem points

As stated, all BonWi points can be redeemed at 1 cents per point.

You can use these points for hotels, flights, or even gift cards (Visa gift cards should soon be an option). You’ll need at least 50% of the points needed in order to do a cash + points booking.

One great thing about the airline portal is that you can book Southwest flights, which is a rarity. Thus, if applied my Companion Pass to the 35,476 points I earned on the Hyatt Regency stay (which I plan to to) it was like effectively netting $708 worth of Southwest airfare for a $876 stay (plus the Rapid Rewards I’ll earn for the flight).

The minimum threshold for gift card redemptions is $100 so it’s on the high side but the rapid point earning potential + the $15 credit just for signing up, often makes reaching this point threshold much more attainable.

It codes as travel

I earned 3X on my Chase Sapphire Reserve when making bookings on I assume this would be the case for many other cards (cards like the Altitude Reserve excluded).

Is it worth it?

When choosing to book through OTAs you always have to weigh your other options. For example it’s possible to earn alternative savings with:

  • Discounted hotel gift cards (sometimes even purchased with 5X)
  • Seasonal hotel promotions (e.g., double the base points)
  • Online cash back portals (BonWi is entertaining adding this option)
  • Amex Offers

And of course you have to consider the oppurtunity cost of not earning points and stay credits with your loyalty program.

With all of those factors considered, I think is still definitely worth it many cases. At the very least, it’s worth checking out when you’re planning a trip because your hotel of choice might be netting a 30% to 40% return. Even if the returns are closer to 15-20% which would be more common, that’s still more than you earn as a top elite member at just about every major hotel program, barring special promotions.

Overall, you’ll find some properties offer amazing returns while others don’t offer exceptional value, so it’s important to shop around.

I think the fact that you can earn a substantial amount of points on one booking and redeem points at 1 cent per point is big for this program. Many people don’t travel enough to earn enough points on bookings to be able to actually do something with them. Instead, those points just rot away in their account.

With BonWi, you might be able to net a couple of hundred dollars worth of travel or gift cards with just one or two stays, especially since they start you out with $15 worth of points just for signing up. Thus, BonWi can be very practical for those who seldom travel.

Will I be using it?

I’ll definitely be searching BonWi in the future for my bookings and booking when the price is right. I venture to the Caribbean a lot where sometimes it’s hard to find major hotel chains so OTAs have always come in handy there. I’ve also relied on OTAs for bookings in other random places like Portugal. But I also will consider booking my future Marriott stays through BonWi since Marriott has been more than happy to honor my elite benefits.

Are there any cons?

Aside from losing out on elite credit and occasionally on elite perks, the only cons I’d point out are technical in nature. You’ll notice that the search feature is a bit sluggish (think Aeroplan), but that’s because they’re scanning so many different wholesalers to find prices where they can offer such lucrative rewards. The site is also still a bit new so it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that some other OTAs might have. Still, all of my bookings have been smooth.

There’s a chat feature for customer service that I haven’t had to use yet so I can’t comment on the customer service, which I know is often big concern when booking though OTAs.

Final word

The opportunity to earn up to 40% back on hotel stays is exceptional. The fact that I can get the awesome return rates of Bonwi and also still utilize my elite benefits at Marriott properties for free internet, breakfasts, and upgrades is very attractive to me. Add in the 3X on my Sapphire Reserve and ability to redeem points at one cent per point on Southwest, and I think Bonwi is a very competitive product that should be on your radar.