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Looking for some creative travel ideas to put your balance of Chase Ultimate Rewards points to good use? This week our Cards for Travel team took on a challenge to plan an ultimate 5-day Ultimate Rewards tour of Seoul, South Korea.
The rules of the challenge were to spend under our balance of 250k Ultimate Rewards points while reviewing First/Suites Class on two Ultimate Rewards transfer partner airlines, and checking out at least three new partner hotels.
Here’s what we did. More important, here’s how we did it and how you can do it to. Note: While we do recommend taking advantage of Ultimate Rewards with these partners, we don’t really recommend flying to Korea and back in less than four days. For some reason, we were really tired. Take our advice and stay a lot longer—there’s so much to do!
Korean Air Kosmo Suites Class A380- LAX-ICN
We hit the skies headed to Seoul on Korean Airlines, excited to try their spacious lie-flat suites in first class and the multiple onboard bars on their A380 (the double-decker plane).
To book suites class on Korean, we first created accounts in the Korean Airways SkyPass mileage program, then transferred 80,000 points to SkyPass using the Ultimate Rewards transfer partner portal. Once the points were in SkyPass we used the points to book out tickets. The cost if we had paid cash for this ticket would have been $8,140 per person. That’s a value of nearly 10 cents per mile!
Park Hyatt Seoul, Gangnam
Arriving early in the morning with the sunrise, we jumped on the KAL limousine (Korea’s fancy name for their airline airport buses that go all around the city) and made it in time for breakfast to the Park Hyatt Seoul. If you don’t have anywhere to be, Korean Air has a partnership with the Grand Hyatt Incheon airport hotel to allow First Class passengers to use their spa upon arrival.
Park Hyatt’s are the highest category brand in the Hyatt portfolio. The cost for one night set us back 20,000 World of Hyatt points which we transferred to World of Hyatt from Chase, and we didn’t mind the complimentary upgrade to a Junior Suite one bit. Value of one night stay at the Park Hyatt Seoul: $546. If you’re really still into Gangnam style or looking to be on the south bank of the river in the business district, the Park Hyatt is big on luxury, yet still feels very intimate.
Grand Hyatt Seoul, Yongsan-Gu/Itewon
On the other side of the river, on top of the hill just below the famous Seoul tower is the city’s Grand Hyatt complete with grand views overlooking the cityscape below.
For the cost of 15,000 points transferred from Ultimate Rewards to World of Hyatt we landed an award night with a Junior Suite Upgrade with a view of Seoul city valued at $457. This hotel is also available for points and cash at a rate of 7,500 points and approximately $100 USD. Our room upgrade included access to the Grand Hyatt lounge for both cocktail hour and breakfast. A great Hyatt option for access to central Seoul.
Grand Hyatt Incheon, Airport Hotel
If you’ve got a long transit in Seoul and need some rest, or want to sleep close to the airport to give yourself more time before an early morning flight like we had, the Grand Hyatt Incheon at ICN is not only convenient—it is comfortable and chic.
A Hyatt points and cash redemption of 6,000 points transferred to Hyatt from Ultimate Rewards plus a $75 cash co-pay landed a corner suite with three floor to ceiling windows looking out over the Incheon runway—a dream come true for some travel nerds. Although we opted on the points and cash route at this property to save some points and keep under our budget, rooms at this property are easily available for 12,000 points per night with suites coming in at a cash value of $270.
Singapore Airlines Suites Class – Boeing 777 ICN-LAX
After 5 long days and 3 short nights it was time to head back home on Singapore Airline’s Suites Class. Probably one of our favorite and most recommended premium products in the sky complete with extra wide lie-flat bed, expensive free-flowing champagne, the option to reserve a gourmet dinner in advance through the book the cook service, and the unmatched Singapore air service.
To book, we transferred 95,000 Ultimate Rewards points to Singapore Airlines Krisflyer program and used their online booking tool to make a standard reservation. Points did take a full day to transfer from Ultimate Rewards to Singapore Airlines. All in all, flying home on Singapore was the perfect ending to an ultimately perfect super quick Korea trip. Sure, 95,000 points is steep for a flight, but at a paid rate of $5,000 the value is still good (5 cents per mile), and as always, the Singapore First class experience is priceless!
Challenge Complete. Total Ultimate Rewards spent: 216,000. Total value of the travel $14,413.
Want to grow your bank of Ultimate Rewards points to take your own Ultimate Korea trip—or an Ultimate trip elsewhere? The following cards from Chase all earn Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed through the UR travel portal or directly through transfer partners like Korean Air, Hyatt and Singapore Airlines:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Ink Business Preferred
- Ink Business Cash