Top 5 Cheap Ways to Get to Europe Using Miles and Points!

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The ancient ruins of Rome (and the amazing food!), the romance of Paris (dinner inside the Eiffel Tower!), the theater in London (I won’t mention the food)…

It’s the time of year when folks are planning their summer trips to Europe.  Sometimes low-level award seats can be hard to find because it’s such a popular place to go!

So it’s good to have options for the cheapest ways to get there using miles and points!

Here are my favorite cheap award tickets to Europe.  If you don’t mind flying coach, you could get there for as little as 26,000 miles round-trip!

Top 5 Cheap Ways To Get To Europe Using Miles And Points

Planning a Summer Getaway to Europe? I’ll Show You the Cheapest Ways to Get There!

And remember, you don’t have to fly there and back on the same airline.

Sometimes you’ll get a better deal (and more available award seats) by booking 1-way flights on different airlines.  Or you might mix-and-match because you don’t have enough points in 1 program for a round-trip ticket.

Top 5 Cheap Ways to Get to Europe Using Miles and Points

This isn’t a ranking!  Depending on whether you want to conserve miles and points, or save money, each of these programs is cheap in their own way.

And the location of your home airport is also a factor, so always do the math to see what works best for your situation.

1.   American Airlines Miles

Link:   American Airlines Award Chart

Link:   American Airlines Partner Award Chart

I like using American Airlines miles to get to Europe because their taxes and fees are often lower than other airlines.  And if you can travel at off-peak times (like spring and fall), you’ll pay fewer miles!

You can use American Airlines miles to fly to Europe on American Airlines or on their oneworld alliance partners, like British Airways, Finnair, or Iberia.

But you’ll pay hefty fuel surcharges for award tickets on British Airways, so that’s NOT a good deal.

Top 5 Cheap Ways To Get To Europe Using Miles And Points

You Could Use American Airlines Miles to Fly to Spain on Iberia, and Take Part in La Tomatina, an Epic Tomato Fight Held Each August

Whether you’re flying on American Airlines or 1 of their partners, you’ll pay 60,000 miles round-trip for a coach class flight between the US and Europe.  But if you’re able to travel at off-peak times (October 15 to May 15), it only costs 40,000 miles round-trip.

Top 5 Cheap Ways To Get To Europe Using Miles And Points

Off-Peak Award Tickets to Europe Only Cost 40,000 American Airlines Miles (and Low Fees, Except for British Airways Flights)

That’s a great deal if you can plan a spring or fall getaway!  But even if you’re traveling at peak times, it’s still a good deal because of the low taxes and fees compared to some other airlines.

How to Earn American Airlines Miles

You can’t transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership rewards points to American Airlines.  But you can transfer Starwood Preferred Guest points (and earn a 5,000 mile bonus when you transfer 20,000 points).

Or you can earn them from credit cards like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® or Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®.  Both of these cards currently have a 50,000 mile sign-up bonus after completing minimum spending requirements.

2.   British Airways Avios Points

Link:   British Airways Award Calculator

Link:   Wandering Aramean Avios Price Mapper

British Airways Avios points can be a great way to get to Europe cheaply for folks who live on the East coast.  That’s because British Airways uses a distance-based award chart, so areas closer to Europe cost fewer points!

British Airways adds big fuel surcharges to their own award tickets, and to tickets on some of their partners.  That’s NOT Big Travel with Small Money!

But there are ways to get to Europe using British Airways Avios points that won’t cost a lot in taxes and fees!

Aer Lingus

You can use British Airways Avios points to fly Aer Lingus to Europe very cheaply, especially if you live on the east coast.

That’s because British Airways uses a distance-based award chart.  So flights from cities like New York, Boston, and Washington, DC, (which are closer to Dublin) cost fewer miles.

And you can fly from these destinations in the off-peak season for only 13,000 British Airways Avios points each way in coach:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Hartford
  • Newark
  • New York – JFK
  • Washington, DC

And peak season tickets are still a good deal at 20,000 British Airways Avios points one-way.

Top 5 Cheap Ways To Get To Europe Using Miles And Points

You Could Stop in for a Pint at the Guinness Factory in Dublin

You’ll pay fees of ~$150, but that’s still far better than the fuel surcharges (sometimes $600+) added to British Airways’ own flights.

That said, if you prefer flying Business Class, you’ll pay 50,000 British Airways Avios points each way in the off-peak season.

Note:   You can’t search for Aer Lingus award seats on the British Airways website.  You could use ExpertFlyer, or call British Airways at 800-452-1201 to check for available seats.  And you’ll have to book over the phone (but ask nicely and they might waive the $25 phone booking fee!).

Air Berlin

Air Berlin is another good use of British Airways Avios points to fly to Europe.  You’ll pay taxes and fees on the ticket, but the price is minimal compared to award flights on British Airways!

Top 5 Cheap Ways To Get To Europe Using Miles And Points

It Costs 40,000 Avios Points and $96 for a Round-Trip Coach Class Ticket Between New York and Dusseldorf on Air Berlin

Again, because Avios is distance-based, you’ll pay fewer miles from the East coast than from other US destinations.  For example, Chicago to Berlin costs 50,000 miles round-trip plus $94 in coach class.

Top 5 Cheap Ways To Get To Europe Using Miles And Points

You’ll Need More Miles to Fly From Chicago, but It’s Still a Good Deal

Remember, if you want to fly beyond Ireland or Germany using Avios points, you can book relatively inexpensive short-haul European flights.  British Airways still adds fuel surcharges to these flights, but they’re much lower than other destinations.

Or you could buy a cheap paid ticket on a discount airline like Ryanair.  Or consider taking the train!

How to Earn British Airways Avios Points

British Airways Avios are easy to get.  They’re a Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner.  And sometimes there are transfer bonuses with AMEX Membership Rewards.

Or you could earn points from the Chase British Airways Visa Signature card, which comes with a $95 annual fee..

3.   Flying Blue (Air France / KLM) Miles

Link:   Flying Blue Promo Awards

If you want to save your miles and points, you could do very well with Flying Blue Promo Awards to Europe.

Each month, Air France and KLM discount award tickets on certain routes by up to 50%.  You’ll still pay taxes and fees depending on the route, but it could be worth it for folks who want to use fewer miles.

For example, a coach class award ticket between the US and Europe normally costs 50,000 miles round-trip.  But when Flying Blue discounts their coach class tickets by 50%, you’ll only pay 25,000 miles round trip.

Top 5 Cheap Ways To Get To Europe Using Miles And Points

You Could Go Just About Anywhere in Europe, Like Portugal, With Discounted Flying Blue Promo Awards

That said, you’ll also pay taxes and fees which vary depending on destination (usually under ~$200 each way, sometimes even less).

And you don’t have to end your journey in Paris or Amsterdam (the European cities served directly from the US by Air France and KLM).  For the same number of miles, you can connect onward to other European cities.

And Flying Blue’s definition of Europe includes Western Russia, Israel, and cities in Northern Africa.  So you could stretch your points even farther.

How to Earn Flying Blue Miles

Note:   Only Flying Blue miles can be used to book Promo Awards, not miles from SkyTeam partner airlines like Delta.

But you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Flying Blue at a 1 : 1 ratio, and sometimes there are transfer bonuses.  Or you could transfer Starwood Preferred Guest or Citi ThankYou points.

4.   Singapore Airlines

Link:   Singapore Airlines Award Chart

Link:   Singapore Airlines Partner Award Chart

Singapore Airlines might not be the 1st airline that comes to mind when you think about flights between the US and Europe.  They’re a Star Alliance member, but add fuel surcharges to both their own and most partner award tickets.

But many folks don’t know you can book Singapore Airlines award flights between New York and Frankfurt for only 17,000 miles (plus taxes and fees) in coach class each way!  The price on the award chart is actually 20,000 miles 1-way, but you get a 15% discount when you book your ticket online.

The same applies to award flights between Houston and Moscow.

Top 5 Cheap Ways To Get To Europe Using Miles And Points

You Can Fly the Singapore Airlines A380 Between New York and Frankfurt for Fewer Miles, but You’ll Pay Fuel Surcharges

If you’re trying to make your miles last, this could be a good way to get to Europe.  As long as you don’t mind the fuel surcharges.

Top 5 Cheap Ways To Get To Europe Using Miles And Points

It Costs 17,000 Miles Plus ~$202 in Fees From New York to Frankfurt 1-Way

And if you’ve dreamed of flying in Singapore Airlines suites, this is a good opportunity to try it out.  The fees are almost the same as a coach class award ticket, and you’ll pay 57,375 miles.

Top 5 Cheap Ways To Get To Europe Using Miles And Points

Want to Splurge on a Singapore Airlines Suite? It Costs 57,375 Miles and ~$239 From New York to Frankfurt

How to Earn Singapore Airlines Miles

Keep in mind Singapore Airlines miles are easy to get.  You can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Starwood Preferred Guest.

5.   United Airlines Miles

Link:   United Airlines Award Chart

Link:   United Airlines Partner Award Chart

The good thing about United Airlines is that they do NOT add fuel surcharges to award tickets!  And because they have so many European Star Alliance partners, you’ve got lots of flight options.

For example, you’ll pay 30,000 miles and ~$6 for a 1-way, coach ticket from New York to Frankfurt on Lufthansa using United Airlines miles.  The return trip is the same number of miles, but the fees are higher (~$111).

Top 5 Cheap Ways To Get To Europe Using Miles And Points

United Airlines Doesn’t Add Fuel Surcharges to Award Tickets

Remember, you might find lots of award seats available on less popular Star Alliance airlines, like Brussels Airlines or LOT Polish Airlines.

I’ve written about all the ways to get to Europe using United Airlines miles.

Although since that post was written, there have been some changes to their award charts.  For example, awards on Star Alliance partner airlines, especially in Business and First Class, are now more expensive

How to Earn United Airlines Miles

You can earn United Airlines miles from the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card and United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card.  And the business version currently has an increased 50,000 mile sign-up bonus.

United Airlines is also a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner.   Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio.

Save Time While Saving Miles!

Emily and I use ExpertFlyer to plan our trips.  It’s an easy way to see which flights have available award seats (but not all airlines are included).

And with a paid subscription, you can set up seat alerts which notify you if award seats have opened up.  This saves us lot of time because otherwise we’d have to keep checking the airline websites!

Here are some other resources for travel to Europe:

Bottom Line

If you’re planning travel to Europe this summer, it’s good to have lots of choices when you book award tickets.

And depending on the airline you choose, you could get there for fewer miles and points, or lower fuel surcharges.

I’ve listed my favorite deals for cheaper travel to Europe.  But I’d love to hear your ideas!  What’s your favorite way to get to Europe using miles and points?

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20 responses to “Top 5 Cheap Ways to Get to Europe Using Miles and Points!

  1. Any suggestions on searching for American flights? I’m trying to find a friend get flights to Rome. She only has American miles. I’m in the Northeast and have a number of airports to chose from (Philly, Newark, JFK, LaGuardia) and I’m looking for flights to Rome in Oct, low season. But the ONLY flights I can find seem to be British Airways with their sky high fees. I’m searching on and it’s not pulling Air Berlin flights, Iberia, nothing but British Airways. There don’t even seem to be any American or US Airways flights which seems suspect to me. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

  2. You forgot to mention Aeroplan 45k each way business class to Europe.

  3. Thanks for the info.

  4. If I just got the us air card in november and want to apply for another one should I first cancel the first one or just lower my credit limit and apply for a second?

  5. Thanks to the discounted United awards right now, partner flights in business are only marginally more than they used to be – 57,500 miles each way instead of 50,000 miles.
    Also, for anyone that has accrued Aegean miles while getting Star Alliance Gold, they are only 45k miles one way in business to Europe (which includes Israel) and that is on Star Alliance partners or US Airways.

  6. Great post! We are going to Italy this summer using United Miles out and American miles back. It was super easy, cost under $200 total in taxes, and allowed us to fly into Milan and out of Venice. While we had to pay for our hotels in Bellagio and Cinque Terre, we will be staying for free in Venice at the brand new JW Marriott. I can’t wait to check it out!

  7. Can United miles be used to fly Singapore Airlines from New York to Frankfurt in a suite? How many miles does it take?

  8. thats the “top” 5 ways? geez, what happened to this place

  9. This is only marginally on-topic, but late last month I finally got to experience Suites class on Singapore’s A380 on SQ 11 from L.A. to Singapore via Tokyo. It was everything I’d imagined and then some, simply amazing in every way. Spacious & oh so private, with stellar service from the moment I checked in, as well as plentiful delicious food (I used their “Book the Cook” and the Lobster Thermidor was divine, and the Japanese meal I had on the segment out of Tokyo was wonderful too). Had both the 2004 Dom Perignon and Krug Grand Cuvee, as well as Macallan single malt Scotch and Johnny Walker Blue Label (I’m definitely a fan of Scotch) and an excellent 20 year aged Duoro port wine.

    Oh, and I slept like a baby for once in that separate flat bed. It made all the difference in the world: 13 time zones’ difference, yet my body was on Singapore pretty much from the moment I arrived, and definitely was 100% by the day after. I think I’m spoiled forever on flying coach. For anybody aspiring to do this, Chase UR and Citi TY as well as AmEx MR transfers (and SPG, too, I think) make it easy to come up with the KrisFlyer miles needed (and I absolutely LOVE that 15% online discount they offer, SO generous!). I could never have done this without the miles & points hobby. So a HUGE thank you to MMS 🙂

  10. Super Frustrated…

    Every year I see these type of post… “Here is how to get to Europe on Miles” Every Year I try… So Far I have not found anything worth wile… All the Airline Sites hide availability, and make it almost impossible to use miles to book award tickets. So Frustrated in fact, I have decided to quit collecting Airline Miles… they are not worth the trouble.

  11. Any ideas on lowest FF miles needed to fly from Seattle to Paris or Venice ?
    Or Seattle to anywhere on the continent Europe. We can take a train once in Europe but need to go this May for a full month. Coach class. Would love to fly first class once in my life but probably won’t as I’m now a senior citizen and want to use all my miles for as many trips as possible

  12. ^Super Frustrated. I’m not sure why you are having so much trouble. I booked a united airlines flight out of Miami to Rome and Venice back to Miami for 60k points and $98.10 for the week of Memorial Day. I did the same thing last year for the same week to Dublin out of Ft. Lauderdale. I cant vouch for the other airlines mentioned but United seems to make their saver fares regularly available. Don’t give up. You just need to be persistent.

  13. I found that to fly with points during the summer you have to start looking the previous year when they are first posted. Next look for hubs where there are lots of direct flights like CLT, LGA, ATL or EWR. You can use BA and they will tell you how many seats are available where AA/ USAir doesn’t. Use you miles on SWA to get you to the hubs. Also you will be better off using Easyjet or Vueling between major Europe cities for about the same price as Ryanair, so also check them.
    The euro is cheaper than ever and is a good time to travel there!

  14. Having trouble planning my trip to turkey, greece, and Egypt. Any suggestions. Thanks

  15. Greetings! I am new to all the credit card/airline flight rewards stuff. I am wanting to fly from Chicago to Dublin mid-September and am wondering what my smartest flight options/decisions would be, with my rewards being from Capital One Venture CC. Thx!

  16. Help!

    Trying to figure out the best way to get from Seattle > Dublin > Italy (we are interested in seeing Rome, Florence, Venice this trip and can be flexible in which we fly into, and out of) and back up to Paris for the last few days of the trip. Brother & I will fly into Dublin and then to Italy and husband will meet in Italy, tour around a few days, and spend the last 2 days in Paris.

    Are there any airlines that fly into any of these Italian cities that might stopover in Dublin? Crazy I know but just trying to shell out the least $$$ on airfare and see the places we want to see.

    Ideally, I would like to pay cash for my ticket and use Alaska miles for brothers ticket.

    Any advice appreciated!!!

  17. Does FlyingBlue allow stopovers?
    I fly to Greece every year and have now been four
    years in a row with miles!! I have AmEx rewards
    points to transfer before canceling the Platinum
    card and KLM looks like my best choice.
    Thank you!!

  18. Europe can be expensive to travel around the but with these tips in your blog will save plenty of money by learning all the ways to travel cheap.

  19. What am I missing??? I’ve been looking AA one way MAD-LAX one way on May 14. There’s availability but it’s 30k miles for Econ MilesSAAver! Even a month prior to that it’s still 30k. It’s 20k on Iberia with Avios.