The Best Ways to Use Miles and Points to Get to Europe

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There are a number of ways to use miles and points to get to Europe for very cheap. Some of the best redemptions depend on your specific route and destination but others are great deals regardless of where you’re departing from and landing. Here’s a list of 8 of the best ways to use points and miles to get to Europe! 

Update: See my article on the best way to use miles and points to get to Paris for a more in-depth look at getting to Europe. 

1) Flying Blue

  • 25,000 miles (depends on the promo)
  • 50,000 miles – Standard redemption to Europe

https://flic.kr/p/obkAcQ Flying Blue

Photo by Can Pac Swire via Flickr

Flying Blue offers amazing promo deals that sometimes offer as much as 50% off to Europe! These deals pop up at the beginning of each month so you’ll need to keep a close on them to take advantage of them. Even if you don’t catch one of the promo deals, the standard rate of 50,000 miles roundtrip to Europe is not bad, especially if you can minimize the fees by booking with a SkyTeam alliance partner like Delta. Flying Blue also allows you one stopover and one open jaw so you have increased value. 

How to get miles for Flying Blue

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guests
  • Citi Thankyou Points

2) British Airways Avios

British Airways Avios operates on a distance-based chart, so to take advantage of these best redemption rates you need to be departing from the East Coast of the United States and landing somewhere in Western Europe. However, even if you’re coming from the West Coast, some of the redemptions can still be pretty decent. And remember, with British Airways you can stopover and/or open jaw pretty much anywhere but you’ll have to factor in the increased distance added to your redemption.

London Heathrow U.K. - British Airways Flag carrier

Photo by Daniel Mennerich

There are several ways to take advantage of the British Airways Avios distance-based system when getting to Europe. I’ll show you how to utilize these Avios with three different One World airlines, including British Airways.

a) Aer Lingus

  • 25,000 Avios – Boston to Dublin
  • 40,000 Avios – NYC/Chicago/Toronto to Dublin
  • 50,000 Avios – LA/San Francisco to Dublin

One popular way to get to Europe with British Airways is to book flights with the Irish airlines Aer Lingus. The Boston to Dublin route is highly valuable because it contains a total of 2,987 miles, which puts it just under the 3,000 mile range of the next bracket for British Airways. That’s how you can do a round trip for only 25,000 Avios and the route is only about 6 hours so it’s very doable in economy. Check here for a list of all Aer Lingus direct flights from North America.

You’ll need to search United’s website to find availability for Aer Lingus and then call in to British Airways to proceed with the booking.

b) British Airways

  • 34,000 Avios – NYC to Dublin

Off-peak flights from the East Coast to Europe can be as low as 34,000 Avios. However, I don’t generally recommend to fly with British Airways to Europe because you will get hit with heavy fuel surcharges. Take a look at the fees for the route below.

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 1.16.42 PM

While the off-peak redemption requires fewer miles than the Aer Lingus redemption, it also requires much more in fees than the same route would require booked with Aer Lingus.

c) Air Berlin

  • 40,000 Avios – NYC to Berlin
  • 40,000 Avios – NYC/Boston to Düsseldorf
  • 50,000 Avios – Chicago/Miami to Berlin
  • 50,000 Avios – Ft. Meyers/Miami to Düsseldorf

Air Berlin is a solid choice to get to Europe from the East Coast with minimal fees. Just take a look at the redemption below… the fees pale in comparison to what you would have to pay if you booked a British Airways flight on its own metal. 

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 1.12.17 PM

How to get British Airways Avios

  • American Express Membership Rewards (10:8)
  • Starwood Preferred Guests
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Chase British Airways Credit Card

3) Iberia Airlines Plus

  • 34,000 Avios – NYC/Chicago to Madrid
  • 42,500 – Miami to Madrid

https://flic.kr/p/r9mSUK Iberia Airlines

Photo by Bernal Saborio via Flickr.

Iberia Airlines Plus is part of the same Avios system as British Airways and implements a distance-based system as well. However, it has its own unique redemption policies that do differ and has an advantage over British Airways in that you can avoid higher taxes and fees.

One sweet redemption is getting from Chicago or New York to Madrid for only 34,000 Avios and “only” about $180-$200 in fees (which compared to British Airways is actually not bad). You can lower the fees by booking flights on American Airlines, but keep in mind that the milage requirement will go up since Iberia charges more miles for certain partners and you can’t book one-way awards on American Airlines with Iberia

How to get Iberia Avios

  • American Express Membership Rewards (10:8)
  • Transfer 1:1 from British Airways Avios

4) Singapore Airlines

  • 34,000 miles – East Coast (JFK and Houston) to Europe II

https://flic.kr/p/petpdx

Photo by Pieter van Marion via Fickr.

Singapore Airlines is another great way get to Europe but you’re restricted geographically just like British Airways. If you depart from the East Coast/Houston to “Europe II,” you can get rates as low as 34,000 roundtrip if you capture the online 15% booking discount. The following locations fall into the Europe II category:

  • Barcelona
  • Frankfurt
  • London
  • Manchester
  • Milan
  • Moscow
  • Munich
  • Paris
  • Zurich

However, you need to note that Singapore Airlines will charge you significant fees. For example, I came across the following fees when trying out some bookings:

  • NYC to Frankfurt – $464
  • Houston to Moscow – $393

You can get around these hefty fees by booking Star Alliance partner United with Singapore Airlines. As shown on their Star Alliance partner award chart, flights from North America to Europe can be booked as low as 55,000 miles, but partner airlines are not given the 15% discount and the redemption rates are higher, so the deal is not to sweet (though still decent). 

One thing to remember: Singapore Airlines allows one stopover and one open jaw on round trip saver awards to everywhere except Europe and the U.S.

How to get Singapore Airlines Krisflyer miles

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guests
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Citi Thankyou Points

5) American Airlines

  • 45,000 to Europe

https://flic.kr/p/pD7nXw American Airlines

Photo by ERIC SALARD via Flickr.

American Airlines MileSAAver awards allow for redemptions to Europe as low as 45,000 round trip. Try to avoid booking British Airways flights on the American Airlines website to cut down on fees charged. If you stick with American Airlines you can keep your fees as low as about $50 but if you route with British Airways through London, your fees can easily amount to $650 plus.

American Airlines does not allow for stopovers at international destinations although open jaws are permitted. The lack of stopovers is a bummer but if you only have your sights set on one destination in Europe this becomes less of a concern and the roundtrip for 45,000 becomes much sweeter.

How to get American Airlines Aadvantage miles

  • Citi Platinum Select/Executive
  • Citigold Checking bonuses
  • Starwood Preferred Guests

6) Korean Air

  • 50,000 miles to Europe

korean air plane

Photo by My16SidedOffice via Flickr.

Korean offers decent redemptions to Europe. When booking with a SkyTeam partner you are allowed one stopover during the entire journey that can be in the zone of departure or arrival and one “surface segment” (open jaw) at the destination that is not considered a stopover. This allows for great flexibility when booking. Korean Air will often require surcharges when getting to Europe but if you can find availability on airlines like Delta that shouldn’t be a major problem.

How to get Korean Air SKYPASS miles

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards 
  • Starwood Preferred Guests
  • SKYPASS Visa Signature Card

7) ANA

  • 55,000 miles to Europe

ANA is a great option to get to Europe because you can avoid high fees by booking with Star Alliance partners like United and they allow for flexibility with generous stopover and open jaw policies. With ANA, you’re allowed to open jaw twice and stopover once. The rules for the open jaw are a little confusing because they define some continents as “countries” and alternate the terms “zones” and “areas” without clear definitions of exactly what they are referring to.

However, in terms of going to Europe, you can pretty much open jaw anywhere in the continent and stopover there one time as well. To find out more about these booking policies, read more about booking ANA award flights here.

How to get ANA miles

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guests

8) United

  • 60,000 miles to Europe

United’s Saver Awards allow you to get to Europe in economy for 60,000 miles (the same mileage requirement applies to Star Alliance redemptions). While this redemption is among the highest of the airlines on the list, you have to remember that with United you don’t have to worry about fuel surcharges and so your tickets to Europe will cost next-to-nothing. You’re also allowed an open jaw on a roundtrip ticket and two open jaws, allowing for superb flexibility and maximization of miles.

How to get United Mileage Plus miles

  • Starwood Preferred Guests (bad 2:1 ratio)
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Chase United Mileage Plus Credit Card

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