So, last week when I booked a flight through Aer Lingus to Barcelona for the tidy sum of $297, I had absolutely no idea how much this excursion would cost me further. Shit, did I just commit to just over a week in Europe without even considering funding…why, yes. Not that the cost was really too much of an issue but booking this trip did finally force my hand and come to a decision about how I should spend my Chase Sapphire Reserve Bonus. It’s just been sitting in my account for a few months now, with me periodically trying to concoct multiple trips out of the 100,000+ points. Well, fuck it, I said. I didn’t want to pay for this trip completely out of pocket, I didn’t want to stay in hostels, and I wanted to use the cash I was willing to spend to furnish activities/eating during my stay.
What did I end up planning out from a flight to Barcelona?
I knew that once I’d landed in Spain, I could explore anywhere on the European continent by simply booking a cheap flight from Barcelona. I considered hitting up Rome or Venice but the thought of having to run around two major cities in about 7.5 days seemed like too much of a task. I felt like I’d just be hopping from attraction to attraction without actually getting a sense of the cities themselves. Plus, who wants to be that tired on vacation?
After, I’d crossed Rome and Venice off the list, my attention turned to the Balearic Islands off of the coast of Spain. Hmmm, Majorca and/or Ibiza, sounded great to my mind. That’s it! I would spend maybe half the time in Barcelona and then take a short flight over to Ibiza for a beach/partying type of vacation.
I just needed to book flights to actually get to Newark for the Aer Lingus flight and one back home from JFK, which together almost cost the same amount as the flight to Spain. Also, a flight to Ibiza. Anddddd places to stay during this whole journey. The spending was piling up, as such I had to call upon Chase Ultimate Rewards points to fill the gap.
Using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
After receiving my 100,000 point sign-up bonus and receiving points from my spending, I had 107,124 total points in my account. Obviously, there were many point transfer opportunities in order to extract more value out of these points by booking flights directly through airline partners. For example, I could have taken roughly 5 round trip flights to various Caribbean islands by transferring points to British Airways and booking partner flights with American…which sounds great but then there’s the time factor and the spending money on hotels factor for each of those trips.
Besides, getting a week in Spain for dirt cheap, is an amazing use of points in my mind. The rewards portal for Chase has much better prices than when compared to American Express, with which I still have close to 30,000 points left with my sign up bonus from the Premier Rewards Gold Card. Aside from that, I can still sign up for the Sapphire Preferred Card which has a 50,000 point bonus after hitting the spending, so points shouldn’t be a problem going forward.
With my Aer Lingus flight already booked, I needed to spend points on hotel stays and connecting flights. I wanted to stay a nice hotels, not anything crazy expensive, but something which isn’t a complete hole in the wall either. For Barcelona, I chose the Mirror Hotel, which has a great location while being fairly affordable. It ran me just over 10,000 points per night plus an extra $8.55 to cover the remainder when my points ran out.
In Ibiza, I’ll be staying at the Hard Rock Hotel for three nights and when combined with my round trip ticket to Ibiza, ran me under 41,000 points. Again, when you throw in the Ibiza flight with my US connection flights, they were more expensive in total than my transatlantic round trip ticket.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Point Spend Breakdown
Flight to Newark: ($164.20) 10,946
Mirror Hotel Barcelona: ($731.90) 48,223 + $8.55
Barcelona to Ibiza Round Trip + Hard Rock Ibiza Hotel Stay: ($611.13) 40,742
Flight from New York: ($108.20) 7,213
Total value: $1615.43
Points used: 107,124 + $8.55
My account balance now sits at 0 points until my next statement. I’m pretty damn happy about the way that this trip is shaping up. As of now, after purchasing travel insurance, I’ve spend about $330 out of pocket. I do need to book another night in a hotel but, whatever, you gotta love points and the flexibility they give you. Next trip, maybe I’ll go the inexpensive hostel stay route combined with an airfare deal…