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

Feb 14, 2020

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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.
(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.

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:

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 photo courtesy of Bridget King. 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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