Maximize Your Points and Miles for Dream European Vacations
Maximize Your Points and Miles for Dream European Vacations - Choose the Right Credit Cards
Choosing the right credit cards is crucial for racking up the points and miles needed for free flights and hotel stays in Europe. With the right strategy, you can earn hundreds of thousands of points to fund dream vacations across the continent.
The key is to target cards that earn transferable points through flexible programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards. These points can then be transferred to various airline and hotel partners for high-value redemptions.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred to United Airlines, Hyatt, and other programs ideal for European travel. Meanwhile, the Platinum Card from American Express accrues Membership Rewards points that can be transferred to Delta Air Lines, Hilton Honors, and more.
Also, consider cards that don't charge foreign transaction fees, which enables you to earn points on purchases abroad. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a great fee-free card for overseas spending.
To maximize your chances, apply for multiple cards that catch your eye. Just be sure to space out your applications to avoid damaging your credit. "I apply for 2-3 new cards each year to keep earning big bonuses," says frequent flyer Summer Hull.
Finally, always pay your statement balances in full to avoid interest charges, which diminish the value of your points. Carefully managing your spend allows you to reap the full rewards of your cards.
What else is in this post?
- Maximize Your Points and Miles for Dream European Vacations - Choose the Right Credit Cards
- Maximize Your Points and Miles for Dream European Vacations - Tips from the Experts - Transfer Points to Airline Partners
- Maximize Your Points and Miles for Dream European Vacations - Tips from the Experts - Fly Business Class to Europe
- Maximize Your Points and Miles for Dream European Vacations - Tips from the Experts - Use Hotel Loyalty Programs
- Maximize Your Points and Miles for Dream European Vacations - Redeem for High-End Hotels
Maximize Your Points and Miles for Dream European Vacations - Tips from the Experts - Transfer Points to Airline Partners
One of the best ways to maximize your points and miles for travel to Europe is by transferring them to airline frequent flyer programs. This allows you to access exclusive premium cabin award seats that may not be available if you redeem through your credit card's travel portal.
- British Airways Executive Club - Transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards to British Airways to tap into their extensive route network. Redeem just 30,000 Avios roundtrip in economy or 50,000 Avios in business class on short-haul flights within Europe. Carefully review their distance-based award chart to find sweet spots.
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue - Amex Membership Rewards transfer to Flying Blue, where you can score deals like Atlanta to Paris for just 25,000 miles each way. Their Promo Rewards offer deep discounts on select routes during promotions. Flying Blue is in the SkyTeam alliance, opening options across Europe.
- Lufthansa Miles & More - Another Star Alliance program, Lufthansa miles can be transferred from Amex Membership Rewards and Capital One. Snag business class to Europe for just 87,000 miles roundtrip during frequent sales. Their comprehensive route network provides extensive intra-Europe options.
According to frequent flyer Matthew Klint, "The real advantage comes from leveraging transfer partners creatively based on your specific origin and destination." Analyze your options across the major alliances by checking award charts and calendars.
Take Norwegian Air, for example, which isn't in a major alliance. You can transfer Amex points to Etihad Guest to book Norwegian long-haul economy flights at excellent rates. Getting to Europe is easy - optimizing your experience once there requires clever point transfers.
It's also possible to utilize points transfers for intra-Europe flights. For instance, transfer Chase points to United MileagePlus to tap into their Star Alliance partners like Swiss, Austrian Airlines, and Brussels Airlines for connections between European cities.
In some cases, you may get the best value by booking partially with points and partially with cash. Known as "hybrid redemptions", this enables you to cover higher fuel surcharges associated with some programs. Points transfers provide flexibility.
Maximize Your Points and Miles for Dream European Vacations - Tips from the Experts - Fly Business Class to Europe
Flying business class to Europe may seem out of reach, but leveraging points and miles makes it attainable even on a moderate budget.
- American Airlines Business Class for 57,500 Miles - American Airlines opens up great access to Europe through their hubs and Oneworld partners. You can score one-way business class awards for just 57,500 AAdvantage miles from the US to Europe, an astonishing value from the right origin. Transfer flexible points from Amex or Citi to make this dream redemption happen.
- Delta One Suites for 70,000 Miles - Redeem Virgin Atlantic miles on partner Delta Air Lines to experience their outstanding Delta One business class suites on routes to Europe. Featuring closing doors and lie-flat beds, these are some of the top transatlantic seats available. You can fly one-way for as little as 70,000 miles.
- United Polaris for 80,000 Miles - United's Polaris business class is one of the top premium cabin products. Utilize MileagePlus miles transferred from Chase or Marriott points packages for one-way business class awards priced at 80,000 miles to Europe. Search segment by segment for award space.
- American/British Airways for 50,000 Avios - Redeem just 50,000 British Airways Avios for one-way American Airlines business class flights to Europe. Prices do vary by peak/off-peak dates, but this option regularly presents excellent value thanks to low surcharges. Transfer Amex or Chase points to top up your Avios balance.
- Aer Lingus Business Class from 12,500 Avios - One of the top business class deals across the pond is Aer Lingus business class from just 12,500 Avios one-way from East Coast gateways Boston and New York to Dublin. Lie-flat seats at an astonishingly low price make this a top option for using British Airways Avios points.
Maximize Your Points and Miles for Dream European Vacations - Tips from the Experts - Use Hotel Loyalty Programs
While your airline mileage strategy may get you to Europe, hotel loyalty programs are key for affordable lodging once you arrive. Programs like Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy, and World of Hyatt make it possible to stay in top properties for free or at deeply discounted rates.
Connect your hotel loyalty account when booking through online travel agencies.
- Marriott Luxury Redemptions from 70,000 Points - Marriott's Luxury & Lifestyle category includes some of Europe's most iconic hotels, like London's Grosvenor House and Le Méridien Etoile in Paris. Reward nights start at just 70,000 points with excellent value.
- World of Hyatt Boutique Redemptions from 15,000 Points - Independent boutique hotels are World of Hyatt's sweet spot. The Hoxton hotels in Amsterdam, Paris, and beyond offer chic style starting at just 15,000 points per night. Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to tap into this outstanding value.
- Hilton Honors Weekend Night Rewards from 30,000 Points - One of Hilton's best redemption options is their weekend night rewards available across brands including Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, and Curio Collection. Starting at just 30,000 points, this enables two weekend nights in top properties by combining points and cash.
- IHG Reward Nights from 25,000 Points - IHG Rewards boasts a huge portfolio of European hotels from InterContinental and Kimpton to boutique gems like Hotel Indigo. Reward nights begin at just 25,000 points, letting you affordably tour in style. Check cash + points pricing too.
Consider using Conrad Connect and other free night certificates offered by various programs. According to Brian Kelly, “Free night rewards are hugely valuable, especially at posh hotels in big European cities." Read the fine print and maximize perks.
Maximize Your Points and Miles for Dream European Vacations - Redeem for High-End Hotels
One of the best parts of a European vacation is staying in an upscale, luxurious hotel. And by leveraging points and miles, you can experience 5-star properties and high-end chains without breaking the bank.
- London - The Ritz London: Starts at 80,000 Marriott Points per night
- Paris – Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme: From 30,000 Points per night
- Venice – St. Regis Venice: Marriott from 70,000 Points per night
- Santorini – Andronis Luxury Suites: 40,000 World of Hyatt points per night
- Barcelona – W Barcelona: 50,000 Marriott Points per night
- Amsterdam – Kimpton De Witt: Just 30,000 IHG Points per night
- Budapest – Boscolo Budapest Hotel: Marriott from 50,000 Points
- Prague – Hotel Paris Prague: 25,000 Hilton Points per night