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How to get to Helsinki on points and miles

August 16 2021
11 min read
Panoramic aerial view of Helsinki in a beautiful summer day, Finland
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As of July 26, Finland began officially welcoming American tourists again. Helsinki became a popular destination over the last few years, thanks to a big tourism push, incredible scenery and cheap fares. All of that came to a screeching halt last year when the pandemic forced Finland to close its borders and reopen them to tourists from the Schengen Area only.

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Airfare booked with flexible rewards

(Photo by Carlos Grury Santos Photography)

There are many options for redeeming miles for a flight to Helsinki (HEL). While using points and miles can sometimes be the best option to get to your destination at the lowest cost, Helsinki is one of those destinations where fare sales pop up quite often, so you might actually find that this particular journey is more cost-effective by paying cash rather than booking a traditional award ticket.

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Be sure to consult TPG's valuations when comparing paid fares against mileage redemptions.

American Express Membership Rewards

The value of American Express Membership Rewards points redeemed for flights is 1 cent apiece if you have a card like The Platinum Card® from American Express. However, if you have The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, you get a 35% rebate on Pay with Points redemptions for eligible first- or business-class fares booked through Amex Travel (up to 500,000 points back per calendar year), as well as on all flights booked on the same airline that you have designated for your $200 annual airline fee rebate.

Capital One Venture miles

Capital One miles like those earned with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card can be redeemed at a rate of 1 cent apiece for statement credits, including airfare purchases. Depending on how cheap fares to Helsinki price out, Venture miles could be better than airline miles.

For example, Turkish Airlines offers round-trip economy fares between New York (JFK) and Helsinki (HEL) as low as $572 in late March. Meanwhile, American Airlines requires 60,000 miles round-trip. Since TPG values American miles at 1.4 cents each, you're giving up $840 worth of value. In this case, you're better off saving your AAdvantage miles and redeeming 57,200 Capital One Venture miles instead.

Related: Capital One Venture Rewards card review

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Ultimate Rewards points’ value ranges from 1-1.5 cents apiece, depending on the card you have. For instance, those earned from the Chase Freedom Flex only merit 1 cent apiece, while those earned on the Chase Sapphire Reserve are worth 1.5 cents apiece.

Citi ThankYou Rewards

Citi ThankYou points earned on cards like the Citi Prestige® Card and the Citi Premier® Card are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed for airfare.

The information for the Citi Prestige 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.

Airfare booked with airline miles

Redeeming miles for a flight to Helsinki makes sense if paid fares are high or you don't have access to the redemption options outlined above.

Cheap Oneworld awards

The Oneworld alliance isn't always the best option for redeeming miles to Europe, but Helsinki is the exception, with Finnair being a member. You can redeem AAdvantage miles at 30,000 each way in economy or 57,500 in business. Just watch out for those British Airways flights that might sneak in there and tack an extra $700 to your award ticket.

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

British Airways Avios might work out cheaper, depending on your origin and whether you can score a direct flight. We found economy fares as low as 22,000 Avios between New York (JFK) and Helsinki. Business-class award space was limited throughout the year.

(Screenshot courtesy of britishairways.com)

If you're flying out of the West Coast, you'll still need 34,000 miles each way. Because of the higher number of miles and taxes, you're better off redeeming AAdvantage miles since the taxes are just $25.70 on the outbound flight.

(Screenshot courtesy of Britishairways.com)

Cheap Star Alliance awards

The easiest option for booking Star Alliance awards to Finland is United MileagePlus. Economy awards start at just 30,000 miles each way, while business class starts at 49,500.

You can stock up on MileagePlus miles with their cobranded credit cards or by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio.

But there's a cheaper option and one that's too often overlooked: ANA Mileage Plan. While United requires 60,000 miles round-trip for an economy-class award to Finland, ANA requires just 55,000 miles. Business-class awards are also a bargain at just 88,000 miles round-trip.

You can transfer miles to ANA from Membership Rewards at a 1:1 ratio. If you don't have any Amex points, The Platinum Card is a great option to look into. The card currently offers 100,000 points after spending $6,000 in the first six months of account opening. That's enough for a round-trip flight, with points to spare for a hotel booking.

Cheap SkyTeam award

When you think SkyTeam, you typically think of Delta. While Delta SkyMiles could be a good option for flights to Helsinki, they're not the cheapest. You can book flights from both the West and East coasts, starting at 40,000 SkyMiles each way.

(Screenshot courtesy of Delta.com)

SkyMiles are also fairly easy to earn, thanks to welcome bonuses from cards like the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card. You can also transfer points from Amex Membership Rewards.

For a cheaper SkyTeam award, you'll want to look at Flying Blue redemptions. These will set you back as little as 24,00 miles each way in economy from the East Coast and 27,500 from the West Coast.

(Screenshot courtesy of airfrance.com)

You can also book premium economy starting at 57,500 miles each way from both coasts.

Flying Blue miles happen to be some of the easiest miles to earn, thanks to transfer partnerships with American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One miles, Citi ThankYou, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy.

Related: Easy ways to earn more Delta SkyMiles

Hotels you can book with points

Helsinki isn't a huge hotel market, but all the major hotel chains have established properties there because of its increased popularity. Here are some hotel options using points and miles:

Hilton

The Helsinki Strand Hotel exterior. (Photo courtesy of Hilton)

Hilton has three hotels in Helsinki, including one at the airport. The Hilton Helsinki Strand is located in the city center, within walking distance of the most popular tourist sights. At 40,000 points per night, it might not be an ideal use of Hilton points.

For the next few months, room rates are under $190 per night and TPG values Hilton points at 0.6 cents each. So you're better off saving your points for a different award. Instead, consider using a currency like Capital One Venture miles or the Citi Prestige fourth night free benefit on longer stays.

IHG Rewards Club

With six properties, IHG Rewards Club has the largest hotel footprint in Helsinki. IHG no longer publishes an award chart, but redemption rates are fairly consistent and generally range from 12,500-30,000 points per night.

The Holiday Inn Helsinki City Centre is the cheapest option in the center of town, at 20,000-22,000 points per night. The Crowne Plaza Hesperia is the high-end option, requiring 30,000 points per night. It has a great location near the bay and public transit options nearby.

Hotel Indigo is great if you want a boutique hotel with a great price and location near Helsinki Central Station. You'll redeem just 27,500 points per night.

While these rates are solid, you can knock an extra 25% off with the fourth-night award benefit from the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card.

Marriott Bonvoy

If you have a few Marriott 35,000-point certificates burning a hole in your pocket, Helsinki may be the place to put them to use. Marriott has four properties throughout the country, ranging from Category 2 to Category 5. Your best bet will probably be the Category 5 Hotel St. George or Hotel U14, bookable for 35,000 points per night on several dates in March and April 2022.

Both properties are located in the heart of the city, close to popular attractions, shopping and dining.

Radisson Rewards

Radisson Rewards often gets overlooked, but they have a pretty expansive portfolio, especially in Europe. Their paid rates also tend to be lower and at 20 base points per $1 spent, you can earn a ton of points for future redemptions.

In Helsinki, you have four hotel options ranging from 38,000-50,000 points per night:

  • Radisson Blu Seaside Hotel, Helsinki - 38,000 points.
  • Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Helsinki - 44,000 points.
  • Radisson Blu Aleksanteri Hotel, Helsinki - 44,000 points.
  • Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Helsinki - 50,000 points.

Any of these properties would be a great choice. Just be sure to compare the awards against cash rates. TPG values Radisson points at 0.4 cents each, so award redemptions at the top-tier Radisson Blu Plaza would make sense if the rates were at least $200 per night.

If you're looking to stock up on Radisson points for an award night in Helsinki, consider the Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature® Card. The card offers 85,000 points after you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days. You'll also get 40,000 bonus points every year you renew your card. In addition, you can earn a free night certificate valid at U.S. hotels when you spend $10,000 on the card, up to three times.

The information for the Radisson Rewards Premier 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.

Activities

Once you've made it to Helsinki, you'll probably want to go sightseeing, visit a sauna or venture out to see the northern lights. One of the best ways to cover these expenses is through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel site.

Helsinki. (Finn stock/Shutterstock)

Not only do they offer competitive rates on tours and museum tickets (they are powered by Expedia, after all), but you can redeem your Ultimate Rewards at 1.5 cents each if you're a Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder and 1.25 if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

Another option is to charge your activities to your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Assuming your purchases get coded as travel, you can redeem miles at a rate of 1 cent each to offset these purchases. I like the second option better because you'll also earn 2 miles per $1 during the process, but be sure to compare prices and go with the option that works out most economically.

Bottom line

Due to year-round low fares, Helsinki might be a destination where it’s better to purchase your ticket outright and save your points for on-the-ground redemptions or premium awards elsewhere, especially given the lackluster business-class seats several airlines offer on their routes.

Additional reporting by Eric Rosen.

Featured photo by Shutterstock
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees