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
- 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.
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
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 BonvoyMD American ExpressMD* 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|
Thanks to our credit cards, we’ve enjoyed additional travel benefits, including:
- A $100 travel credit for seat selection and no conversion fees for U.S. dollar transactions with the HSBC World EliteMD Mastercard®.
- 2 $50 Nexus membership fee credits each with our American ExpressMD Gold Rewards 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:
|Type of expense||Savings|
|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 CobaltMD Card.
Thank you Milesopedia!
Read on for more testimonials from members of the Milesopedia community: