WT-98663831

Tag

Guide

Africa, Blog, Guide, South Africa, Travel

A First Timers Guide to The City of Gold – Johannesburg

We had the great opportunity to visit Johannesburg twice during our layovers within Africa. During our days in Johannesburg we were able to do a lot of sightseeing, learn about the city’s history, eat delicious South African cuisine, and stay at two wonderful hotels. We encourage tourists who travel to South Africa to visit game reserves, to also take the opportunity to spend at least a full 24 hours in Johannesburg. Seeing wild animals is amazing, (we know, it’s why we went to South Africa), but seeing the culture and history of Johanessburg is amazing too. Here is our first timers guide to some of the best places to visit, dine and stay within Johannesburg (based on our first hand experience), along with some helpful tips.

 

Related posts: The Best Tips for Flying To and Within South Africa!

 

Safety

Johannesburg, the City of Gold – tends to get a bad reputation as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. We are here to tell you, that is not the case. Just like all major cities, there are growing and influtential areas, suburbs, good school distrcts and more, but there are also areas of poverty and slum. Not once we did encounter any dangerous areas or incidents while in Johannesburg, what we did experience was pure culture and history.

 

Getting Around

We recommend two different ways to sightsee in Johanessburg, the City Sightseeing hop on-hop off bus or Joburg Tourism where they can provide you with a private guide.

Hop On-Hop Off buses are always a popular way to see a new and unfamiliar city. The great thing about a hop on-hop off bus is the opportunity to stop at several destinations you wish to see for an entire day, while paying for a budget friendly price. Along the routes there are also audio guides to use at your disposal, so you can learn about the places you are seeing or visiting. For people who have a lot of time to enjoy sightseeing at their own pace, this is a great fit for you. If you enjoy a more intimate setting that goes based on your tight schedule, we recommend a private driver.

We were invited from Joburg Tourism to enjoy a private driver/tour guide. This was our first experience with a private driver/tour guide and we enjoyed every second of it, in fact, we do not think we can enjoy another group tour ever again. Our guide, Lucille from Cresco Tours, was very knowledgable about the city and was able to show around Johannesburg and educate us more about the city than we have ever imagined. It was also comforting to be able to sightsee and learn about Johannesburg on our own time. To know that we never had to worry about catching our next ride somewhere or continuing to switch tour guides at every site. We were able to make a strong relationship with Lucille and enjoy our time exploring Johannesburg. If you decide to book with Cresco Tours, be sure to ask for Lucille!

 

City Sightseeing Hop On-Hop Off
https://www.citysightseeing.co.za/johannesburg

Joburg Tourism
http://www.joburgtourism.com
http://www.joburgtourism.com/packages/standard

Cresco Tours
http://www.crescotours.co.za/day_tours.php

 

In the Heart of Johannesburg

The heart of Johannesburg is the central business district. There are plenty of things to see, dine and stay in this area. In addition to some fun sightseeing, there is also a lot of culture and history that has defined the city of Johannesburg and South Africa as a whole.

 

Constituional Hill

If you only have time to do one thing in Johanessburg, we encourage you to visit Constitutional Hill. It was one of the most moving tours we have ever experienced. It reperesnts Johanessburg’s past, present and future.

Before the tour, there is a video that gives you a brief history of Constitutional Hill. The brief history is that black, white and colored men and women were prisoned here for speaking their minds of the harsh truth that was occurring in Johannesburg during that time. The treatment they were receiving was unbearable and inhuman. Walking through the prison cells, courtyard, torture chambers and isolation cells was depressing – we could not fathom the history that took place here. To see people be treated so inhuman because they were trying to get their freedom, equality and dignity was heartbreaking.

Some exhibits within the tour had pictures, audio and video of ex-prisoners’ stories of the series of events that happened to them everyday. Constitutional Hill has three prison blocks – Number Four (for black, asian and indian “native men”), Old Fort (for white men) and Women’s Goal (for black and white female prisoners).

The tour has prison cells that showcase the prisoners living arrangements, which were very poor – they would cram in dozens of men in a small prison room. We were told that in the courtyard, the men would have to strip naked and receive brutal beatings.

The isolation cells might have been the most heartbreaking of them all. Visitors can step into the isolation cells to see what it was like for the prisoners. The prisoners were only supposed to stay inside the isolation cells for no more than 30 days, but some stayed there for an entire year. Without even stepping into the isolation cells, we cannot begin to even imagine what it was like to be in their shoes.

A lot of historical men and women of Johanessburg were imprisoned at Constitutional Hill, including two of the most influential leaders of our world, Nelson Mandela and Ghandi. In honor of these men, Constitutional Hill has dedicated one of the prison cells into a small msusuem of their history here and in life.

Out of this tradegy comes hope. Johannesburg created their congress room in the center of Constitutional Hill and embraced their history for a better future. The bricks of the building are the same bricks the prisoners would mine. There is a small narrow window across the congress room where the judges can only see people’s legs walking by. This feature is to remind the judges that they sit in the chairs to help create a better world for all those people walking outside. We enjoyed the congress room a lot because of how much thought and meaning went into building the room.

11 Kotze St 
Johannesburg, 2017, South Africa
+27 11 381 3100
Open daily: 9am – 5pm
Prices vary for age and type of tour, so please click here to get an in-depth page of prices.
https://www.constitutionhill.org.za

 

Apartheid Museum

A visit to Apartheid Museum is a museum unlike any other, representing the rise and fall of apartheid in South Africa. Guests take an emotional journey through a series of 22 individual exhibition areas, which tells a story of a state-sanctioned system based on racial discrimination and the struggle the majority of people endured to overthrow the tyranny. South Africa does not shy away from their past, but embrace it to make a better future – the Apartheid Museum is South Africa’s beacon of hope to show the world who they really are. It is a museum not to be missed.

Northern Park Way and Gold Reef Rd
Ormond, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
+27 11 309 4700
Open daily: 9am – 5pm

Adults: R85
Students, seniors and children: R70
https://www.apartheidmuseum.org

 

Top of Africa

To experience the best views of Johanessburg, head to the 50th floor of the Carlton building, also known as the Top of Africa. Why is it called the Top of Africa? Because it is THE tallest building in Africa! At the observation deck, guests can see the city and its surrounding landscape with 360 degree unobstructed views. Though we went on a hazy day, it did not deteriorate from the beauty of Johanessburg. We were able to see the business district, suburbs and of course, the mining grounds.

150 Commissioner St
CBD, Johannesburg, 2001, South Africa
+27 (0)11 308 1331
Monday – Friday: 9am – 6pm
Saturday: 9am – 5pm
Sunday: 9am – 2pm
Tickets can be purchased at the front desk, located behind the store “Studio 88”, one floor below ground level.  If lost, ask a security guard or a store clerk. 
Adults: R15
Children under 10: R10

 

Gold Reef City

Gold Reef City has is a place for tourists of all ages – two hotels, a casino, a theme park and a mine tour! Guests must pay an entrance fee to enter the theme park regardless if they will partake in any rides. Guests wanting to actually go on rides must pay a higher price. To visit the mine tour will also cost an additional fee, but it is well worth it for those interested in learning how Johannesburg became The City of Gold! During the mine tour, guests will feel the cold air as they descend into the depths of the earth and discover the riches of South Africa’s history and gold. They will also have the opportunity to pan for gold in freezing cold water and watch gold being poured into golden bars!

Northern Pkwy & Data Cres
Ormonde 99-Ir, Johannesburg, 2159, South Africa
+27 11 248 5000
Closed Monday-Tuesday

Wednesday-Sunday: 9:30am – 5pm
Thrill Rider above 1.3m: R210 or R320 to include mine tour      
Non-Rider above 1.3m: R120 or R230 to include mine tour      
Guests under 1.3m: R130 or R240 to include mine tour  
Students and seniors 60+: R175 or R285 to include mine tour
Heritage Mine Tour: R340
Children under 3 years are admitted free of charge
https://www.tsogosun.com/gold-reef-city-casino

 

 

Soweto

Soweto is a the largest black town in South Africa and is known for its culture, history and the home of Nelson Mandela. Great local food can be found around town with an entertaining culture and lifestyle.

 

Hector Pieterson Museum and Memorial

The museum was built in honor of Hector Pieterson and is located only two blocks away from where Hector was shot and killed.  For those who do not know the story, students were walking to the stadium to gather for a protest and were met by the police. The children threw stones at the police and the police responded with gunfire. Hector was the first one to be shot by the police. This tragic event started the 1976 uprising in Soweto and throughout the country. The museum is dedicated to all the children, women and men, whose lives were lost during the apartheid tyranny. Outside the museum is a beautiful memorial which represents the event of the students and police officers. The memorial is built with a fountain that flows to the streets – the water flowing symbolizes the blood shed from the children. The iconic picture of Hector dying in the arms of another Soweto resident with his sister next to them, is placed next to the memorial.

Tip: If you are going to the Apartheid Museum, it is suggested not to visit the Hector Pieterson museum on the same day because of the amount of emotion placed upon the visitors. It is also said that a visit to the Apartheid Museum is enough to capture the history of the events, but if you want to learn more of what happened in Soweto then going inside the Hector Pieterson Museum is advised. Otherwise seeing the memorial with a tour guide to explain the symbolism of the event is enough.

8287 Khumalo Rd
Orlando West, Johannesburg, 1804, South Africa
+27 11 536 0611
Monday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Sundays: 10am – 4pm
Adults: R30
Students and seniors: R10
Children (ages 6 to 12): R5
https://www.gauteng.net/attractions/hector_pieterson_memorial_and_museum/

 

Orlando Towers

What was once used as a power station for over 50 years, is now South Africa’s largest mural painting in the country and a place to have fun. Soweto has a lot of culture and history, which the Orlando Towers signifies in their colorful painted murals that can be seen from miles away. For those seeking adrenaline, you can bungee jump, base jump or freefall from the top of the towers! After you enjoy your thrill of choice from the Orlando Towers, don’t forget to dine at Chaf Pozi (more info on the restaurant at Places to Dine). Spending a day at Orlando Towers and finishing your evening at Chaf Pozi will be an experience you will never forget in Johannesburg!

Chris Hani Rd, Soweto 1808
Johannesburg, 1809, South Africa
+27 71 674 4343
Thursday: 12pm – 5pm
Friday – Sunday: 10am – 6pm
Prices vary depending on activity
http://www.orlandotowers.co.za

 

Nelson Mandela House

Visiting Nelson Meandela’s House is almost a must when visiting Johannesburg! If you are fans of the legendary man, we highly recommend you visit his house. The house is full of gifts he received from leaders all over the world, in addition to awards he received throughout his life. Outside the house, visitors can see and feel with their fingers the bullet holes from people who shot at his house. Inside the house, visitors can see the last picture ever took of him before he was imprisoned next to the picture of him when he was released.

8115 Vilakazi St & Ngakane St
Orlando West, Johannesburg, 1804, South Africa
+27 11 936 7754
Open Daily: 9am – 5pm
Adults: R60
Students, seniors and children over 6 years: R20
children under 6 years: R5
http://www.mandelahouse.com

 

Playing Soccer with the Children

As we were driving throughout Soweto we kept seeing several children playing soccer in the middle of the streets. When we parked to visit the Nelson Mandela House, there were children playing in the parking lot. As soccer players, we could not resist playing with the children, so we joined them. It was a surreal experience that we will never forget. If you happen to find street vendors selling soccer balls, it would change the children’s world if you buy one for them, otherwise they will love it if you join them in a game or two!

 

 

 

Places to Dine

 

Homestead

Homestead focuses on South African food using the freshest and local ingredients. Their speciality is called “bowl’d food” where guests pick their starch, meat, vegetables, sauce and salad – essentially all of the components are served in bowls and placed on a wooden tray. One of their starch options is pap, also known as mieliepap, which is a traditional South African corn porridge, similar to polenta, but prepared differently. We recommend guests to enjoy it with a meat stew served on top.

58 Anderson St
Marshalltown, Johannesburg, 2107, South Africa
+27 11 689 1000
Monday – Saturday: 10am – 10pm
Sunday: closed
$$ – $$$
http://homestead.co.za

 

Aurelia’s Restaurant

A luxury dining experience at Peermont D’Oreale Grande at Emperor’s Palace. The ambience of Aurelia’s Restaurant during the night is romantic with its dim lighting, candles and fresh flowers on the table. Their dinner menu is quite extensive, which showcases the chef’s creative molecular gastronomy appetizers, entrees and desserts. The dishes have a little Mediterranean flare with some South African cuisine that can please any palate. To read our full review of Aurelia’s Restaurant, click here.

64 Jones Rd, O.R. Tambo
Kempton Park, 1627, South Africa
+27 11 928 1727
Lunch served daily: 12:30pm – 4pm
Dinner served daily: 6:30pm – 10pm
$$$$
http://www.emperorspalace.com/things-to-do/restaurants/aurelias-restaurant

 

Chaf Pozi

After you experience the Orlando Towers, dine at Chaf Pozi, an authentic South African Shisa Nyama (barbecue) cuisine restaurant at the base of the towers. At night, Chaf Pozi turns into a shebeen (live music and dancing), which is an integral part of South African urban culture and represents a sense of community, identity, and belonging.

Chaf Pozi
Chris Hani Rd, Soweto 1808
Johannesburg, 1809, South Africa
+27 81 797 5756
Monday – Thursday: 11am – 6pm
Friday – Sunday: 9am – 2am
$$-$$$
http://chafpozi.co.za

 

Sakhumzi Restaurant

Located across the street from the Nelson Mandela House is Sakhumzi, which serves local Soweto, authentic-home cooked cuisine. We have never encountered such a vibrant community during a dining experience. Everyone greeted us with a warm welcome as if we were family. Everything is made fresh from the kitchen and served as either a buffet or a la carte from the menu. The buffet has a great selection of authentic Soweto food, from traditional pap to lamb stew, sausage, tripe, cow tongue and more.

6980 Vilakazi St
Orlando West, Soweto, 1804, South Africa
+27 11 536 1379
Monday – Thursday: 11am – 10pm
Friday – Sunday: 11am – 12am
$$ – $$$
https://sakhumzi.co.za/our-story/

 

 

Places to Stay

Johannesburg is full of several different types of beautiful hotels – boutique, eco-friendly, luxurious and more. We highly recommend two hotels, Peermont D’Oreale Grande at Emperor’s Palace and The Reef Hotel. Both hotels are amazing for different reasons.

Peermont D’Oreale Grande at Emperor’s Palace is a five star hotel and the perfect hotel for layovers, as well as, a phenomenal hotel for luxurious vacations. It is in between Johannesburg’s central business district and Soweto, so also great for location. Click here to read more about this hotel.

The Reef Hotel is a four star hotel located in the heart of Johannesburg – the central business district. The hotel has some amazing features, such as a jacuzzi on their sun deck and a rooftop bar. Click here to read more about this hotel.

In addition to these two hotels, here are more fabulous hotels to stay at:

  • Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff
  • Hyatt Regency Johannessburg
  • The Peech Hotel
  • Saxon Hill, ranked as one of the Worlds Best Hotels in Travel and Leisure.

Book your hotel in Johannesburg by using our Booking affiliate search box! It does not cost you more, but we would receive a small commission for your booking. We would be very appreciative if you do book with us!

Booking.com

 

 

Based on our experience, we suggest at least two full days in Johannesburg! Spend one day in the heart of Johannesburg and another day in Soweto. There is truly so much to see and experience in Johannesburg. It is not a city to be used as a layover, it is a city to be seen! We hope this guide has been helpful and given you a new and better perspective of Johanessburg.

 

Christina + Adam

 

 

Africa, Blog, Guide, South Africa, Travel, Zambia

The Best Tips for Flying To and Within South Africa!

Traveling to Africa is no small feat. For international travelers flying into South Africa, it can take anywhere between ten to twenty hours or more! For most travelers, everyone flies to Africa to experience animals in their natural habitat, see the blue city of Morocco and experience the Arabian nights or to one of the Natural Wonders of the World, Victoria Falls. The reason people want to visit Africa are endless, but the one thing in common is flying there.

We just got back home to Washington D.C. last week after spending ten of the most wonderful nights of our lives in Africa. In those ten nights we flew eight times!!! We flew to and from Johannesburg, South Africa, within South Africa and Zambia. Therefore, we encountered a lot of flight and traveling situations unlike any we have ever experienced in our traveling careers. This post is to help all the world travelers flying to South Africa and other countries to/in Africa. Our tips are from our own experience in South Africa (at several airports) and Zambia.

So, before you do your happy dance…

Check out these tips that can help you on your next trip to Africa!

 

Make Copies of Your Passport

Before you leave home, make copies of your passport. When you arrive to your hotel keep your passport copy in the safe and your original passport with you at all times. You never know when someone will ask to see it and if anything bad were to happen, you will always have a backup.

 

 

Always Keep the Small Boarding Pass

Every airline in every country is different. For the United States, when we hand the flight clerk at the counter our ticket, they scan it and either give our ticket back to us, or they may keep it. Then we walk to the plane and find our seat and wait for take off. This is not the case in Africa. When you hand your ticket to the flight clerk at the counter they will rip off the ticket by the divider and hand back the smaller portion. Keep this small ticket with you all the way until you finally take your seat because they ask for it when you arrive at the plane. Then a flight attendant verifies it by looking at it and directing you to where your seat is. In some cases it is helpful on the big planes that have two rows, but in most other cases the plane is small and we really do not know what the purpose is.

 

Always Have Your Passport Ready

The same thing from above applies here. You are constantly asked to show your passport from security checkpoint one (sometimes again at another checkpoint), to when you hand your ticket and lastly when you board the plane. It is easier to just always hold your passport securely in your hand until you sit in your seat rather than putting it away and retrieving it constantly.

 

A Small Travel Document Holder Will Be Your Lifesaver

If we did not have our American Express travel document holder, we would have been a hot mess! It can be a small bag, pouch or folder. By day 4 in Africa we had about 8 previous tickets and a lot of documents that we needed to keep with us at all times, such as, insurance, yellow fever card and more. Having the document bag is great because it keeps everything in one place and you can easily keep it safe in your backpack when you do not need it.

 

Airport Lounges Will Become Your Best Friend

Every airport and terminal we were in had a lounge that we were able to use, including small airports like Kruger International Airport. Having access to airport lounges is awesome for budget travelers because every lounge has free Wi-Fi, food, drinks and yes, alcohol! We highly recommend the Priority Pass (get it for free with Chase Sapphire Reserve – click here to read how to get your card), we were able to use our pass at every airport. We really cannot stress how much of a lifesaver this was to us. We never had to struggle to find a seat in the terminal and never had to fight over an outlet to charge a device.

 

Arrive to the Airport 2 Hours Beforehand, No Matter What!

We were told one hour before is enough time, but we found ourselves always rushing and getting confused, ESPECIALLY at O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB). Even at Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport in Livingston, Zambia – a very small airport, we had to arrive two hours early. The airports themselves are not gigantic but the staff told us wrong directions several times at O.R. Tambo and nearly had us miss some flights. While at Harry Mwanga it took a long time to check in because the line was very long and they had very few staff members available. So, whether its a big or small airport, always arrive two hours beforehand – you never know what you can encounter.

 

When in Doubt, Trust Your Ticket

If your gate number changes before you arrive at your original gate, go to the original gate and ask the flight clerks if it really changed. We had two experiences when the TVs changed either our flight time or gate number, and both times the TV was wrong. We found ourselves running and sweating our way through airport terminals in utter panic that we would miss our boarding because our ticket said gate A14, but the TV said gate E20 – completely different directions. We also almost went back to our airport lounge when a TV displayed our flight was delayed, but after we asked a clerk, we learned that it was actually on time. Trust your ticket and then ask questions!

 

Turn Your Phone Off!

We are not sure what it is about flying in Africa, but nine times out of ten, we were asked to turn our phones completely off – airport mode was not acceptable. When the flight attendants announce to turn your phone off, DO IT! We experienced a traveler (sitting right behind us) and a flight attendant get into a riff because the traveler was not turning his phone off when asked. The flight attendant did not leave his sight and kept demanding he turn off his phone right there and then. It was really unnerving to see and hear it, so don’t make a scene, turn your phone off!

 

Disinfection Spray While Onboard

Do not be alarmed when the flight attendants go down the aisle spraying a disinfectant. They will warn you beforehand as they may go down the aisle more than once because they must spray an entire can. The disinfection spray is not a pleasant smell, so travelers are advised to cover their mouth. It is not harmful to humans, but strictly a protocol all airlines must abide by from the World Health Organization. “All International and Regional services operating in and out of the Republic of South Africa must be disinfected according to the “blocks away” method at the last point of call prior to leaving and entering South Africa (travelstart source).”

 

You Will Never Go Hungry!

With the exception of our flights to and from our lodge, we always received food! We are not talking about your small bag of pretzels or peanuts, we are talking about meals. Even on our flight from Johannesburg to Livingstone, which was only an 1 ½ hour flight, we were served a hot lunch meal. Christina is a picky eater and even she enjoyed the food (most of the time).

 

 

Drink Up!

ALL of our main flights offered complimentary wine! It was not cheap wine either, it was good South African wine. If you are not feeling like drinking wine, ask your flight attendant if they have mango-orange juice – it is so delicious!!!!

 

Goodbye Jetway, Hello Tarmac

For most of your flights, the plane will be parked on the tarmac. For the larger airports, after you hand your ticket to the flight clerk (remember to hold onto it), you will take a bus onto the tarmac and then walk up a flight of stairs to board the plane. After you land the same thing applies, walk down steps, board a bus and then you arrive at the airport terminal. For the smaller planes we sometimes walked out the doors and the plane was waiting just a few yards away from us on the tarmac. It was definitely a more unique way of boarding and departing a plane – it was a cool experience.

 

Expect Things to go Wrong

We either experienced a lot of bad luck, or this is normal when flying in Africa. Not including our flights to and from D.C. to Johannesburg, but four out of our six flights were always delayed because of various reasons. Christina has a co-worker from Liberia, Africa and she even said that everyone in Africa will always try and book direct flights because things always go wrong. Some things you cannot control, so just be aware that your flights may be delayed quite often.

 

Check With Your Smallest Aircraft For Their Luggage Protocol

As we stated early in this article, most travelers fly to Africa to enjoy safaris. With that being said, travelers often fly to main cities and then take smaller aircrafts to their respected airports near their safari game reserves. So, if you are flying within Africa, check with your airline’s baggage allowance, especially the smallest aircraft. We were only allowed one duffel bag each with no wheels and had to be smaller than 24 inches. Do not let your vacation be ruined because you cannot bring your suitcase full of your belongings on the plane!

 

Do Not Forget To Add Your Points!

We were able to receive points/miles for every flight we took. Every point and mile counts, so do not forget to add them to your account to go towards that free flight!

 

We hope these tips were helpful for you on your trip to Africa! We came across all of these without any prior information and wanted to help the next person to not have to go through any stressful situations we went through. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to comment below or reach out to us personally.

Safe travels,

C+A

 

 

Guide, Travel

How to Maximize Your Money with the Chase Sapphire Reserve

Many people ask us, “how can you afford to travel so much?” Most people would think it’s because we make a lot of money, trust us, we do not. So, how do we do it? We use our credit card points! The next question people ask is, “how do you receive so many free flights across the world so frequently?” The answer is because we maximize every penny we earn and we use the world’s best travel credit card, Chase Sapphire Reserve. Unfortunately, it is only available to residents of the United States, so this guide will only be helpful for those who qualify for the credit card.

Now let’s go back into more detail on how we maximize every penny. There are four different ways to earn Chase Ultimate Reward Points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve:

  • 3 PTS/$1 from Travel Purchases
  • 3 PTS/$1 from Dining Purchases
  • 1 PTS/$1 Earned on All Other Purchases
  • Bonus from Shop through Chase – the most important tip we have to offer

 

Travel Purchases

If you are reading this post, it is most likely because you love to travel and you want to travel more for less. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the best travel credit card because it gives you 3 points for every dollar spent on travel and dining! In the past three years (two were with Chase Sapphire Preferred with 2 points per dollar spent on traveling) we have redeemed two free roundtrip flights to St. Lucia, two one-way tickets to Paris and two round trip flights to Johannesburg.  With the being said we have enough points to do four round trip flights to almost anywhere in the world – just waiting on the right destination to redeem them for.

What we want to discuss and help you understand the benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card by using our most recent flight redemption on our trip to Johannesburg, South Africa. Flying from Washington D.C., we were looking at almost $2,000 for two 18 hour, round trip flights. Redeeming Chase Ultimate Reward Points is like gambling at the casino – everyday the flights redemption points change. So we monitored every week on the point redemption for certain flights we wanted.  We watched the point price rise and fall back to its initial price for two to three months, when lo and behold it dropped significantly! Our flight went from 84,000 points to 64,000 points! Does this mean the actual retail price of the flight dropped? No, it did not. The total price for what our flights should have cost was $1,923.52. The last part of this equation is making sure we are MAXIMIZING EVERY PENNY. So, you do the math of how much $1,923.52 translates into Chase Ultimate Reward Points. The answer is 192,352 points!!! We redeemed 128,234 total, thus saving us 64,118 – which is equivalent to one more round trip flight!!! You can also do the math vice versa, how much does 128,234 points translate into money? The answer, $1,282.34, thus saving us $642.18 total.

Have we convinced you that the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card is the best travel card yet? If not, read further. If you are already hooked, scroll to the bottom of our article! 

Let us convince you some more. Take our trip to South Africa, hence our flight to Johannesburg, we will say that we have spent $6,000 on our trip. That in turn means that we received 9,000 points, which equals $90.00. Now that may not seem like a lot of cash back money, but truth be told, it is. Only one other credit card, Citi ThankYou Premier Card, offers 3x points per dollar spent on travel expenses.

The last way to maximize your points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card is their travel partners. Chase partners with some premier airline and hotel reward companies for a 1:1 point transfer. Here is their list of partners:

 

 

Sometimes, redeeming points for flights directly on Chase’s Ultimate Rewards site is not always the best option. Our flight to St. Lucia was “cheaper”, less points to transfer them to British Airways and book directly on the airlines site than to book through Chase Ultimate Rewards. So, to maximize your penny and points look into Chase Ultimate Rewards AND airline rewards for the best point redemption.

 

Dining Purchases

Dining purchases are also three points per dollar spent. If you enjoy going out to eat, even if it’s to Five Guys, food trucks, or Michelin star restaurants, you receive three points per dollar. Earning points for dining will accumulate faster than you know! It is another great benefit of the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.

 

Shop through Chase

This is how we maximize every penny the most out of all the ways to earn points! Chase Ultimate Rewards offers a shopping portal. If you love to shop till you drop (like Christina), then this is the way to shop. Chase’s shopping portal offers several different stores and each one offers a certain amount of bonus points per dollar spent. Here are a few of our favorite stores we shop at for an example:

 

To maximize your money is simple, if you are going to purchase something, purchase it through your airline or credit card shopping portal. There is nothing to lose here, only money back! Every time you are going to buy something online, do yourself a favor and look at your desired shopping portal to see if they have the online store available for bonus points.

Here are a few examples and tips that can help earn you more points:

  • Since we put everything on our Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card and want to receive the most points with that card, we look at their shopping portal first. Sometimes they do not have the online store, so we go to Southwest Rapid Rewards shopping portal and find our online store there! Not only do we gain bonus points with Southwest, but we are still earning one point per dollar spent with our Chase Ultimate Rewards – it’s a win win!
  • Are you a gamer? We both are (add gamertag Geeg28 on Xbox Live). We only own a Xbox Live, sorry, and when we renew our Gold Live subscription we do not just do it on Xbox, but through Gamestop! We go to our Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal, buy a one year subscription on Gamestop then activate it online. Our $60 turned into 180 points.
  • Do you own an iPhone? Do you ever purchase AppleCare+? We do, and we did it through Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal that turned $130 into 260 points.
  • Groupon user? We have used Groupon a number of times to get not only deals, but bonus points though Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal! That deep tissue massage for $45 and flying lessons for $120 turned into a total of 660 points!
  • This one is for the ladies, Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal has all your favorite shopping brands and department stores (at least they have Christina’s). We frequently purchase a lot through Macy’s, so lets say we spend $300 in the course of 4 months, thats 1,800 points!
  • For our upcoming Africa trip we have the opportunity to go on 16 game drives in 8 days! That means we had to buy a lot of safari outfits. Therefore, we went to one of our favorite outdoor brands, The North Face and you guessed it, we shopped through Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal. Safari clothes are not cheap, we spent $400, but guess what, we earned 2,000 points!
  • Sometimes Chase will email special bonus point deals. Last month they had a deal with Walmart and Chase Pay. When we bought something from Walmart.com using Chase Pay, we received 10pts/$ up to $250 – that was a deal we could not pass up. Luckily for us, we were about to buy a GoPro and accessories. So, this comes back to our general rule of thumb, if you are going to spend money, spend it wisely. We could have bought our GoPro anywhere online, but with this deal we earned $4,975 points! (We each have a Chase card).

 

Calculated Points From This Post Example

From the examples we discussed, which do not even include everyday expenses on point per dollar spent, we are at a total of 18,875 points. As you can see, if you spend your money wisely by earning bonus points you can maximize every penny to go towards your next vacation! Like we said, that calculation is only the tip of the iceberg.

This pie chart is a slight comparison to what our real one on Chase looks like. As you can see, more than 50% of our spendings are 3pts/$ spent.

 

The Need To Know Stuff

The big factor that typically scares people away from the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, is the annual fee. The annual fee is $450 a year, BUT you receive a $300 travel credit every year. This means that the annual fee is only $150 a year.

Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card also waives your Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application fee. That is a savings of at least $100.

You will also have access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass Select.

No foreign transaction fees – perfect for world travelers.

You always have 24/7 direct access to a Customer Service specialist and they are always amazing!

Another huge money savings is their Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. We never have to pay insurance for rental cars, flights, cruises, trains, buses – anything! For more details on what they cover please view their website, but they cover everything you need.

Major tip: if you want the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, but are hesitant because you already own any Chase credit card with an annual fee that you want to get rid of without closing the account (which we advise to never close a credit card), we have a solution for you! Transfer your credit line! Once you receive your Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, call Chase and have them transfer the credit line over from your old card to your Reserve card. Then you can close the old credit card without hurting your credit score! You can also downgrade to Chase Freedom Unlimited to receive 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases.

 

Do You Think the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Is a Good Fit For You?

Then sign up now! If we have convinced you to apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, then we ask that you use our referral link. If you get approved and spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, then you receive 50,000 bonus points! While you reap in the awesome bonus points, (which is at least one free round trip flight almost anywhere), we too will be rewarded for referring you.

It has to be this link, so please click here:
https://www.referyourchasecard.com/19/CKUB7WTUFG

If you do apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card please comment or message us because we only get to refer 5 people!

 

 

Get your free flights now!

C+A