Need CEUS/CMES? My First All-points Hack to a National Conference in Chicago

January 10, 2023

1st all points redemption:

Cash price

AANA conference August 12-14, 2022
Hyatt Regency Chicago-$306/night= cash price $612 plus taxes and fees
Southwest Airlines TPA-MDW roundtrip= cash price $320 R/T

Points redemption

24,000 UR points transferred to Hyatt

18,538 UR points transferred to SW plus $11.20

Total cost out of pocket for airfare and hotel= $11.20

I love to travel! I’ve been traveling internationally since I was a child. Learning about travel hacking has been a total game-changer for me. My husband and I started travel hacking in early 2022. I’ve always been frugal but I don’t skimp on travel. Luxury hotels, Airbnb on the water, celebrity-owned restaurants…Hey, I like the finer things in life. Like this villa in Antigua we rented for Spring Break 2022 that overlooks the ocean 🙂

View from our Airbnb on the island of Antigua

I wanted my first travel hack to be something simple. As healthcare providers, we all have to meet continuing education requirements on an annual or biannual basis. My DNP project faculty was going to be receiving an award at our annual anesthesia conference. I wanted to go to support her since she had been so instrumental in the completion of my doctorate project. I have also been hired by the University as an adjunct faculty member for DNP students and there were quite a few lectures for CRNA educators that I wanted to hear, along with meeting my continuing education credit requirements. I didn’t have enough leave time to attend the entire conference so I went for the weekend. My husband stayed home with the kids and I planned a solo trip to Chicago.

Ready, set… Travel hack

First, P1 and P2 (me and hubby) both applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) card. My Code Green Freebie explains why the CSP is my favorite card!!  I previously held a CSP but canceled the card before learning about the game. My husband held a Chase Sapphire Reverse (CSR) at the time and we learned that we can downgrade his card and reapply after 30 days to receive another sign-up bonus (SUB). Chase has a 48-month rule for Sapphire products. There must be a minimum of 48 months from when you received your last SUB to reapply and receive a Sapphire card SUB again. Here’s how it works:

  1. P1 applied for a CSP and got instant approval. My sign-up bonus (SUB) was 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in 3 months.
  2. P2 downgraded his CSR after I was approved.
  3. After 30 days, I referred him using my CSP link and he was instantly approved. He also would receive the same SUB. 

P1= 60,000 points
P2= 60,000 points
P1 referral bonus= 15,000 points
135k points total combined


I started my search with Google Travel (My favorite site)! I looked to see which airlines were travel partners of Chase that flew nonstop from Tampa to Chicago. A co-worker from Chicago recommended I fly into Midway (MDW) because it is much easier to navigate than O’Hare (ORD). I found that Southwest (SW) had an awesome non-stop flight for the dates and times I was looking for. It only cost me 21,833 points and $11.20 cash roundtrip. I already had a Southwest Rapid Rewards account since I had traveled with SW in the past. I transferred my Ultimate Rewards (UR) points from my CSP to my SW Rapid Reward account. 

Wanna hear something awesome?! SW does sales periodically and you can change your flight as often as you want before you check-in. I kept an eye on my flight and found that it dropped twice from 21,833 to 19,979 to 18,358!! I was refunded the difference in points back to my SW account. 


I learned through my research that Hyatt offers the best redemption rates for hotels as a Chase partner. Marriott requires so many more points and I’m not a fan of IHG hotels. I downloaded the Hyatt app and joined their World of Hyatt member program. The AANA conference was also being held at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. After a few days of searching and waiting for a room to show up (people cancel rooms frequently so it was my opportunity to scoop one up), I was able to book a King bedroom for 12,000 points per night. It cost me 24,000 points for August 12-14. I transferred 24,000 UR from CSP to Hyatt and booked my room instantly. 

Conference fees

The last thing I needed to pay for was the conference. It cost $770 for the entire conference whether I attended 2 or 4 days.  For many of us, a perk of being a hospital employee is a certain amount of CEU/CME money per year. My conference tuition was covered by education funds. I had to pay upfront and then I was reimbursed after providing proof of my CEUS. What an awesome way to meet another SUB!

I charged my conference fees to my new Chase Ink Cash business card. The only thing I paid for out of pocket was $100 for the Fellows luncheon I attended, food, drink, and transportation to and from the airport.

Before leaving for Chicago, I was approved for a Chase Ink Business Preferred (CIP) card. The minimum spend was $15,000 in three months but we had a major kitchen renovation pending that covered my minimum spend requirement (MSR). CIP offers 5x points on Lyft rides up to $150,000 in their 3-point reward categories. I earned 5x points on any Lyft rides during my time in Chicago.

Attending national conferences is an awesome way to gain insight into new medical studies and practice improvements, make new friends in the same specialty, and meet the continuing education requirements needed to keep our license current. I will shout out a national conference each month so you can start your award searches and hack your way to your national conference!



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Photography by Christi Allen Curtis