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**This is your clickbait disclaimer.** I’ve now mislead you as badly as the article I’m about to describe. But now you might as well finish the piece. 🙂
Recently, I came across an article titled “3 Hacks for Using the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program“. The article was published at Yahoo Finance and HuffPo, among other places. The non-travel-hacking publishing platform should have been an indicator that they weren’t going to tell me anything new, but I clicked anyway. I had to know what the hacks are!
What are these so-called UR “hacks”?
The hacks were really simple:
- Transferring Ultimate Reward Points to Loyalty Partners
- Using the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal to Book Travel
- Redeeming Ultimate Rewards for Cash Back
Wait…these aren’t hacks at all! They are the bread-and-butter of the program. It would have been a disappointment if it wasn’t what I’d anticipated.
If the piece had laid out “3 best ways to get great value from Chase Ultimate Rewards”, I probably could have bought it. Even better: “3 reasons Chase Ultimate Rewards is the best flexible points program”.
But three Chase UR “hacks”? Nope. Not giving him that.
The word “hack” is overused
I’ve thought about this a lot. The work “hack” is being applied to all sorts of things. We have “travel hacking”, for starters. There are also food hacks, car hacks, and simply…life hacks. We’re now “hacking” everything. Which means we are either cutting everything forcefully or coping with everything successfully. Not sure which.
Or there is a third definition: “a writer or journalist producing dull, unoriginal work”. Wait….does this mean I hacking right now?
What are some real travel hacks?
There are some other specific strategies that I consider actual travel hacks. Things like using United’s 24-hour change and cancellation policy to avoid close-in fees on an award ticket, and getting completely free nights using IHG’s best rate guarantee (if you can ever be successful).
In the general sense, what I call “travel hacking” is simply using credit card churning to fund the bulk of my travels. End of story. Yeah, there are plenty of strategies and resources out there, but credit cards are at the heart of them all. Consider last year where I used my miles for all but 1 of 8 one-way flights I took. That’s a bit closer to hacking than taking a statement credit using my UR points.