The Big Travel Guide to AMEX Membership Rewards Points: Part 7 – Europe

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The Big Travel Guide to AMEX Membership Rewards Points: Part 7 – Europe

Million Mile SecretsThe Big Travel Guide to AMEX Membership Rewards Points: Part 7 – EuropeMillion Mile Secrets Team

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You get lots of travel flexibility with AMEX Membership Rewards points.  Because if you don’t have set travel plans for a future trip, these transferable points give you the option to choose from multiple airline and hotel partners when the time comes.

Folks in the miles & points hobby know earning transferable points, like AMEX Membership Rewards points, are the best way to get Big Travel.  This can mean a First Class adventure around-the-world, family trip to Europe, or so many other options!  And it’s easy to earn AMEX Membership Rewards points from some of the best American Express cards.

The AMEX Membership Rewards points program has many direct airline and hotel partners.  Plus, you’ll get access to other indirect partners as well!  So you’ll have lots of choices when planning flights across the Atlantic.  Or you can keep it simple and use AMEX Pay With Points to book flights through the Membership Rewards travel portal and get a fixed amount per point.

Use AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Travel to Wonderful European Destinations Like Cinque Terre, Italy

We’ll show you the best ways to use AMEX Membership Rewards Points for flights to Europe!

The Ultimate Guide to American Express Membership Rewards Points:

Cards That Earn Transferable AMEX Membership Rewards Points

You can earn AMEX Membership Rewards points with the following cards:

AMEX Membership Rewards Points for Flights to Europe

AMEX has several direct airline transfer partners that are great for flights to Europe.  And from the direct partners, you also get access to fly other airlines within the 3 major alliances including:

  • Oneworld (includes American Airlines)
  • SkyTeam (includes Delta)
  • Star Alliance (includes United Airlines)

The best transfer partner will depend on:

  • Available award seats
  • Destination you’d like to visit
  • Which airlines fly from your home airport
  • Your airline & alliance preferences

Keep in mind you can potentially save points by booking a cheap award flight to a city in Europe and using budget airlines to travel to your final destination.

If you don’t have the time or don’t want to book your own award tickets, you can consider using an award booking service.

1.   Air Canada

Link:   Ultimate Guide to Air Canada Aeroplan

Air Canada is part of the Star Alliance.  This means you can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Air Canada and then book flights to Europe on partner airlines like:

  • Brussels Airlines
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines

Keep in mind, you’ll pay fuel surcharges when you redeem Air Canada Aeroplan miles on certain airlines.  These charges can range from ~$50 to several hundred dollars.

The number of miles you’ll need for an award flight varies depending on the region in Europe you’re flying to.  Air Canada has 2 regions in Europe.  The good news is you’ll pay the same amount regardless of your US departure city.

Europe 1 includes:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Spain (including Balearic Islands, but excluding Canary Islands)
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Europe
You Can Use Air Canada Aeroplan Miles to Book Award Flights to Austria on Star Alliance Partner Airlines!

For a one-way award flight from the US to Europe 1, you’ll pay:

  • 30,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in coach
  • 55,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in Business Class
  • 70,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in First Class

For example, a round-trip, non-stop coach award flight from Chicago to Copenhagen costs 60,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles and 62 Canadian dollars (~$48) in taxes and fees.

Book a Round-Trip Award Flight From Chicago to Copenhagen Using 60,000 Air Canada Aeroplan Miles and ~$48 in Taxes & Fees

And Air Canada includes these countries in the Europe 2 region:

  • Albania
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Bosnia
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Georgia
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Macedonia
  • Malta
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Russia (Western)
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine

You’ll pay slightly more for one-way award flights to Europe 2 countries:

  • 37,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in coach
  • 57,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in Business Class
  • 80,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in First Class

For example, a one-stop award flight from Los Angeles to Athens, Greece costs 57,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles and ~28 Canadian dollars (~$22) in taxes and fees.

Pay 57,500 Air Canada Aeroplan Miles and ~$21 in Taxes & Fees to Fly From Los Angeles to Athens, Greece

This same flight costs more than $2,900 if you pay cash.  So we’d gladly pay the small taxes and fees to book the award flight instead!

To find available award seats on Star Alliance partner airlines, we recommend searching the United Airlines website for “Saver” level awards.

2.   ANA

ANA is also part of the Star Alliance, which means you can book award flights to Europe on partners like Air Canada or United Airlines.

You can NOT book a one-way award flight with ANA.  Round-trip award flights from the US to Europe cost:

  • 55,000 ANA miles in coach
  • 88,000 ANA miles in Business Class
  • 165,000 ANA miles in First Class

And you can book United Airlines award flights directly on the ANA website.

For example, a round-trip, non-stop coach United Airlines award flight from Newark to Brussels costs 55,000 ANA miles and ~$57 in taxes and fees.

Use ANA Miles to Fly Star Alliance Partner United Airlines

ANA miles can be useful for more complex itineraries to Europe.  Because the airline allows 1 stopover on round-trip award flights.

For example, you’ll pay 55,000 ANA miles in coach for this sample trip:

  • Newark to London
  • London to Frankfurt
  • Frankfurt to Newark
ANA Allows for a Stopover on Award Flights, Which Is Useful for Folks Visiting Multiple Countries

Keep in mind, ANA adds significant fuel surcharges (up to ~$1,000) on certain partner award flights to Europe.  So run the numbers to see if it makes sense before transferring your AMEX Membership Rewards points.

3.   Alitalia

Alitalia is an AMEX Membership Rewards transfer partner.

One-way award flights to Europe flying Alitalia cost:

  • 30,000 Alitalia miles in coach
  • 39,000 Alitalia miles in Premium Economy
  • 48,000 Alitalia miles in Business Class
American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Europe
Book an Award Flight to Europe on AMEX Transfer Partner Alitalia!

You’ll save by booking a round-trip award flight when flying on Alitalia, which costs less than double the amount of a one-way flight:

  • 50,000 Alitalia miles in coach
  • 65,000 Alitalia miles in Premium Economy
  • 80,000 Alitalia miles in Business Class

Note:   Alitalia published, then unpublished, a new award chart.  Currently, awards are pricing at the rates listed on the old award chart.

Alitalia offers non-stop flights to Europe from:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • New York (JFK)
  • Toronto

For example, you can book a one-way, non-stop award flight from New York (JFK) to Rome for 30,000 Alitalia miles and ~$121 in taxes and fees.

Alitalia is part of the SkyTeam Alliance.  So you can use Alitalia miles to book flights on partner airlines like Air France or Delta.  This means you can fly from other cities like:

  • Atlanta
  • Cincinnati
  • Detroit
  • Minneapolis
  • Salt Lake City
  • Seattle

But these award flights are more expensive than those on Alitalia.  For one-way flights, you’ll pay:

  • 50,000 Alitalia miles in coach
  • 100,000 Alitalia miles in Business Class

Instead, you might get a better deal transferring points directly to the other SkyTeam airlines.  We’ll explain why in a moment!

4.   Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines may not be the first airline that comes to mind when planning a trip to Europe.  But the airline flies from New York (JFK) to Frankfurt before continuing to Singapore.

Using Singapore Airlines miles and starting your trip in Germany can be one of the cheapest ways to use miles to visit Europe.

One-way award flights cost:

  • 22,500 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
  • 65,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class
  • 76,000 Singapore Airlines miles in First Class Suites
American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Europe
Enjoy a Comfortable Bed, Amazing Food, and Terrific Service With Singapore Airlines First Class Suites on Your Way to Frankfurt

Singapore Airlines no longer charges fuel surcharges when flying on their own airplanes, so you will only spend ~$28 in taxes and fees.

Keep in mind you’ll want to plan ahead to book these flights.  Because Singapore Airlines only has limited available award seats at the prices listed.

5.   Delta

Delta does not publish an award chart.  But from experience searching the Delta award calendar, the cheapest one-way award flights to Europe cost:

  • 30,000 Delta miles in coach 
  • 70,000 Delta miles in Business Class
American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Europe
Fly Across the Atlantic in Business Class Using 70,000 Delta Miles for a One-Way Award Flight

Delta offers many non-stop award flights from their hub cities:

  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Cincinnati
  • Detroit
  • Los Angeles
  • Minneapolis
  • New York
  • Salt Lake City
  • Seattle

Other cities like Newark and San Francisco also have non-stop award flight options.

And Delta is part of the SkyTeam Alliance.  This means you can use Delta miles to book award flights on partner airlines like Air France, KLM, and others.  

To quickly find award prices and available seats on Delta’s website, we recommend using the 5 week calendar view.

You can search for non-stop flights in coach or Business Class and see the cost of the award flight, including taxes and fees.

Use Delta’s 5 Week Calendar View to Quickly View the Cost of Award Seats

6.   Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)

Flying Blue is the frequent flyer program for Air France and KLM.  You can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points directly to the program at a 1:1 ratio.

One of the best redemptions to Europe is Flying Blue Promo Rewards.

Each month, Air France and KLM discount award tickets on certain routes by 25% to 50%.  Some months only include discounted coach awards while other months include Business Class.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Europe
Look Out for Discounted Flying Blue Promo Awards Where You Can Save 25% to 50% off Business Class Award Seats in Certain Months

You’ll still pay taxes and fees depending on the route, which can range from ~$200 in coach to ~$500 in Business Class.  But folks looking to use fewer miles can find a great deal this way.

Flying Blue eliminated their award chart, opting for a calculator instead.

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.

7.   British Airways

Link:   Sweet Spot:  Fly to Ireland From 6 US Cities for Only 26,000 British Airways Avios Points Round-Trip!

AMEX Membership Rewards points transfer to British Airways Avios points at a 1:1 ratio.  There are sweet spots that can help you get to Europe.

For example, you can fly from 7 US cities to Dublin for 26,000 British Airways Avios points round-trip during off-peak times.  And 40,000 British Airways Avios points during peak travel.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Europe
Use British Airways Avios Points to Book Award Flights on Aer Lingus

But you can NOT search for or book Aer Lingus award flights on the British Airways website.

Instead you CAN search for “Saver” level award seats on the United Airlines website.  Then call British Airways to book at 800-452-1201.  You can read our step-by-step guide to finding available Aer Lingus award seats.

8.   Etihad

Etihad is not part of an airline alliance.  But they have great airline partnerships, which can help you get to Europe.

One way to book a flight to Europe is to transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Etihad and book award flights on American Airlines.

One-way award flights cost:

  • 30,000 Etihad miles in coach
  • 50,000 Etihad miles in Business Class
  • 62,500 Etihad miles in First Class

And between October 15 and May 15, you can book one-way, off-peak American Airlines coach award flights to Europe using 20,000 Etihad miles. 

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Europe
Use Etihad Miles to Book American Airlines Business Class Award Seats From the US to Europe for 50,000 Miles One-Way

Keep in mind it can be difficult to find available award seats using Etihad miles.

To find award seats eligible for using Etihad miles, you can search available award seats on the American Airlines website or call Etihad.

The trick is to find award seats with eligible booking codes, which means you’ll be able use Etihad miles.  The eligible codes are:

  • Booking code “T” for coach
  • Booking code “U” for Business Class
  • Booking code “Z” for First Class
American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Europe
Check the American Airlines Website to Find Eligible Booking Codes to Use Your Etihad Miles for an Award Flight

To book your award flight, you’ll have to call Etihad at 877-690-0767.

You can use Etihad miles to fly several other partner airlines to Europe, including:

  • Air New Zealand (Los Angeles – London)
  • Air Serbia
  • Alitalia
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Jet Airways
  • Royal Air Maroc

Use AMEX Pay With Points to Avoid Blackout Dates

Instead of transferring AMEX Membership Rewards points directly to airline partners, you can redeem points for airfare using Pay With Points through the Membership Rewards travel portal.

When you use your AMEX Membership Rewards points towards air travel, you’ll get 1 cent per point towards your ticket.  And folks with The Business Platinum® Card from American Express can get a 35% points rebate using the Pay With Points.  You’ll get:

  • 35% of your points back for ALL First Class or Business Class flights booked through the AMEX travel portal
  • 35% of your points back for all flights, including coach tickets, booked with your selected airline through the AMEX travel portal

Redeeming points through the AMEX travel portal can potentially save you points for cheap coach airfare instead of transferring directly to an airline partner.

For example, a sample round-trip United Airlines coach flight from Newark to London costs ~$513 or ~51,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points.

American Express Membership Rewards Points For Flights To Europe
Use Pay With Points to Book Flights Through the AMEX Travel Portal Without Worrying About Blackout Dates. And You Can Potentially Save Lots of Points!

You could book this same flight by transferring points to AMEX airline partners Air Canada or ANA.  But you’d pay:

  • 55,000 ANA miles 
  • 60,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles

And folks with the AMEX Business Platinum can get an amazing deal if the flight is on their selected airline.  And that might make it the best American Express card for you.

For example, if United Airlines is your selected airline, you’ll pay ~51,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points for the sample round-trip flight to London.  But you’ll get 35% of your points back.  In the end, you’ll only use ~33,150 AMEX Membership Rewards points for a round-trip flights to Europe!

Plus, you’ll earn airline miles for your flight!

Bottom Line

AMEX Membership Rewards points are extremely versatile for folks visiting Europe.

You can transfer points directly to AMEX partners and book award flights on several airlines including American Airlines, Air France, Delta, United Airlines, and many more!

Be mindful of fuel surcharges on certain award flights to Europe to make sure you’re getting the best deal!

Or you can use AMEX Pay With Points through the Membership Rewards travel portal to book paid airfare to Europe.  This can be an amazing deal for folks with the AMEX Business Platinum to book cheap coach airfare on their selected airline.

You can potentially save tens of thousands of points using Pay With Points instead of transferring directly to an airline partner for the same flight.

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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