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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

It’s always good news when a credit card lets you transfer your rewards to airline miles, like the recent announcement on the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. And for a limited time, new applicants can earn 75,000 Capital One miles after spending $5,000 within three months of account opening.  Finnair is one of those new transfer partners to consider.

Finnair is an attractive European airline that operates brand-new Airbus A350 aircraft for the majority of its long-haul fleet. And it offers an amazing sauna in the lounge at it’s Helsinki hub. On the other hand, it’s Finnair Plus frequent flyer program is not known for having many exceptional values. But since you will be soon be able to transfer your Capital One miles to Finnair and 11 other frequent flyer programs, the important question is: Should you?

How Finnair Plus works

There are three different ways to redeem Finnair Plus miles.

  1. You can redeem them using the award chart for flights operated by Finnair.
  2. A chart specific to an individual partner.
  3. Distance based chart for awards that includes flights two or more different airlines (Finnair plus one partner,  or two partners.)

Finnair is a member of the OneWorld Alliance, which includes American Airlines, British Airways, Japan Airlines (JAL) and others. Finnair also partners with several airlines outside of OneWorld including:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • Braathens Regional Airways (of Sweden)
  • Icelandair

The Award Chart for Finnair Flights

This chart is not very clear, but you can confirm the price of an award by using their online flight award calculator. And while many of these options are terrible, there are a few bright spots. Also note that awards are slightly more expensive when booked over the phone, and two one-way flights cost far more than a single round-trip ticket.

This is the award chart for flights operated by Finnair.
This is the award chart for flights operated by Finnair.

 

Here are two awards that are worth it:

1. Flights to Tel Aviv or Dubai

One thing that stands out to me on this chart is the footnote that Finnair includes Tel Aviv and Dubai as part of Europe. So add this to the list of award chart sweet spots that can be found by using airline geography. While a 90,000 mile round-trip award to Europe in economy class isn’t too attractive, round-trip business class awards to Tel Aviv or Dubai for 160,000 miles can be a pretty good deal. The trick is finding award space in business class on a flight operated by Finnair, which is rare. However, their recently announced flight to LAX shows some award space if you search dates very far out.

2. Flights within Northern Europe

You can book economy class, round-trip award flights within Northern Europe for just 15,000 miles, round-trip. Their definition of Northern Europe stretches from Iceland to Moscow and includes all of their flights within Finland. So if you’ve reached Iceland on a discount carrier’s ticket and you want to stretch your trip visit mainland Europe, this is a very inexpensive option. In fact, business class flights are are still a good deal, at a mere 25,000 miles, round-trip.

The Single Partner Award Chart

The award charts for flights on one of Finnair’s partners can be horrific. For example, I don’t imagine too many are lining up to pay 27,000 miles for one-way domestic economy class flight on American Airlines. Other “sour spots” include Icelandair flights from North America to Europe or 135,000 miles in economy class and one-way business class flights to Australia on Qantas for a staggering 162,000 miles. I tried hard to find find some values in these partner award charts, but came up empty.

The Multi-Partner, Distance-Based Award Chart

Here too, there’s little value to be had. For example, round-trip award flight of up to 6,000km (3,728 miles) are 60,000 Finnair miles in economy class and 100,000 in business class. This is a tremendous amount of miles for a relatively short distance, about the equivalent of a round-trip flight between Chicago and San Francisco. And remember, you can only redeem these awards for itineraries that contain flights operated by two or more partners.

Other Uses for Finnair Miles

You can use Finnair miles for upgrade awards. The good news is that the rules don’t specify a minimum booking class to be eligible for upgrades, and you can search upgrade availability before you book your flight. This means that you should be able find a highly discounted flight and upgrade it using miles. Of course, the bad news is the very high number of miles required, 50,000 miles each way on flights to Europe. This is not much less than most airlines charge for the award itself. You might use this to dispose of unneeded miles, but you probably shouldn’t transfer your miles to Finnair to purchase upgrades at these prices.

Upgrades within Northern Europe and the Rest of Europe zones, including Tel Aviv and Dubai are a much more reasonable 7,500 and 10,000 points respectively. However, your “upgrade” will only get you an economy class at the front of the plane, with the middle row blocked. This, and priority service, increased baggage allowance, lounge access and a meal. This award may be worth it, especially if you have a long, connecting itinerary and hope to visit the sauna in lounge in the Helsinki airport.

Conclusion

There’s nothing wrong with Capital One including Finnair Plus as a transfer partner, but it will be very hard for most people to find any real value in their various award charts. The exceptions are Finnair flights to Tel Aviv and Dubai, and flights within their definition of Northern Europe. A low-priced upgrade within Northern Europe could be nice too. By carefully considering these options, you can make the right decision when it comes time to redeem your Capital One miles.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), up to a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
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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