Testimonial: Visiting California as a family with points

To the point Find out how Pierre-Luc saved $10,815 on his trip to California with credit card rewards and loyalty programs.

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

Here’s Pierre-Luc and his family’s plan for a trip to California, and the savings he’s made with points.


Pierre-Luc's Testimonial - Who are you?

I’m in my late thirties and have been reading Milesopedia since 2020.

I prefer comfortable trips, with a more relaxed pace and where I can relax.

Pierre-Luc's Testimonial - Your travel project with points : California

In the summer of 2023, I traveled to California with my wife and our two children, aged 10 and 12.

Over a period of 13 days, we visited :



By taking advantage of HSBC Rewards points and two Air Canada Buddy Passes, we reduced our spending on airfare and car rental in California. In short, we used :

  • 2 Air Canada North America Buddy Passes for two flights to California in economy class (a savings of $1350)
  • 125,000 HSBC Rewards points on car rental ($625 value)

The car was rented through Costco Travel with the rental company Budget.

Transportation savings

Overall, thanks to our strategies, we saved $1,975 on transportation costs for our family of four.



Our biggest savings came in the area of accommodation. We made our hotel reservations with a combination of 2 Marriott Bonvoy annual one-night free certificates and 302,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Here are our booking details:

Accomodation name Number of nights Number and type of points used Money saved
Residence Inn Los Angeles L.A. LIVE 5 168,000 Marriott Bonvoy points $3,275
AC Hotel San Diego Downtown Gaslamp Quarter 5 134,000 Marriott Bonvoy points $2,800
SpringHill Suites San Diego Carlsbad 1 1 Marriott Bonvoy annual certificate $480
SpringHill Suites Anaheim Maingate 1 1 Marriott Bonvoy annual certificate $450

Savings on accommodation

The savings on accommodation amounted to an impressive $7,005 for 12 nights!


Activities and other

With AIR MILES and TD Reward points, we were able to save on various admissions and tours. We exchanged :

  • 15,200 AIR MILES for 4 Express tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood
  • 133,750 TD Rewards points for a $535 account credit

Savings on activities

All in all, we saved $1,835 on the cost of activities during our trip to California.


Testimonial - Credit cards used

For this trip, I teamed up with my partner to accumulate points. Accumulation with credit cards took place over a period of around 2 years. In total, we subscribed to 9 different cards.

As for AIR MILES, we’ve collected miles over the years and our bank was a little older.

Credit card Accumulation period Points used Points redemption method
Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card (x 2) 2 years Marriott Bonvoy points Hotel reservations
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card 9 months 1 Buddy Pass Flight booking
CIBC Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card 3 months 1 Buddy Pass
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® 10 months 125,000 HSBC Rewards points Statement credit
American Express Cobalt® Card 2 years Membership Rewards Transfer to Marriott Bonvoy
American ExpressMD Gold Rewards Card (x 2) 3 months
TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card 15 months 133,750 TD Rewards points Statement credit

The benefits

Thanks to our credit cards, we’ve enjoyed additional travel benefits, including:

We were also entitled to checked baggage with Air Canada, 25% off in-flight meals and the new free Wi-Fi service with our TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card.

The HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® is now discontinued. For an alternative card with no conversion fees and easy-to-use points, consider the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card.

Tips to help you save more

In the fall of 2022, we took advantage of the bonus transfer of American Express Membership Rewards points to the Marriott Bonvoy program. As a result, we received 25% more Marriott Bonvoy points by transfering our points. It’s a promotion that comes up regularly, usually every year.

In addition, we maximized our Marriott Bonvoy points by booking five consecutive nights at two different hotels. This tip allowed us to get a fifth night free during our stay at the Residence Inn Los Angeles L.A. LIVE and AC Hotel San Diego Downtown Gaslamp Quarter.



Overall, we saved an incredible $10,815 on our nearly two-week trip to California ! Here’s a breakdown of how much we saved in each category:

Grand total $10,815
Type of expense Savings
Transportation $1,975
Accommodation $7,005
Activities and other $1,835

The key to cost-effective travel lies in diversifying reward programs. In all, we called on five separate programs:


The final word

If I had to choose just one card to keep in my wallet, it would undoubtedly be the American Express Cobalt® Card.

Thank you Milesopedia!

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