How To Book A Trip To Costa Rica With Points & Miles (The Heart of Adventure)

It’s time to fall in love with Costa Rica, the “heart of Central America.” With a democratic society that has boasted peace and stability for over 50 years now, Costa Rica is situated conveniently between the continents of the Americas. This tropical wonderland is an often-overlooked destination, which is one of the big reasons you’ll want to get there before more people find out!

There will be plenty of room on the shores of either coastline, Pacific or Atlantic, with unique attributes for both, from world-class surfing to serene sun bathing on white beaches. And, it’s only a three hour drive or 45 minute flight to cross the country and go from one to other.

What will you find in between? A land of tropical wonder and cultural enchantment awaits you, with a rich, diverse population eager to share their colorful sounds, sights and tastes as you rest between your excursions to see some of the world’s most amazing volcanoes, rain forests, waterfalls, and rivers.

A sloth in a tree in Costa Rica.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Lukas Kovarik

So, what are you waiting for? Someone to hand you a plan to make it happen for only a fraction of the cost most other tourists pay every year? Great, because that’s just what you’re about to get!

The Secret Plan

Don’t share this with too many people, except for your closest friends and family, of course, but here’s how you can reach this idyllic destination without breaking the bank. Step One, obtain the cards listed below. Step Two, spend the required amounts to gain the awards and then book your flight and stay. Step Three, enjoy a vacation like no other!

Miles & Points Needed For a Trip to Costa Rica

Here are the points you’ll need to accrue:

  • Around 40,000 British Avios points. The exact amount will depend on where you are flying from.
  • 60,00 Hyatt Points. This will get you 2-3 Free Nights at most Hyatt hotels in Costa Rica.

NOTE: Points listed for a single person, so you need to double everything for a companion.

Arenal volcano in Costa Rica
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Sebastian Machado

Credit Cards Needed for An Award Ticket to Costa Rica

Here’s where you’ll find the deals that will help you get to Costa Rica at an amazingly low cost to you:

Chase Ultimate Rewards points (which is what you earn from the Chase Sapphire card) transfer at 1:1 ratio to Hyatt points, so by getting 60,000 ultimate reward points, you’ll be able to transfer it to 60,000 Hyatt points.

Note that if you have a business, you could also get the Chase World of Hyatt Business Credit Card, which gets you 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months with a $95 fee.

Total Minimum Spend: $9,000 per person.

Out of pocket cost: Approximately $40 in airline fees, per person, plus any booking fees from the hotel. That’s it!

Cost Comparison to buying trip with Cash

Yes, unbelievable, huh? Just for fun, take a look at what it would cost if you were to pay for this trip in the same way everyone else does it:

  • Flight to Costa Rica: $350
  • 3 Nights at a Hyatt Hotel: $900

That would bring your grand total to $1,250 if you weren’t using the Dips and Trips methodology. Aren’t you glad you’re traveling with us?

Rio Celeste Waterfall in Costa Rica.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / William Berry

How to Apply For the Credit Cards

You will need to obtain the two credit cards as two different applications, at least 90 days apart, since both come from Chase. Plan to get some other credit cards at the same time (from banks besides Chase) to help for future trips, assuming you can meet the minimum spend for more than one card at a time

How to actually use points and miles to book an award ticket to Costa Rica

You’ll be flying to Costa Rica using British Airways Avios. Avios is actually a distance-based program when using a partner airline, so the number of miles will vary based on the distance of your trip. While British Airways used to have an online Avios calculator for how many miles you would need for certain distances, this is no longer the case.

However, for economy, reports have indicated you can usually expect the following:

  • 1 – 650 miles (or within North America): 7,500 points
  • 651 – 1,150 miles: 9,000 points
  • 1,151 – 2,000 miles: 11,000 points
  • 2,001 – 3,000 miles: 13,000 points
  • 3,001 – 4,000 miles: 20,750 points

Depending on what airport it is, you might have to calculate it as two legs: one from your home airport to the hub, and one from the hub to Costa Rica (likely San Jose, or Liberia).

Beach in Costa Rica.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Simon Dannhauer

Since it’s distance-based, you could have wildly varying mileage costs. From Miami to San Jose, it’s going to be 11,000 Avios (one way). If you’re traveling from Atlanta, it’s going to take you 7,500 Avios for the ATL -> MIA leg. That will give you a one way cost of 18,500 Avios, and a complete round trip cost of 37,000 Avios (with approx $45 in airline fees).

If you’re traveling from the west coast (LAX for example), you might be looking at 16,000 Avios each way, assuming you are flying on a day that Alaska Airlines operates their non-stop LAX -> SJO route. Your fees will still be around $20.

NOTE: Hyatt has slowly been expanding their portfolio, so now operates a number of botique hotels & resorts in Costa Rica. Want to stay inland in the rainforest or jungle? Check out Rio Perdido or Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa.

Want a beach resort? Check out Andaz Papagayo, Secrets Papagyo, Dreams Las Mareas, Los Altos Resort, Hotel Three Sixty, or Hotel Nantipa.

You can search for Hyatt hotels in Costa Rica here with points & miles – just make sure to enter your dates to see availability. It will cost between 20,000 – 35,000 points per night, depending on the time of year and which hotel you are looking at.

What to see while on your free trip to Costa Rica using points & miles

With the logistics behind you, it’s time to plan your adventure into exotic Costa Rica. With some quick searches you’ll see there’s so much to do there and there’s something for everyone:

  • Visit the beaches on both coasts!
  • Visit the Arenal Volcano on a day hike like no other!
  • Looking for more adventure? Go white water rafting or mountain biking, or zip lining.
  • You can see the biological diversity in Corcovado National Park
  • And relax at the end of the day with beauty and rejuvenating treatments like facials with volcanic mud, detoxifying baths and exotic massage therapy!
Hiker on a bridge in Costa Rica.
Image Credit: Shutterstock / Galyna Andrushko

Whatever you decide, one thing is certain, you’ll love your journey into the heart of Central America, with many stories to tell for years to come, including the one about how you got to Costa Rica with ease, thanks to Dips and Trips! Enjoy your adventure!

Author: Michael Sortino


Author, Screenwriter and Producer, Michael Sortino, has written for film and television, fiction and non-ficition, and produced entertainment for over twenty-five years, now.

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