By: Luke Sims
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Whether you’re drawn in by the rich history and romantic sites or you’ve always dreamed of stuffing your face for several days with the finest bread, cheese, and wine — my dear friend Audrey said it right, “Paris is always a good idea.”
One of my favorite trips of all time, Paris is an absolute must for any world-traveler. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to use points and miles to get there. So, sit back, pop open your favorite bottle of Cabernet, and let me bring the city of lights into focus for your next romantic getaway.
1. American Airlines AAdvantage
Using American AAdvantage miles is easily one of my favorite ways to get to Paris because of their off-peak rates for economy class award tickets and low taxes and fees.
For 60,000 American miles, you can fly round-trip in economy class between the US and Europe on American Airlines or any of their Oneworld alliance partners. Watch out for their partner British Airways as you’ll be responsible for some steep carrier-imposed surcharges.
If your dates are flexible, you can score the off-peak rate of 45,000 AAdvantage miles round-trip in economy (between January 10 – March 14 or November 1 – December 14).
- Economy class: 60,000 (45,000 off-peak) round-trip
- Business class: 115,000 round-trip
How to Earn American AAdvantage Miles
Although you can’t transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards points to American Airlines, there are plenty of easy ways to get the miles you need.
Perhaps the best way to earn American miles is to transfer SPG Starpoints. You’ll even earn 5,000 bonus miles when you transfer a chunk of 20,000 SPG points. You can earn SPG Starpoints with either the business or personal version of the Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards that are provided by American Express.
You can also use the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card, the Citi AAdvantage Executive card, the Citi AAdvantage Gold card, CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select card, and Barclay Aviator Red card to earn American miles directly.
2. Air France/KLM Flying Blue
Flying Blue has monthly promo awards that can get you economy tickets to Europe for 25-50% off the standard award price. If you can score one of these award tickets, this is one of the cheapest points and miles options to fly to Paris!
A normal round-trip economy ticket to Europe booked with Flying Blue miles would cost you 50,000 miles. However, a promo award at 25% off would get you that trip for only 37,500 miles!
These promo awards will specify whether you can fly on KLM, Air France, or both to receive the promotional award rate. Also, keep in mind that you will be responsible for the taxes and fees on award tickets booked with the Flying Blue program.
If you’re not booking a promo award, you can use Flying Blue miles to book with SkyTeam partners such as Delta. This can be a great way to book award flights on Delta for fewer miles than if you used Delta’s own SkyMiles program. For example, a one-way business class award on Delta would cost 70,000 SkyMiles but only 62,500 Flying Blue miles.
Air France/KLM’s Flying Blue program is definitely one to keep an eye on when you’re booking your next trip to Paris.
- Economy class: 50,000 (37,500 on 25% off promo) round-trip
- Business class: 125,000 round-trip
How to Earn Flying Blue Miles
What makes this option even better? You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points, American Express Membership Rewards points, SPG Starpoints, and Citi ThankYou Points to Flying Blue to get the miles you need. That’s right, every transferable points program partners with Air France/KLM so you won’t have any trouble earning enough miles!
3. United Airlines MileagePlus
United Airlines miles are a great way to get to Paris because they have good saver level award availability in economy class and you can easily transfer over Chase Ultimate Rewards points as needed.
There are tons of options to book award flights on United or one of their Star Alliance partners. With over 25 members of Star Alliance, many of which operate out of Europe, you’ll have good odds of finding saver level award space so you can fly to Paris.
This is also a great program if you are trying to avoid carrier-imposed surcharges that some airlines charge. United does not require you to pay these surcharges on award tickets. You will still be required to pay the requisite taxes, but using United miles can save you some serious cash.
- Economy class: 60,000 round-trip
- Business class: 120,000 round-trip
How to Earn United Airlines Miles
If you want to earn United miles quickly, your best bet is to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points and transfer them to United. They transfer at a 1:1 ratio and generally process instantly.
There are several cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Ink Business Preferred Card, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. Each of these cards comes with bonus categories that make earning points even easier.
You can also get one of the co-branded United cards from Chase to earn United miles directly. Each of these cards also come with several perks that can be beneficial if you’re flying United Airlines somewhat regularly.
4. British Airways Executive Club
For those of you on the East coast, British Airways Avios might be your best bet for a great deal to Paris! British Airways uses a distance-based award chart, so the points required for an award ticket is determined by how many miles you’ll be flying and Paris is a nice sweet spot from the East coast.
British Airways is known for tacking on hefty carrier-imposed surcharges, so your best bet is to use your Avios points on partner Aer Lingus.
Aer Lingus in an Irish airline and they’re a great way to get to Europe before taking a quick flight to Paris. During peak season, you can fly one-way in economy class for 20,000 British Airways Avios points but off-peak season is where you’ll really get a great deal!
You can fly Aer Lingus from cities such as Boston, Chicago, New York City, and Washington, DC to Dublin for only 26,000 Avios round-trip in economy class if you book during the off-peak season. If you’re on the west coast, a round-trip booking from San Francisco would be 32,500 Avios.
How to Earn British Airways Avios Points
For most, your best options will be to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points, Amex Membership Rewards points, or SPG Starpoints to your British Airways Executive Club account. British Airways also has a co-branded credit card issued by Chase that earns Avios directly.
Figure out how many points you need based on your distance, transfer over the points you need, and you’ll be strutting down the Champs-Élysées before you know it (try the hot wine).
5. Delta SkyMiles
While the Delta SkyMiles program is often derided for its unreasonable award redemption rates, it does have its moments of usefulness – like a last minute trip to Paris!
Delta does not publish an award chart – just one of the reasons Delta has a poor reputation amongst those who use miles and points to travel – but with a little flexibility you can score round-trip economy tickets to Paris for 60,000 SkyMiles.
I can’t promise that you’ll stumble into a 60,000 SkyMiles round-trip to Paris two weeks before your trip, but Delta does seem to have award space closer to departure. So, if you are reading this and thinking about how cool it would be to surprise that special someone in your life with a spontaneous trip to Paris, Delta SkyMiles might be just the ticket.
- Economy class: 60,000 round-trip
- Business class: 140,000 round-trip
How to Earn Delta SkyMiles
The best way to get your hands on some SkyMiles is to transfer Amex Membership Rewards points. There are tons of cards with bonus categories to help you earn Membership Rewards points quickly and they transfer almost instantly at a 1:1 ratio.
You can also earn SPG Starpoints with either of the Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards from American Express. As we mentioned earlier, transferring a chunk of 20,000 Starpoints will earn you a bonus of 5,000 miles.
American Express also provides six co-branded credit card with Delta: Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card, Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card, Delta Reserve Credit Card plus a business version of each of these. With any of these cards, you can earn SkyMiles directly.
There are a ton of great ways to use points and miles for a trip to Paris. These are just five of the cheapest and easiest options but there are plenty of other ways. For just the cost of some taxes and fees (maybe some carrier-imposed surcharges), you’ll be ready to go.
Now that you have your flights to Paris booked on points, you’ll have to figure out where to spend the leftover cash on wine and cheese!