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Sunday Reader Question: Using Amex Points to Get To Europe

by on April 15, 2012 · 13 comments

in American Express

TPG reader Doris writes:

“My family of four would like to go from Houston to Europe (Amsterdam or Germany) in early August. We have the Amex Platinum card with 240,000 points. What are your recommendations?  Should we transfer our points to Flying Blue?  Will they come out with promotions for August?”

Flying Blue can be a smart option if you can book within 2 months of travel and want business class and don’t mind paying fuel surcharges of about $800 per ticket. Flying Blue Promo Awards are only 25,000 miles in economy and 50,000 roundtrip in business class, so you’d have more than enough for all 4 members of your family and KLM flies Houston to Amsterdam non-stop. However, they won’t announce the July/ August promo award cities until June and you won’t be able to book them until the last day of June and who knows what availability will be like at that time.

Other options:
Economy
1) Transfer points to Aeroplan and fly on United to avoid fuel surcharges. Awards to Europe 1 (which include the Netherlands and Germany) are 60,000 miles each roundtrip and Amex transfers to Aeroplan at an instant 1:1.
2) Delta is also a 1:1 transfer partner and historically there have been a lot of transfer bonuses, but there’s been a lull lately. Not sure if that’ll change, but if you can find KLM or Air France availability those tickets will be 60,000 miles each for economy with relatively low fees.

Business class
1) There’s currently a 50% transfer bonus to British Airways and roundtrip business class awards are 100,000 miles a piece from Houston to London. To get those 400,000 points needed, you’d have to transfer 267,000 Amex, and Amex will advance you the amount you need for free as long as you earn them back within the next year (or you can buy them for 2.5 cents a piece). You’d then have to redeem for intra-European flights  because BA prices each segment a la carte. You could also buy them from low cost carriers.  Just prepare yourself for the fees – you should expect around $900 a ticket in fuel surcharges. Then again, BA has a pretty nice lie-flat business class seat (Club World) and nice lounges and you are still saving a ton from what you’d pay outright for business class.

These are just a couple suggestions. I’d recommend using airline websites like United.com, Airfrance.us, Britishairways.com and even paid sites like ExpertFlyer to find award availability on your preferred dates and then go from there.

Finding 4 low level awards in August to Europe will be a challenge, but if you are are diligent and persistent I’m sure you can make it happen. Keep us updated!

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Pete

    Are there any working links out there for AX Platinum 50K?

  • Guest111

    I think for this family of 4, they should transfer all their Amex points to Aeroplan, then use those miles to book 4 coach tickets nonstop to Frankfurt, with Lufthansa. Unless I’m mistaken you can use Aeroplan miles for Lufthansa tickets and the fuel surcharges are not that high. Lufthansa economy class is decent and many of their planes (but not all) have wifi internet for a fee. That helps make the time pass quicker.
    Frankfurt is a nice city but they can also take the train to Munich, Berlin, Amsterdam, Switzerland, Austria, etc. As for booking business class tickets, as you said it would be about $800 in fees per tickets, so they would be spending at least $3,000 for all 4 of them.

  • AGuy

    So Amex points transfer to Aeroplan 1:1? And once I do that I can use that to book United flights?

  • Guest111

    Yes. For 240k Amex points you get 240k Aeroplan points, enough for 4 roundtrip coach tickets to Europe. You can use Aeroplan miles to book on any Star Alliance carrier including: Air Canada, US Airways, United Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Turkish airlines, and others.
    If they are flying out of Houston, Lufthansa can take them nonstop to Frankfurt.

  • Rtsing

    no video today?? hehe

  • AGuy

    Thank for the reply, planning a trip to Rome and only had 35k United miles. But I have 60k amex points I will transfer over.

  • TommyZ13

    My credit score is excellent but my sister’s is not. Would it boost her credit score if I signed her up as a user for one of my high credit limit credit cards? So both credit cards would have our respective names on it but both would have my credit card number and they would not require a credit check to issue the card to her.

    If this does not work, are there any other ways I can help to increase her credit score without paying her credit card bills?

  • Newt

    I’d like to see a similar article on the best ways to use Amex points to get to India on business class. Or Bali. Is there something like that already written?

    Thanks

  • Doug

    It’s very hard to find Delta availability in Economy at 60,000.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612853979 Nicholas Kokas

    I have been unable to find anything for less than 125,000 miles for economy using Delta skypesos for July from Detroit to Athens. I even used the expertflyer website which was no help at all and offered nothing for me to find lower redemption levels.

  • Pami

    I need to travel to Fargo, ND in July. My son has already booked a trip via United and I would like to travel with him. My points are in my AMEX currently and I see that United is not a partner. Is there any “creative” way I can book my flight on United through another airlines or somehow get my AMEX points transfered to United?

  • MJLouise
  • JL

    Air Canada is now by far the best way to go. Just be carefule not to book on an International carrier (1.e. any European company) as the fuel surcharges are so great you shouldn’t waste your points. It also is much easier than Delta because they have set points for various areas of Europe rather than each city having a different point requirements based on availability. Delta use to be great. In the past I’ve gotten to roundtrip ticket to Europe for as low as 55,000 points, but now it is impossible to find anything under 95,000 and most of those are terrible flying times or next to impossible to get. Also with Delta their website will show you a ticket price and a second later when you go to execute the purchase their site says it is now not available. I’ve played the “game” for hours and am done with Delta.

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