You want Paris, we have solutions…
As I sip on a lovely bottle of 2015 Chateau Guiraud Sauternes I brought from my last trip to France, I’m trying to get creative on ways to keep visiting France -and particularly Paris- without breaking le banque.
Most people who have visited Paris know how expensive it can get because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to go to Paris in the spring? Parisian hotels know this and, long story short, that’s how we end up with nightly rates of $300+ for any of the nice big chain hotels in the city.
But what if you could at least get a weekend escapade without spending any money on your flights or hotels, and perhaps not even tours either? Well, it turns out you can, and I’m here to tell you that you can make it happen with the bonus of just one credit card application. Not five, not 20, just one.
Now, we know that credit cards are probably the bane of your existence and let’s be honest, earning the right kinds of points and miles can be a challenge, which is totally understandable. After all, your inbox is flooded every day with offers for 50, 80, or even 100,000 points. Not all points are created equal however, and how you earn them is just as important as how you spend them.
When you get approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card (and spend $4000 in the first three months) you’ll earn 60,000 welcome bonus points. Plus, if you’re spending that four grand on travel or dining which earns 2x points with the card, an additional 8,000 points.
Sixty thousand points sounds like a lot, and really – it is. If you go to the website, Chase will tell you that you can get over $750 in value from your points. Stop trying to make that happen, Chase. We both know that we can do better than that. Let’s see how you can put those points to good use and score yourself a weekend trip to Paris for nearly nothing, that would’ve cost a lot more than $750 out of pocket…
First Expense: Flights
Best case scenario, you can find yourself an amazing deal like the one Gilbert posted a few days ago from the US to Paris for $250-370. These deals come and go and if you missed out on it, another one will pop up. But since we don’t want to spend any money whatsoever, we will use the flight booking engine Chase uses in order to offset the cost of this mega cheap flight, because that’s how you roll when you read this blog.
Once you log yourself in to your Ultimate Rewards portal, you will click on Redeem for Travel and you will try to find the same cheap flight on this search, which you absolutely should be able to. Once you find it, you’ll see the point cost of booking that 250-370 dollar ticket is just 20,000-29,600 Ultimate Rewards points for a round trip.
Bam! Just like that, you have yourself a flight from the US to Paris, using points!
Next Expense: Hotels
Chase partners with IHG, Marriott and Hyatt hotels, and that opens up a few good options to stay in Paris without spending a dime in accommodation. For simplicity’s sake, we will illustrate how to score two free nights at the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile, which go for 15K points per night, or a mere 287 euro per night rate. Ew, paying.
While IHG and Marriott are partners, the IHG hotels are way too basic for the amount of points and your stash will be used up too quickly on Marriott properties. Hyatt is without a doubt the best partner for Chase hotel transfers as you can get the most luxury for the least amount of points.
Unlike what we did earlier, we will transfer our valuable Ultimate Rewards to World of Hyatt this time, by clicking on the Transfer To Travel Partners option on your main Ultimate Rewards portal page. Once there, we know we will need 30,000 points in order to make our two-night booking. Just make sure the Hyatt hotel in question has availability when you want to travel, which you can do at Hyatt before transferring points over.
This transfer to Hyatt is virtually instant, but sometimes may take a couple of hours, so be prepared. Once you see your points reflect on your World of Hyatt account, you will search for the hotel on your desired dates and select the Use Points checkbox to see the point value of your nights.
As with all things in the IT/technology space, you’ll need to sign out/sign in again to see the points in your account…
Once you obtain the results of your search, all you have to do is select the room type and complete all the info on the reservation screen and you just scored yourself a free two night stay in Paris.
With all the points you have left over you can even book a third night at the Hyatt Regency Charles De Gaulle airport for 8,000 points a night, which is a life saver if your flight leaves at the crack of dawn and you do not feel like waking up hours before your flight.
Another Big Expense: Things to Do
Well, now that you have two days in Paris, you better start looking at things to do while you’re there. And wouldn’t you know it, you also have a variety of activities you can book through the Ultimate Rewards portal that once again will help you save your hard-earned cash.
For example, how would you like to save over 72 bucks to get to visit the Louvre and skip past all the tourists standing in line to get their ticket?
Or, if you’re anything like Gilbert and myself, you will find yourself at home doing a French wine tasting class inside a 17th Century stone cellar. Hey, when in Rome… errr … Paris.
There are literally hundreds of options for you to choose from in this portal, so peruse at your own leisure and go nuts booking. For more, be on the lookout for a future post where Gilbert will talk about how to spend 48 hours in Paris (tsk, tsk! I’m surprised you don’t have one yet, dude).
Now, let’s recap. You got the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, and got your 60K Ultimate Reward welcome bonus points, plus the 8,000 points you earned from spending in bonus categories.
Points You Used
United States to Paris Flights: 20.000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile: 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points (Transferred to Hyatt)
Hyatt Regency Paris CDG: 8,000 Chase Ultimate Reward Points (Transferred to Hyatt)
Total: 58,000 Ultimate Rewards Points
Cash You Saved
United States to Paris Flights: $250-$299 (in our example)
Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile: $637 (574 euro)
Hyatt Regency Paris CDG: $236 (213 euro)
Now, a stickler could say that the $95 annual fee takes away some of those savings, but even so, it still amounts to $1000 off a trip, from a single welcome bonus. If you’re going through the math in your head and are wondering if you could scale it up, the answer is a resounding yes. In our home, we aim to maximize welcome bonuses by having both of us apply for a card, thus collecting 120,000+, which suddenly extends the potential of this free Paris weekend into an at least 4 or 5 day-stay jaunt.
Chase Sapphire Preferred sign up link.
You saved yourself a ton of cash, and you got to explore a weekend in Paris. And as a thank you for the money you saved on your trip to Paris, we will gladly accept a small or large bottle of French wine at HQ…
I have very bad experience with Paris..it changed a lot in last 20 years or so..dirty, dangerous and more expensive than ever. Most cheaper hotels have poor quality, top hotels cost £1000+/night, Parisians were always famously rude and it didn’t change at all. If someone wants to pay 10 Euro for a cup of tea in Cafe de le Paix..no problem, but I don’t believe in “cheap and good”.
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