Testimonial: A wedding in Costa Rica with points

To the point Discover Isabelle's Reward Points strategy that saved her $10,156 on her small wedding in Costa Rica.

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

Here’s Isabelle’s trip to Costa Rica with her husband and three children. During these three weeks, they even celebrated a small family wedding.


Isabelle's testimonial - Who are you?

I’m 45 and have been a Milesopedia reader for two years.

Before becoming a parent, I backpacked for several months at a time. I’ve been all over South America, Europe and South-East Asia.

Since becoming a mom, I’ve mostly been on camping trips in Quebec, Eastern Canada and the United States. I’ve also stayed in all-inclusives, in addition to a few trips to France, Mexico and Tunisia for work.

Since I’ve been reading Milesopedia, I’ve started travelling frequently again, and I can’t get enough of it! I prefer a combination of these types of trips:

  • Frequent getaways nearby, like a weekend in Quebec City.
  • Getaways alone with a child. I took my son to New York for his 18th birthday and my daughter to Philadelphia for her birthday.
  • Couples getaways, to Mexico for example.
  • Larger family trips, including this three-week trip to Costa Rica, the first of many.

As a family of five, we prefer economy-class flights. Our aim is to travel more often.

Témoignage d’Isabelle - Votre projet de voyage avec les points : Un élopement au Costa Rica

We went to Costa Rica for three weeks during the 2023 holiday season. We traveled as a family: my husband, our children aged 7, 14 and 19, and myself.

The heart of our trip was a small, simple family wedding (also known as an elopement). We wanted to visit a few regions of Costa Rica, but without spreading ourselves too thin or getting exhausted.

As far as accommodation was concerned, we wanted to experience several different types: tree house, mini-home, etc. We were looking for accommodations with kitchenettes to keep within our budget, as the cost of living is quite high in Costa Rica. In the end, we decided to rent a car for the flexibility it brings.

Isa Remy
Photo Emilio Vargas

Our three-week itinerary began and ended in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. In total, we visited three regions and visited the following places:

  • Central Pacific coast: Manuel Antonio National Park, Nauyaca Falls, Quepos and Uvita
  • North of the country: Monteverde, La Fortuna, San Carlos, Curi-Cancha, Selvatura Adventure Park and Sloth’s Territory
  • Guanacaste and Nicoya Peninsula: Rincón de la Vieja National Park, Playa Grande, Montezuma and Santa Teresa


Flights for five people were booked with Aeroplan points.

Flight Carrier and cabin Number of points used Money saved

Inbound: Quebec City-Toronto-San Jose

Outbound : San Jose-Montreal

Air Canada economy class 100,000 Aeroplan points + $1,590 $5,900

For the car, we dealt with a local rental agency. We paid $2,892 for a three-week rental. With our Platinum CardMD from American Express, rental car collision damage waiver (CDW) is included. We didn’t need to take the company’s protection, so we saved $294 on this aspect.

Transportation savings

With 100,000 Aeroplan points, we saved $5,900 on our five round-trip tickets to Costa Rica. As we traveled during the high season (holiday season), the cash price of flights was very high. Points allowed us to fly for way cheaper!

In total, we saved $6,194 on transportation during our trip.


For accommodation, we used a combination of Marriott Bonvoy, Scene+, TD Rewards, NBC Rewards and HSBC Rewards points for our bookings:

Accomodation name Number of nights Number and type of points used Money saved
Four Points by Sheraton Lévis 1 15,500 Marriott Bonvoy $148
Courtyard San Jose Airport Alajuela 1 17,500 Marriott Bonvoy $224
Mini house in Quepos (Airbnb) 3 41,600 Scene+ $416
Tree house in Uvita (Airbnb) 2 24,600 Scene+ $246
Apartment in Alajuela (Airbnb) 1 4 400 Scene+ $44
Dreams Lodge Monteverde (Booking.com) 3
Birds and Breakfast San Carlos 3 84,800 TD Rewards + $100 annual travel credit from the TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card. $524
Santa Maria Volcano Lodge Guayabo 2 30,400 TD Rewards $152
Apartment in Playa Grande (Airbnb) 2 55,000 NBC Rewards $500
Tree house in Montezuma (Airbnb) 2 36,000 NBC Rewards $300
Zula Inn Apparthotels Santa Teresa 1 45,000 HSBC Rewards $225
Courtyard San Jose Airport Alajuela 2 x 2 bedrooms 57,500 Marriott + $200 annual travel credit on the Platinum CardMD from American Express $868
Sheraton Saint-Hyacinthe 1 x 2 bedrooms 31,000 Marriott Bonvoy $484

Savings on accommodation

Phew! That’s a lot of different reservations. By taking full advantage of the variety of points in our wallet, we saved a whopping $4,131 on accommodation during our family trip to Costa Rica. In the end, we spent only $720 out of pocket for three weeks.

We were also able to try out different types of accommodation, including hotels, apartments, mini-homes and tree houses.

Activities and other

With Airbnb Experiences, we booked a guided tour. We then applied 25,000 HSBC Rewards points for a $125 statement credit.

Isabelle's testimonial - The credit cards used

All these points were accumulated by applying for credit cards and being strategic with our spending.

My husband helped collect Aeroplan points by unlocking a welcome bonus with an American ExpressMD* AeroplanMD Card. He also got the Marriott BonvoyMD American ExpressMD* Card welcome bonus.

Otherwise, for the most part, I’m the only one applying since he’s a student and doesn’t qualify for most cards.

Credit card Accumulation period Number of points used Points redemption method
American Express Cobalt® Card 5 months 30,000 Membership Rewards points Transfer to Marriott Bonvoy
TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card 4 months 115,200 TD Rewards Booking accommodation on Expedia for TD
American Express® Aeroplan®* Card 6 months 50,000 Aeroplan Flight booking
TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card 1 year 50,000 Aeroplan
Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card 4 months 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy Hotel reservations
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® 6 months 45,000 HSBC Rewards Statement credit
National Bank World Elite Mastercard 1 year 91,000 NBC Rewards Statement credit
Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card 9 months 70,500 Scene+ Travel Credit

Under the new Aeroplan rules, you cannot hold more than one credit card from the same product line at a time. It is recommended to wait 18 months between the opening of different Aeroplan cards. Moreover, receiving repeated welcome bonuses goes against the program’s terms and conditions. Find out all the details and our advice in this article.

The HSBC World EliteMD Mastercard® is now discontinued. For another no-FX-fee travel card with flexible points, take a look at the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card.

The benefits

With our credit cards, we enjoy additional benefits such as :

Tips for collecting more points

To accumulate all these points for my trip and to save as much as possible, I adopted various strategies:

  • First, I booked the cheapest flights on points I could find from Montreal, even if they involved very long and inconvenient stopovers. I only had 100,000 Aeroplan points available for five people during the holiday season. Flight schedule changes allowed me to change my reservation with flights that suited me better, even changing the departure point to Quebec City instead of Montreal, at no charge.
  • I took advantage of a 25% transfer bonus for American Express Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy, a bonus that usually comes back on an annual basis.
  • For parking in Montreal, I found a 14-day parking package with an overnight stay at the Courtyard Montreal Airport that was cheaper than paying for parking at YUL.
  • To withdraw local currency, I used my Wise account, which minimizes transaction fees when withdrawing from ATMs.
  • Since our return flight was delayed by more than three hours, I also filed a claim with Air Canada. This enabled me to recover $2,000 ($400 per person).


Combining all expenses, we achieved significant savings of $10,156! Here are the details of the amounts saved by category during our three-week wedding and family trip to Costa Rica:

Grand total $10,156
Type of expense Savings
Transportation $5,900
Accommodation $4,131
Activities $125

Our points portfolio is varied, and we used seven different loyalty programs for this wonderful trip. Here is a summary of the points used:

The final word

The best card in my wallet is the American Express CobaltMD Card for its excellent accumulation rate. I use a variety of tactics to maximize my points, including the purchase of gift cards.

Thanks Milesopedia!

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