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

May 01, 2021
5 min read
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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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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

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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 75,000 bonus miles with the sign-up bonus on the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

And 75,000 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 image by Getty Images/EyeEm
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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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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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.

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If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

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Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
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

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • 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.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more