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How I Traveled for Free: Two-Night Stay in a Luxury Hotel in Thailand

Dec. 20, 2018
Loyalty Programs, Reward Optimization, Travel
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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.

The cardholder

Name: Caitlin Plunkett
Age: 34
Occupation: Cyber risk specialist
Home: New York
Credit Card: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The stay

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?

A: 25,925.

Q: Did you book in conjunction with a promotion or deal?

A: No.

Q: Any surprises or hassles?

A: None.

What’s next?

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 rewards

You 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:

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

About the author