This savvy cybersecurity specialist scored a free stay in a five-star hotel — complete with a Thai massage and a dip in a rooftop infinity pool — on her way to visit a friend in Southeast Asia.
Name: Caitlin Plunkett
Occupation: Cyber risk specialist
Home: New York
Credit Card: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Hotel: The Okura Prestige Bangkok
Dates of Stay: July 5 – 7, 2017
Q: What kind of room did you stay in?
A: A deluxe room with a king-size bed.
Q: What amenities did you take advantage of?
A: Rooftop infinity pool, a spa visit including Thai massage, workout facilities and room service.
Q: Did you travel alone or with someone?
A: I traveled alone. I was visiting a friend in Singapore and added a luxury stay in Bangkok.
I booked my flight from New York to Singapore, then Singapore to Bangkok and back to New York City. I used points to pay for it all, too.
The card and loyalty program
Q: What card did you use to get a free stay, and how long were you a cardholder at the time?
A: I used the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and was a cardholder for six months at the time of my trip. I used Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to pay for it all.
» Learn more: Chase 5/24 rule explained
Q: How long were you saving for this stay?
A: Three months.
Q: What’s your favorite perk of this card/program?
A: Traveling for free using Chase Ultimate Rewards® points. The points collection and redemption process is super easy and flexible. I can use my points on any flight or hotel in the Chase online travel portal, giving me so many options to explore the world. Plus the website is user-friendly and customer service is helpful and pleasant.
Redemption and booking
Q: Did you take advantage of promotions while earning points for this trip?
A: Yes! I received 100,000 points as a sign-up bonus after my first three months. I used those points to pay for the airfare and hotel on this trip. [That welcome bonus is no longer available. Here is the current welcome bonus for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Q: How did you book?
A: I booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® website one month before my trip in June 2017.
Q: How many points/rewards did this cost?
Q: Did you book in conjunction with a promotion or deal?
Q: Any surprises or hassles?
Q: What’s your next travel rewards goal?
A: I recently used Chase points to book round-trip travel to Buenos Aires. I’m going there in January 2019 and I can’t wait!
After that, I’d love to visit Nepal.
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Chase Ultimate Rewards: How to earn and use them
How I flew for free: Round trip NYC to India using Chase Ultimate Rewards
This strategy is how I started earning major travel rewards