It’s far easier to pursue credit card rewards and redeem them for free airfare, hotel stays, or more. Raise your hand if you love getting free stuff!
Now put it back down, weirdo. <insert awkward silence here> It’s time to get serious.
There are several ways to get to Europe for free, but one of the best ways is to take advantage of American Airline off-peak fares. From October 15th-May 15th of each year, one-way tickets to certain cities in Europe cost only 20,000 American Airline miles. So you and your hunky husband (or trophy wife) only need 80,000 American Airlines miles to fly across the pond to a multitude of European cities. Huzzah!
See Europe for Free
You in your most stylish attire, walking through Milan’s high fashion district shopping for stuff you can’t really afford. Or you and your man in London, exploring the historic sights and taking in a world-class show.
Oh! Oh! Oh! How about this?
You and your beautiful wife riding an elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. All her friends think you’re such a bad-ass for taking her, and you’ll never tell them that your trip was free. That would be tacky.
But how do you do it? Well, since you asked……
Getting to Europe for Free
I would start by signing up for the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World MasterCard (not an affiliate link). The deal is this: Spend $3,000 within the first 90 days of card ownership and earn 50,000 American Airline miles. You also earn 2 points/$1 spent at American Airlines and 1 point/$1 spent on everything else. The $95 annual fee is also waived for the first year, making this card commitment-free, capiche?
Once you’re done meeting the minimum spend and earning your bonus miles, make sure your spouse does the exact same thing. Then you’ll have 100,000 American Airlines to burn. Where will you use them?
Free Hotel Stays and Train Fare
But wait. It gets better. If you’re heading to Europe, you’re probably going to need money for train tickets, taxi cabs, and attractions. That’s where the Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard (affiliate link) comes in. The deal is this: Spend $3,000 within three months of opening your account and earn 40,000 bonus miles redeemable for $400 in travel. You also earn 2 points/$1 spent, making your initial spending requirement worth $460 in travel credit. The $89 annual fee is also waived the first year on this card, making it commitment-free as well. This is the best travel card out there since the “miles” can be redeemed for nearly any kind of travel.
But where will you stay? There are a ton of hotel loyalty programs that offer properties all over Europe, but the Starwood Preferred Guest Program is the most lucrative. The easiest way to earn SPG points is to sign up for the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card (not an affiliate link). Here is their offer: Earn 10,000 starpoints after your first purchase then another 15,000 points after spending $5,000 on the card within 6 months. The $65 annual fee is also waived the first year, making this card a no-brainer. You can use these points to stay in hotels all over the globe with redemptions starting at 3,000 points per night. (You can browse Starwood properties and their various redemption levels here)
One Last Thing
If you’re looking for a way to rack up even more American Airline miles, you might want to consider signing up for the US Airways Premier World MasterCard (affiliate link). The deal is this: Earn 40,000 Dividend Miles after your first purchase on the card. That’s it. Easy, huh?
However, the $89 annual fee is not waived. Since American Airlines and US Airways are in the midst of a merge, word on the street is that US Airways Dividend Miles will soon become American Airline miles. So, basically, you’d be paying $89 for 40,000 Dividend Miles which will become American Airline miles one day soon. Remember how I said a round-trip flight to Europe costs 40,000 AA miles during the off-peak season? Winner winner chicken dinner!
Just remember, paying interest on your credit card is not what all the cool kids are doing. If you choose to pursue any of these offers, make sure you can pay your card in full and on-time. Also, keep in mind that airlines sometimes charge certain taxes and fees that must be paid for reward fare. It varies depending on your flight, but- as an example- we’re flying to London and home from Paris for less than $200 in taxes and fees. Sounds good, right?
So, what are you waiting for?