The travel world went crazy last month when most of the major airlines rolled out $300 – $400 economy fares to Europe. I spent a full morning mulling it over and picking over destinations before deciding that, yes, we should go for it before it’s too late.
Since my kids get two weeks off over fall break, we decided to take them to Spain and France for a trip that should be part education, part fun. From Indianapolis, we’ll fly Delta to Madrid, then travel through France to Paris before flying home back to Indy. The grand total for our four, round-trip flights? $1,732.
As a hoarder of credit card rewards and especially airline miles, I was more than happy to charge this purchase to a credit card and pay cash. But now, I have ten days in Europe to plan for – and pay for. Here’s how we plan to use rewards to reduce our total costs:
We’re going to use mostly Chase Ultimate Rewards for our hotels. While I have plenty of hotel points and some “free nights” to burn, most of the hotels in our destinations don’t let you book four people in a single room. Fortunately, there are a ton of cheap hotels (in points) that do allow four people per room bookable through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
So far, I’ve browsed a lot of inexpensive bed-n-breakfasts in and around tourist areas in Madrid, Barcelona, and the Loire Valley, where we plan to spend most of our trip. We even found a quadruple room in the Opera district of Paris for 6,554 points per night.
We booked a cheap one-way from Barcelona to Paris. While travel train is usually the smart way to go in Europe, we opted for a cheap one-way fare from Barcelona to Paris to help set up the second half of our trip. Our one-way, non-stop flight on Air France was just 3,560 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per person.
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We’re using travel credit from our two new Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCards. As I mentioned not too long ago, my husband and I both signed up for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard to earn a sweet 50,000 point signup bonus each after spending $3,000 on our cards within three months. Once we both earn the bonus, we’ll have a combined 112,000 points minimum worth $1,120 in travel. Right now, we plan to use these points to cover part of our train fare from Madrid to Barcelona, then potentially our rental car in France.
It’s times like these when I’m glad I hoard flexible travel points. Because, as we all know, a $400 fare to Europe isn’t cheap if you pay full price for everything when you get there.
And now I can’t wait to take my kids to see big Spanish cities like Madrid and Barcelona, then to the Loire Valley and Paris to see castles, amazing architecture, and world class art. While we were lucky to stay at the Holiday Inn for fall break ten years ago, credit card rewards have made it possible to see the world at prices we can afford.
Did you pick up an amazing deal to Europe during last month’s sale? Where are you going?
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