We’ve been pointing out for over a year now that the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal has a tendency to show Vacation Rentals that are available for booking on Expedia proper as “Sold Out” in the Chase poral.
This has diminished my ability to redeem Ultimate Rewards for 1.5 cents a piece of uplift with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which deflates the value proposition of living the bank point lifestyle. But what bothered me even more was that when I went to pay for a VRBO booking on my Chase Sapphire Reserve it coded as 1x rather than 3x for travel as I’d hoped.
Does VRBO code as travel on Chase credit cards? It didn’t for me.
After resigning myself to not using bank points to pay for this booking, I thought about which credit card I should put the charge on.
As we were discussing on Episode 47 of the podcast – Amex recently announced they’d be changing their ancillary benefits related to trip cancellation and travel interruption. That, combined with the fact that I was working on min spend on an Amex card had me thinking about putting the charge on an Amex card. But since travel only earns 1x on the Amex card I was working towards min spend on I decided against it. Besides, I was unsure when the Amex benefits kicked in and travel insurance can be a squirrely thing.
I did a Google search for whether VRBO coded as 3x on Chase cards and found this article on TPG:
Especially since The Points Guy is a prominent Chase affiliate I thought this was sound assurance that my purchase would earn 3x. So I put the charge on my Chase Sapphire Reserve. And when it posted it coded as…only 1x rather than the 3x I’d hoped for. 🙁
This was the second time in the past month I’ve gotten faulty information from TPG. The first was how Marriott Bonvoy stopped charging extra person fees when they didn’t actually stop charging extra person fees. Now this.
If it doesn’t, patch it up by calling
I was just going to let it go, but it didn’t feel right to me that a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve that’s broadly supposed to earn 3x only earned 1x for a VRBO booking. And I was mildly concerned that since it didn’t code as travel that I’d have a hard time if/when it came to filing a travel insurance claim if our trip was interrupted.
And further, it was above my “$20 rule” whereby I absolve myself of chasing merchants who have wronged me in small ways.
So I called Chase and they quickly patched it up, crediting my account with 2x extra Ultimate Rewards for a total of 4,816 Ultimate Rewards. That was nice of them, but I realized that this didn’t trigger the $300 annual travel credit benefit the card comes with so I still have to slog through that with other transactions.
Does it matter? Not really. But still…
I said on Episode 45 of the podcast that:
There’s a *huge* difference between “which credit card reward program is best for redeeming towards some kind of travel” vs “which credit cards are the most rewarding when paying for travel.” Huge. Don’t fall for it.
I consistently read articles about using credit card rewards to pay for big ticket items like cruises that quickly pivot into discussing which credit card you should use to pay for a big ticket item. It’s frustrating when you came to read about a high leverage proposition like using bank points to pay for a cruise like a Disney Cruise with Citi ThankYou Points then end up getting mostly a bunch of links for credit cards.
My point is: You’re far better off figuring out how to maximize a rewards program than concerning yourself with whether a transaction earns 1x or 5x – even on a big ticket item. One is a discount on the order of 60+% where the latter is on the order of 5-10%. When that’s the case: Focus on the 60+%.
All that said: I’d rather have 3x on the Sapphire Reserve than 1x, so if Chase codes your vacation rental as 1x give them a call.
And Chase, if you’re reading this: Fix your Vacation Rentals through the portal. It’s a very annoying part of your value proposition.