How to get to Montreal using points and miles
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As the second-largest city in Canada, Montreal is a major travel hub with nonstop flights arriving from all across North America and as far away as Asia and the Middle East. Whether you’re making a short hop over the border from an East Coast city like New York or Boston, or traveling a bit farther, today we’re going to take a look at your best options for getting to Montreal on points and miles, as well as a few of the best points hotels in the city.
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Book an award flight to Montreal
All three of the major U.S. airlines serve Montréal–Trudeau International Airport (YUL) from most of their hub cities. American flies from Philadelphia (PHL), Miami (MIA), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Charlotte (CLT) and New York (both JFK and LGA). Delta flies from Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW), LaGuardia and JFK. United flies from a few cities including Chicago, Newark (EWR) and Washington, D.C. (IAD), but lets its Star Alliance partner and Canadian flag carrier Air Canada do most of the flying within the U.S. Air Canada even flies to some of United’s hubs including Denver (DEN) and Houston (IAH), allowing United to feed them connecting traffic.
Best award options
Depending on which airline(s) serve your home city, you might be able to consider a number of different possibilities for booking travel. Let’s start with United and Air Canada, as these Star Alliance partners comprise a bulk of the flights.
Aeroplan — Air Canada’s independent loyalty program — offers discounts on short-haul awards for select routes. These start at 7,500 miles each way in economy from Montreal to many locations in the U.S., including:
- Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
- Pittsburgh (PIT)
- Boston Logan (BOS)
- Newark Liberty (EWR)
- New York-LGA
- Philadelphia (PHL)
- Washington Dulles (IAD)
- Washington National (DCA)
- Baltimore (BWI)
- Raleigh-Durham (RDU)
Any longer flights to the U.S. cost 12,500 miles each way in economy, which is consistent with what most other airlines charge. For these longer flights, especially if you’re flying from Canada to the U.S. (as opposed to the other way around), you might want to book through Avianca LifeMiles instead to save $50 or more in taxes and enjoy the same 12,500-mile award rates. If you’re flying on United, you may even be able to use the carrier’s shift to dynamic pricing to your advantage. If you’re OK with a one-stop routing, you can save 2,500 miles on this flight from Washington, D.C. to Montreal for 10,000 miles, plus $58.55 in taxes and fees.
When it comes to American Airlines, the biggest question is whether your flight is under 500 miles, like a trip from Philadelphia to Montreal. If it is, you can enjoy awards starting at just 7,500 miles each way in economy. Otherwise it will cost you 12,500.
If your flight is over 500 miles but under 2,000 miles in distance, you’d come out ahead booking through British Airways instead. Flights up to 1,151 miles in distance cost 9,000 Avios, while flights between 1,152 and 2,000 miles only cost 11,000 Avios. Avios are incredibly easy to earn thanks to frequent transfer bonuses from Chase and Amex, potentially making this an even better deal.
Delta has been using dynamic award pricing for its own flights for the last few years, leading to huge variation in the cost of awards from one day to the next. For these flights from Atlanta to Montreal, you can see that one-way economy awards range from 12,500 miles on the low end as high as 39,000 miles. You should also keep an eye out for Delta’s frequent award sales, which might help you drop the cost even further.
Flight prices into Montreal are usually pretty reasonable if you’re booking far enough in advance, with most routes staying consistently under $200. If this is the case, you might come out ahead paying with Chase Ultimate Rewards points or American Express Membership Rewards points for your ticket instead of transferring to a partner program to book. Not only can you end up with a lower point cost, but you’ll even earn miles and elite qualifying miles from flights booked this way. Since I have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, I get a 50% bonus when using my Ultimate Rewards points to pay for flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, meaning I can book this $82 ticket for only 5,468 points.
Take the train
If none of the above flight options work for you or you’re looking for a more scenic (albeit much slower) mode of travel, it might be worth considering taking the train.
Amtrak’s Adirondack train runs daily between Penn Station in New York City and Montreal, an 11-hour journey that takes you through Albany, Saratoga Springs and Westport. With tickets well under $100, this is an incredibly budget-friendly way to get to Montreal if you have the time.
And if you have a stash of Amtrak points in your Guest Rewards account, a one-way ticket on the Adirondack will set you back 2,415 points or more, depending on availability. You can easily earn those points by applying for the Amtrak Guest Rewards® World Mastercard®, which earns 3x points on Amtrak travel, 2x on all other travel and 1x on everything else, as well as 20,000 points when you spend $1,000 on purchases within 90 days of your account opening. (For reference, that’s more than eight one-way trips from New York to Montreal.)
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Stay at points hotels
Free flights (or train tickets) are a great start, but if you’re trying to spend as little money as possible on your trip you’ll need lodging, too. Thankfully, Montreal is home to a number of great points hotels from most of the major chains.
At 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points a night under standard award pricing, the Category 5 Westin Montreal is in a desirable location and is a solid use of Marriott free night certificates. Located near McGill University and the Bell Centre, the Westin is a great choice for both business and leisure travelers.
Right across the street from the Westin you’ll find the InterContinental Montreal, a solid deal starting at 50,000 IHG points per night. This property offers direct access to the convention center and stunning views overlooking old Montreal and the port.
Hilton offers members 10 different properties in and around the city at which to spend their points. They range from 28,000 points on the low end to 55,000 points for the Embassy Suites in the same part of town near the convention center.
Your trip to Montreal can take a lot of different forms depending on where in the U.S. your trip originates, but with service to dozens of cities from all three major U.S. airlines and Air Canada, you have plenty of options to consider. Add in the possibility of a scenic train trip and some great points awards properties, and Montreal ends up being an incredibly friendly city for award travelers.
Featured photo by buzbuzzer/Getty Images.
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