This is the second in our Take Me Away series of articles. Last time we showed you how to get to Bali for free and today we are going to tackle Costa Rica. We picked Costa Rica because some friends have an amazing trip planned for May but the plane tickets had gone up substantially so it seemed like a good time.
I priced out the plane tickets for MIA to San Jose over May 19-May 25 on Kayak.com and once I took out Spirit’s fare of $211 (which would end up being much higher after you pay for your bags, seats, and who knows what else) the cheapest fare was on $426 for 1 stop service on AeroMexico or $434 on the nonstop on American. Let’s see how we can save by Traveling with Miles!
1. Use 15,000 British Airways Avios to book American Flights
I love using British Airways miles because it often saves a ton of miles vs booking the same seat using AA miles. If I booked directly using American AAdvantage Miles, it would cost 30K miles, double the amount! There is plenty of availability from Miami to San Jose Costa Rica during the that week for 15,000 Avios + $45!There are several ways you could get these miles by credit card signups. My top choice would be getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred with it’s 40,000 point sign up bonus. The ultra flexible Ultimate Rewards points it has can be transferred to multiple airlines such as British Airways, Southwest, or United depending on your needs. Another option would be the Chase British Airways card with it’s 50,000 point sign up bonus.
2. Use 30,000 American AAdvantage Miles to book American Flights
This is clearly an inferior option compared to using British Airways miles, but if you happen to have a bunch of American Miles burning a hole in your pocket this is an option to consider.You could get this many AA miles by applying for the 50,000 AA Mile Mastercard or the 50,000 AA Mile Business Platinum Mastercard.
3. Use 35,000 United Miles to fly on Star Alliance flights.
This clearly isn’t as good of an option as using BA miles (or even AA miles) but if you had a lot of United miles and nothing else, you could do it. The flight routing also isn’t as good requiring a connection in both directions. There is plenty of availability though.To get these miles, my top choice again would be getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred with it’s 40,000 point sign up bonus. You could then transfer 35K to United to book the flights. Another option would be the United Explorer Card with it’s 50,000 mile bonus.
4. Use 35,000 Delta Miles to book on Delta flights.
Delta’s awards are notoriously hard to use, but I was able to find availability over the dates using 35,000 Delta Skymiles and $50. This was a one connection flight through Atlanta.There aren’t really any Delta credit offers I would recommend right now, but if you already have Delta miles this option might make sense. If you have read our article on how to make mega miles with shopping portals, you know that online shopping could be another way to get the miles you need.
I started going through the hotel options using miles, but looking on sites like AirBNB.com there are private options that are really tempting. Like this house with an incredible view for only $125 a night.2. Marriott
Marriott also had an interesting choice for 180,000 points for the week at the Autograph collection Hotel Punta Islita.3. Hyatt
For 175,000 Hyatt Points you can stay at the Andaz Peninsula Papagayo for a week which doesn’t look too shabby. At a first glance, I would say AirBNB might be a great choice for this destination since the properties that look interesting are high in points cost compared to what you could get by paying cash. If you got the Barclays Arrival Card, you could use the 40,000 miles to pay for $400 of your AirBNB charges and end up only paying a little bit for a great private house! Plus you would have room for a bunch of friends to join you.
It looks like using British Airways Avios for your flights and then AirBNB for your lodging would be the smartest way to plan a Costa Rica vacation without spending a bundle.