Testimonial: A student exchange in Asia with points

To the point Discover Philippe's strategy that allowed him to fly business class and save $13,800 on his four-month trip to Asia.

Through a series of testimonials from our readers, Milesopedia presents what you can achieve with credit cards and loyalty programs.

Here’s Philippe’s four-month trip to Asia as an exchange student in Hong Kong.


Philippe's Testimonial - Who are you?

I’m 24 and have been reading Milesopedia since 2018. I usually travel in backpack mode.

I’m also an entrepreneur and a full-time student. I’m always on the lookout for unforgettable experiences. As part of my bachelor’s degree in software engineering, I had the opportunity to study abroad.


Philippe's Testimonial - Your travel project with points: 4 months in Asia

After a process lasting several months, I was selected to spend four months in the magnificent city of Hong Kong!

On my way there, I spent two weeks in Zurich, with a three-day getaway in Lake Como, Italy. I did this first part of the trip with my girlfriend.


Then, from Hong Kong, I went solo to:

I also studied at times… 😉


To book my plane tickets, I used the Aeroplan program.

I took advantage of the Aeroplan stop to make a trip within a trip. For an additional 5,000 points, the program allows you to add a stopover in a city for up to 45 days. This allowed me to stop for two weeks in Zurich, before completing my journey to Hong Kong.

Here are my booking details:

Flight Carrier and cabin Number and type of points used Money saved
Montreal-Zurich (Aeroplan stop) Swiss business class 92,500 Aeroplan $5,000
Zurich-Frankfurt Lufthansa business class
Frankfurt-Hanoi Bamboo Airways business class
Hanoi-Hong Kong Cathay Pacific business class
Hong Kong-Saigon Cathay Pacific business class 87,500 Aeroplan $6,200
Saigon-Bangkok Thai Airways business class
Bangkok-Copenhagen Thai Airways business class
Copenhagen-Paris Lufthansa business class
Paris-Montreal Air Canada business class



Transportation savings

For a round trip from Montreal to Hong Kong in business class, I used a total of 180,000 Aeroplan points. In cash, I would have paid over $11,200 for those same tickets!

Over there, I paid for my flights in cash. As these flights are less than three hours long, I don’t mind flying economy or low-cost airlines. My personal strategy is to save my Aeroplan points for longer flights.



As far as accommodation is concerned, my experience was rather special. I went from youth hostels, where I shared dormitories with up to 16 people and where the atmosphere was festive, to chic five-star hotels the next day!

In Hong Kong, I stayed in residence in a room that was as small as my closet, but incredibly pleasant. It was also a gratifying experience to allow friends who had never had this opportunity to discover the luxury of five-star hotels.

Accomodation name Number of nights Number and type of points used Money saved
W Taipei 1 Free night certificate Marriott Bonvoy (US) $550
Hilton Manila 1 30,000 Hilton Honors $250
Hilton Beijing 4 100,000 Hilton Honors $650
The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai – Pudong 1 Marriott Bonvoy (US) free night certificate + 4,000 points 520 $
Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund 1 Hilton Honors free night certificate (US) $630

Thanks to my Marriott Bonvoy Gold and Hilton Honors Diamond status, I got numerous upgrades to suites and rooms with city views.


Savings on accommodation

With :

  • 130,000 Hilton Honors points ;
  • Two Hilton free night certificates;
  • 4,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and ;
  • One Marriott free night certificate;

I was able to stay in five-star hotels for eight nights, free of charge! My savings amount to $2,600 on accomodation.

The free night certificate, a benefit received with an American Marriott Bonvoy card, is different from the one in Canada. With the American card, you can book a room worth 50,000 points.

Testimonial - Credit cards used

I’ve been collecting points since I was 18. I constantly read Milesopedia and revise my strategies frequently.

For this travel project, I was the only one collecting points. In total, I used rewards from four different credit cards. In fact, my strategy focused mainly on US credit cards.

I prefer these cards for the time being, as they are very lucrative and allow me to keep my Canadian credit rating in good health, which is essential for my real estate investments.

Credit card Accumulation period Points used Points redemption method
Business Platinum Card® from American Express 2 years 92,500 Membership Rewards points Transfer to Aeroplan
Chase Aeroplan® World Elite Mastercard® 1 year 87,500 Aeroplan Flight booking
Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful card 1 year 2 free night certificates Hotel booking
American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card 1 year 135,000 Hilton Honors + one-night free certificate Hotel booking

The benefits

Thanks to my credit cards, I enjoyed additional travel benefits, including:

Tips to help you save more

During my trip, I used Hostelworld and Google Flights to find the best prices on hostels and flights.



In the end, I saved $13,800 on flights and accommodation during my student exchange in Hong Kong. Here is a breakdown of the savings in each category:

Grand total $13,800
Type of expense Savings
Transportation $11,200
Accommodation $2,600

The final word

If I had to choose just one card to keep in my wallet, it would be the American Express Hilton Honors Aspire Card. It offers many advantages, and in the end I receive more credits than it costs me in annual fees.


Initially, I started collecting points to save money. My goal was to travel more, for less, and this motivation persists to this day.

Initially, I considered traveling in business class and staying in luxury hotels an unnecessary use of my points… until I experienced it. These are experiences I would never have been able or willing to afford with money. They open the doors to a special world with incredible memories.

Let’s face it, being an effective points collector takes organization and time. For me, it’s a real passion and I love reading about it. To reward myself for all these efforts, I decided to use my points to live these extraordinary experiences, a decision I greatly appreciate.

Of course, my friends and family have varying reactions: some are impressed, others don’t understand, or even think I’m doing fraud! However, when they see photos of my adventures, they are always amazed. That’s why I always refer them to the best: milesopedia.com.

Thank you Milesopedia!

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