A Chase Travel Portal Fail

Around the middle of last week, I was prepping for our first big road trip since having a baby. We were looking to split a 14-hour drive to Georgia over two days, stopping somewhere along the way for a quick overnight. I planned to use the Chase Travel Portal to book a hotel for our overnight stay on the way down, but I couldn’t book a last-minute stay with Chase.

Needed a basic road trip overnight

Looking at the map mid-week last week, my best guestimation was that we would end up stopping for the night somewhere around Harrisonburg, Virginia. We just needed a clean place to lay our heads for the night. Preferably, it would come with free breakfast, though in the back of my mind I knew that I wouldn’t be too sorry if we had to stop at Waffle House instead (we all have our guilty travel pleasures, and mine is a sausage-and-cheese Texas Melt with my hash browns smothered, covered, diced and peppered).

In preparation, I took a look at Hotel Hustle to see what our best options might be for booking a stay on points.

While I do have both Hilton and Choice points, and there was also a Holiday Inn Express for 25K, I wasn’t particularly excited about my options. Admittedly, my problem was more mental than anything else: I was having trouble with the psychological aspect of redeeming 30,000 points for a stay that was just going to be a place to sleep for a few hours (and hopefully get breakfast in the morning). The DoubleTree tempted me with its warm chocolate chip cookies, but then good sense prevailed and I looked at the Chase Travel Portal.

With my wife’s Chase Sapphire Reserve card, our Ultimate Rewards points can be used at a value of 1.5 cents per point towards travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal. Since Chase allows you to combine points with one member of your household, we have access to a decent stock of Chase Ultimate Rewards points between the two of us. While we prefer to transfer Ultimate Rewards to airline partners and redeem for better than 1.5cpp in value, we have enough of a stash of Chase points that it wouldn’t sting too much to part with a few thousand this way.

As it turned out, there were plenty of options for around 8,000 to 9,000 points that would include free breakfast:

Breakfast at the Courtyard wouldn’t be free, but it would at the rest of those options and more.

Those weren’t the cheapest options, but they were places that looked to fit the bill: likely a clean bed and free breakfast for all at the Comfort Inn, Holiday Inn Express, or Hampton Inn. Pyschologically, it was easier for me to part with 8,000-9,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points than 30K Hilton points or 25K IHG points even though I know the value is pretty comparable. By booking through the Chase Travel Portal, I would be forgoing elite status and benefits, but neither was particularly important since I’m not on a quest to qualify via stays and breakfast is free for everyone at the proprties I was considering.

Planned to wing it

Having never traveled in the car for longer than an hour with our 2-month-old son, I felt like it was presumptuous to book something in advance. How many times would we have to stop for feedings/diaper changes/epic meltdowns? Would he sleep like a baby in the car, or get sick of that and scream his lungs out serenade us the entire way? I felt good that we had a number of options for around 8-9K Ultimate Rewards points in and around Harrisonburg and other cities on the route, so we hit the road planning to make a decision a couple of hours before stopping for the night.

Except we couldn’t with Chase

As it turned out, the drive went pretty well. A couple of hours before we got to Harrisonburg, I decided that it was safe to look for a place and book it. I didn’t think to take a screen shot at the time, so I just ran a search this morning (the morning of 3/27/18) for a one-night stay — checking in tonight and out tomorrow:

Whoops. Apparently, Chase requires travel bookings to be made at least 1 day in advance. This is true for both hotels and flights. That surprised me. After all, the Chase Travel Portal otherwise works similarly to other Online Travel Agencies like Priceline, Expedia, etc. However, while you can book a last-minute same-day arrival or flight with most Online Travel Agencies, you can’t with the Chase online travel portal. While that limitation surely doesn’t affect the majority of travel bookings, I was bummed to find that I couldn’t make a reservation for same-day arrival. I’ve often used OTAs to book as late as just before midnight on the day of arrival and assumed that Chase would be no different.

Hyatt and the Q1 promotion to the rescue

In the end, we decided to continue on to Roanoke, Virginia. I saw that the Sheraton Roanoke had a Club Lounge and so I nearly booked it for 3,000 Starpoints since my SPG Business Card would get me lounge access, but then I read our own Stephen Pepper’s review and realized lounge access wasn’t much of a benefit. We ended up at the Hyatt Place Roanoke Airport / Valley View Mall. That turned out to be a great option since it’s a Category 1 Hyatt — costing only 5,000 points for a free night — and I got 500 points back with the 1st-quarter Hyatt promotion, for a net cost of 4,500 points (See: New Hyatt Promo: 500/1000 Points Per Night Including Award Stays).

We had plenty of space to set up a pack-and-play and assorted baby paraphenalia and we got at least half a plate of breakfast before the Morning Meltdown began and we retreated to the room to pack up. Alas, no Waffle House for me.

Bottom line

Online Chase Travel Portal bookings can not be made for travel on the current calendar day, which is something I’d never tried to do and thus hadn’t realized was impossible. I’ve since looked at a number of guides to booking via the Chase Travel Portal online and didn’t see a mention of this key restriction. While most award redemption plans are probably made well in advance, I do often end up making an on-the-fly booking for road trips so that I don’t overcommit as to how far we’ll make it before stopping. Unfortunately, I learned that I when I do this, I can’t book through the Chase site. That’s not the end of the world, but something I’ll keep in mind when we’re planning our route back home from this trip.

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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Biggie F
Guest
Biggie F

Wow, I’m reading this and haven’t gotten near the end and what is going through my head is, “You spend Chase UR points at 1.5 cents/per on hotels (not even counting for status)?” Because for me, Chase UR points = Hyatt points >= 2.0 cents/per (and often somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 cents, realistically). Thus I congratulate you on your Chase portal fail, and your safe landing at Hyatt.

Julene
Guest
Julene

While you cannot book last minute online, you can call have a rep complete the booking for you. I was able to book a last minute flight that way. (Same day travel)

jsn55
Guest
jsn55

Not sure how I ever got through life without all these daily tips and tricks! I don’t think it would have occurred to me to pick up the phone for Chase.

escot
Guest
escot

Don’t count on it. (Based on my own multiple tries, the advice being offered may be quite unreliable in a pinch — e.g., the CUR call center reps cannot even find the quotes for same day anything — it’s not there for them to help you, even if they wanted to do so — or so they’ve repeatedly told me) Be curious if anyone else can confirm Julene’s report.

escot
Guest
escot

I’ve actually tried that, multiple times, Every time I’ve tried to call Chase Ultimate Rewards Reps same day as intended night of stay, they were apologetic, but unable to help. (same policy applies to car rentals via CUR — which can be a great deal too, but just can’t do it same day).

Steven
Guest
Steven

Nice piece. Parenting road trip pro tip for when the kid is a little older — never go back to the room after the hotel breakfast. Bring the kids straight to the car. You’ll save 30 minutes you can use for a stop later in a more interesting place.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Hope u have a Costco card for Top Tier gas.

Mauddib6
Guest
Mauddib6

This has gotten me a couple of times when I needed a last minute redemption. Heads up: it is also true for Chase activities. Was trying to book a ticket to the space needle, had it in my cart and was looking at one more thing. Went to cart and it was gone because it was 12:01 and you can’t book activities on the same day. Called Chase and they said there was nothing they could do and had no way to let me use points for it. They did offer a few courtesy points for the inconvenience so that was nice.

a$]-[u
Guest
a$]-[u

Its 2-3 days for activities!

Aaron
Guest
Aaron

Ran into this booking a last minute emergency flight – flights available, but Chase online not phone would book it. Even worse, it seemed to use east coast time for definition of day even though I am Pacific time.

Elizabeth
Guest
Elizabeth

Ran into this same issue with the Citi ThankYou portal when trying to book a same day flight.

Brad
Guest
Brad

I ran into this same problem trying to book a rental car for a day in Vegas.

Sharee
Guest
Sharee

If you know there are rooms still available I wonder what would happen if you booked for next day and then immediately call the hotel (or just show up) and ask them to switch it to today? Doubt they would really mind…

escot
Guest
escot

Hi Nick. Know the feeling re. Shenandoah Valley hotels — and the nice ones being steep around “the burg” as we call it. (I used to teach there – often travel that way.) Congrats on discovering that Hyatt Place in Roanoke. (have booked traveling relatives there too, and they all report much liking it….) Another nice thing about the Hyatt point reservation is there’s no taxes (and often any applicable resort fees are waved too) if you book 100% with Hyatt points.

Yet back to the Chase UR portal — if you actually use it for hotel reservations, I am curious your experience (or that of other readers) with the nefarious hidden fees Chase is apparently tacking on…. (that is, between the point where you select your room and final check out) I saw this repeatedly on a trip out west last December and early this year — was too exhausted from travel to fight it then. (but told myself I’d come back to this)

Yes, I get it that Chase UR portal hotel reservations do not include taxes and fees in the initial point rates you get quoted. But I’m not talking about the normal “taxes and resort fees” that a hotel might pass along. Instead, I’m referring to the apparent booking fees (though they’re not identified) that the Chase UR system sometimes, but not always, tacks on (far in excess of the corresponding points that would be required to cover normal taxes) to a room charge, that is, to be included in your eventual total CUR points charge.

I’ve called chase ur reps on this several times and requested call backs from senior reps…. (after lower level reps were unable to fathom the complaint I was raising) They’ve yet to return my inquiries…. Realize this may sound “crazy” — and eyes will be rolling from the know-it-alls — but check it out…. watch for it..)

M&M
Guest
M&M

Great tip and great road trip story Nick. I have yet to use the travel portal, but I am notorious for booking a stay via an app while closing in on the next town. Soo, I shall remember this when I do use the portal. Missing a good hotel point redemption is one thing, but I shudder to think about missing a good flight redemption! Oh, and long live the Awful Waffle, 24/7 and always around when you need it.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I was able to book same day flight by calling the Ultimate Rewards call center. The requirement that she stated was that it must be more than four hours before the flight departed.

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[…] week, I wrote about needing a hotel near Harrisonburg, Virginia on a road trip. I just looked up rates in Harrisonburg next weekend and even there I could come out ahead on the […]

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