There are so many places I want to see in the world, and – as a travel writer – I’m always scheming different ways to get there.  I could pay with real money, of course, but who wants to do that?


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’s 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!

But how do you get those points? Observe.

Getting to Europe for Free

I would start by signing up for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®.  The current deal is this: Spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of card ownership and earn 30,000 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 over 60,000 American Airlines to burn.  Where will you use them?

See Europe for Free

Picture this:

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.

Free Hotel Stays and Train Fare

We used some of our Barclay Arrival miles to visit friends and give piggy back rides in Jamaica.

We used some of our Barclay Arrival miles to visit friends and give piggy back rides in Jamaica.

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 Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® comes in.  The deal is this: Spend $5,000 within three months of opening your account and earn 70,000 bonus miles.  You also earn 2 points/$1 spent, making your initial spending requirement worth the travel credit.  The $89 annual fee is also waived the first year on this card, making it commitment-free as well.

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® Credit Card from American Express.  Here is their current offer: Right now, you can earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after spending $3,000 in 90 days. The $95 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.

One Last Thing

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 on rewards fares.  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? Not all of these deals stay forever, so let me help you plan your dream trip!

Check out our “Free Rewards Advice” page today!

For more on our travels, enjoy these posts: