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When it comes to international travel, Europe is arguably one of, if not the most popular destination. A common question we receive is what are the best points and miles to use for Europe? The challenge is that there is not one specific rewards currency that is better than all for travel to Europe.
However, there are specific awards within many of the most popular rewards programs that provide fantastic redemption opportunities for travel to Europe. These programs include British Airways Executive Club (Avios), Korean Air SKYPASS, Delta Air Lines (SkyMiles), American Airlines (AAdvantage), ANA, Air Canada (Aeroplan), Singapore Airlines (KrisFlyer), Virgin Atlantic (Flying Club) and Alaska Airlines (Mileage Plus)
If you're looking to pick up points/miles for use in these programs, here are our favorite rewards-earning credit cards:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – Ultimate Rewards transfer partners include: British Airways, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express – Marriott points transfer to ALL of these programs at a 3:1 ratio with a bonus 5,000 miles when you transfer 60,000 Marriott points
- The Platinum Card® from American Express – American Express Membership Rewards transfer to British Airways, Delta Air Lines, ANA, Air Canada, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic
The Best Points & Miles for Travel to Europe (in no particular order):
- British Airways Business Class Awards with Aer Lingus between Ireland and Boston
Perhaps one of the best awards to book overall is redeeming BA Avios for business class travel with Aer Lingus between Boston and Dublin/Shannon as only 50,000 Avios are required each way. Best of all, fuel surcharges on these routes are so small they are barely even noticeable. You will have to call BA to book awards with Aer Lingus, but in this case, the call will be well worth it.
BA is a Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Marriott Rewards transfer partner.
- Korean Air Roundtrip Partner Business Class Awards
For only 80,000 Korean miles you can book a SkyTeam roundtrip business class award between North America and Europe. You can even add two complimentary stopovers if you want. Among the Korean SkyTeam partners that fly to Europe are Air France, Delta, KLM, Air Europa, and Alitalia. Awards with Delta wholly within the U.S. will not incur fuel surcharges. All other Korean Air awards will incur fuel surcharges that vary by airline.
Korean Air is a Marriott Rewards transfer partner.
- Delta One-Way Business Class Awards from the U.S. to Europe
Delta's saver-level business class awards rates to Europe are nothing special (62,500 miles for travel in 2016 and 70,000 miles for travel in 2017 and beyond). However, there are two distinct advantages to booking Delta awards to Europe with a few of their partners. In the case of KLM and Air France, if you can book your award between 10 and 11 months out, you are virtually guaranteed to find availability as AF/KLM do not open up award availability to their members until 10 months out. In the case of Virgin Atlantic, you can book a one-way business class awards to London (or beyond in Europe) without fuel surcharges, something not possible if booking the same award directly with Virgin Atlantic.
Delta is an American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott Rewards transfer partner.
- American Airlines Business Class Awards to Europe with Iberia, Finnair, airberlin and AA
Even after its recent major devaluation, at 57,500 miles each way, AA's award rates for business class travel to Europe are still extremely competitive. The key is to find availability on AA's flights or with Iberia, Finnair or airberlin to avoid major fuel surcharges.
American Airlines is a Marriott Rewards transfer partner.
- ANA Roundtrip Business Class Awards
For only 88,000 miles you can book an ANA Star Alliance roundtrip business class award between North America and Europe. Among the ANA Star Alliance partners that operate flights between North America and Europe are United, Turkish Airlines, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Austrian, SAS, Brussels Air, and LOT Polish. Do keep in mind that awards on some of these airlines incur fuel surcharges with the exact amount varying by airline.
ANA is an American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott Rewards transfer partner.
- Aeroplan Business and First Class Partner Awards
Air Canada's rewards program, Aeroplan, divides Europe into two separate regions. Europe 1 consists of what is mainly considered Western Europe, while Europe 2 consists of what is essentially considered Eastern Europe. Regardless of which of these two regions you are traveling to, Aeroplan's award rates are great: 55,000 miles in business class and 70,000 miles in first class each way to Europe 1 and 57,500 miles in business class and 80,000 miles in first class each way to Europe 1. The key to come out ahead with Aeroplan award bookings is to choose airlines on which fuel surcharges are not imposed or are relatively small, such as United, LOT Polish, Brussels Air, and Turkish.
Aeroplan is an American Express Membership Rewards and Marriott Rewards transfer partner.
- Singapore Airlines Business and First/Suites Awards on Singapore's Flights between Manchester, Moscow and Frankfurt and the U.S.
Singapore Airlines operates the following three fifth-freedom routes between Europe and the U.S.: Houston-Moscow (DME), Houston-Manchester (MAN) and New York JFK-Frankfurt. Business class awards for these routes booked online require only 48,875 miles each way. First and Suites class awards for these routes booked online require only 57,375 miles each way (Suites only currently available on JFK-Frankfurt route). While fuel surcharges are imposed on these routes, they are relatively minor and certainly worth it when you take into consideration the award rates and the experience of flying on Singapore's premium cabins.
Singapore Airlines is a Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, American Express Membership Rewards, and Marriott Rewards transfer partner.
- Virgin Atlantic Business Class Roundtrip Awards with Delta between the U.S. to Europe
For only 90,000 or 100,000 more miles you can book a roundtrip Virgin Atlantic business class award with Delta to Europe. The key to making this award work is to originate travel in the U.S. so that fuel surcharges are not imposed. The following routes require 90,000 miles roundtrip: LHR-Atlanta, LHR-New York JFK, LHR-Boston, LHR-Detroit, LHR-Minneapolis, LHR-Philadelphia, LHR-Seattle, LHR-Salt Lake City, Edinburgh-JFK, and Manchester-Atlanta. All other Delta roundtrip business class awards to Europe will require 100,000 miles. Keep in mind that Virgin Atlantic does not allow one-way awards with Delta.
Virgin Atlantic is a Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, American Express Membership Rewards, and Marriott Rewards transfer partner.
- Alaska Airlines Business and First Class Awards with American Airlines
Ever since American Airlines implemented its most recent award devaluation you are better off booking Alaska awards for American premium cabin travel to Europe (50,000 miles in business class and 62,500 miles in first class) than you would be if booking the same award with American’s miles (57,500 miles in business class and 85,000 miles in first class).
Alaska Airlines is a Marriott Rewards transfer partner.
Which Points or Miles Should You Earn?
When it comes time to earning, you want to make sure you're picking the program that makes sense for you. Flexible points provide you the most options, and while Marriott points transfer to all of these airlines, Marriott transfers are not instant. That said, when it comes to flexibility, they provide the most options. Regardless, we're fans of diversity — check out all the options and pick the one that fits your goals.
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