Guest Post By: Rachael Olson
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Today, 10xTravel reader Rachael Olson is going to guide you through booking a fun Canadian getaway.
Ah, Montreal: A city that feels decidedly European, with amazing culture and food, minus the long transatlantic flight. I know we’re approaching winter, but Montreal isn’t as cold as you think – and a big part of the city is entirely underground!
Plus, the U.S. dollar is very strong right now relative to the Canadian dollar (CAD $1 = ~$0.8 USD), which means you’ll be able to enjoy fabulous food and culture at a huge discount compared to most major American cities.
That’s why I’m going to talk about how you can spend a three-day weekend in Montreal for (almost) free without even using up a big stash of your points. With just a few points, you’ll feel like you’re in Paris listening to French, visiting top-notch museums, and enjoying some of the most incredible restaurants in the world – including the not-to-be missed Au Pied de Cochon.
What Points Do You Need For A Weekend Getaway To Montreal?
To start, we’re going to use British Airways Avios for the flight. Don’t worry if you don’t have any in your account because you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, or SPG Starpoints to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio.
While you may have heard that British Airways tacks on enormous carrier-imposed surcharges for award flights, that’s not the case for flights on American Airlines within North America. In this case, you’ll only pay about $10 in taxes and fees.
Readers from most east coast and midwest will only need a mere 15,000 Avios to book a round-trip economy class award ticket—west coast readers, keep reading for some great deals for you too.
If you want to stay somewhere for free, I think you’ll get the best value out of the World of Hyatt program. Three nights at a central, premium hotel in Montreal will only set you back 24,000 points. Hyatt points can be easily obtained by transferring Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio or from the Chase Hyatt credit card.
To find the best dates, I highly recommend following both sets of steps below simultaneously, so that you can understand your flight AND hotel options before transferring points. You can usually cancel a hotel stay without penalty, but you can’t reverse a transfer.
How To Book American Airlines Flights with British Airways Avios
Go to the British Airways site to locate your desired flight and confirm availability. This is an important step because you don’t want to transfer points into your British Airways account if you can’t actually fly when you want to go!
To search for award space on British Airways, you must have a British Airways Executive Club account. If you don’t already, you can create one for free.
Transfer 15,000 points from Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, or SPG Starpoints to your British Airways Executive Club account. This transfer should happen almost instantaneously for Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards. SPG Starpoints take a much longer time to transfer – five days or more! – which is somewhat risky, because there is a chance your award flight could disappear before the transfer completes.
Another reason I don’t recommend using SPG Starpoints in this scenario is because at only 15,000 points, you’re missing out on the bonus 5,000 Starpoints you’d receive when transferring 20,000 or more points.
SPG Starpoints are still a transfer option, but I’d prefer to transfer Amex Membership Rewards points or Chase Ultimate Rewards points if I had the choice.
If you live on the west coast, you might prefer a weekend getaway to Vancouver. You can also use 15,000 Avios to book round-trip economy class award tickets from Los Angeles (LAX) to Vancouver (YVR)
Confirm that you have enough points in your British Airways account. Now, book your flight for a total of 15,000 points and about $10 in taxes and fees.
Non-stop Chicago (ORD) to Montreal (YUL) flights are often around $340. 15,000 Avios plus a few bucks makes this a solid redemption.
How To Book Your Hyatt Award Stay
If you don’t already have one, sign up for an account with World of Hyatt (it’s free) and log into your account. Look for availability at the Hyatt Regency Montreal, which charges 8,000 points per award night.
This hotel is in the center of the city’s beautiful arts district right off the Place des Arts subway stop, so that’s a fantastic deal! Unlike your award flights, your award stay won’t require you to pay any taxes or fees. Just 8,000 Hyatt points per night and you’re all set.
Personally, I’m interested in the 12,000 points per night option above, which gets me a “Club King.” The club-level rooms are definitely more spacious, and Club access will provide me and a guest with free daily breakfast, snacks in the private lounge throughout the day, and a complimentary evening reception. This is just a personal preference, though.
West Coast readers who want to visit Vancouver will do similarly well with the Hyatt Regency Vancouver, which is 12,000 Hyatt points per night (for a non-Club room).
If you need some Hyatt points, you can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to your World of Hyatt account. Points transfers are almost instant at a 1:1 ratio.
For a regular room at the Hyatt Regency Montreal, 8,000 points per night for 3 nights will cost you 24,000 points. The Hyatt Regency Vancouver will cost 36,000 points for the 3 nights.
Make your booking online or through Hyatt’s mobile app. When I looked at the Montreal option, cash rates would have cost $614 for the three nights so 24,000 Hyatt points was more than worth it.
I love Montreal (and Vancouver) and getting $1,000 in flights and hotel stays for 39,000 points and about $10 just makes the trip even better! If you travel with your significant other or friend, the trip will only require 15,000 more points which means you can pull off a trip for two for only 27,000 points each plus about $20 total.
I don’t know about you, but this sounds like an amazing getaway.