How to fly business class to South America for 50,000 miles (or $870) one-way

May 1, 2021

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As countries reopen their borders, now is the time to start planning for your next getaway. If South America is on your list — especially cities and regions far south of the equator — you might want to pay attention to this post.

TAP is Portugal’s flag carrier, but the airline’s best premium-cabin mileage redemption doesn’t even touch its home continent of Europe. While a relatively obscure program, TAP Portugal Miles&Go is now starting to get more attention, especially since it’s become a transfer partner of Capital One.

Capital One miles can now be transferred to TAP Miles&Go at a new 1:1 transfer ratio. Even better, TAP is sweetening the deal further by offering 5,000 bonus miles on your first transfer from Capital One through May 31.

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In This Post

The award

For just 50,000 TAP miles, you can fly one-way in business class from North America to anywhere in Central or South America with a Star Alliance partner. The farther south you plan to go in South America, the better this deal is. Here’s why.

Business-class TAP Miles&Go award chart. (Screenshot courtesy of TAP Air Portugal)

Related: The ultimate guide to earning and redeeming TAP Miles&Go

Airlines often place destinations in “deep” South America, such as Buenos Aires (EZE) in Argentina or Rio de Janeiro (GIG), in a separate award chart that costs more miles. These cities are often served by aircraft with lie-flat business-class seats, and flight times can stretch for over 10 hours from U.S. gateway airports.

However, TAP considers all of Central and South America as one region. That means no matter if you’re flying four hours to Cartegena (CTG) in Colombia in a recliner seat or 11 hours to Santiago (SCL) in Chile in a lie-flat seat with all-aisle access, it’ll require 50,000 TAP miles each way in business class on a Star Alliance partner.

Nonstop from Newark (EWR) to Sao Paolo (GRU) in United business for 50,000 TAP miles. (Screenshot courtesy of TAP)

Related: 5 incredible sweet spots of Capital One’s revamped transferable miles program

Taxes and fees

For all TAP redemptions, be aware of pesky fuel surcharges with certain partner carriers, such as Lufthansa, Austrian, Swiss and Asiana. Thankfully, these surcharges aren’t particularly bothersome for airlines between North and South America. As you can see from the example above, fees amount to about $37 one-way on the United flight.

Transferring miles

Fly in United Polaris for 50,000 TAP miles. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Capital One is TAP’s first major transferable program, so this new partnership really opens the door for a number of Capital One cardholders, including those with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

In addition, TAP miles can pretty consistently be acquired for around 1 cent each when there’s a promotion. The ability to either buy your way to a TAP business-class redemption or transfer Capital One miles is a great value proposition. You can even mix and match a blend of the two options if you so desire.

Buying miles

As mentioned, TAP frequently runs offers where you can earn up to 5x miles (with each mile as low as 0.87 cents apiece).

Currently, the promotion isn’t quite as good, with up to 3x miles. In this case, each TAP mile comes out to about 1.4 cents apiece. That means by paying $870, you’ll have enough miles to fly from North America to anywhere in South America in business (with 10,000 TAP miles to spare).

As always, you should ensure award space is available before making a miles purchase. The TAP website is fairly easy to navigate.

(Screenshot courtesy of TAP)

Bottom line

Currently, you can earn 60,000 bonus miles with the sign-up bonus on the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

And 60,000 miles is more than enough to fly one-way from North America to anywhere in South America in business class. While TAP generally charges more miles than other Star Alliance carriers for most routings, this sweet spot to South America is a very appealing use of TAP (and Capital One) miles.

The kicker is that because TAP miles are often sold for cheap, it could be well worth buying miles if you don’t have access to Capital One miles to transfer.

Featured photo by Alan Brutenic/EyeEm. 

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