If You Want To Argue Chase Travel > Bilt, Here’s The One Weird Trick You’d Use

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The Bilt Rewards program, which lets you earn points that transfer to a variety of airlines (like American and United) and hotels (like Hyatt) just launched a travel portal with Expedia so you can spend your points against paid travel at 1.25 cents apiece.

  • I always prefer booking direct when I can. It’s less of a hassle when travel plans go wrong.

  • And I try to get more value out of my points than 1.25 cents apiece.

  • But this is a new option (more is better) that offers value similar to Chase’s Sapphire Preferred product, and more value per point than travel portals from Citi and Capital One.

  • Plus the portal offers redemptions for theme park lodging and tickets – so you can redeem your points for Disney or Universal – which Chase’s portal doesn’t support.

In all of the coverage of this new option there’s one thing that struck me as odd. The Points Guy writes that despite matching Sapphire Preferred’s redemption rate and offering theme park redemptions, Chase’s portal is still better because of Chase Pay Yourself Back which has nothing to do with their travel portal.

In some ways, the Bilt Travel Portal isn’t as strong as the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. It offers cardmembers the same redemption rate as the Chase Sapphire Preferred on travel purchases but doesn’t offer the earning upside when you book flights (or other travel) through Chase. You earn 5 points per dollar when you book travel through Chase and pay with your Sapphire Preferred.

In addition, there’s no option to obtain this redemption rate for non-travel purchases — whereas Chase offers the Pay Yourself Back feature (just extended through Sept. 30).

Chase lets you spend points for statement credits against a handful of rotating expense categories. Technically this is still a promotion. Through September 30, 2022 Sapphire Preferred members can spend their points at 1.25 cents apiece against Airbnb charges. Airbnb is presumably kicking in for this. That’s useful, but again I try to get more value for my points than this, so I haven’t personally used the Pay Yourself Back feature.

But it has nothing to do with the portal so seems like a real stretch as an argument why Chase’s travel portal is better, right?

The TPG piece is correct that Bilt doesn’t give you as many points for booking your paid travel through their portal as Chase gives you for booking through theirs. However I’d note that,

  • I still don’t book paid trips through Chase Travel, since that means giving up hotel points, elite stay credit, and elite benefits and it means dealing with Chase Travel reservations agents rather than dealing with an airline directly when there’s a schedule change or I need a refund.

  • Bilt offers the biggest reward for booking through Expedia that exists – and you do not need to be a cardmember to take advantage of this.

  • The TPG piece doesn’t mention that Capital One offers Venture cardmembers 5 miles per dollar on paid hotels and rental cars booked through their portal as well (but that wouldn’t support the claim that Chase is uniquely best).

I love the rewards I get from Chase. I have a seven figure balance with Ultimate Rewards. But I don’t view their portal as a key driver of their value. Chase may well be able to do more over time! They own the company that provides their portal but what they’re able to deliver over time is entirely speculative at this point.

It seems to me that if your goal was ‘Pay Yourself Back’ – a bit of a non-sequitur when comparing travel portals – then you’d be looking for the best combination of cash back cards anyway to maximize your return, not spending your points like cash at 1.25 cents apiece in a highly limited set of categories.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Well, only idiots read tpg anyways… so I don’t think there’s any real loss there.

  2. I agree that travel portal redemptions generally aren’t the best use of points, for the reasons you mention. For me, this is why the Chase travel portal is so much better than other banks’ travel portals (including Capital One and Bilt), since the CSR get 1.5c of uplift rather than 1.25c against travel expenses. Cashing out points at 1.25c through a travel portal is seldom a good value, but I think 1.5c (plus earning the extra points) is a pretty good use much of the time. It’s great that Bilt has added this option, but I am very underwhelmed with their product so far, especially their apparant practice of rounding down dollar amounts on purchases when awarding points.

  3. It’s hard to get excited about ANY travel portal when the customer service that supports them are so shitty.

    Until they let me fix my own issues online when flight changes/cancellations occur, they can all kick rocks because no redemption value is worth the headache that comes from dealing with their lack of competence.

  4. I agree that there are better uses than 1.25 c but unlike Stephen I think their product is underrated. Earrings rate on everyday purchases is the same as CSP , you can transfer to AA ,Hyatt ( unique for a credit card to have both ) and redeem for 1.25c all without an AF

  5. I have no experience with Bilt but, I have recently been searching for flights within Europe and the Chase portal prices are generally 10% or more than cash prices directly with an airline. I get 1.25 cents per mile used with my Preferred card but when you figure the markup, you aren’t actually getting that much return. Quite disappointing.

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