There are many ways to travel throughout Europe and using miles is typically not the best way to do it. Award charts are not very friendly for European travel and you still pay taxes and fees. At the same time, there are a low cost carrier options that can get you around on the cheap as well. So, with these options, what is my new favorite method of redemption for European travel?
My New Favorite Method of Redemption for European Travel
Ryanair and Easyjet (as well as the LCC) are great, cheap ways to bounce around Europe. But, if you want to select seats or carry some kind of bags on, not to mention using your alliance elite status, you will want to fly on regular alliance carriers. Plus, once you consider the “extras” between LCCs and alliance airlines, the cost is much closer.
Chase Sapphire Reserve = 1.5 Cents Per Point
I will fly those airlines when the schedule and price is right but my current favorite method of redemption is actually taking advantage of what I think is the best part of the hottest card of the year – the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I said before that the redemption value of 1.5 cents per point when using Ultimate Reward points from the Sapphire Reserve account is definitely my favorite part and the killer feature of the card.
Points vs Miles
While using this does not let you book the LCCs, it does let you book the regular prices of other airlines. Plus, you can choose to use cash and points together if you would rather not redeem altogether. For example, a recent ticket I looked at was Thessaloniki – Stockholm. Because I had to fly non-stop, it was to be on SAS (a Star Alliance carrier). To book it on United, it would cost 15,000 miles (which can be transferred from Ultimate Rewards at 1:1) and $13.20 in taxes and fees.
For the same date, the actual ticket cost is $81! Yes, I could pay for that with cash but I like to use miles and points when at all possible. So, by using my Ultimate Reward points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve account, I could get 1.5 cents per point on that ticket. That means it cost 5,460 Ultimate Reward points – 10,000 fewer points than if I were to transfer them to United to book it as an award. Not only that, but I would earn miles on that flight having “purchased” it with Ultimate Rewards!
Yes, that is an example on the low end but even for a ticket that costs $280, it can still be had 18,666 Ultimate Reward points. That is only 3,000 more points than an award ticket but I could combine cash and points if I wanted to do that – I cannot do that with miles.
Money & Points
The flexibility of the Ultimate Reward points for point redemptions is fantastic as you do not have to wait for award availability and you can choose to use as many or as few points as you would like to. Yes, you can still get more than 1.5 cents in value if you transfer to a UR partner for premium redemptions, but this use is also a nice, convenient one. It has become my new favorite redemption method for European travel.