Changes to Ultimate Rewards Mall earning

Last April I wrote about one of my favorite double dips when purchasing paid airline tickets:

If you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card, you have access to the Ultimate Rewards Mall, which allows you to earn bonus Ultimate Rewards points on purchases made through online travel agencies, or OTAs.  You can earn 1 bonus point per dollar spent at Expedia, Priceline, or Orbitz and 2 bonus points per dollar spent at Travelocity or Hotwire.

Unfortunately, both Travelocity and Hotwire, the two online travel agencies I cited as earning 2 bonus Ultimate Rewards points per dollar, have decreased their earning rate to 1 point per dollar, at least through my Chase Freedom and Sapphire Preferred Ultimate Rewards portals (the different Ultimate Rewards portals can have different earning rates at the same merchants, although it isn't that common).

Whether this changes your flight-booking calculus depends on your situation:

  • If you book your paid tickets through Travelocity using the Barclaycard Travelocity Rewards American Express card, that's still probably your best bet since it earns a 6% rebate on purchases made through Travelocity, and the 1 Ultimate Rewards point is just icing on the cake;
  • If you don't have a Travelocity Rewards credit card, then you may want to book through Expedia, who operate their own rewards program. Unfortunately, that program is not very lucrative;
  • Finally, now that all the online travel agencies earn just 1 bonus Ultimate Rewards point, you may want to consider booking using the Ultimate Rewards booking engine. While you'll still only earn 1 bonus Ultimate Rewards point per dollar, you're much more likely to actually receive that point without having to fight Chase for it.

That last point is worth considering if you've had trouble getting bonus Ultimate Rewards points to post correctly, as I have occasionally in the past when clicking through to Travelocity.