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The Best Ways To Fly to Costa Rica With Points and Miles [Step-by-Step]

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Stephen Au
Stephen Au's image

Stephen Au

Former Senior Content Contributor

483 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 24U.S. States Visited: 22

Stephen is an established voice in the credit card space, with over 70 to his name. His work has been in publications like The Washington Post, and his Au Points and Awards Consulting Services is used...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

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Countries Visited: 48U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Normally at Upgraded Points, you’ll find a lot of focus on long-haul destinations. This is our typical strategy because traveling in premium cabins on long-haul flights is usually much more expensive than doing so in economy, making these flights virtually inaccessible for most people without using points and miles.

This time, while the focus is on a place that’s still outside the U.S., it’s nowhere near as far away as places like Hong Kong, Dubai, or Spain. Located in Central America, Costa Rica is a popular tourist destination because of its proximity to the U.S., incredible coffee, beautiful landscape, and so much more.

In this guide, we’ll dissect the best ways to fly to Liberia (LIR) and San José (SJO) in Costa Rica with points and miles. We’ll primarily examine round-trip economy flights based on convenience to your home airport, but you’ll also see information on short-haul first class options for extra comfort.

Let’s dive right in!

Best Programs for Booking Flights

JetBlue TrueBlue

JetBlue Mint A321 right cabin
JetBlue Mint aboard the A321 makes travel to Costa Rica that much better! Image Credit: Stephen Au

JetBlue is known for having the best domestic business class in America. Known as JetBlue Mint, the Airbus A321 aircraft featuring this excellent product typically fly transcontinental flights.

However, JetBlue now operates Mint services between Liberia (LIR), and 3 U.S. cities: Boston (BOS), Los Angeles (LAX), and New York (JFK). This is great news for travelers planning to go to Costa Rica who want an awesome business class experience.

JetBlue award costs are tied closely with the cash price, and they generally go for ~1.4 cents per point. In general, you’ll want to plan far in advance to get the best award prices.

JetBlue Award Search
Flying JetBlue Mint from New York to Liberia round-trip will have variable costs. Image Credit: JetBlue

If you don’t care about flying JetBlue Mint and just want to get to Costa Rica, JetBlue also has the best award rates in economy!

All of JetBlue’s current nonstop routes to Costa Rica are in the table below:

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*JetBlue Mint offered

For round-trip economy tickets, rates generally start at around 8,800 points, though the exact price depends on the cost of the revenue ticket.

Hot Tip: Award availability on JetBlue is excellent. Since the point cost is pegged to the cash value of the ticket, you won’t have to jump through any hoops to book your JetBlue award flights!

Here’s how to search for JetBlue awards:

  1. Head to JetBlue’s website.
  2. Enter your flight details, including the origin and destination cities, dates, and the number of passengers.
    • Be sure to check the box that says Use TrueBlue Points.
  3. Select your flights (unfortunately, JetBlue does not allow flight holds).
  4. Reserve your tickets and pay any taxes and fees with your credit card.

Earning JetBlue TrueBlue Points

JetBlue is a transfer partner with many major transferable reward programs: American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate RewardsCiti ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Chase and Citi both transfer to JetBlue at a 1:1 ratio. American Express normally transfers to JetBlue at a 250:200 ratio, which is effectively 1:0.8.

Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to JetBlue at a 6:1 ratio. For every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer, you will receive a bonus of 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. That means that every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points transferred will net 12,500 JetBlue TrueBlue points.

Seeing as how Marriott Bonvoy points are so valuable, we do not suggest using your Marriott Bonvoy points for transfers to JetBlue.

American Express, Chase, and Citi all transfer points almost instantly to JetBlue, while Marriott Bonvoy takes around ~24 hours.

Bottom Line: If you want to try JetBlue’s famous Mint Business class (or just want to fly for the lowest possible cost in economy), JetBlue is your best bet. With 4 major transferable points programs as partners, JetBlue is hands-down the best choice, especially for those originating on the East Coast. 

British Airways Avios

American Airlines Aircraft at Miami (MIA)
Use your British Airways Avios to book flights with American Airlines. Image Credit: Daniel Ross

We like British Airways Avios for a few redemptions — and this is one of them. Using Avios allows you to fly to Costa Rica for reasonable prices. In particular, there are several routes operated by American Airlines that interest us:

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Note that these routes are all subject to change due to seasonality or scheduling.

Here’s how to book your award travel to Costa Rica with British Airways Avios:

  1. Visit British Airways’ website.
  2. Log in with your member ID and password.
  3. In the top-left corner, use your mouse to hover over the Book button and click Book a flight with Avios.
  4. Enter the origination and destination airports, dates, class of service, and the number of passengers.
  5. Select the desired flights and confirm your tickets by paying (with Avios, plus any taxes and fees).

Earning British Airways Avios

British Airways Avios are easy to earn since you can transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

Another option you have to earn BA Avios directly is through its co-branded Chase credit card. Also, keep in mind that Iberia and Aer Lingus Avios are all transferable to British Airways Avios. This is important because Chase has Iberia and Aer Lingus co-branded credit cards as well.

Amex, Capital One, and Chase transfer instantly to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio, while Marriott Bonvoy may take up to 1 business day at a 3:1 ratio.

Bottom Line: If you want cheap economy tickets to Costa Rica, you’ll want to give British Airways Avios some thought when deciding how to book flights. You’ll pay $80 in taxes and fees and 18,000 to 26,000 Avios round-trip. Also, you can book your flights completely online, which makes this method a no-brainer for many!

GREAT STARTER CARD
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

A fantastic travel card with a great welcome offer, good benefits, and perks for a moderate annual fee.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)
A fantastic travel card with a great welcome offer, good benefits, and perks for a moderate annual fee.
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
60,000 points
$1,200
$95
21.49%-28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card is one of the best travel rewards cards on the market. Its bonus categories include travel, dining, online grocery purchases, and streaming services, which gives you the opportunity to earn lots of bonus points on these purchases.

Additionally, it offers flexible point redemption options, no foreign transaction fees, and excellent travel insurance coverage including primary car rental insurance. With benefits like these, it’s easy to see why this card is an excellent choice for any traveler.

Pros
  • 5x points on all travel booked via the Chase Travel portal
  • 5x points on select Peloton purchases over $150 (through March 31, 2025)
  • 5x points on Lyft purchases (through March 31, 2025)
Cons
  • $95 annual fee
  • No elite benefits like airport lounge access or hotel elite status
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Travel℠. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 21.49%-28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

A top player in the high-end premium travel credit card space that earns 3x points on travel and dining while offering top luxury perks.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)
A top player in the high-end premium travel credit card space that earns 3x points on travel and dining while offering top luxury perks.
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠
60,000 points
$1,200
$550
22.49%-29.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Excellent (740-850)

If you’re looking for an all-around excellent travel rewards card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of the best options out there.

The card combines elite travel benefits and perks like airport lounge access, with excellent point earning and redemption options.  Plus it offers top-notch travel insurance protections to keep you covered whether you’re at home or on the road.

Don’t forget the $300 annual travel credit which really helps to reduce the annual fee!

Pros
  • 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase TravelSM immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually
  • 10x points on Lyft purchases March 31, 2025
  • 10x points on Peloton equipment and accessory purchases over $250 through March 31, 2025
Cons
  • $550 annual fee
  • Does not offer any sort of hotel elite status
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Travel℠. For example, 60,000 points are worth $900 toward travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 22.49%-29.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Business Owner? Read our article on the best Chase business cards that earn Ultimate Rewards.

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

Alaska Airlines economy food
Image Credit: Alaska Airlines

Singapore Airlines is known for having top-notch long-haul business and first class products. At first glance, it may seem odd that its KrisFlyer program would provide a viable way to fly from the U.S. to Costa Rica.

However, Alaska Airlines is a KrisFlyer partner and so we can 2 of its routes to Costa Rica: Los Angeles (LAX) to San José (SJO) or Liberia (LIR).

In fact, this is the cheapest way to fly from Los Angeles to Costa Rica, with the only other flight being offered by Delta Air Lines (discussed below), making it an amazing “sweet spot” redemption.

How sweet, you ask? It’ll cost you just 24,000 KrisFlyer miles for a round-trip economy flight. 

Here are the steps you should take to book your Alaska flight with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles:

  1. Visit Alaska Airlines’ Award Booking section of the website.
  2. Type in your cities, dates, number of passengers, and flight type.
  3. Write down your desired flight number, dates, and times.
  4. Call Singapore KrisFlyer Membership Services (833-727-0118).
  5. Provide them with the flight numbers, airline, dates, and times of travel.
    • Ask to put the flight on hold if you need time to transfer the points.
  6. Complete your reservation and pay any taxes and fees with your credit card.

Earning Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles

It’s easy to earn lots of Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles. Singapore is a transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards, Brex Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

American Express, Brex, Capital One, Chase, and Citi should transfer within 2 business days but are often instantaneous. Marriott Bonvoy points can take up to 6 days to transfer, so be aware of that when transferring your points!

Bottom Line: If you’re departing from Los Angeles, using KrisFlyer miles to book an Alaska Airlines flight is the best way to get to Costa Rica with as few points as possible.

BEST LOUNGE ACCESS
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressTerms Apply / Rates & Fees
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.

Learn More(at Amex's secure site)

Apply With Confidence

Know if you're approved with no credit score impact

If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.

The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
80,000 points
$1,760
$695
See Pay Over Time APR
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

When it comes to cards that offer top-notch benefits, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better card out there than The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Make no mistake — the Amex Platinum card is a premium card with a premium price tag. With amazing benefits like best-in-class airport lounge access, hotel elite status, and tremendous value in annual statement credits, it can easily prove to be one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet year after year.

Pros
  • The best airport lounge access out of any card (by far) — enjoy access to over 1,400 worldwide lounges, including the luxurious Amex Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, Plaza Premium Lounges, and many more!
  • 5x points per dollar spent on flights purchased directly with the airline or with AmexTravel.com (up to $500,000 per year)
  • 5x points per dollar spent on prepaid hotels booked with AmexTravel.com
Cons
  • $695 annual fee (rates and fees)
  • Airline credit does not cover airfare (only incidentals like checked bags)
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market. As of 03/2023.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Save on eligible delivery fees, shipping, and more with a Walmart+ membership. Use your Platinum Card® to pay for a monthly Walmart+ membership and get up to $12.95 plus applicable taxes back on one membership (excluding Plus Ups) each month.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only. Terms Apply.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: CLEAR® Plus helps to get you to your gate faster at 50+ airports nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Card. CLEARLanes are available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues.
  • Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 year period for TSA PreCheck® application fee for a 5-year plan only (through a TSA PreCheck® official enrollment provider), when charged to your Platinum Card®. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Shop Saks with Platinum: Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases in Saks Fifth Avenue stores or at saks.com on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • Unlock access to exclusive reservations and special dining experiences with Global Dining Access by Resy when you add your Platinum Card® to your Resy profile.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: See Pay Over Time APR
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

American Express Membership Rewards

BEST FOR DINING
American Express® Gold CardTerms Apply / Rates & Fees
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

This is the best card for food lovers who dine out at restaurants (worldwide), order take-out and want big rewards at U.S. supermarkets!

Learn More(at Amex's secure site)

Apply With Confidence

Know if you're approved with no credit score impact

If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.

This is the best card for food lovers who dine out at restaurants (worldwide), order take-out and want big rewards at U.S. supermarkets!
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
60,000 points
$1,320
$250
See Pay Over Time APR
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The American Express® Gold Card is a game-changer.

With this card, you can earn 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants and you’ll also earn 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1x.

There isn’t another card on the market that offers a 1-2 punch like this. Of course, there are several other benefits of the Gold Card as well, including extra monthly dining rewards and more.

Pros
  • 4x points per dollar at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • 4x points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets, up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases; and 1x thereafter
  • 3x points per dollar on flights purchased directly from airlines or at AmexTravel.com
Cons
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Get a $100 experience credit with a minimum two-night stay when you book The Hotel Collection through American Express Travel. Experience credit varies by property.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: See Pay Over Time APR
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

American Express Membership Rewards

Business Owner? Check out our article on the best Amex business cards that earn Membership Rewards.

Delta SkyMiles

Delta A350 at Sydney
Delta offers several nonstop flights between the U.S. and Costa Rica. Image Credit: Daniel Ross

Delta doesn’t have an official award chart, but economy tickets generally run from 30,000 miles round-trip. The airline offers nonstop flights to Costa Rica from its hubs in Atlanta (ATL), Los Angeles (LAX), and Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP).

Here are the nonstop routes offered by Delta to Costa Rica:

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The complicated thing about Delta SkyMiles is that its award pricing is highly variable. On the other hand, Delta SkyMiles are easy to earn (particularly through co-branded credit cards), and the round-trip prices for economy class tickets are reasonable.

You can expect to pay at least 30,000 miles round-trip from Los Angeles (LAX) and at least 44,000 miles round-trip from Atlanta (ATL) or Minneapolis (MSP). In first class, you can expect to pay at least 70,000 miles from LAX and at least 75,000 from ATL and MSP.  You can expect taxes and fees on all tickets to be around between $70 and $80.

To book your Delta award flights with SkyMiles, follow these steps:

  1. Visit Delta’s website.
  2. On the top banner, enter the departure and return cities, dates, class of service, and the number of passengers.
  3. Click the arrow on the right side that says Advanced Search.
  4. Select Show Price in Miles and your desired flight class.
  5. Select your desired flights and confirm by paying with your SkyMiles and with your credit card for the taxes and fees.

Earning Delta SkyMiles

Amex Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy are transfer partners with Delta SkyMiles. American Express transfers instantaneously to Delta, while Marriott Bonvoy transfers take around 1 day to complete.

We cover the large number of Delta credit cards available in our detailed guide.

United Airlines MileagePlus

United Economy Plus Side View
United flies from many U.S. cities to Costa Rica. Image Credit: United Airlines

United Airlines has a distinct advantage for Costa Rica flights: it offers service from numerous hub airports, as detailed in the table below:

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Each of these routes starts 35,000 United miles round-trip + ~$44 in taxes and fees. In first class, these same flights will start at 60,000 United miles round-trip + ~$44 in taxes and fees.

To book your United award flights with MileagePlus, follow these steps:

  1. Go to United.com.
  2. Select your flight class, your origin and return cities, travel dates, class of booking, and the number of travelers.
  3. Click Find Flights.
  4. Select the flights that work for you.
  5. Finish your booking and pay any additional taxes and fees with your credit card.

Earning United Airlines MileagePlus Miles

Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy are both transfer partners with United Airlines.

Chase transfers at a 1:1 ratio instantly, while Marriott Bonvoy points transfer at a 3:1.1 ratio in around 3 days. With a small bonus, you will receive 27,500 United miles for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points you transfer.

You can also earn United miles through the Chase co-branded credit cards.

LIMITED-TIME OFFER
United℠ Explorer Card
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

With priority boarding privileges, no foreign transaction fees and more, MileagePlus members will definitely enjoy their partnered card.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)
With priority boarding privileges, no foreign transaction fees and more, MileagePlus members will definitely enjoy their partnered card.
Limited-time offer: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
60,000 bonus miles
$720
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
21.99% - 28.99% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

You travel United all the time, but you have heard that there could be ways to make your travel experiences even better, including priority boarding, free bags, and more miles.

You should consider the United℠ Explorer Card, because this card does all that and more!

Pros
  • 2x miles per $1 on United purchases, dining purchases (including delivery services), and hotel stays
  • 1x mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • First checked bag free for you and up to 1 traveling companion
Cons
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95 annual fee
  • Does not earn transferable rewards
  • Limited-time offer: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United® purchases
  • Up to $100 Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® or NEXUS fee credit
  • 25% back as a statement credit on purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on board United-operated flights and on Club premium drinks when you pay with your Explorer Card
  • Free first checked bag - a savings of up to $160 per roundtrip. Terms Apply.
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 21.99% - 28.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

United MileagePlus Frequent Flyer Program

LIMITED-TIME OFFER
United Club℠ Infinite Card
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

Perfect for frequent United flyers who want premium perks like United Club access and free baggage benefits.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)
Perfect for frequent United flyers who want premium perks like United Club access and free baggage benefits.
Limited-time offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Earn 90,000 bonus miles
$1,080
$525
21.99% - 28.99% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Excellent (740-850)

The United Club℠ Infinite Card is a premium card designed for the most dedicated of United frequent flyers who are looking for a card that provides the opportunity to earn extra United MileagePlus miles and receive lounge access via a yearly United Club membership.

United frequent flyers will find that the United Club Infinite card provides an enhanced experience on their United flights thanks to the money saved on each flight and the conveniences it provides.

Pros
  • 4x miles per $1 on United purchases
  • 2x miles per $1 on travel and dining purchases
  • Complimentary United Club membership
Cons
  • $525 annual fee
  • Does not earn transferable rewards
  • Limited-time offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after qualifying purchases
  • Earn 4 miles per $1 spent on United® purchases
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on all other travel and dining
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Free first and second checked bags - a savings of up to $360 per roundtrip (terms apply) - and Premier Access® travel services
  • 10% United Economy Saver Award discount within the continental U.S. and Canada
  • Earn up to 10,000 Premier qualifying points per calendar year (25 PQP for every $500 you spend on purchases)
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 21.99% - 28.99% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines 737 LGA
Southwest offers a handful of nonstop routes between the U.S. and Costa Rica. Image Credit: Stella Shon

Southwest Airlines is a great option for getting to Costa Rica, especially if you’re bringing a lot of luggage with you since the airline offers each passenger 2 free checked bags.

Here’s a look at Southwest’s nonstop routes to Costa Rica:

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Like JetBlue, Southwest Rapid Rewards points are worth approximately 1.5 cents apiece. Since award tickets are priced relative to revenue tickets, it’s difficult to extract outsized value from miles.

Generally, the lowest price you’ll find is around 22,000 miles round-trip + ~$44 in taxes and fees.

To fly Southwest to Costa Rica with miles, follow these steps:

  1. Visit Southwest’s website.
  2. Enter your departure and return cities, dates, and the number of travelers.
  3. Choose Pay with Points.
  4. Select your desired flights.
  5. Check out and pay for any taxes and fees with your credit card.

Earning Southwest Rapid Rewards Miles

Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy are transfer partners with Southwest Airlines. Chase points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio, while Marriott Bonvoy points transfer at a 3:1 ratio in less than 48 hours.

You can also earn Southwest miles directly with Chase’s co-branded Southwest credit cards.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

This card focuses on the Southwest traveler with anniversary points, travel credit, upgrades, and money back on inflight purchases.

Learn More(at Chase's secure site)
This card focuses on the Southwest traveler with anniversary points, travel credit, upgrades, and money back on inflight purchases.
Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Earn 50,000 points
$650
$149
21.49% - 28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card is the most premium personal Southwest card offering from Chase. When you peel back the curtain, it is easy to see why.

Not only does the card offer multiple bonus categories to help you earn more Southwest Rapid Rewards points, but it is also loaded with benefits that are sure to offer quite a bit of value to Southwest flyers.

Here is a full overview of the card to help you decide if it is a good fit for your wallet.

Pros
  • 3x points per $1 on Southwest purchases
  • 2x points per $1 on local transit and commuting, including rideshare purchases
  • 2x points per $1 on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming purchases
Cons
  • $149 annual fee
  • Does not earn transferable points
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 7,500 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 21.49% - 28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

Southwest Rapid Rewards Frequent Flyer Program

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

Earn Southwest points on every purchase, plus anniversary points, Tier Qualifying Points, and points toward the Companion Pass!

Earn Southwest points on every purchase, plus anniversary points, Tier Qualifying Points, and points toward the Companion Pass!
Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Earn 50,000 points
$650
$99
21.49% - 28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

Another week, another flight. Flying weekly can get tiring, but you know that every flight gets you closer to taking some great vacations with your significant other or your favorite travel buddy.

To save money on the flights, you like to use Southwest Airlines.

So why not get the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card to help you earn extra Rapid Rewards points?

Pros
  • 3x points per $1 on Southwest purchases
  • 2x points per $1 on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
  • 2x points per $1 on local transit and commuting, including rideshares
Cons
  • $99 annual fee
  • Does not earn transferable rewards
  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • 6,000 anniversary points each year.
  • Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
  • Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming.
  • 2 EarlyBird Check-In® each year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 21.49% - 28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: $0
Rewards Center

Southwest Rapid Rewards Frequent Flyer Program

Hot Tip: Need more Southwest miles? Check out our guide that covers how to earn lots of Southwest miles.

American Airlines AAdvantage

Main Cabin In-flight Entertainment.
Main Cabin In-flight Entertainment. Image Credit: Chris Hassan

The last option we will discuss is American Airlines AAdvantage. We generally wouldn’t recommend using AA miles for this specific redemption, but it may be worthwhile if you’re sitting on a pile of AA miles that you otherwise wouldn’t be using.

As a reminder, here’s a look at American’s routes between the U.S. and Costa Rica:

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Nonstop Routes to Costa Rica on American Airlines

Austin (AUS) – Liberia (LIR)

Miami (MIA) – Liberia (LIR)

Charlotte (CLT) – Liberia (LIR)

Miami (MIA) – San José (SJO)

Chicago (ORD) – Liberia (LIR)

New York (JFK) – Liberia (LIR)

Chicago (ORD) – San José (SJO)

New York (JFK) – San José (SJO)

Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) – San José (SJO)

 

You can book an off-peak round-trip economy ticket for 25,000 miles, while a regular economy ticket will cost you 30,000 miles round-trip.

To book your American Airlines award flight, follow these steps:

  1. Go to AA.com.
  2. Log into your AAdvantage account.
  3. Check the box that says Redeem Miles.
  4. Type in your departure and destination cities and travel dates; click Search.
  5. Select economy class, and be sure to select MileSAAver level for the lowest award prices.
  6. Enter your travel dates.
  7. Select flights and click Continue.
  8. Enter the passenger details and your payment information to confirm the tickets.

If you’re short some AAdvantage miles, see our guide for various ways to top off your AA miles balance!

Hot Tip: Looking for accommodations? Check out these boutique hotels in Costa Rica.

Final Thoughts

You can reach Costa Rica in under 6 hours from anywhere in the continental U.S., which contributes to its popularity among American travelers.

Although we focused mostly on economy-class flights and extracting the most value with the fewest points, the best way to fly to Costa Rica with points and miles is in JetBlue Mint. These flights will be priced depending on the cash price of the ticket, so the value you get with points is more or less fixed.

No matter how you decide to fly, there’s tons of value to be had when flying to Costa Rica, especially when you use your points and miles!

The information regarding the Chase Freedom Flex℠ was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the United Club℠ Business Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, click here.
For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which airlines include carrier-imposed surcharges on award flights to Costa Rica?

There are no fuel surcharges on flights from the U.S. to Costa Rica. The most you’ll pay in taxes and fees is around $44.

What is the fewest number of miles you can use to book an economy class award flight to Costa Rica?

JetBlue economy class flights can be as cheap as 8,800 miles round-trip! The mileage cost is closely tied to the cash price, so seek out the dates with low cash prices if you have flexibility in your schedule.

Otherwise, look at using British Airways Avios to book travel on American Airlines from Miami to Costa Rica for 18,000 Avios round-trip.

What is the fewest number of miles required to fly business class to Costa Rica?

There aren’t very many ways to fly business class to Costa Rica.

We recommend flying JetBlue Mint from Boston, Los Angeles, or New York to Liberia. The points cost will vary, but if you plan far enough in advance, you can book one-way tickets at reasonable rates.

What is the best airline to travel to Costa Rica?

For the best business class experience, you can’t beat JetBlue Mint. This lie-flat business class seat is available on select flights between the U.S. and Costa Rica.

Otherwise, the other airlines offer basic recliner seats with more space — and you’ll get an inflight meal.

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About Stephen Au

Stephen is an established voice in the credit card space, with over 70 to his name. His work has been in publications like The Washington Post, and his Au Points and Awards Consulting Services is used by hundreds of clients.

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