Author Topic: Travel Hacking: does the Alliant 2.5% card beat Chase UR?  (Read 3889 times)

glossolalia

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Travel Hacking: does the Alliant 2.5% card beat Chase UR?
« on: May 08, 2018, 07:47:42 AM »
For someone whose bulk of purchases is in the "Other/Miscellaneous" category, would using the Chase "Sapphire Reserve/Sapphire Preferred/Freedom" combo still bring more travel value than using the Alliant Visa Signature card, which gives 2.5% back on everything? (Assume I was going to use 100% of rewards on travel in both cases.) Yearly spend is about $45k.

Is there a place I can see prices for flights and hotels using Chase UR points?

Thanks for your insight!

gocurrycracker

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Re: Travel Hacking: does the Alliant 2.5% card beat Chase UR?
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2018, 01:27:19 AM »
UR points are worth 1.25cents or 1.5cents when used for direct purchase through Chase. You can just look at any price info for an estimate (Expedia or whatever.)

This is only worth more if you get more than ~2pts/1$ of spend

The UR points become more valuable when you transfer them. For example, if using them to book biz class airline tickets through United. The best I?ve ever done is about 20cents/pt

glossolalia

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Re: Travel Hacking: does the Alliant 2.5% card beat Chase UR?
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2018, 07:32:09 AM »
UR points are worth 1.25cents or 1.5cents when used for direct purchase through Chase. You can just look at any price info for an estimate (Expedia or whatever.)

This is only worth more if you get more than ~2pts/1$ of spend

The UR points become more valuable when you transfer them. For example, if using them to book biz class airline tickets through United. The best I?ve ever done is about 20cents/pt

For economy class flights and 4 or 5 star hotels, would you say using Chase UR nets you more than 2.5c per point, on average?
« Last Edit: May 14, 2018, 07:57:46 AM by glossolalia »

gocurrycracker

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Re: Travel Hacking: does the Alliant 2.5% card beat Chase UR?
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2018, 08:43:50 AM »
On average, more or less. See this post (tldr: average 2.3c on latest trip):
https://www.gocurrycracker.com/another-round-the-world-trip-another-7000-in-free-travel/

But, points have less flexibility than cash. So if you are only earning 1 pt / $1 and only getting 2.3cents/point, then 2.5% cash back is better and easier. (Most of our spending is on travel & dining out, earning 3pts/$1, so we actually got more like 7%+ back.)

When looking at just 2.5% cash back versus the alternatives, best would be put all spending on new cards for signup bonuses.

Spending $45k on the Alliant card is worth about $1100 ($1,125 - $59 annual fee.) Not bad, but not much travel either.
A 50k signup bonus on the Sapphire Preferred by itself is potentially worth $1150 (assuming 2.3c/pt)

After minimum spend on that card you still have $41k budget for the year. Maybe you apply for another card or 2 with $6k total min spend, earning another $500 - $1000 in signup bonus value.

Total remaining budget: $35k. That can be targeted towards high value category cards (e.g. 3pts/$1 on travel, 5 pts on groceries / gasoline, etc...) Maybe this is $10k total.

Now you have $25k budget remaining for the year. That can go on a cash back card, but:
$25k on Alliant = $625 - $59 fee = $566
$25k on Citi Double Cash = $600 (better)(no annual fee)
$25k on Freedom Unlimited = 1.5 pts / $1 = 37,500 points. Cash value is $375. Booking travel with Sapphire Reserve value is $563. Or if you transfer and get 2.3 - 2.5c/pt, then $863 - $938.

Subtract fees in year 2 for Preferred or Reserve (if applicable, minus $89 - $150.)

So it depends. Straight cash back is simpler / easier, but not the highest ROI. We definitely do better with the points.

glossolalia

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Re: Travel Hacking: does the Alliant 2.5% card beat Chase UR?
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2018, 09:00:32 AM »
On average, more or less. See this post (tldr: average 2.3c on latest trip):
https://www.gocurrycracker.com/another-round-the-world-trip-another-7000-in-free-travel/

But, points have less flexibility than cash. So if you are only earning 1 pt / $1 and only getting 2.3cents/point, then 2.5% cash back is better and easier. (Most of our spending is on travel & dining out, earning 3pts/$1, so we actually got more like 7%+ back.)

When looking at just 2.5% cash back versus the alternatives, best would be put all spending on new cards for signup bonuses.

Spending $45k on the Alliant card is worth about $1100 ($1,125 - $59 annual fee.) Not bad, but not much travel either.
A 50k signup bonus on the Sapphire Preferred by itself is potentially worth $1150 (assuming 2.3c/pt)

After minimum spend on that card you still have $41k budget for the year. Maybe you apply for another card or 2 with $6k total min spend, earning another $500 - $1000 in signup bonus value.

Total remaining budget: $35k. That can be targeted towards high value category cards (e.g. 3pts/$1 on travel, 5 pts on groceries / gasoline, etc...) Maybe this is $10k total.

Now you have $25k budget remaining for the year. That can go on a cash back card, but:
$25k on Alliant = $625 - $59 fee = $566
$25k on Citi Double Cash = $600 (better)(no annual fee)
$25k on Freedom Unlimited = 1.5 pts / $1 = 37,500 points. Cash value is $375. Booking travel with Sapphire Reserve value is $563. Or if you transfer and get 2.3 - 2.5c/pt, then $863 - $938.

Subtract fees in year 2 for Preferred or Reserve (if applicable, minus $89 - $150.)

So it depends. Straight cash back is simpler / easier, but not the highest ROI. We definitely do better with the points.

You always get to the core of an issue, that's why I love your blog. Thank you for this awesome response!