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Editors Note: Two Card Trips is a series of articles that show how you could book a trip using points/miles earned from just two different credit cards. Today’s two card trip takes us to Portugal with points earned from the Chase Ink Cash and the United Business Explorer.
Portugal is, to use a boxing phrase, definitely “punching above its weight”. It’s becoming more and more popular with discerning travelers but is still far less crowded than neighboring Spain. Between its delicious food, beautiful old towns, wine and port and incredible natural beauty – Portugal has it all.
Getting to Portugal from the U.S. is easy, as it’s just a seven-hour flight from the East Coast and there are a lot of nonstop flights.
You can find lots of independent hotels full of old world charm that offer all the modern amenities since the country hasn’t been overrun with chains yet. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t book an amazing vacation to Portugal with points and miles.
In this article, we’ll look at how you can book an amazing trip to Portugal with just two cards: the Chase United Business card and Chase Ink Cash card. Both cards are small business cards offered by Chase. So if you have business expenses, it’s easy to turn them into a memorable and romantic vacation.
You do need to be under Chase’s 5/24 rule to get approved for both cards.
The Card to Get You There: The United Business Card
Chase has recently revamped the United Business Card. It’s a new product, so even if you had the older version of United Business Explorer card, you are eligible for this card and the welcome bonus, provided you meet other eligibility requirements.
The card comes with a generous welcome bonus and earns 2X miles in the following categories:
- United purchases
- Local transit and commuting, including Uber, Lyft, taxis, mass transit, and tolls
- Gas stations, office supply stores, and restaurants
The card earns 1X on everything else and comes with 5,000 bonus miles each card anniversary when you have both the United Business Card and a personal United credit card.
Other great benefits include two United Club one-time passes after account opening and on each anniversary, free first checked bag and priority boarding on United-operated flights.
The card has no foreign transaction fees and the $99 annual fee is not waived the first year.
How to Book United Award Flights
After you’ve met the minimum spending requirements and the miles have posted to your United MileagePlus account, it’s time to start looking for award tickets to Portugal!
You can learn how to do this by watching Bryce’s recent YouTube Video tutorial below or by reading on.
United has recently eliminated the award chart for its own flights, but kept it for partner-operated flights. Saver award should price out at 30,000 United miles one-way in economy, 60,000 one-way in business class on United flights and 70,000 one-way in business class on flights operated by United’s Star Alliance partners.
I think it’s easier to search and book one-way tickets. You will also have more flexibility if you need to change your travel plans. Just keep in mind that there could be two change fees if you need to change both legs of the trip if you book them separately.
Our options for award space to Portugal will include flights on United and Star Alliance operated flights. You can use United miles to book TAP Portugal or a flight on any other Star Alliance partner.
TAP often releases a good amount of award space in economy and business class to partners such as United. When I was writing this, I saw award space for four passengers in both business and economy on quite a few dates!
The fastest way to get to Portugal is on one of the nonstop flights from the U.S. on United or TAP. United operates nonstop flights from Newark (EWR) and Washington Dulles (IAD).
TAP, however, has a lot more nonstop options. You can fly nonstop from the following airports:
- Boston (BOS)
- Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
- Miami (MIA)
- New York (JFK)
- Washington Dulles
- San Francisco (SFO)
TAP also flies nonstop to Porto, Portugal’s second major city, from Newark and there are nonstop flights to Porto from Toronto (YYZ) and Montreal (YUL). If you live close to one of these Canadian cities, it might be worth positioning to one of these cities.
Make sure to sign into your United account before starting the search. United releases more domestic award space to its own elites and credit card holders. This could be very important if you need to take a domestic flight as part of your itinerary
It’s easy to search for award space on United. Just enter your dates and airport information, make sure Book with miles is checked and click search.
On the next screen you’ll see the weekly calendar and available flights for the specific search date. If you would like to see business class award space, you can click the Show fares for dropdown and select business/first.
If you’d like to see more dates with available award space, click on View 30 day calendar on the upper right.
Click Select to finalize your booking.
How to Maximize United Excursionist Perk in Portugal
United’s excursionist perk lets you book a free one-way segment within a multi-city itinerary. So for the same number of miles you’ll need to travel from the U.S. to Portugal and back, you can book an additional one-way flight in Europe for free.
So, if you’d like to visit Porto, just search for a multi-city ticket and the middle segment should price at zero miles.
As you can see, if you are booking a round-trip award, you can travel between two cities just for the price of taxes and fees. If you’d rather travel by train or car in Portugal, you can also book a flight to any other destination in Europe served by a Star Alliance carrier and get two trips for the price of one!
Earn Ultimate Rewards with Ink Cash for Hotels in Portugal
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are extremely valuable and can be used to book flights and hotels either directly on the Chase Travel Portal or by transferring to partner airlines.
Chase Ink Business Cash card earns Ultimate Rewards points but you’ll need one of Chase’s premium cards (a card with an annual fee) to be able to redeem points for travel. So if you also have one of these cards, you’ll be able to combine your points and book hotels in Portugal:
Yes, you can combine Ultimate Rewards points earned with a personal card with the points earned with a business card.
The Ink Cash card comes with a healthy welcome bonus of $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 in the first three months and earns 5X at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services. The card earns 2X at gas stations and restaurants.
There’s no annual fee but there are foreign transaction fees, so it’s best to leave it at home when traveling abroad.
How to Book Hotels in Portugal with Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
We have two options to book hotels with Chase Ultimate Rewards points. One option is to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt. Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio and the transfer is instant. The other option is to use Chase travel portal to book your hotel stay.
Using World of Hyatt Points for Hotels in Portugal
If you already have some Hyatt points earned by staying at Hyatt properties or by spending on the World of Hyatt credit card, you can top off your Hyatt points balance by transferring Ultimate Rewards points.
If you don’t yet have a World of Hyatt account, it’s easy to create one. You’ll need it before you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points.
Hyatt doesn’t have a huge footprint in Europe, but Hyatt created a partnership with Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) which has expanded the number of options.
World of Hyatt members enjoy the following benefits at all Small Luxury Hotels properties:
- Complimentary wifi
- Daily complimentary continental breakfast
- Room upgrade (one category at check-in, if available)
- Early check-in (noon, based upon availability at check-in)
- Late check-out (2:00PM, based upon availability at check-in
All World of Hyatt members are eligible for these benefits, no status required! This is a better deal than staying at one of Hyatt’s own hotels for someone with no World of Hyatt status.
There are nine SLH properties in Portugal ranging from Category 3 to Category 7.
To see all properties in Portugal that you can book with Hyatt points, navigate to Hyatt.com and click on HOTELS & RESORTS.
You can then move the map over to Portugal and zoom in on all available properties in Portugal.
Hotel Alentejo Marmoris Hotel & Spa, a category 3 hotel, caught my eye. Located in a historic villa, this spa retreat is a good value for just 12,000 points.
If you’d like to spend a couple of nights somewhere more luxurious, the Palácio Estoril Hotel, Golf & Spa on the Atlantic coast offers classic charm at affordable rates. There’s a spa, a golf course, a beautiful pool, landscaped gardens and views for days.
You’ll need 20,000 points per night and, while not exactly a bargain, it’ll be great to experience old world grandeur for a couple of days.
How to Book a Hotel in Portugal with Chase Ultimate Rewards
As mentioned earlier, in order to use points earned with Ink Business Cash for travel, you’ll have to combine them with points earned with a premium card. If you have either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred card, the points are worth 1.25 cents each. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, the points are worth 1.5 cents each.
I love using the portal to book hotels. I can book exactly the type of room I want, at the exact location I want to be. No status needed to get amenities that you value the most, such as free breakfast or a family room that can accommodate more than two people.
In many places, especially in Europe, there aren’t any chain hotels at all, so using the portal might be the only option.
It’s easy to search for hotels on the portal. You just need to plug in your dates and your destination. The search results will show the cash price as well as the price in points.
You can find hotels in all price ranges and even apartment-type properties that come with a kitchen and a washing machine.
And here’s a pro tip: if you book a refundable rate on the portal, check the price often. If the price drops, you can cancel and rebook.
Whether you’re going to Portugal for the gorgeous beaches in the Algarve region or want to explore Douro Valley wineries, you’re almost guaranteed to fall in love with this country on the edge of Western Europe.
Getting there with United miles is easy and, compared to its neighbors, the prices in-country are still relatively low and there are many affordable and charming hotels to satisfy every taste and budget.