How to get to Helsinki on points and miles

Aug 16, 2021

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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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In This Post

Airfare booked with flexible rewards

helsinki, finland, dusk
(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.

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.

Finnair A350 Business Class Review
(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.

Avios JFK - HEL economy class
(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.

Avios SFO - HEL economy class
(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.

Delta SFO - HEL
(Screenshot courtesy of Delta.com)

SkyMiles are also fairly easy to earn, thanks to elevated 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.

Flying Blue SFO - HEL economy
(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

Helsinki Strand Hotel exterior
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 Club 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.

Aerial view of beautiful city Helsinki at spring. Blue sky and clouds and colorful buildings. Helsinki, Finland.
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 S-F/Shutterstock.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

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More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
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Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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

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