If you are a frequent flyer and avid travel credit card rewards enthusiast, there is no doubt that you have spent some time figuring out the best strategy to maximize your points and miles. You’ve probably already figured out that credit card rewards are often most valuable when you redeem them for travel-related expenses. In many cases, these boosted rewards come from the travel portals of credit card issuers.
While booking a trip on your card issuer’s site can seem daunting, it’s worth learning how to use it. If you do, you could take advantage of a number of benefits offered in these portals.
Booking through your travel portal by credit card
Your card issuer’s portal contains information and resources to help you make the most of the rewards, benefits, and benefits of your card. Here you can explore all of the ways you can redeem your rewards, such as purchases, gift cards, charitable donations, and more. You may also have access to exclusive experiences, event tickets or other premium services and products offered by your card issuer.
You should also see a place to book a trip. Often times you will see options for airline tickets, hotels, rental accommodation, cruise lines, and rental cars. Typically, you can book your trip with reward points, cash, or a combination of the two.
If you want to book travel accommodation through the Issuer Portal, you must be logged in to your account to do so. Once you are logged in, you can usually transfer rewards from your credit card to travel partners or book travel accommodation directly through the portal.
Checking and booking travel through your card issuer’s portal may seem like an extra step, but, as we’ll see below, it could give you better prices and better availability.
Which credit card issuers have travel portals?
Emitter Followers allow you to redeem points, cash back, or miles for travel accommodations directly through their rewards website:
Why book a trip through my issuer portal?
If you are planning a trip, it is always a good idea to check prices and availability with your card issuer’s portal. You might find better accommodations with reduced prices. Here are some other reasons why booking through your transmitter might be a good idea.
You have rewards and you want to get better value from them
Issuers like Chase and Amex actually offer enhanced rewards for booking travel through their websites. For example, using an eligible Chase card such as Chase Sapphire Preferred®, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and Ink Business Preferred® credit card to book travel on the Ultimate Rewards site allows you to redeem points at 1.25X, 1.50X, and 1.25X (respectively) on the trip instead of the normal 1X exchange rate.
Qualifying American Express cards work the same way when you book travel through American Express Travel. The American Express Business Platinum Card®, for example, gives you a 35% bonus when you use Amex points to book qualifying airline tickets through AmexTravel.com (up to 500,000 bonus points per year).
Want to earn more rewards on travel bookings
Sometimes you can also earn enhanced rewards when you book travel accommodation directly through the rewards portals. For example, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can earn 5X points when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards against 2X for all other travel expenses on the card. The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 5X points on air travel and 10X points on hotel stays and car rentals booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal, while you would only earn 3X travel if you didn’t book through the portal.
A number of American Express cards allow you to earn more points while traveling. Qualifying Amex Cards can offer up to 2X on prepaid rental car bookings through Amex Travel. The American Express Platinum® Card and Business Platinum Card offer 5 times the points on prepaid flights and hotels booked through AmexTravel.com.
You can bundle points on different credit cards for better cash value
If you are familiar with card combination strategies, you may be familiar with how the Amex trifecta, the Chase trifecta, or even the Citi trifecta work. This usually involves pairing a more premium travel credit card with one or more current spending credit cards to optimize both earning and redeeming rewards.
With a premium travel credit card, you might not earn as many rewards in the categories where you spend the most money, like groceries or gasoline. But these cards generally offer great redemption options for travel-related purchases.
Issuers like Chase, Amex, and Citi all allow you to pool the points you earn on your different cards to redeem them all in one trip. This way, you can get more of your rewards than you would with individual bookings.
You want to compare the prices of your travel accommodation
You can not only use your credit card’s travel rewards portal to redeem rewards for travel, but you can also use it to compare prices for many options. Portals search by location and date, and return results among brands of hotels, airlines, and rental cars, much the same way as Expedia or Travelocity. Issuer portals can sometimes help you compare prices between several different options. Better yet, you might find a special price on the Issuer Portal that is not available on other sites.
For example, Amex Travel offers special “insider fares” on Delta Air Lines flights. These insider fares are available to Amex cardholders with enough Membership Rewards points to cover the full cost of the flight. These fares tend to be the lowest available prices, and Delta SkyMiles members always earn miles on flights booked through the platform.
Which credit cards allow you to book through the card issuer portal?
Most of the major card issuers, like Chase, American Express, or Bank of America, offer credit cards that allow you to earn rewards that can be redeemed on their travel rewards portal. As long as you’re using a qualifying card that earns the issuers rewards currency, you’re good to go.
While it is important to use your card rewards on your issuer’s travel portal, be sure to understand which cards allow you to earn rewards that can be redeemed on the portal and which do not. You should read the fine print on your credit card, as reward structures may vary, even between cards from the same issuer.
For example, Amex offers cards that offer several types of rewards like points or cash back, but not all of them can be redeemed for travel. For example, the preferred Amex® EveryDay credit card is a no annual fee card that allows you to earn Membership Rewards points while the Amex Platinum card offers the same, but it offers many perks and benefits as well as annual fees. students. Other Amex cards, like the Blue Cash Preferred® card from American Express, offer cash back instead of membership rewards.
Chase cards have a similar range. The Chase Freedom Flex℠ card with no annual fee allows cardholders to earn rewards that can be used on the Ultimate Rewards portal, but, as mentioned above, Chase Sapphire cards allow you to redeem points for trips at a higher rate, but also come with an annual fee.
Why you might not want to book through your card issuer portal
There are many benefits to using your card issuer’s portal to book travel, especially if you’re trying to save money. However, you should know that your issuer’s travel portal is not a silver bullet in your quest for the best travel prices.
Even if you have enough points and money to book travel through your card issuer portal, you may not get the best price for your travel plans. In the portal, there could be both inflated prices and limited availability for the travel accommodation you are looking to book. It can be frustrating to have enough points to book travel through your card issuer’s portal, only to find that there is little to no availability for your plans, but it can happen.
Another problem is if you have elite status through a hotel rewards program that offers upgrades and perks. Many hotel programs, like Marriott Bonvoy or World of Hyatt, may not offer the room upgrades, late checkouts, or free meals you’re used to if you book through a third-party site.
We recommend that you always carefully read the terms and conditions of any travel booking portal, as well as compare prices with other sites. If you’re spending more than you would elsewhere or have to sacrifice luxury perks, you might be better off bypassing your card deck.
The bottom line
There are a lot of pros and cons to booking your travel accommodation through your card issuer portal. So, you can choose to use it intermittently for your travel needs. The best way to use your credit card issuer portal is to get into the habit of using it as one of the many ways to book travel and compare prices among many options. It can be part of your overall strategy to get discounts, upgrades and exclusive travel deals.