How to get to Montreal using points and miles

Aug 21, 2021

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Canada’s borders are officially open again to vaccinated Americans for tourism and other nonessential purposes. So, if you’ve been considering a long-overdue trip to the nation’s second-largest city, Montreal, you may want to book your tickets now before award availability dries up.

Montreal is a major travel hub with nonstop flights arriving from across North America and as far away as Asia and the Middle East. In this guide, I’ll discuss 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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In This Post

Book an award flight to Montreal

All three major U.S. airlines serve Montréal–Trudeau International Airport (YUL) from most of their hub cities. While some flights are still suspended until later this year, American usually flies from Philadelphia (PHL), Miami (MIA), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Charlotte (CLT) and New York (both JFK and LGA). And Delta flies from Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW) and New York-LGA.

United also flies from a few cities, including Chicago, Newark (EWR) and Washington, D.C. (IAD). But United mostly lets its Star Alliance partner and Canadian flag carrier Air Canada cover U.S. routes. Air Canada even flies to some of United’s hubs, including Denver (DEN), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO), and funnels connecting traffic onto United-operated flights.

Related: Fly to a reopened Canada with wide-open award space on many airlines

Air Canada 737 MAX at ORD
(Photo by Andrew Kunesh/The Points Guy)

Best Star Alliance award options

Depending on which airline(s) serve your home city, you might be able to consider several possibilities for booking travel. I’ll start with United and Air Canada, as these Star Alliance partners operate most of the flights.

Aeroplan — Air Canada’s loyalty program — offers extra-low rates for short-haul routes under 500 miles. You’ll pay between 6,000 and 10,000 points each way in economy (or between 15,000 and 25,000 points in business class) when flying from Montreal to Northeastern cities, such as:

  • Pittsburgh (PIT)
  • Boston Logan (BOS)
  • Newark Liberty (EWR)
  • New York-LGA
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Washington Dulles (IAD)
  • Washington National (DCA)
  • Baltimore (BWI)

Meanwhile, flights from 501 to 1,500 miles long cost 10,000 to 15,000 points each way in economy or 20,000 to 35,000 points in business class, which is fairly consistent with what most other airlines charge. However, longer flights are a bit pricier. Flights 1,501 to 2,750 miles long cost 12,500 to 17,500 points in economy or 25,000 to 60,000 points in business class.

Related: The best ways to maximize Air Canada’s Aeroplan program

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 as it caps economy flights at 13,000 miles. Unfortunately, booking through United isn’t as attractive anymore now that the carrier shifted to dynamic pricing for partner awards.

LifeMiles Air Canada award
(Screenshot courtesy of lifemiles.com)

Best American Airlines award options

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, saver awards will cost you 12,500 miles. That said, you might be able to save some miles by booking a Web Special award.

AA web special YUL
(Screenshot courtesy of aa.com)

If your flight is over 500 miles but under 2,000 miles in distance, you might 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 cost 11,000 Avios. Avios are incredibly easy to earn thanks to frequent transfer bonuses from Chase, Amex and Capital One, potentially making this an even better deal.

Best Delta Air Lines award options

Delta has been using dynamic award pricing for its own flights for years now, leading to huge variations in the cost of awards from one day to the next. As you can see in the screenshot below, one-way economy awards range from a low as 12,500 miles to as high as 39,000 miles for flights from Atlanta to Montreal next spring. You should also keep an eye out for Delta’s frequent award sales, which might help you drop the cost even further.

(Screenshot courtesy of delta.com)

Booking flights through a travel portal

Flight prices into Montreal are usually pretty reasonable if you’re booking far enough in advance, with most routes staying consistently under $200. So, 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 award miles and elite qualifying miles from flights booked this way. For example, since I have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, I get a 50% bonus when using my Ultimate Rewards points to pay for airfare through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. As such, I can book this $82 ticket for only 5,468 Ultimate Rewards points.

(Screenshot courtesy of chase.com)

Related: When should I transfer points to airline and hotel partners?

Travel by train to Montreal

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 taking the train.

In 2022, Amtrak will resume its daily Adirondack train service between Moynihan Train Hall in New York City and Montreal. This 11-hour journey takes you through Albany, Saratoga Springs and Westport. And with tickets well under $100, this is an incredibly budget-friendly way to get to Montreal if you have the time.

Amtrak NYC Montreal
(Screenshot courtesy of amtrak.com)

Alternatively, if you have a stash of Amtrak Guest Rewards points, 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 currently offers a limited-time bonus of 50,000 points when you spend $2,500 on purchases within 90 days of your account opening. For reference, that’s more than 20 one-way trips from New York to Montreal.

The information for the Amtrak Guest Rewards card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: When you should book a train ticket instead of flying or driving

Redeem points to stay in Montreal

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 several great points hotels.

For example, you can redeem 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to book standard award nights at the W Montreal. It’s conveniently located in downtown Montreal and the decor is as eclectic as you’d expect from a W. This could also be an excellent opportunity to redeem an up to 50,000-point free night award, which is an annual perk of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Or, if you want more classic luxury, you could splurge on the nearby Ritz-Carlton Montreal. Since it opened in 1912, the elegant property has been a fixture of the city’s culinary and social scenes. As a Category 7 Marriott Bonvoy property, standard award nights here cost 60,000 points.

Related: Our favorite points hotels in Canada

Additionally, at 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points a night under standard award pricing, the Category 5 Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain is in a desirable location and is a solid use of up to 35,000-point free night awards. Located near McGill University and the Bell Centre, the Marriott is an excellent choice for business and leisure travelers.

Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain
(Screenshot courtesy of marriott.com)

Just down the street from the Marriott, you’ll find the InterContinental Montreal. I found award nights at this hotel for as little as 29,000 IHG points per night. This property offers direct access to the convention center and stunning views overlooking Old Montreal and the port.

InterContinental Montreal
(Screenshot courtesy of ihg.com)

Hilton offers members 15 different properties in and around the city at which to spend their points. I found award nights ranged from 28,000 points on the low end to 60,000 points for the Vogue Hotel Montreal Downtown.

Hilton Montreal
(Screenshot courtesy of hilton.com)

World of Hyatt doesn’t operate any properties in Montreal yet, but will soon open a Hyatt Centric and a Hyatt Place.

Related: 12 things no one tells you about Montreal

Bottom line

Your trip to Montreal can take many 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 hotels you can book with points, and Montreal ends up being an incredibly friendly city for award travelers.

Additional reporting by Ethan Steinberg.

Featured photo by Scott Shymko/Getty Images.

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