The cheapest ways to book a trip to Spain with points and miles
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Europe is set to open to American tourists this summer, and Spain is at the top of my list.
I visited Barcelona in 2017 and enjoyed eating tapas, hanging out on the Mediterranean and whisking my way through a seemingly endless number of museums and cultural sights. If the country reopens alongside the rest of the EU, I plan to revisit Barcelona and stop in Madrid as a part of a larger European trip.
If you’re also considering a trip to Spain, you’ll be happy to know that it’s easy to use your points and miles to fund the trip. Several airlines operate nonstop service between the U.S. and Spain, and most hotel groups have flagship properties in Barcelona and Madrid. This makes Spainsuper accessible to award travelers.
Here, I’ll show you the cheapest ways to get to and stay in Spain with your points and miles. I’ll start by looking at flight options and booking hotels, activities and ground transportation with points. In the end, you’ll have everything you need to book a trip to Spain without breaking the bank.
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Airlines that fly to Spain
Spain has become one of the best-connected countries with the U.S. over the years. You can fly from most major U.S. airports to Barcelona (BCN) and Madrid (MAD) on U.S. and Spanish airlines alike. Some of these flights are operated year-round, while others operate on a seasonal basis. You can also connect to cities in Spain with a connecting flight on other European carriers like Air France, British Airways and Lufthansa.
Here’s a look at non-stop routes from the U.S. to Spain.
- Atlanta (ATL) – Delta
- Boston (BOS) – Iberia
- Miami (MIA) – American Airlines
- Newark (EWR) – United Airlines
- New York-JFK – Iberia, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines
- Philadelphia (PHL) – American Airlines
- San Francisco (SFO) – Iberia
- Atlanta (ATL) – Delta
- Boston (BOS) – Iberia
- Charlotte (CLT) – American Airlines
- Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) – Iberia
- Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) – American Airlines
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Iberia
- Miami (MIA) – Air Europa, American Airlines, Iberia
- Newark (EWR) – United Airlines
- New York-JFK – Air Europa, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Iberia
- Philadelphia (PHL) – American Airlines
If you’re traveling to Spain as a part of a larger European itinerary, you can fly most major European low-cost carriers to Spain. This includes airlines like Vueling, Ryanair, Wizz Air and others. These tickets can be incredibly cheap too. For example, Prague (PRG) to Barcelona (BCN) costs just $31 one-way on Vueling this August.
Cheapest award flights to Spain
With so many flight options, it’s easy to use points and miles to book flights to Spain. Here’s a look at the cheapest redemption options across the major airline alliances. I’ll primarily focus on nonstop flights but mention connecting options too.
Cheapest Oneworld awards to Spain
The cheapest way to fly from the U.S. to Spain on Oneworld airlines is booking off-peak Iberia award tickets with Iberia Avios. These dates cover most of the year and let you fly from the U.S. East Coast to Spain for as few as 17,000 Avios in economy and 36,000 in business class. Tickets from the West Coast and Florida and flights booked during peak times cost more but can still be booked relatively cheaply.
Off-peak pricing shows on the Iberia booking engine and you can view all dates online. You’re liable for paying moderate taxes and fees on Iberia tickets, but these are usually under $150 one-way.
Here’s a look at pricing:
|Origin||Blue Class / Economy||Premium Economy||Business|
|Off Peak||Peak||Off Peak||Peak||Off Peak||Peak|
|New York (JFK)||17,000 / 22,000||20,000 / 28,000||25,000||35,000||34,000||50,000|
|Chicago – O’Hare (ORD)||17,000 / 22,000||20,000 / 28,000||25,000||35,000||34,000||50,000|
|Boston (BOS)||17,000 / 22,000||20,000 / 28,000||25,000||35,000||34,000||50,000|
|Miami (MIA)||21,250 / 27,750||25,000 / 35,000||31,750||43,750||42,500||62,500|
|Los Angeles (LAX)||21,250 / 27,750||25,000 / 35,000||31,750||43,750||42,500||62,500|
|San Francisco (SFO)||21,250 / 27,750||25,000 / 35,000||31,750||43,750||42,000||62,500|
If you’d rather fly American Airlines, you’ll want to book with American AAdvantage miles. You can book economy for 30,000 miles one-way (or 22,500 off-peak) and 57,500 in business class. While more expensive than an Iberia ticket, it can be a good way to spend your American miles — especially in business class.
I think Iberia is the best option for flying from the U.S. to Spain because of its low pricing. You can transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy to Iberia. You can also transfer British Airways Avios to Iberia Avios so long as both accounts are open for at least 90 days.
How to earn points for an Iberia award to Spain
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card – Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Cheapest SkyTeam awards to Spain
If you want to fly one of Delta’s nonstop routes to Spain, start with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Virgin Atlantic devalued its Delta award chart earlier in the year but kept old pricing for flights to Europe. You can book one-way tickets from the U.S. to Spain for 30,000 points in economy and 50,000 in Delta One business class. This is an exceptional deal and one I highly recommend you book if you want to try Delta One across the Atlantic.
On the other hand, you’ll want to book with Flying Blue miles if eyeing nonstop flights on Air Europa or connecting tickets on Air France, Alitalia or KLM. This program prices all awards dynamically, with flights to Spain starting at 21,500 miles one-way in economy and 53,000 in business class. These prices vary by day and route, but you can find reasonably priced awards if you’re flexible.
I think Delta awards booked through Virgin Atlantic are the best deal for those flying nonstop in business class. Pricing is predictable, and you’ll have a great experience in Delta One — especially if your route is operated by a plane with Delta One Suites. That said, those on connecting tickets will want to check Flying Blue pricing first since Virgin Atlantic prices partner awards leg-by-leg.
How to earn points for a Virgin Atlantic award to Spain
You can transfer points to Virgin Atlantic from Amex, Chase, Citi ThankYou and Marriott. Here’s a look at Citi welcome bonuses that can help you stock up on ThankYou points:
- Citi Premier® Card: 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
- Citi Prestige® Card: 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening
The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Cheapest Star Alliance awards to Spain
The cheapest way to book Star Alliance tickets to Spain is with Asiana Club. You can book one-way tickets from the U.S. to Spain for 25,000 miles in economy, 40,000 in business class and 65,000 in first class. Unfortunately, you’ll pay high fuel surcharges on connecting tickets operated by Austrian, Lufthansa, Swiss and other Star Alliance carriers that charge these surcharges. Thankfully, you won’t pay these on nonstop United flights or connecting flights with SAS, TAP Portugal and LOT Polish Airlines.
That said, it’s hard to earn Asiana miles. Here in the U.S., you can only earn with Asiana’s cobranded credit card or by transferring points from Marriott Bonvoy. If you have Amex points, you’ll want to book with ANA Mileage Club instead. Tickets to Spain cost just 55,000 miles round-trip in economy and 88,000 in business class. You will, however, be subject to fuel surcharges on these tickets if flying on a high-surcharger carrier. You can book with Avianca LifeMiles or Air Canada Aeroplan to avoid these.
You can maximize your ANA Mileage Club tickets by adding a free stopover to your itinerary. For example, the itinerary below will take you from Newark (EWR) to Madrid (MAD), where you can stay as long as you’d like. Then, you can find your own transportation to Barcelona, stay there, and fly to Lisbon for another stop before returning home. The whole itinerary costs just 88,000 miles and $78.84 in business class.
ANA is the better option for most travelers because its miles are far easier to earn.
How to earn points for an ANA award to Spain
You can transfer points to ANA from Amex and Marriott. Consider opening one of these Amex cards to stock up on points:
- American Express® Green Card: 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Earn 3x points on dining at restaurants, travel and transit (including flights, hotels, transit, taxis, tours, and ridesharing services), 1x points on all other purchases ($150 annual fee; see rates and fees).
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of account opening. Earn 4x points on dining at restaurants; 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x points); 3x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines or American Express Travel; 1x points on all other purchases, ($250 annual fee; see rates and fees).
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership. Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. Earn 5x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines or with American Express Travel (earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), 5x on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, and Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts; 1x on all other purchases, ($695 annual fee; see rates and fees).
The information for the Amex Green 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.
Hotels in Spain you can book with points
Tourism is a huge industry in most Spanish cities, so there’s no shortage of hotels. Here’s a look at points options in Barcelona and Madrid. Many major hotel groups have hotels in smaller Spanish cities, so run a search with your preferred hotel if you plan to venture out.
Despite having a limited presence in Spain, Hilton’s hotels in Barcelona and Madrid span multiple brands and offer something for every price point. Unfortunately, however, Hilton Honors’ dynamic pricing makes it tough to give an exact estimate of how much you’ll pay per night. The prices below reflect a one-night weekday stay in the middle of August.
- Alexandra Barcelona Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton – 54,000 points per night
- Hilton Barcelona – 28,000 points per night
- Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona – 40,000 points per night
- Atocha Hotel Madrid, Tapestry Collection by Hilton – 27,000 points per night
- DoubleTree by Hilton Madrid-Prado – 36,000 points per night
How to earn Hilton points
The easiest way to earn Hilton points is with a Hilton cobranded credit card. Each has a great welcome bonus and various benefits like elite status, an annual free night and more. These are the current welcome offers:
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Earn 150,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months.
- Hilton Honors American Express Card: Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend a total of $5,000 in purchases on the card in the first six months.
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Earn up to 180,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points. Earn 130,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors Business Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months.
The information for the Hilton Aspire 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.
Hyatt has a handful of properties in Barcelona and Madrid, most of which are independent hotels that partner with World of Hyatt. Here’s a quick look at all your Hyatt options:
- Claris Hotel & Spa, Barcelona – 20,000 points per night
- The Wittmore, Barcelona – 25,000 points per night
- Hyatt Centric Gran Via Madrid – 20,000 points per night
- Hyatt Regency Hesperia Madrid – 15,000 points per night
- Urso Hotel & Spa, Madrid – 25,000 points per night
How to earn World of Hyatt points
You can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to World of Hyatt or earn with the Hyatt cobranded credit card.
- World of Hyatt Credit Card: Earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning 2 bonus points total per $1 spent on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 in the first six months of account opening.
IHG has a huge presence in Barcelona and Madrid, with properties ranging from budget-friendly Holiday Inns to luxurious InterContinental hotels. I’ve listed the most centrally located IHG properties in both cities below. Like Hilton, IHG now has highly dynamic award pricing. Here’s a look at pricing for a weekday night in August:
- Hotel Indigo Barcelona – Plaza Catalunya, Barcelona – 22,000 points per night
Holiday Inn Express Barcelona – City 22 – 13,000 points per night
InterContinental Hotels Barcelona – 69,000 points per night (in September)
- Kimpton Vividora Hotel, Barcelona – 38,000 points per night
Hotel Indigo Madrid – Gran Via – 27,000 points per night
Hotel Indigo Madrid – Princesa – 13,000 points per night
Holiday Inn Madrid – Piramides – 13,000 points per night
InterContinental Hotels Madrid – 36,000 points per night
How to earn IHG points
You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to IHG Rewards, but you’ll get a poor redemption value. Consider earning with an IHG cobranded credit card:
- IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Earn 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.m
- IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card: Earn 60,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
The information for the IHG Traveler 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.
Like most European cities, Marriott has a large presence in Barcelona and Madrid. Below, you’ll find some of the best Marriott options in both cities alongside their standard award pricing. Marriott has on-peak and off-peak pricing, so you may pay slightly more or less Marriott Bonvoy points depending on when you stay.
- AC Hotel Irla – 35,000 points per night
- The Barcelona EDITION – 85,000 points per night
- Cotton House Hotel, Autograph Collection – 60,000 points per night
- W Barcelona – 85,000 points per night
- Le Meridien Barcelona – 60,000 points per night
- Renaissance Barcelona Hotel – 50,000 points per night
- AC Hotel Carlton Madrid – 25,000 points per night
- Aloft Madrid Gran Via – 25,000 points per night
- Circulo Gran Via, Autograph Collection – 60,000 points per night
- Hotel Palacio Del Retiro, Autograph Collection – 60,000 points per night
- The Westin Palace, Madrid – 50,000 points per night
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points
I recommend earning Marriott points with a Marriott cobranded credit card — here are their current offers:
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and a bonus free night award (redemption level worth up to 85,000 Marriott points) after you use your new card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Resort fees may apply. Offer expires 11/3/2021
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card: Earn 125,000 Marriott bonus points & two bonus free night awards (each worth up to 50,000 points) after you use your new card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Certain hotels have resort fees. Offer ends 11/3/21. Terms apply.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 125,000 bonus points + 1 free night (valued up to 50,000 points) after you spend $5,000 in the first three months from account opening (total of up to 175,000 bonus points).
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Radisson has two properties in Madrid — one under its flagship Radisson Blu brand and another under the Radisson Individuals brand. Both have cheap cash rates, so do the math and see if it makes sense for you to redeem your Radisson Rewards points. If you get a low cent per point value, you may want to pay cash and save your points for a future redemption.
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Madrid Prado – 70,000 points per night
- Hotel Paseo del Arte, Radisson Individuals – No points rates available
How to earn Radisson Rewards points
You can earn Radisson Rewards points with a Radisson cobranded credit card. Here’s a look at current offers:
- Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature® Card: Earn up to 100,000 points after you spend $3,000 on your card within the first 90 days of account opening
- Radisson Rewards Visa® Card: Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on your card within the first 90 days of account opening
The information for the Radisson Cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Spain is filled with museums, food, beaches and everything else that makes for a great vacation. If you’re pre-booking activities, you can save by booking through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal and paying with your Chase points. Your redemption value will vary based on the Chase card in your wallet. Chase Freedom cards can redeem at 1.0 cents per point, Chase Sapphire Preferred at 1.25 cents per point and Chase Sapphire Reserve at 1.5 cents per point.
You can book a skip-the-line tour of the Royal Palace for just 2,788 points in Madrid if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred. This tour gives you an inside look at one of Europe’s most grand palaces, complete with an expert guide. Lines for entry to the Royal Palace can be hours long during peak tourism months, so skipping the line is well worth the points.
If eating local cuisine is more your speed, consider a small-group tapas and wine tour in Barcelona. Sapphire Preferred cardholders can use 6,728 points to book a tour that stops at four top-rated restaurants for food and wine samples. Plus, you’re guided by a Spanish culinary expert who’s sure to teach you something new about Barcelona’s gastronomy.
Barcelona and Madrid are both very well-connected cities with efficient metro systems. In terms of rideshare, you’ll find Uber in Madrid and the Cabify app in Barcelona. Both provide an easy way to/from the airport, but it will be more expensive than public transportation.
From Barcelona airport, you can take the R2 Nord train to downtown. The train runs every hour, and a one-way ticket costs roughly $5.55 after currency conversion. It takes 30 minutes from the airport to downtown Barcelona, which is faster than a taxi during rush hour traffic.
On the other hand, you can take the Madrid Metro from Madrid airport to downtown. You can board Metro Line 8 at the airport for the 22-minute journey to downtown. A one-way ticket costs $3.62 after currency conversion.
Regardless of how you travel from the airport, you can cover your ground transportation expenses with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. This card lets you offset any travel expense at a fixed value of 1 cent per mile. This means a $10 taxi ride requires just 1,000 Capital One miles to cover. You can redeem points for a charge up to 90 days after making a purchase.
Whether you’re exploring all of Spain or just stopping for a night, you can use points and miles for a better and less expensive travel experience. Bookmark this article and refer to it when booking your post-pandemic trip to Spain. It will save you hours of research that you can use to plan the places you’ll visit and foods you’ll eat. And trust me, there’s no shortage of either.
Feature photo by Matej Kastelic / Shutterstock.com
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