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TPG Reader Hall of Fame: An $8,500 Costa Rican vacation for 155,000 Marriott points

Feb. 14, 2020
5 min read
TPG Reader Hall of Fame: An $8,500 Costa Rican vacation for 155,000 Marriott points
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Today's Reader Hall of Fame story comes to you courtesy of Bridget, a Canadian reader whose card-savvy earnings netted her and her family a five-night stay in Costa Rica at one of the country's top resorts.

Let's take a look at how she did it.

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(Photo courtesy of Bridget King.)

As Canadian readers, Bridget and her family don’t have access to the same cards U.S. residents do. While this unfortunately means that some of the best travel rewards cards are out of their reach (like the Chase Sapphire Reserve), they are still able to apply for the Canadian versions of some cards, including certain American Express cards.

While the bonuses are typically lower and the perks are different on Canadian cards, there are American Express Membership Rewards cards and other cobranded cards in Canada that have similar U.S counterparts. Bridget used a Canadian Marriott Bonvoy card similar to the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, which for a limited time comes with 100,000 Marriott points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.

The welcome bonus, combined with work travel and everyday spending, allowed Bridget to earn the 155,000 Marriott points necessary for her five nights at the Hotel Punta Islita, Autograph Collection. One of the best perks of the Marriott Bonvoy program is the fifth night free on award stays, so Bridget was able to save points on this vacation.

Related: Maximizing redemptions with Marriott Bonvoy

Room rates at this hotel can run up to $1,500 per night plus taxes and fees, which means they netted a 5.5 cent per point redemption value. Considering TPG values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.8 cents each, this is phenomenal.

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In fact, you could pay as little as 27,500 points per night at this property during off-peak dates combined with a Marriott PointSavers rate. A five-night stay (with the fifth night free) in that case would cost just 110,000 Marriott points — a tremendous value.

Related: Analyzing Marriott's peak and off-peak pricing

What are the takeaways Bridget has to offer after her five fabulous nights? A few things:

  • The hotel is definitely a remote but hidden secret in Costa Rica! The locals are amazing and the service is unreal
  • We researched all the Caribbean and south Marriott properties for best points redemption but landed on this one because all the activities are included! This includes horseback riding, zip lining, monkey hiking, bird watching hiking, yoga class, arepa and coffee cooking class, arts and crafts class, ceviche cooking class and mixology class. I did ALL the classes and they were all excellent especially for the fact that they were included!
  • We were upgraded from a standard room to a Junior Suite which was essentially a private villa with private whirlpool and the most amazing view! Each room is basically it's own villa on the property, so private and secluded.
Photo courtesy of Bridget King.
(Photo courtesy of Bridget King.)

If you're looking to take a similar trip, it's a good time to consider earning Marriott points. See welcome offers for cobranded cards below:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 100,000 Marriott points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card: Earn 50,000 Marriott points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Earn 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account opening. Terms apply.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card: Earn 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Earn up to $150 in statement credits within your first 6 months of Card Membership for all eligible purchases on your Card on U.S. Advertising in select Media. Plus receive complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status for one year (February 1, 2021-January 31, 2022). Offer ends 1/13/21.Terms apply.

You can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards points (from cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express) and Chase Ultimate Rewards points (from cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card) to Marriott, though you'll typically get a better value moving your points to other partners.

Related: Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card is right for you?

Now that's a vacation! Thanks for sharing your story, Bridget.

Featured image by Photo courtesy of Bridget King.
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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