earn points and miles using a travel rewards card is as easy as a swipe. But your credit card company also wants to play travel agent. American Express, Bank of America, Capital One and Chase, for example, all have travel portals where cardholders can book fights, hotels, rental cars and more using either their credit card or the points and miles they have earned. And issuers offer incentives for cardholders to do so.
Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders, for example, can earn up to five points on travel purchases made through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, but if you booked directly with the airline or hotel, you only earn two points on the trip. But there are a few caveats to consider.
Using these travel portals is similar to booking hotel rooms and flights on Ex-pedia, Kayak or any other third party booking site. If something goes wrong during your trip – say your airline cancels your flight or the hotel loses your confirmation – you’ll need to call your credit card company for help instead of dealing with the company directly. airline, hotel or car rental company.
If you need to change your flight plans and you have redeemed points or miles for a flight, there is no guarantee that those points or miles will be reissued; you will more than likely receive a voucher for future travel. However, if the airline cancels for you, you are entitled to a refund to the account you used for payment, whether you booked with a credit card or with rewards.
And by booking through the card portal, you may lose certain privileges associated with your hotel or rental car loyalty programs. You may also lose your upgrade privileges. (With airline loyalty programs, you can enter your loyalty number when booking through a third party.)
Although there is no model, ticket prices on travel portals may be higher than those offered on the airline or hotel website, says Nick Ewen, rewards expert at travel at The Points Guy, a mainstream travel website. To avoid this, and any other setbacks associated with third-party bookings, consider transferring your points to your credit card’s loyalty program, he says.