I have had several people ask me lately what the best way to get to Europe is, and it's a very interesting question right now.
At first glance it seems obvious that you would want to redeem miles for a flight across the pond, right? After all, my main tenant here is using credit cards to save up enough miles to pay for an international flight.
Maybe not. Above all else, we want to make sure that we are maximizing the value of our points and miles.
Amazingly, it has become cheaper to fly to Europe than within the United States if you're only looking to book an economy seat. Let's look at an example:
A round-trip flight from New York (JFK) to Rome (FCO) from March 3-March 10 currently costs $389 for an economy seat.
Wow. On the flip side, flights the same days on the same route run for 45,000 miles round-trip in economy when redeeming on American. While that doesn't seem bad either, your value per mile is less than a penny per mile, which is atrocious value. When you factor in many Award Ticket fees and surcharges, you can wind up paying almost the price of a round-trip ticket just in fees alone!
It's incredible how cheap it is to get to Europe right now, so don't assume you need to burn miles.
Obviously, if you're strapped for cash then that adds value to your mileage redemption, but there are other ways to cut down your cost even further.
Several credit cards offer airline fee credits that you can use to purchase gift cards with, while others like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige offer airline fare credits.
Use Google Flights to check your route and days on multiple airlines to find the best fares.
Think through all your options including paying the actual round-trip fare outright.
Are you thinking about booking a flight to Europe? Tweet me @MileageMayhem if you have questions!