We are always happy when readers take a few minutes to share their experience with us! To complete this article, here is a 6 day itinerary and budget provided by Annie.
A family trip to Western Canada with points and miles
Caroline T. is a long-time milesopedia reader, who members of the“milesopedia – Credit Cards and Rewards” Facebook group will surely recognize!
Here is her “postcard” that she sent us:
This is my account of a June/July 2018 trip to Western Canada with my husband and our 2 children (ages 7 and 9)! I had a very clear goal in mind from the beginning and everything was booked in late October 2017 (so 8-9 months before). Note that I collected the points on my own, for 1 year, as my husband was reluctant to embark on the credit card / bonus subscription adventure. After this trip though… he changed his mind!
So Caroline took things in hand in her relationship! It is often like that (after all, Audrey lets me manage everything in our couple, and we could see in the milesopedia mini-convention that many couples have designated – automatically – a person in charge of the points and miles in the family)!
But once you’ve discovered the benefits and the substantial gains you’ve made… the other spouse joins in the fun!
Airline tickets with Aeroplan Miles
For her Western Canada itinerary, Caroline decided to arrive in Calgary and depart from Vancouver. So she booked a multi-city flight for a cost of 25,000 miles and $170 per person.
Here is an example:
The cost for Caroline, her husband and their two children is 100,000 Aeroplan miles and $680. She was able to get those Aeroplan miles with 3 cards:
- TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card: 25,000 miles upon application in early 2017
- TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Preferred Card: 50,000 miles at time of application in 2017.
- Carte Or avec primes American ExpressMD 25,000 Membership Rewards points = 25,000 Aeroplan Miles (current promotion)
Access to airport lounges with credit cards
Caroline was able to take advantage of different airport lounges during her trip to Western Canada.
Before boarding our flight to Calgary, we had breakfast in the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at Montreal-Trudeau Airport with access to my TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Preferred Card. And this one wasn’t very busy!
Note that it is also possible to access the National Bank lounge at Montreal-Trudeau Airport, whether it is for an international or domestic flight!
You can access it with the National Bank’s World Elite Mastercard® but also with cards offering Priority Pass access. The Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card offers 6 annual accesses for example!
On our return trip from Vancouver, we visited the Plaza Premium Lounge (Domestic) located near gate B15 with our TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card access. We took the opportunity to make a “product placement” 🙂
Free hotel nights with points
Of the 10 nights on our course, 8 were paid in full with points. 2 were paid out of my pocket… even though I could have used points
Here is a summary of the hotel nights paid for in large part with points and certificates obtained with credit cards:
|Hotel||Points / Certificate / Money||Nights||Program|
|Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel||Category 4
Cat 1-5 certificate – 25,000 points
|Pocaterra Inn Best Western Canmore||In silver
|2||Best Western Rewards|
|Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Vernon||Category 3
Certificate 1-4 – 17,500 points
|Fairfield Inn & Suites Kelowna||Category 4
Certificate 1-4 – 25,000 points
|Delta Okanagan Grand Resort, Kelowna||Category 5
35,000 points + $20 resort fee
|Vancouver Marriott Pinacle Downtown||Category 5
|Victoria Marriott inner Harbour||Category 5
|The Westin Resort & Spa, Whistler||Category 5
3 certificates 461$
I used 2 category 1-4 certificates obtained when closing the Marriott Visa credit card. And also a category 1-5 certificate obtained during a Marriott winter promotion (1 night free after 2 nights).
To obtain these 140,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, Caroline signed up for 3 credit cards. The Marriott card – which no longer exists (50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) – and the two Marriott Bonvoy cards (which offered a different bonus at the time):
The only hotel I spent money on was the Pocaterra Inn Best Western Canmore. With points, it would have cost me 36,000 Best Western Rewards points per night… and I didn’t have enough at the time! I could have gone to 2 Marriott hotels in Kananaskis to use points and make the trip without really “paying for anything” in a hotel, but it was too far and not very efficient for the little time we had.
At the Best Western hotel, I had Diamond Select status, but I didn’t see any difference…other than the extra points. My stay earned me 8,500 points (including Best Western Rewards MasterCard points) and a $20 promotional certificate for a future stay.
The Best Western Rewards MasterCard has a bonus that is very easy to earn with just one charge to the card. And the card is free, what more could you ask for? In addition, points can be combined into one account by simply calling Best Western Rewards.
Calculations of earnings with points and miles
Let’s make a detailed point by recalling:
- 4 plane tickets Montreal-Calgary / Vancouver-Montreal
- 8 hotel nights paid with points
|Points used||100,000 miles||140,000 points|
|Market value||3 055$||2 500$|
|Taxes and fees paid||680$||$20|
|Net valuation||3,055 – 1,079
with points and miles
Once credit card fees are subtracted and ancillary fees are paid (taxes / surcharges), I estimate that I saved close to $2,000 for the flights of the 4 of us.
As for the hotel rooms, the market value at the time of booking was $3,900 for the 8 nights.
And I finally estimate that I saved about $850 (and more?) on hotel/airport lounge meals and all the extras we got through status (gifts, free 1st checked bag, discounts, etc) during our trip.
Caroline and her family were able to take a beautiful trip to Western Canada thanks to their points and miles: for 4 people, this trip cost $1,369 when it was worth $5,555!
The points and miles will have allowed them to save …. 75 %! Bravo Caroline!
Next destination in the summer of 2019 for the family: Australia… with points and miles! 🙂