Is Booking Through Credit Card Travel Portals Really Worth It?
Credit card travel portals offer an alternative to online travel booking websites that let you pay with credit card rewards. These portals are convenient, and some let you earn bonus points just for booking travel through the portal.
However, credit card travel portals are not without their downsides. Prices on travel portals aren’t always the best, and the same applies to availability. To know whether booking through travel portals is worth it, we must better understand what they are, then take a closer look at the pros and cons.
What Are Credit Card Travel Portals?
Credit card travel portals are travel booking platforms from several major credit card issuers. These platforms are typically available exclusively to cardholders who can access the portal after logging in. For example, to access the Capital One travel portal, you must own a Capital One credit card.
Credit card travel portals usually allow cardholders to book trips with miles, cash or a combination of the two. Otherwise, they work similarly to travel booking websites, offering flights, hotels, rental cars and other travel arrangements from multiple companies.
The whole experience is a convenient way to book, especially since you can use your points or miles without transferring them to a travel partner. So, it’s an appealing option for those who don’t want to spend too much time booking their trips.
Ultimately, we want to know whether booking this way is worth doing. For that, we must break down the pros and cons.
Pros of Credit Card Travel Portals
There are several pros of these travel portals that could make them worth using. Here are some potential upsides:
One of the most apparent benefits of these portals is their convenience. If you have already accrued points through a sign-up bonus or daily spending, you can use the points you already have to book travel. And because these portals are usually available to all cardholders, you can use your existing credit card account to book travel.
Higher Point Values
Points you earn with some credit cards are valued higher if you use them to make travel reservations through their respective portals. For instance, Chase Sapphire Reserve points are worth 1.5X when used for travel reservations. For the Chase Sapphire Preferred, points are worth 1.25X.
Credit card travel portals can send notifications when the time is right to book your trip. In addition, they have algorithms that can identify price trends and tell you when prices are at their lowest.
You can sometimes claim extra benefits when using a travel portal; this is especially true if you have a premium travel card. For example, you might get free room upgrades or late checkouts. Of course, you might already have some of these benefits through a hotel loyalty program, but if not, the extra perks can be hugely beneficial.
Cons of Credit Card Travel Portals
Like most things in life, credit card travel portals have their share of downsides. Here’s what to keep in mind:
Prices Not Always the Best
Although credit card portals can sometimes let you know when prices are low, the prices on the portal can be a bit high at any given moment. Thus, it can be helpful to search travel booking sites as well. You can also book directly with the hotel, airline or rental agency.
Point Valuations Can Be Lower
Credit card travel portals might have higher point valuations depending on the portal and the card you use. However, even those higher point valuations might be lower than you’d get by transferring them to a travel partner. For instance, while Chase Sapphire Reserve points are worth 1.5X on the Chase portal, they can be worth as much as 2X when you transfer them.
Booking Availability Woes
While credit card portals can be a convenient way to book, they sometimes don’t have certain bookings you might find elsewhere. For example, a flight, hotel room or rental car might be available when reserving them directly. However, if you try to make the same reservation on the credit card portal, you might find it isn’t available.
So, is using a credit card travel portal worth it? Credit card portals are a convenient way to book, and some let you earn bonus points with particular cards. That can be useful, primarily if you haven’t accrued many points or miles.
However, prices aren’t always the best, and you may sometimes find you can’t book the trip you want through your credit card portal. If convenience is the most important thing to you, credit card travel portals are often the easiest option.
If you are dead set on finding the best deal though, it would be wise to shop around by comparing credit card portals to other travel sites and direct booking.
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