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Quick Points: Flying to Europe? Find more award space with this (slightly inconvenient) strategy

Sept. 23, 2022
4 min read
man in European street
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For several reasons, TPG recommends earning flexible points instead of investing in one single mileage currency.

This is one of the main reasons: When your preferred airline doesn’t have any award seats available, you can search other airlines to see if they have seats available. You aren’t beholden to award availability of one single airline because you can transfer your points to others.

Whether you can’t seem to find availability with a single airline or with any airline, you can use this trick to potentially find more award space.

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Find award seats by searching multiple European airports

SYLVAIN SONNET/GETTY IMAGES

Here’s the key detail that makes the below trick worthwhile: Intra-Europe travel is insanely cheap. Depending on your route, you can find economy tickets for less than $30 one-way.

GOOGLE.COM/FLIGHTS

That’s helpful because it means you can search many cities from your home airport — not just your destination. In turn, this can help you find more award space and cheaper award tickets with programs that use dynamic award pricing.

We'll use United Airlines as an example. Business class flights from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG) on Nov. 24, 2022, cost 120,800 United MileagePlus miles.

UNITED.COM

Let’s take a look at the other European destinations United flies to. You can easily Google this or use a handy site like FlightConnections.com which lets you filter routes by airline and airport.

As you can see, United flies to many other spots across the continent. Choose a destination remotely near the city you actually want to visit and search United for an award seat there. For this example, we’ll choose Frankfurt.

FLIGHTCONNECTIONS.COM

Magically, United has Saver awards that are half the price of an award to Paris on the same travel date.

UNITED.COM

The next step is to purchase a one-way flight from this city to your destination.

A flight from Frankfurt to Paris costs $78 for our desired date. I must admit, that’s pretty steep for a quick European hop — but you’ll be on a full-service carrier instead of a low-cost carrier.

FLIGHTS.GOOGLE.CO

Voila! For $78 and an extra layover in Frankfurt, we’ve saved more than 60,000 miles on a one-way business class ticket to Europe.

Also, note that you don’t have to book a round-trip ticket to this ancillary city. Hopefully, you can find a one-way flight home directly from your destination. If not, you can perform the same trick again. Position yourself to a nearby European city to fly across the Atlantic for cheap.

Related: The best ways to travel to Europe using points and miles

Bottom line

Because intra-European travel is so economical, you shouldn’t let a lack of award space between your home airport and your destination discourage you from making the trip.

Identify which European airports your airline miles can take you to and then search for award seats to those instead. After you’ve made it to Europe, take a short and inexpensive jaunt to your actual destination.

Featured image by ALEXANDER SPATARI/GETTY IMAGES
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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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

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For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

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Recommended Credit

670-850
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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.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • 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 Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases