Through a series of testimonials from our readers, Milesopedia presents what you can achieve with credit cards and loyalty programs.
Here’s Marie-Josée and her family’s trip to Japan, South Korea and Thailand, and the savings she’s made with her reward points.
Marie-Josée's Testimonial - Who are you?
I’m 43 and I’ve been reading Milesopedia for about a year.
I love all kinds of travel! Every year, I stay in an all-inclusive and take at least two other trips (e.g. roadtrip to Iceland, ski trip in Western Canada, backpacking trip to Asia, semi-organized trip to New York).
However, I take far fewer luxury trips, as I prefer to do more.
Marie-Josée's Testimonial - Your travel project with the points : Asia
Our big trip to Asia will be a family affair with my partner and my 16-year-old son. In autumn 2023, we’ll be away for a total of 10 weeks, visiting Japan, South Korea and Thailand.
Here is our planned itinerary:
- Japan:Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Hiroshima, Fukuoka
- South Korea : Haeinsa, Jeonju, Gyeongju, Andong, Seoul
- Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Koh Lanta, Phuket, Koh Samui
To put together this itinerary and to guide me through my accumulation of points, I used Milesopedia’s mentoring service.
I booked 8 different flights for 3 people. The following table summarizes my reservations:
|Flight||Number and type of points used||Money saved|
|Montreal – Tokyo with Air Canada in Economy class||128,000 Aeroplan||$5,495|
|Fukuoka – Busan||23,265 CIBC Aventura||290$|
|Seoul – Bangkok||115,000 HSBC Rewards||575$|
|Bangkok – Chiang Rai||13,176 CIBC Aventura||165$|
|Chiang Mai – Krabi||100$ HSBC Annual Credit||100$|
|Phuket – Koh Samui||31 340 Scène+||175$|
|Koh Samui – Bangkok||25,000 HSBC Rewards||125$|
|Bangkok – Montreal with Air Canada in Economy class||146,400 Aeroplan||$2,530|
All in all,
- 274,400 Aeroplan points
- 140,000 HSBC Rewards points
- 36,441 CIBC Aventura points
- 31,340 Scene+ points
helped me save $9,455 on transportation for my family trip to Asia.
Accommodation, activities and more
Accommodation, meals and activities will be paid for in cash.
Testimonial - Credit cards used
For this project, I was the only one to sign up for credit cards. My partner doesn’t have the same discipline as me… but he’s trying his best!
|Credit card||Accumulation period||Number of points used||Points redemption method|
|American Express Cobalt® Card||1 year||46,200 Membership Rewards points||Transfer to Aeroplan|
|American Express®* Aeroplan® Reserve Card||6 months||150,000 Membership Rewards points|
|American Express® Gold Rewards Card||3 months||70,000 Membership Rewards points|
|TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card||1 year||50,000 Aeroplan points||Flight booking|
|HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®||6 months||140,000 HSBC Rewards points||Statement credit|
|CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite* Card||4 months||36,441 CIBC Aventura points||Statement credit|
|Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card||3 months||31,340 Scene+ points||Bookings on Expedia for Scene+|
With our credit cards, we have several additional travel benefits such as:
- Reimbursement of Nexus membership fees for 2 people with the American Express®* Aeroplan® Reserve Card ( US$100 value).
- 3 accesses to the Odyssée Desjardins lounge at the Montreal airport with the Desjardins Odyssée Visa Infinite Privilege Card
- Access to airport lounges before every flight with the Platinum Card® (an impressive total of 24 accesses!)
- A $100 travel credit and no conversion fees for foreign currency transactions with the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®
We can check baggage for free with Air Canada using our TDMD AeroplanMD Visa Infinite* Card. However, as we have chosen to travel with carry-on only, we won’t be using this option.
In addition, we are entitled to a 25% discount on meals purchased on board and free access to the new Wi-Fi service.
Tips to help you save more
My biggest piece of advice is planning.
I pay all my expenses with my credit cards and always pay the full balance each month. I plan signing up for new cards according to my actual future expenses.
To maximize point accumulation, I always buy gift cards at the grocery store with my American Express Cobalt® Card for stores such as Amazon, SAQ, Decathlon, SAIL, Canadian Tire, etc.
I always try to pay with the most cost-effective credit card for the type of expense I’m making. I choose the credit card with the best accumulation rate for an expense category like restaurants and groceries.
To save more on my plane tickets, I shop more than a year in advance so that I know the market prices and when to buy. Even once my accommodations and car rentals are booked, I keep an eye on the prices and don’t hesitate to cancel and book again if the new price is lower.
Finally, my last piece of advice is to travel light, even if you’re going to an all-inclusive resort!
All in all, my savings for my trip to Japan, South Korea and Thailand for 3 people came to $9,455. In order to reach the amount of spending required to unlock the welcome bonuses, I estimate that I have put nearly $31,500 on my credit cards. The points accumulation phase lasted around 2 years. With all my efforts, I got a 30% return on my expenses!
The final word
I have a whole range of cards in my wallet for the many advantages they bring me… but if I had to keep just one, it would be the American Express Cobalt® Card.
Read on for more testimonials from members of the Milesopedia community: