Redeeming Points From the Wrong Account — Reader Mistake Story

Nov 28, 2017

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We often publish stories from readers that illustrate how points and miles can help you get where you want to go. However, it’s important to learn from our mistakes as well as our successes, so I’m calling on you to send us your most epic travel failure stories. Email them to and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls. If we publish your story, we’ll send you a gift to help jump-start your next adventure!

Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Ann, who lost some value by booking a flight award at a substandard rate. Here’s what she had to say:

My mother’s internet and English skills aren’t great, so I book most of her travel for her. She got the Chase Sapphire Reserve card this past year, and has been using that as her primary card to earn points. She already had the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, and had about 24,000 Ultimate Rewards points in that account.

I recently booked a trip for her to Seoul via the Ultimate Rewards portal, where I redeemed those points for a credit of $296.55 toward a trip costing $1,019.46. I was pleased because I used all her points from that account, and now we could focus on using the points she had earned from the bonus and spending on her Sapphire Reserve.

Just before she left for Seoul, my mom and I called Chase to cancel the old Preferred card before the membership fee hit. About 250 points had accumulated in her account since I booked the trip, and the Chase representative asked if I wanted to transfer those to her Reserve account. In other words, I could “upgrade” the points from being worth 1.25 cents each through the portal to being worth 1.5 cents each … for nothing.

Getting a free upgrade on old points seems too good to be true, so it didn’t even occur to me that it was a possibility. It’s easy to transfer the points online or on the phone, but I obviously missed that detail on TPG posts covering Ultimate Rewards transfers. In the end, I lost my mom $59 with that mistake, though I bought her a nice dinner to make up for it!

You can easily move points between your Ultimate Rewards accounts online.

You’ll sometimes face a dilemma of whether to book through Chase or transfer to partners for a given award. When you do decide to use the Ultimate Rewards portal, you should always redeem your points at the highest rate available. The Sapphire Reserve card gives you the best return of 1.5 cents per point — that’s 20% better than the 1.25 cents per point you get with the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, and 50% better than the 1 cent per point you get with other Ultimate Rewards cards.

This strategy also works when transferring Ultimate Rewards to other people. Chase allows you to send points to a member of your household or business partner, so if one of you has a Sapphire Reserve account, you both effectively have access to the higher redemption rate. These same ideas apply to Citi ThankYou Rewards, since some cards give you increased value for awards booked through Citi’s travel portal. However, keep in mind that when you transfer ThankYou points to another person, they expire after 90 days.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Ann for sharing her experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending her a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels.

I’d like to do the same for you! If you’ve ever arrived at the airport without ID, booked a hotel room in the wrong city, missed out on a credit card sign-up bonus or made another memorable travel or rewards mistake, I want to hear about it. Please indulge me and the whole TPG team by sending us your own stories (see instructions above). I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured image courtesy of PeopleImages via Getty.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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