A dream trip to the Stanley Cup made possible using points and miles

Nov 11, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Article banner for Travel Week at the 2021 TPG Awards

Over the last several months, many travelers took to the roads and the skies across the U.S. — some for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. While travel wasn’t fully back to normal (just ask those who faced issues created by the summer surge in demand), it did offer hope for the future as travel restrictions continue to be relaxed around the world.

And many TPG readers took full advantage of this reopening to take some epic trips — with an assist from travel providers.

Today, as part of Travel Week at the 2021 TPG Awards, we’re thrilled to share our second reader story of the awards (you can check out last week’s article right here). Read on to learn how one couple utilized their accumulated points and miles to book (and take) a dream trip to see their favorite team play in the Stanley Cup Finals — after COVID-19 put the breaks on another plan.

Editor’s note: Submission has been edited slightly for clarity.

In This Post

Honeymoon to Europe foiled

TPG reader Michael Brill and his Canadian wife were set to embark on an April 2020 trip to Europe — their first in international business class — once his wife received her green card. Unfortunately, the arrival of the pandemic put a halt to these plans.

For starters, COVID-19 delayed the immigration process, so Michael and his wife were forced to postpone any travel plans. But more importantly, the border closure between the U.S. and Canada meant that, until his wife’s green card was issued, they would be separated.

In the end, they were apart for a year.

Finally, in March 2021, the green card came through — and the pair was reunited.

Coming up with an alternate plan

By then, certain parts of the world were reopening (a trend that continues today), but Michael and his wife had set their sights on a domestic trip: the Stanley Cup Finals.

“Hockey has always been a big part of our lives. We decided before the NHL playoffs started [that] we’d pivot our Europe trip into a domestic one to realize another dream of both of ours: seeing a Stanley Cup Final game in person … We would use a combination of Chase Ultimate Rewards, Delta SkyMiles and Delta flight vouchers to offset the cost of airfare and hotels, using whatever leftover [Chase] points as cash back to put toward tickets.”

Michael admitted to us that these redemptions didn’t offer the best value on a per-point or per-mile basis. But since it enabled them to realize a lifelong dream — and celebrate the end of a very challenging year — he felt that it was well worth it.

But little did they know that their plans were about to get even more exciting.

TPG reader Michael Brill and his wife at the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals
Photo courtesy of Michael Brill

The icing on the cake

The 2021 NHL season was modified significantly due to the pandemic. It was reduced to 56 games, and cross-border travel restrictions necessitated realignment of the league’s conferences. There were four divisions, including one (the North) that featured all seven of the teams based in Canada. Ultimately, the top four finishers in each division advanced to the playoffs.

This included the Montreal Canadiens, Michael’s wife’s favorite team — which clinched the fourth (and final) spot from the North Division.

But despite this low seed, the Canadiens stunned the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Winnipeg Jets and the Las Vegas Golden Knights to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.

As in, the very event that Michael and his wife had already decided to attend.

He went ahead and redeemed 100,000 Delta miles to book last-minute, round-trip tickets from Buffalo (BUF) to Tampa (TPA), and he burned 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points for a week at a downtown hotel within walking distance of Amalie Arena. Finally, he turned another 80,000 Chase points into $800 — which he put toward tickets to Game 1.

“With all of the savings booking the travel arrangements with points and an additional $800 in cash back, we treated ourselves to Game 1 seats five rows from the ice in the Montreal end of the rink so we could be up close and personal with the game. We even ended up clearly visible on TV where all of our friends and family could see us. We had such a good time that we ended up returning in different seats for Game 2 as well.”

And even though the Canadiens lost both those games (and would ultimately lose the series to the Tampa Bay Lightning), it was still a great way to cap off a difficult year and an extended period of time apart.

“The trip would never have been possible [or] affordable without the points,” Michael said.

Bottom line

Here at TPG, we frequently talk about redeeming points and miles for maximum value. Our monthly valuations reflect that, as the numbers are generally a bit higher than the “average” redemption you can get through each program.

That said, value is in the eye of the beholder, and in Michael’s case, he used his points and miles to unlock a fantastic experience for him and his wife. And after a year of separation, it’s hard to put a price on that.

Featured photo courtesy of Michael Brill

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.