Sweet Spot Sunday: American Airlines off-peak awards to Europe for 45,000 miles round-trip
Europe is open for Americans, and the region is gearing up for a busy summer. But if you're hoping to skip the crowds, it might be in your best interest to opt for a fall trip to Europe.
Not only are hotels cheaper and attractions less crowded, but you might also be able to take advantage of a special sweet spot award: American Airlines’ 45,000-mile off-peak economy award.
If you travel to Europe between Nov. 1 – Dec. 14 this year, you’ll save 25% on the usual redemption rate. With American’s sizeable route network between the U.S. and Europe, you’ll also have many options that don’t involve hefty taxes and fuel surcharges.
Here’s everything you need to know about American AAdvantage off-peak award tickets to Europe:
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Why it’s special
An economy class award ticket to Europe normally costs around 60,000 miles round-trip. Redeeming just 45,000 AAdvantage miles is a significant discount. Thanks to American not adding fuel surcharges to its own flights, it's possible to book these awards with minimal taxes and fees. You'll pay just $5.60 out of pocket on a one-way flight that departs from the U.S. to Europe.
This award is even more attainable due to how easily you can earn AAdvantage miles. In fact, you can book this award with just a single credit card sign-up bonus. More on that later.
How to book this award
The great thing about this American Airlines sweet spot award to Europe is that you can book it online in minutes. Award availability is also great in the fall, when travel demand tends to be lower. Here’s how to book this award step-by-step:
Step 1: Log into your account
While you can search award space without logging in, doing so saves you an extra step when you’re ready to book. You can log in by heading to aa.com and selecting “login” on the upper right corner of the homepage.
Step 2: Enter your trip information
After you log in, you’ll be redirected to the AA home page. That’s where you’ll enter your trip information. You can book this award as either a one-way or round-trip. Be sure to check off the “Redeem miles” box.
Related: The cheapest ways to book a trip to Spain with points and miles
Step 3: Confirm your travel dates
You can look through all the available flight options on the search results page and change your date if you can’t find saver award space.
You can choose the “calendar” function for a more extensive search and find availability across several months.
When selecting a flight, keep an eye out for any abnormally high taxes. These tend to appear on flights with British Airways segments transiting through London.
Step 4: Confirm and pay
Once you’ve found your flights, you can proceed with redeeming your award. If you’re logged in, most of the fields will be pre-filled, and you’ll need to remember to enter your Global Entry PASSID and pay for your flight. Ideally, you’d use a credit card that offers bonus miles on airline spending to pay the taxes and fees.
You can transfer points from Bilt Rewards to American at a 1:1 transfer ratio if you're short on American miles. Alternatively, you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to American at a 3:1 transfer ratio, with a 5,000 mile bonus added to every 60,000 points transferred. This means that 60,000 Marriott points equal 25,000 airline miles.
Or, if you're really in a pinch, you can buy miles. That can work out favorably if you’re buying them during a sale, but it can take several days for your miles to post.
The good news is that American Airlines does allow you to put award tickets on hold for up to seven days. That should be enough time to process any mileage purchases.
Related: Why the Park Hyatt Istanbul is a great use of points and free night awards
How to earn points for this award
If you want to earn AAdvantage miles for an off-peak economy award ticket to Europe, you have plenty of time to do. A credit card sign-up bonus is the fastest way to accrue 45,000 AAdvantage miles. Both Citi and Barclay issue co-branded American Airlines credit cards with welcome bonuses of 50,000 miles or higher. The spending requirements on these cards are also reasonable, with the Aviator Red Card requiring just a single purchase.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®
Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Annual fee: $99 (waived the first 12 months).
Benefits: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select (see rates and fees) cardholders earn 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 spent on restaurants, gas stations, and eligible American Airlines purchases.
The first bag checked bags are free on domestic AA itineraries for yourself and up to four companions on the same reservation. Plus, you’ll earn a $125 American Airlines flight discount after you spend $20,000 or more in purchases during your card year and renew your card.
Related: American Airlines perks at a lower cost: Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard review
AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard
Sign-up bonus: 50,000 bonus miles after making a purchase and paying the annual fee within the first 90 days of card opening.
Annual fee: $99
Benefits: This card offers an annual $25 annual statement credits on inflight Wi-Fi purchases, an annual $99 companion ticket after you spend $20,000 on the card, waived check bag fees for the cardholder and up to four on the American Airlines reservation and a 25% statement credit for eligible onboard AA purchases.
The information for the AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
AAdvantage Aviator World Elite Business Mastercard
Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days. Earn an additional 10,000 miles when an employee card is used for a purchase.
Annual fee: $95
Benefits: The AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard offers several useful perks, including free checked bags for you and up to four people on the same American Airlines reservation. Cardholders also receive an annual $99 companion voucher awarded after $30,000 in spending. Plus, you’ll earn $3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars after spending $25,000 on purchases each calendar year. As an added perk, you’ll get a 5% bonus on American Airlines miles earned on the card each year.
The information for the AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related: A full review of the AAdvantage Aviator World Elite Business Mastercard
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®
Sign-up bonus: 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first four months of account opening
Annual fee: $99 (waived the first 12 months)
Benefits: The CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard comes with an annual $99 companion certificate after you spend $30,000 or more in a calendar year and renew the card (account must remain open at least 45 days after account anniversary). Cardholders can earn 2x AAdvantage miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, telecommunications merchants, cable and satellite providers, car rental merchants and gas stations, and 1x miles per dollar spent elsewhere.
The information for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related: Best for American Air loyalists: CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard credit card review
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Annual fee: $450
Benefits: In addition to the sign-up bonus, the card comes with Admirals Club membership, including access for authorized users. You have to show a same-day boarding pass for American or a partner airline to use the lounge. This benefit is great if you’re traveling to Europe in economy class, giving you a more elevated experience (at least before you get on the plane).
Cardholders get the first checked bag free for themselves and up to eight traveling companions on domestic American Airlines flights. You’ll also enjoy priority check-in, airport screening and boarding privileges.
This makes the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® best for American frequent flyers who want to enhance their experience on the road.
Related: Fly from the US to Europe, North Africa from 21,500 miles each way
American Airlines’ off-peak economy class awards to Europe are a great way to maximize AAdvantage miles. Not only are these awards cheap and easy to book online, but you can earn the required AAdvantage miles fairly easily.