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With the 2016 Paris Marathon sold out (taking place April 3), it is a good time to see how you can get in – and without using any money!
The other day, I wrote how Flying Blue (the frequent flyer program of Air France and KLM) had closed their dedicated Flying Blue running page but will continue to allow the use of miles to pay for things like marathon events.
How To Gain Entry To The (Sold Out) 2016 Paris Marathon Using Only MilesWhile the value of miles for that is not really that great, there is a component of that which can be a real help and that is with sold out marathons that are in major cities. Right now, that is the 2016 Paris Marathon which is sold out, but you can still enter by redeeming miles for a bib! Here is how to do that.
How To Gain Entry
Key Link: Flying Blue Running Store
First of all, you will need a Flying Blue account to use the miles. You can set that up right here (it is free).
Next, you will need to have some miles to book the Paris Marathon. The cost is 15,000 miles. The good news is that American Express and their Membership Rewards program are transfer partners of Flying Blue and the points transfer to Flying Blue at a 1:1 rate with a minimum of 1,000 points.
Then, You will need to link your American Express Membership Rewards account with your Flying Blue account. The names on both accounts need to match (you can book this race entry from anyone’s account, though, so the name does not have to be yours) and the linking may take a couple of days.
The transfers should be instant or pretty close (has been my experience). After that, go back to the Flying Blue page to book your “award.” You add it to your cart and then go through the checkout process.
Is It A Good Value?
Most travelers may look at this and say that it is crazy to spend 15,000 Membership Reward points for a marathon entry. And, to be honest, it is really not the best value at all. But, if you really want to run the 2016 Paris Marathon, then this is a great way to do it!
At this point in the calendar, if you could pay for entry, it would cost you about $118 at today’s rates. That puts the value of your Membership Reward points at less than 1 cent each, but the value is increased a bit because you cannot even buy an entry at this point. The only way in is to run for a charity (and raise a minimum amount of funds) or go through a tour group (and pay for the overall package). So I think this is a nice value if you want to do the 2016 Paris Marathon.
Getting The Points
To get/earn Membership Reward points, you will need an American Express card that feeds into that rewards system. The cards you want to look at (or that you might already have) include the Platinum cards (business, personal, Mercedes), the Premier Rewards Gold, the Business Gold Rewards, and the Everyday Preferred cards. All of those cards have bonuses that are in the Membership Rewards system and earn Membership Reward points with your spending.
Just a note that right now, the public bonuses on those cards are not the best that they can be. Since you can only get one personal Amex bonus in a lifetime, I would hold off for now. However, check out the CardMatch Tool as people have been reporting that they are getting some very nice targeted offers in there (using the tool does not apply for a card – it simply shows you the offers targeted to you).
I would not transfer SPG Starpoints (though you could do that as well) since I view them as too valuable for that. But, if I was going to do the 2016 Paris Marathon, I would consider transferring MR points since they are relatively easy to earn with bonus categories and spending and/or nice bonuses. It is up to you but it is really nice to have the option of getting into a sold-out marathon using only miles!
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