We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Last year, my family and I had an epic trip to France. This year, we decided to go to Spain and visit Granada, a picturesque town located in the south. Here’s how 2 couples (one with a baby!) went to France in Business Class for a fraction of the price using miles and points!
There’s nothing NOT to like about this hidden gem in Europe—we had a fantastic time enjoying live flamenco, sampling tapas around the city, learning how to make paella, and visiting the Alhambra!
You can do it too with the best credit cards for travel!
Here’s how to do it!
How to Book Flight & Hotel
You Can Do It, Too!
How to Earn Miles & Points for Your Trip
Earn American Airlines Miles
If you need more American Airlines miles, consider cards like:
- CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® | Our Review of CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum – 70,000 American Airlines miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 4 months of account opening
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® | Our Review of Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select – 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $2,500 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® | Our Review of Citi / AAdvantage Executive – 75,000 American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
Earn United Airlines Miles
If you’re looking to earn United Airlines miles, you could apply for cards like:
- United Explorer Card – 40,000 United Airlines miles after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account.
And don’t forget, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines miles at a 1:1 ratio!
Earn Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
So, you could also consider cards like:
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card | Our Review of the Ink Business Preferred – 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card | Our Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred – 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account
- Chase Sapphire Reserve | Our Review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve – 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account
Earn AMEX Membership Rewards Points
If you’d like to earn AMEX Membership Rewards points, consider cards like:
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN | Our Review of the AMEX Business Platinum Card – Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards points after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements
- The Platinum Card® from American Express | Our Review of the AMEX Platinum Card – 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases with your new card in the first 3 months
- The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN | Our Review of the AMEX Business Gold Rewards Card – 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of card membership
How to Redeem Miles for Your Trip
1. Using American Airlines Miles
A flight from the US to Europe costs:
- 30,000 American Airlines miles one-way in coach
- 57,500 American Airlines miles one-way in Business Class
- 85,000 American Airlines miles one-way in First Class
Using American Airlines miles to get to Europe is a good option, 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.
2. Using Air Canada Aeroplan Miles
For a one-way award flight from the US to Europe 1 (Europe 1 includes France), 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
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
3. Using United Airlines Miles
To fly from the US to Europe, you’ll pay:
- 30,000 United Airlines miles one-way in coach
- 60,000 United Airlines miles one-way in Business Class
- 80,000 United Airlines miles one-way in First Class
Note: Award prices on partner airlines in Business and First Class are higher.
Here’s our series on how to use United Airlines miles.
4. Other Ways to Get to Europe
Check out our posts for more ways to fly to (and within) Europe cheaply:
- Ultimate Guide to Big Travel With American Express Membership Rewards Points Part 7: Europe
- Planning a European Vacation With Ink Business Preferred 80,000-Point Bonus
- How to Book Flights to Europe on Star Alliance Partner Airlines Using Chase Points
- How to Fly to Europe Using the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- Explore Europe for Cheap With Budget Airlines
Are You New to Miles & Points?
If you are new to collecting miles and points, start by reading our Beginner’s Guide and applying for 1 to 2 credit cards to get comfortable with the process. I have applied for 3 to 5 cards every few months, but do what you are comfortable with.
If you’re looking for ideas about how to complete minimum spending requirements, see our post that includes 40+ ways to meet your card’s minimum spend.
We Booked 4 Business Class Flights on SWISS Airlines With AMEX Points
We scored flights on SWISS Airlines, and were very happy in our Business Class seats! It costs 55,000 American Express points, which I then transferred to Aeroplan. I am usually a fan of flying American Airlines for international trips, mainly because I have a healthy balance of miles. Flying United Airlines can also be great for flying to Europe, and there’s no risk of paying hefty taxes and fees like with American Airlines (British Airways can tack on hundreds of dollars of fees, making flights booked in coach usually not worth it).
But this time, I wanted to use points earned from my AMEX Business Platinum Card. Plus, this gave me a chance to use up the Aeroplan miles on hold from the biggest mistake I made in my miles & points history — booking a flight from the wrong airport!
We flew from New York (JFK) to Zurich, where we had a ~2 hour layover. Then we flew from Zurich to Madrid.
It felt great using up my points, and flying in luxury on a SWISS flight! Even Arya got a baby bassinet for sleeping, which was VERY nice for us. I learned that you can’t pre-select your seats on SWISS (yes, even in Business Class) unless you pay a ~$100 fee. Because I was traveling with 4 people, I really didn’t want to pay ~$400 for the luxury of sitting together, so I decided to chance it. But I did end up scoring seats together, which was awesome!
For people traveling with a small baby, you must request a bassinet prior to your flight. I learned from the purser that every flight doesn’t always have an extra bassinet, and that we got lucky to have one on board.
We loved the food and the excellent flight attendants on this flight. They even served us Lindt chocolates – a Swiss speciality!
The Swiss Airlines Lounge Was a Luxurious Getaway Between Flights
In Zurich, we popped into the SWISS Airlines lounge for some free drinks, snacks, and Wi-Fi. I’m a big fan of lounges because of their comforts while traveling. You can get FREE access to many lounges with certain credit cards.
I have the Citi AAdvantage Executive card that gives me free access to American Airlines lounges, and am thinking of applying for other cards to get access to more than one type of lounge. Having flexibility is very nice!
The SWISS lounge was very classy! If you have a Business Class or First Class ticket, you can enter the lounge for free.
Stay at the Marriott Using Points
After we finally arrived in Granada, we stayed at the Marriott Hotel Palacio De Santa Paula, Autograph Collection using Starwood (now Marriott) points. It was a former monastery and is located in the heart of the city. Rooms here cost 35,000 Marriott points a night, or you can do a cash and points option.
We had a wonderful time in this hotel! The highlight (besides the central location), was the historic aspect to it.
What to Do in Granada, Spain
We had SO MUCH fun in Granada! The number 1 thing to see is the Alhambra, which is a palace and fortress from AD 889. The architecture is fantastic. But be warned that you need to book tickets FAR IN ADVANCE. The guidebooks will say at least 1 month, and further out in the busy season.
We got very lucky because we went to a local tour group office and snagged 4 tickets. But this was a rarity, and I tried to book tickets on every website I could find, only to find out nothing was available.
We took a cooking class, where we learned how to make paella. We also received a lesson on Spanish food and wine, and learned the importance of aceite de oliva (olive oil).
There Are so Many Great Places to Eat in Granada, Spain
We had some very good food in Spain, and had fun sampling the tapas.
Thankfully, there is a lot of variety in Granada, and we found some excellent restaurants. We found a crepe restaurant (which we ended up visited daily during our trip!), a restaurant that specialized in local/organic food, and also a Lebanese retaurant.
And if you are craving your cereal from back home, there is even a restaurant for that, too!
We planned ~1 month in advance for our family of 4 (plus baby!) to go to Granada, Spain. We used American Express points that I transferred to Aeroplan to book our flights. One-way flights in Business Class cost 55,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles. For our return, we flew on American Airlines in coach.
It’s easy to earn miles and points for a similar trip from the best travel credit cards. And check out our guide on using Chase Ultimate Rewards points to travel to Europe!
We had an amazing time in Granada and loved the unique architecture, learning how to cook paella, and exploring the diverse neighborhoods.
Have you traveled to Spain? Share your tips below!