Trip Framework: Bienvenue à Montréal!

Bonjour! In this next installment of the Trip Framework series, we’re off to the beautiful city of Montréal! This trip outlines a 5-day/4-night trip with flights from New York City. These write-ups should act as guidelines, and are not a promise that you can find these exact trips; however, I hope they are close enough to show that you can really do “expensive” trips for much less than you think!

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-2-56-07-pmSo first things first, the getting there! I’ve outlined two options:  taking the train from Penn Station or flying from LaGuardia Airport. If you choose to take the train, you’ll use fewer points, however, you’ll lose ~13 hours of exploring time in Montréal.

Let’s look at Amtrak first. You’ll leave Penn Station at 8:15am and arrive in Montréal at 7:11pm, for a total trip length of 10 hours and 56 minutes. On the way back, you’ll leave at 10:20am and get back to New York around 8:50pm, again roughly 11 hours of travel time.

Taking the train will set you back 5,038 points per person, so for two people, the total points needed is 10,076. NOTE:  If you have the Amtrak credit card, you’ll save 5% of your points, bringing your net points used to 9,572. Using points also saves you $131 per person, or $262 total. I’m a big fan of Amtrak, especially along the Northeast Corridor, but I’m not sure I could endure ~11 hours each way on the way to Montréal.

The next option is to fly. I’ve selected a set of Delta flights from LaGuardia, as it’s my preferred airport in New York. You’ll leave mid-morning on the 21st and arrive in Montréal just after noon. On the way back, you’ll (or should I say YUL–haha #avgeek joke) leave Montréal at 1:00pm and be back in New York before 3:00pm.

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-2-48-10-pm

In this case, you’ll use 19,000 points per person and pay $53.06 in taxes and fees, so for two people, you’d user 38,000 points and pay $106.12 in taxes and fees. If you were to pay outright for these tickets, you’d spend $567.58 in total, so using points represents a savings of $461.46. Not bad either!

Next, the staying! I’ve chosen the Le Méridien Versailles, which is not directly in the city center, but a very close walk and very close to the Métro. The room is a standard non-smoking queen-sized room. Screen Shot 2016-10-26 at 3.26.55 PM.png

In this case, you’ll be using 7,000 SPG Starpoints a night, for a total of 28,000 points used. This represents a savings of $952.56 CAD, or $712.02 USD.

All in all, here’s how the points breakdown, based on your mode of transportation:

Type of Points Train + Hotel Plane + Hotel
Amtrak 10,076 (9,572 if you hold an Amtrak credit card)
Delta 38,000 + $106.12
Starwood 28,000 28,000
TOTAL 38,076 + $0.00

37,572 + $0.00 (if you have an Amtrak credit card)

76,000 + $106.12

In the case of Amtrak + SPG, you’re saving $974.02, which 100% of the cost saved! Woo! Free trip! In the case of Delta + SPG, you’re saving $1,173.48, which is a savings of 91%! Woo! Almost free trip!


All that being said, what credit cards do you need to accomplish this trip? In either case, you’ll only need to sign-up for two (the Delta sign-up bonus is at it’s low level again, so I’d wait until it goes back up to 50,000 points).

Amtrak World Mastercard Delta Gold SkyMiles Starwood SPG
Image imgres imgres flat-cardart-474
Annual Fee $79 $0, then $95 a year $0, then $95 a year
Bonus 30,000 points 30,000 points 25,000 points
Spend Requirement $1,000 in 90 days $1,000 in 90 days $3,000 in 90 days
Point Earning Structure 3 points per dollar on Amtrak

2 points per dollar on other travel

1 point per dollar on everything else

2 points per dollar on Delta flights

1 point per dollar on everything else

4-5 points per dollar at Starwood

2 points per dollar at Marriott

1 point per dollar on everything else

Other Benefits 5% redemption

Upgrade and companion passes

Discounted lounge access

Statement credit after first Delta purchase

So there you have it–Montréal for 90%-100% off, that’s hard to take!

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