Most people don’t realize Chase’s Ultimate Rewards travel portal lets you redeem points for more than just flights and hotels — here’s what else you can book

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A few days ago, I cashed in 3,914 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a three-hour “Game of Thrones” sightseeing tour in Dubrovnik, Croatia. My husband and I are big fans of the show and we have always wanted to see Dubrovnik, which is also the setting of “King’s Landing” in the HBO series made-up world of Westeros. So, next month, we are going to see the Red Keep, where the Battle of Blackwater Bay took place, and a wide range of other settings where important scenes of the movies were filmed. I’m pretty stoked this is happening, but I’m equally happy I didn’t have to pay a dime.

The same is true for a few other excursions we booked for our upcoming Croatia trip, including a Plitvice Lakes tour from Zagreb and a day trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina including Medjugorje and Mostar that I paid with entirely with points.

The crazy thing is, most people I speak to about using points this way don’t realize booking activities is an option. When they think about using their Chase Ultimate Rewards points, they focus mostly on airline and hotel partners, while maybe thinking of using their points to book flights or hotels through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.

However, it’s super easy to book activities and experiences through Chase if you know where to look. When you go into the Chase portal, all you have to do is select “activities” instead of flights, hotels, or rental cars. It’s as easy as that.

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It’s super easy to book activities and experiences through Chase if you know where to look within the Ultimate Rewards portal.
Holly Johnson

If you haven’t checked out the activities available in Chase Ultimate Rewards before, I highly recommend you do. You might be surprised at what you find and just how affordable many options are whether you’re paying in points or cash.

Here are some truly exciting options you can book worldwide with Chase Ultimate Rewards points, along with how much they would cost if you carry the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy.

Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred from Insider Picks’ partner: The Points Guy.

#1: Electric Bike Tour in Athens, Greece

#1: Electric Bike Tour in Athens, Greece TripAdvisor

After a day spent exploring ancient ruins and relics of our culture’s past in Athens, Greece, you can cash in 5,145 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for an electric bike ride around the city. See the Hill of the Muses and the Hill of the Nymphs, the ancient Acropolis, the historic neighborhood of Plaka, the Panathenaic Stadium, and so many more of this city’s famous sights while only pedaling when you feel like it.

#2: Taste of Barcelona Food Tour

#2: Taste of Barcelona Food Tour Flickr/jlastras

Spain is known for its bull fights, its alluring and rich history, and its small tasting plates known as tapas. On this Barcelona food tour, you’ll roam the streets of Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter and El Born neighborhood to try amazing local delicacies such as “sardina arenque,” a local sardine cleaned on the spot in a unique way along with wine pairings with nearly every dish. This three-hour tour costs just 5,052 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per person.

#3: Private Day Trip to Terra Cotta Warriors from Xian, China

#3: Private Day Trip to Terra Cotta Warriors from Xian, China LEE SNIDER PHOTO IMAGES / Shutterstock.com

Travelers flock to this region of China to see one of the most interesting dig discoveries in world history — an army of terra cotta warriors and horses that have been buried for over 2,000 years. This army stands over 7,000 strong and is still being excavated, making this the educational trip of a lifetime. You can book this private day tour through Chase Ultimate Rewards for just 1,600 points per person.

#4: Vodka Tasting and Evening Canal Cruise in St. Petersburg, Russia

#4: Vodka Tasting and Evening Canal Cruise in St. Petersburg, Russia Flickr Creative Commons

Fork over just 3,200 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per person to enjoy St. Petersburg and Russia in the most epic way ever — on a boat drinking vodka. This Insta-worthy day trip lasts three hours and takes you through the city’s gorgeous canals and along the Neva, Fontanka, and Moika rivers.

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There’s a major reason for this stock sell-off that people are missing, and it’s only getting worse

Banknotes of the U.S. Dollar on January 25, 2018.

The October stock market sell-off has been puzzling to many investors because most companies are riding high on business confidence and a tax-cut windfall.

Plus, profit growth has been solid, and many companies have been beating expectations on strong sales numbers and a positive outlook.

Most important thing to watch next week  

But one real worry cited on post-earnings conference calls is the rising U.S. dollar, which makes business overseas more expensive for U.S. companies. The strong dollar was cited by companies as varied as Anheuser-Busch and PPG Industries.

And it’s a problem that is only getting worse. The gains in the U.S. Dollar Index, a measure of the greenback against a basket of major currencies, are accelerating, up another 2 percent in the last one month. By no coincidence, the S&P 500 has headed lower at the same time.

3M revised its earnings per share estimate to include a 5 cent per share hit from currency translation. It previously had factored in a gain of 10 cents a share. And United Parcel Service said currency fluctuations could be a drag of $35 million to $45 million in the fourth quarter.

Add that to rising interest rates, rising fuel costs and the early effects of tariffs on imports of steel, aluminum and other manufacturing materials, and executives have struck a more cautious tone for the near term, though the overall message is still positive.

The dollar was higher versus most currencies again on Friday morning as stock futures pointed to another big drop.

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“The market doesn’t believe 2019 growth is going to be anywhere near what it is expected to be,” said Nick Raich, CEO of research firm Earnings Scout.

Raich adds that there’s no evidence any of these fears will come true. Estimates for 2019 first- and second-quarter earnings have actually inched up, he said. And revenue growth of 8 percent for the S&P 500 companies that have reported so far is outpacing expense growth.

‘Unfavorable impact’

Anheuser-Busch on Thursday slashed its dividend in half and said beer sales fell during the third quarter. Currency volatility is a challenge for the brewing giant, which bought U.K.-based SABMiller in 2016. “In the last six months, we’ve seen a lot of [currency] volatility,” Chief Financial Officer Felipe Dutra told reporters on a conference call Thursday, as reported by Reuters. “This scenario triggers some sort of uncertainty and at a certain point … we thought it was the right time to adjust the dividend.”

PPG, an industrial bellwether, said currency turned into a headwind the third quarter as the dollar strengthened. Currency translation lowered sales $80 million and pretax income took a hit of $15 million. It also said sales could be cut $50 million to $60 million in the fourth quarter because of the “unfavorable impact” of currency translation.

Illinois Took Works said year-over-year earnings growth of 11 percent, to $1.90 per share, was on the high end of its range but included 3 cents a share of “unfavorable currency translation impact.”

Companies have had to adjust to account for the stronger dollar. “We’ve taken some other actions around the emerging markets and initiatives to ensure that we can overcome that,” UPS CFO Richard Peretz said on a call with analysts. “That’s one of the reasons we’ve called out the guidance for the total company to remain where we expect it to be even given this new headwind.”

Currency isn’t the only extra cost companies are facing. On Thursday, Southwest Airlines reported record third-quarter profit that beat expectations, then burst the bubble by saying its costs were going up more than expected, largely because of fuel. American Airlines said a 42 percent increase in fuel costs ate into its third-quarter profit despite record revenue.

More than one-third of companies reporting earnings so far have mentioned the Trump administration’s tariffs. Harley Davidson said it will pay at least $40 million more this year to cover such costs.

Estimates for next year reflect optimistic company guidance on sales and their ability to pass some of the higher costs on to customers, Morgan Stanley analysts said in a note last week. But tech is more vulnerable to profit-margin pressure, they said, as are consumer discretionary and transportation stocks.

Texas Instruments, like other semiconductor companies, is also seeing weakness ahead. While it beat profit expectations, it issued a weaker fourth-quarter outlook blaming slower demand. “We are heading into a softer market,” CFO Rafael Lizardi said on a conference call this week. “We believe this is mostly driven by a slowdown in semiconductors.” That slowdown, executives said, comes after several years of strong growth.

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