I'm using the CTP to book a trip for the first time and I noticed at least for hotels in Chicago, the base price for all the rooms are higher than listed on any other site. Now granted I would still pay less if I use points, but it almost seems disingenuous to mark the prices then let me redeem my points at 1.25x.
Is this an absolute? Are prices always higher through the CTP?
The only time I used UR points was early last year when I booked a hotel in Hong Kong through the Chase portal. I compared the rates to Expedia and they were identical, even though the portal was powered by Connexions at the time. By now, the portal should be on Expedia's platform. I closed my CSP, so I can't compare rates.
The one time I looked to compare prices, I also noticed they were identical to what one would see in Expedia. I suspect it's not so much that Chase is marking things up as the travel application back-end they use may have prices higher than some other applications, so you're seeing that manifest. In other words, you'd also likely see Expedia prices higher than whatever portal you compared to.
No, they don't.
For the trips I looked and booked (then cancelled), they are cheaper than all other options.