Book Round-Trip Flights to Europe From 18,000 Amex Points With Flying Blue

Jun 5, 2018

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Air France and KLM’s joint mileage program Flying Blue just underwent a transformation from a region-based chart to one based on a city-by-city award calculator. And, initial test results show that it’s completely illogical — mostly for the worse.

That said, there are two promotions that can be combined now to book round-trip economy flights to Europe starting at 18,000 Membership Rewards points transferred to the updated program.

Now through June 15, you can transfer Membership Rewards to Flying Blue with a 25% bonus. And, now through June 29, you can book economy award flights for flight between July 31 to September 29 from Chicago with a 50% discount or from San Francisco with a 25% discount.

I realize those are a lot of restrictions. But, if you can make it work, you can transfer 18,000 Amex Membership Rewards points to get 22,500 Flying Blue miles — which will be enough to fly from Chicago to a number of European destinations.

Here are the stated one-way saver rates and how much you can save by combining these promotions:

From To Lowest Rate
Discount Miles
Amex MR
Chicago Dublin 21,500 50% 10,750 9,000
Chicago Budapest 21,500 50% 10,750 9,000
Chicago Rome 21,500 50% 10,750 9,000
Chicago London 21,500 50% 10,750 9,000
Chicago Paris 22,000 50% 11,000 9,000
San Francisco London 21,500 25% 16,125 13,000
San Francisco Rome 21,500 25% 16,125 13,000
San Francisco Amsterdam 26,000 25% 19,500 16,000
San Francisco Paris 29,000 25% 21,750 18,000

Even if you don’t live in Chicago — or can’t get there easily — there are some other decent possibilities. And these options don’t have the travel date restrictions of the economy flight options above. You just need to transfer Amex MR points to Flying Blue before June 15 to get the bonus. Let’s take a look at some of the business-class opportunities:

From To Lowest Rate
Amex MR
Chicago Paris 58,000 47,000
San Francisco Rome 58,500 47,000
New York Amsterdam 57,500 46,000
Los Angeles Rome 53,000 43,000
Washington DC London 53,000 43,000
Atlanta Rome 53,000 43,000
Dallas London 53,000 43,000

Want to take advantage of these opportunities? Here’s a step-by-step guide how to do it.

1. Earn American Membership Rewards Points

In order to take advantage of this particular sweet spot, you’re going to need American Express Membership Rewards points. If you’re starting from scratch — or need to reload your balance after a recent redemption — here are some personal and business cards to consider (terms apply):

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express (60,000-point welcome bonus after spending $5,000 in the first three months of account opening)
  • American Express® Gold Card (35,000-point welcome bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening)
  • The Blue Business®️ Plus Credit Card from American Express (2x points on first $50,000 in purchases each year; then 1x point thereafter)

2. Sign Up for a Flying Blue Account

Next, in order to even search availability, you’re going to need a Flying Blue account. If you don’t have one, start here. You can sign in via a social media account (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+) if you don’t want to have to keep track of another log-in.

3. Find Award Availability

Transferring points from Membership Rewards to Flying Blue can’t be undone — as with almost all transfer options. So, before transferring Amex points to Flying Blue, you’re going to want to find availability. That’s easier said than done. Maddeningly, Flying Blue has removed flexible date search options, so you’re going to have to hunt and peck for dates with saver award availability. Start your search here.

4. Transfer Membership Rewards Points

Now that you’ve found the perfect cheap award flight, let’s transfer points into miles. To make the transfer, log in to your American Express accountnavigate to the point transfer page and select “Transfer Points” under the Flying Blue tile.

If you haven’t linked your Flying Blue account to your Membership Rewards account, you’ll have to do so first. You’ll need the four digits on the front of your card and the three digits on the back to make the link.

Remember you must transfer points in increments of 1,000 Membership Rewards points. So, make sure you calculate the right number of points to transfer. And, make sure to agree to the terms and conditions before clicking “Confirm & Transfer Points.” According to TPG testing, Membership Rewards transfer to Flying Blue immediately. So, you should be able to move right into the next step.

5. Book Your Award

Now that you have points in your account, you should be able to complete your booking online. Make sure to pay for the taxes and fees with a card that earns a category bonus for travel, offers trip delay insurance or preferably both of these. Some top options to consider are:

  • Platinum Card® from American Express — 5x points on airfare
  • Citi Prestige® Card — excellent travel insurance and 3x points on travel
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve — great travel insurance and 3x points on travel
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card — solid travel insurance and 2x points on travel

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.

Bottom Line

While the options for 18,000 Membership Rewards point round-trip to Europe are only available on narrow routes and dates, it’s an excellent deal for those that can utilize it. But even without the 50% Promo Rewards discount, Amex cardholders can utilize the 25% transfer bonus to book business-class awards for 86,000 Membership Rewards points round-trip. So, it’s definitely worth looking into how you can maximize this for your travel needs.

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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