Testimonial: A Family Trip to Japan with Points

To the point Find out how Sabrina saved $3,630 on her family trip to the Land of the Rising Sun with credit card reward points 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 Sabrina and her family’s plan for a trip to Japan, and the savings she’s made with the points.


Sabrina's testimonial - Who are you?

I’m 37 years old and have been reading Milesopedia since summer 2019.

I usually travel in backpack mode.


Témoignage de Sabrina - Votre projet de voyage avec les points : Japon

In March 2024, during spring break, I visited Japan with my partner and son. Over a period of 19 days, we visited :

  • Tokyo;
  • Kyoto;
  • Kinosaki (a village of hot springs or onsen) ;
  • Osaka and Universal Studios Japan.


For air travel, we chose Air Canada’s direct flight between Montreal and Tokyo. We paid $3,500 in cash for three round-trip tickets. I then applied 110,000 NBC Rewards points against a $1,000 statement credit.


Transportation savings

As a result, we were able to save $1,000 on our flights to Japan.


On the accommodation side, we chose a mix of Airbnb and hotels. To reduce the cost of our Airbnb, we combined CIBC Aventura Points, BMO Rewards and gift cards. These gift cards were earned by redeeming RBC Avion points on the RBC Rewards portal. It’s not the optimal use of these points, but it suited me at the time I made the swap.

We then booked our hotel in Kyoto via Expedia for the TD. That’s how we were able to use TD Rewards points. For our nights in Osaka, we combined 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points with two annual one-night free certificates.

Here are our reservations in detail:

Accomodation name Number of nights Number and type of points used Money saved
Airbnb 10 60,000 CIBC Aventura + 82,000 BMO Rewards + Airbnb gift cards $1,380
Kyoto Four Sisters Residence 4 186,000 TD Rewards $930
Courtyard Osaka Honmachi 3 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy + 2 annual certificates $320

Savings on accommodation

The savings on accommodation amount to $2,630 for 17 nights.

Testimonial - Credit cards used

For this trip, I sign up for most of the credit cards. For his part, my partner took out both American Express Marriott Bonvoy cards. In total, we subscribed to 8 different cards.

Credit card Accumulation period Points used Points redemption method
CIBC Aventura® Gold Visa* Card 1 year 60,000 CIBC Aventura Statement credit
RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card 1 year 35,000 RBC Avion Rewards Airbnb gift cards
BMO Ascend World Elite Mastercard 1 year 82,000 BMO Rewards Statement credit
National Bank World Elite Mastercard 1 year and 3 months 110,000 NBC Rewards Statement credit
TD Platinum Travel Visa* Card 1 year 186,000 TD Rewards Hotels via Expedia for TD
TD First Class Travel® Visa Infinite* Card 1 year
Marriott BonvoyMD American ExpressMD* Card (x2) 1 year Annual one-night free certificate x2 Hotel reservations
Marriott Bonvoy® Business American Express®* Card 1 year 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy Hotel reservations

The benefits

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

The HSBC World EliteMD Mastercard® is now withdrawn from the market. For another great no-conversion-fee credit card, check out the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card.

Tips to help you save more

Essentially, the biggest savings come from points earned with welcome card bonuses. I’m disciplined in my card applications and do a round every three months.

Booking my hotel via Expedia for TD on Black Friday during a promotion saved me thousands of points.

I also prepare for certain expenses by buying gift cards, which has enabled me to unlock the welcome bonuses on time, even if I don’t have enough to spend at the time.

As part of my job, I use my personal card to pay for expenses such as licenses, hotels and team meals.

Finally, I optimize the accumulation of points for my organic spending by choosing the card that offers the best accumulation for each spending category. It can be a real headache, but in the end it makes a difference!



Overall, we saved $3,630 on our nearly three-week trip to Japan!

Grand total $3,630
Type of expense Savings
Transportation $1,000
Accommodation $2,630

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

The final word

My favorite card was the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®. Now that it’s been discontinued, my new essential card is the National Bank World Elite Mastercard®. With the $150 annual credit, it’s practically free. It also gives us access to the National Bank lounge at YUL and to the best travel insurance on the market.

Thanks Milesopedia!

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