Almost all of my content is related to earning points and what you could redeem for those points, but I’ve rarely shared some practical examples. Quite often my readers share their redemption stories with me via e-mail or social media but I’ve never published them. Today, with their permission, I’m sharing some of their redemptions stories as well as a few of my own. After reading the below, I think you’ll start to understand why I’m such a fan of the best travel credit cards in Canada.
Half-price flights to attend a wedding in Vancouver
Objective: A couple from Montreal attending a wedding in Vancouver in August
Program: WestJet Rewards
Redemption: 2 round-trip tickets YUL-YVR. Direct flights in August on Westjet.
Strategy: Sign-up for the RBC WestJet World Elite MasterCard. We both got $250 WestJet dollars as a signup bonus, free checked bags when flying on WestJet and an annual round-trip WestJet companion voucher for $99 plus taxes.
Cost of paid fare: Two direct round-trip flights YUL-YVR in August cost $812 each so $1,624 for two people. Add 2 checked baggage each way and the cost goes up to $1,744 total.
Cost with RBC WestJet World Elite MasterCard:
- One paid fare: $812
- Credit card annual fees: $119
- Companion voucher and taxes: $267
- Rebate in WestJet dollars from signup bonus: -$250
- Rebate in WestJet dollars from putting $6,000 on the card: -$90
- Total paid out of pocket: $858
Savings: We paid $858 for two round-trip flights instead of $1,744 saving us $886 or 51%.
Prince Edward County in August for $20 per night
Objective: A 6 days stay for a family of 4 in Prince Edward County in August to visit Sandbanks Provincial Park, Prince Edward County Wine Region and Presqu’Ile Provincial Park.
Program: Marriott Bonvoy
Redemption: 6 nights at the TownePlace Suite Belleville hotel. This is an all-suite hotel that has an indoor pool and includes breakfast. All suites have a fully equipped kitchen area with a full-size fridge and you have access to BBQs and outdoor patio. The hotel is ranked #1 in Belleville on TripAdvisor and has excellent reviews: 4.8/5 on Marriott and 9,4/10 on hotels.com
Points needed: 12,500pts per night with 5th night free so a total of 62,500pts for 6 nights
How to earn points: At the time, the bonus on American Express Marriott Bonvoy was 60,000 points (now 50,000) after spending $1,500 on the card, so once I met the minimum spend, I had 63,000pts which was enough for that 6-night redemption. That’s means I paid just $20 CAD per night for a suite including taxes and breakfast for 4 during high season in Prince Edward County.
Cost of redemption vs. cost of paid stay: The Amex Marriott Bonvoy card has a $120 annual fee. 6 nights at that hotel in August would otherwise $1,524. That’s a $1,422 saving or a 93% rebate.
Big savings on a flight to Seattle
Objective: Claim a flight to Seattle from Toronto for a short weekend trip
Redemption: One round-trip ticket from Toronto to Seattle on Air Canada.
Strategy: Since it only takes 25,000 Aeroplan Miles to claim a round-trip ticket to anywhere in the continental U.S. and Canada, I applied for the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card which came with 25,000 Aeroplan Miles as a welcome bonus and the annual fee of $120 was waived for the first year.
Sticking points: Aeroplan doesn’t always have availability but I got lucky. I also considered using my American Express Membership Rewards points since I could claim a flight using their fixed travel program. It would have cost me 40,000 points but I still considered it good value considering the flight was over $900
Savings: The base fare of the flight was $803 so that’s what I saved, but I did have to pay $103 in taxes.
5 nights in Amsterdam for free
Objective: 5 nights in Amsterdam for a family of 3 looking to maximize their time
Program: American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, Marriott Rewards
Redemption: 5 nights at the Marriott Amsterdam Hotel. This hotel, in particular, is one of the largest in Amsterdam and would have cost more than 250 Euros per night. At the time, only Gold status was required for lounge access which was granted for free on the American Express Platinum card. Lounge access came with full breakfast, drinks, and appetizers at dinner.
Points needed: 35,000 per night with the 5th night free. That would require a total of 140,000 Marriott Rewards points. At the time SPG transferred to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio while American Express Membership Rewards transferred to SPG 2:1. That effectively made the Amex MR to Marriot Rewards 2:3.
How to earn points: The Marriott Rewards card from chase used to have promotions where you would get 50,000 Marriott Rewards points and there was no annual fee (this card had now been discontinued). There was also the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express which had a welcome bonus was 20,000 points with a minimum spend $1,500 and had an annual fee of $120 (this card has been replaced by the Marriott Bonvoy card). After factoring in your minimum spend and the transfer ratio of 1:3, you would have 64,500 Marriott Rewards points. There was also the American Express Gold Rewards card that offered 25,000 Amex MR points as the welcome bonus and came with an annual fee of $150. After factoring in the minimum spend and conversion, you would end up with 39,750 Marriot Rewards points. With those three cards, you’d have a total of 154,250 Marriot Rewards points.
Cost of redemption vs. cost of paid stay: In total, I spent $270 in annual fees, but the actual cost, if I had paid the regular room rate, would have been close to $1,880. That means I saved $1,610 at a luxury party. Note that this was the old SPG/Marriott Rewards program and everything has now been converted to Marriott Bonvoy so the exact same redemption is no longer available.