There are many different options to get to Europe from the US with miles. The following US airlines offer flights to Europe at the following award mile requirements:
- American Airlines – 60,000 miles round-trip / 40,000 miles during off-peak (Oct. 15 – May 15) – one-ways are half the miles (30K/20K respectively)
- Delta – 60,000 miles round-trip (one-way costs round-trip price)
- United – 60,000 miles round-trip (one-way costs half, 30,000 miles)
- US Airways – 60,000 miles round-trip / 35,000 miles during off-peak (Jan. 15 – Feb. 28) – one-way costs round-trip price
So, they basically all sit at 60,000 miles except for off-peak seasons. With AA and United, you can fly one-way for 30,000 miles. Depending on where you are going in Europe and when, these tickets are a great deal. Average ticket to European cities might be around $1,000 round-trip, so if you can keep the taxes low, you can get some great value from your miles (taxes typically stay low if you make sure you are only booked on the US airlines and not their partners).
So, how do you get to Europe for less than 20,000 miles?
British Airways Avios/Aer Lingus
One of them is using British Airways Avios to fly on Aer Lingus. If you fly from Boston to Dublin/Shannon, the total cost in miles for a round-trip is 20,000 miles and about $30 in taxes. The one-way is only 10,000 miles! That is a tremendous value and probably the cheapest way to get to Europe on points. However, it requires you to leave from Boston and arrive in Dublin/Shannon. If those are your city pairs, you are all set! To read more about this option, check out this post here. To purchase this one-way on Aer Lingus, it would cost $661. After subtracting the $27 of taxes, you would get an incredible 6.3 cents per point.
British Airways is a transfer partner of both Chase’s Ultimate Rewards (1:) and American Express’ Membership Rewards (1:1 with the occasional bonus). In addition, they are also a transfer partner of the SPG program (1:1 w/ a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred).
Another option is to fly Virgin Atlantic from JFK – London. In this case, you will be paying less in taxes if you only fly to London, not back because of the UK’s high fees and surcharges. So, if you are looking for some way to get to London and you plan to return from some other city, this is a great option as it only costs 13,000 miles and under $100 in taxes for a one-way ticket! that is another great deal! To read more about this option, check out this post. To purchase this one-way on Virgin Atlantic, it would cost $1311. After subtracting the $97 of taxes, you get a whopping value of 9.3 cents per point.
Virgin Atlantic is a transfer partner of both Chase’s Ultimate Rewards (1:) and American Express’ Membership Rewards (1:1). In addition, they are also a transfer partner of the SPG program (1:1 w/ a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points transferred).
This is an odd match as it involves actually flying Singapore Airlines from New York (USA) to Frankfurt (Germany). What? What does Singapore have to do with that? 🙂 This is what is called a Fifth Freedom Flight. This is basically where a different foreign carrier is allowed to operate a flight between two other countries while the flight’s actual beginning or ending destination is in its own country. So, in this case, Singapore flys from New York City to Singapore but has a stopover in Frankfurt. As such, they are allowed to market that New York City to Frankfurt flight as its own flight as well. This opens up another great award redemption opportunity to Europe.
Singapore Airlines requires 20,000 miles for a one-way ticket to Frankfurt from the US, but they give a 15% discount if you book the award online (who doesn’t want to book awards online!). This brings the total down to 17,000 miles. Taxes are around $180. The aircraft used for this flight is their A380 which gets wonderful marks across the industry. I am actually flying this flight from the other way (Frankfurt – JFK) but in First Class (which is a great steal at 57,000 miles). I look forward to having a report on this plane and flight when I return next month. To purchase the one-way ticket from JFK-Frankfurt on Singapore airlines costs $575. This means that you get a point value of 2.3 cents per point (after subtracting the taxes from the ticket price).
Singapore Airlines is a transfer partner of American Express’ Membership Rewards (1:) and the SPG program (1:1 w/ a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred).
This post gives you three separate options on how to get to three European cities – Dublin, Ireland / London, England / Frankfurt, Germany – for under 20,000 miles. To get these points to transfer to these programs, you use Chase’s Ultimate Rewards (for British Airways/Aer Lingus and Virgin Atlantic), American Express’ Membership Rewards (for British Airways/Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic, and Singapore Airlines) or Starwood Preferred Guests Program (for British Airways/Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic, and Singapore Airlines). See the links below for how to get points to transfer.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – Application Link – 40,000 Ultimate Reward points (I do not receive a commission if you use this link)
- Chase Ink Bold – Application Link – 50,000 Ultimate Reward points (I do not receive a commission if you use this link)
- Chase Ink Plus – Application Link – 50,000 Ultimate Reward points (I do not receive a commission if you use this link)
American Express Membership Rewards
- American Express Premier Rewards Gold – Application Link – 25,000 Membership Reward points
- American Express Business Gold Rewards Card – Application Link – 50,000 Membership Reward points (I receive a commission if you use this link)
- American Express Business Platinum Card – Application Link – 25,000 Membership Reward points (I receive a commission if you use this link)
- American Express Mercedes Benz Platinum Card – Application Link – 50,000 Membership Reward points (I do not receive a commission if you use this link)
- American Express Platinum Card – Application Link – 25,000 Membership Reward points
With any of the above cards, you can get at least two one-ways to Europe (or a round-trip) and up to five one-ways to Europe (or two round-trips and a one-way). Pretty awesome deal!
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.