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France is a very accessible destination for American visitors. There are quite a few non-stop routes from the U.S., and even if you have to book a flight with a connection, the flight times aren’t bad at all.
Let’s look at five best ways to get to France with points and miles. Paris is the easiest to get to from the U.S. Once you get to Paris, you can take a short flight on a number of low-cost carriers to pretty much anywhere in France.
The train is another great option. The rail system in France is excellent and zipping by cute villages and small towns on a fast TGV train at 186 mph is quite an experience in itself.
With that, let’s dive into some of the great ways can book your next trip to France!
Air France/KLM Flying Blue
Flying Blue is the loyalty program of Air France and KLM. Flying Blue no longer has an award chart, but it’s possible to find good deals when you search for flights. Just look for the blue Lowest fare button to spot the cheapest award space.
You can also check out Flying Blue Miles Estimator to find out how many miles are needed for a saver award.
Flying Blue doesn’t waive the fuel surcharges, so you’ll have to pay approximately $70 for economy and $200 for business class on Air France operated flights going to France. Coming back to the U.S., the surcharges could be even higher. If you can find a Delta operated flight on the return flight, the surcharges will be minimal.
Flying Blue has quarterly promotions where you can snag a ticket for fewer miles than their lowest award. The departure and destination cities, as well as the discount, change every quarter.
You can search for and book one-way awards. Fill out the flight info, select the class of service and click Search.
The results for both economy and business class on selected dates will be displayed on the next page.
If you have some flexibility, you can search for multiple dates too. On the home screen, click on Purchase a Ticket, then go to Use Your Miles tab. Check You are looking for a flight around these dates.
Now you can see a whole month.
How to Earn Flying Blue Miles
Lucky for us, Flying Blue is a transfer partner of all major transferable currencies. Chase Ultimate Rewards points, Citi ThankYou Points, and American Express Membership Rewards points all transfer at a 1:1 rate to Flying Blue and the transfers are generally instant. Capital One miles transfer at a 2:1.5 ratio.
Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to Flying Blue at 3:1 rate. If you transfer 60,000 Marriott points, you will receive 5,000 bonus miles. So effectively, you can transfer 60,000 Marriott points for 25,000 Flying Blue miles.
Cards to Help You Earn More Flying Blue Miles
Because Flying Blue is a transfer partner of all major credit cards, it’s fairly easy to earn a good stash of Flying Blue miles. Chase has a few excellent Ultimate Rewards earning cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
The Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card card also earns valuable miles that can be transferred to Flying Blue and comes with a good signup bonus.
Citi Premier is a great card for everyday use with a generous welcome bonus and great bonus spending categories.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
after you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening.
Annual Fee: $95
American Airlines has a region-based award chart. These are one-way award rates on American Airlines:
|Economy Class Off Peak||22,500 miles|
|Economy Class||30,000 miles|
|Business Class||57,500 miles|
|First Class||85,000 miles|
The taxes and fees on American Airlines operated flights are going to be just $5.60 one-way going to Europe and about $80-130 coming back due to higher airport taxes in Europe.
You can place an award on hold for five days.
American operates non-stop flights from the following cities:
- Miami (MIA)
- Philadelphia (PHL)
- New York (JFK)
- Dallas Fort Worth (DFW)
- Charlotte (CPH) – seasonal
- Chicago (ORD) – seasonal
How to Book with American Airlines
Searching for award space with American Airlines is easy because you don’t even need to log in or create an account. An account will be needed later when you want to see the taxes and fees and book the flights.
American has been going back and forth between old, and very easy to use interface, and new, much less user-friendly interface. To bring up the old interface, go to the top of the page, click on Plan Travel, then Flights.
Then just plug in your trip details, check the box next to Redeem miles and click search.
You can see one week’s worth of availability on the next screen. You can easily switch back and forth between economy and business on the same screen.
Click on your desired date to see the whole itinerary. Here again, you can easily switch between economy and business.
Next, select the itinerary that works for you, and you’ll be prompted to login to see the taxes and fees and book or put the award on hold.
How to Earn American AAdvantage Miles
American Airlines miles can be earned in a number of ways. American’s excellent shopping portal could be instrumental, especially if you just need to top off your account. So if you are doing shopping for the holidays, birthdays or even everyday essentials, make sure to check the portal before you shop.
The portal often has great spending bonuses, especially around holidays or back to school days. By strategically using the shopping portal bonuses, it’s possible to earn thousands of miles on things you buy anyway. American also has a dining portal. It’s harder to earn a good number of miles that way, but it’s useful for topping up your account or keeping your miles from expiring.
American Airlines is a transfer partner of Marriott Bonvoy, and 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points will transfer for 25,000 American miles. Unless you need to top off your AA account for an award, I wouldn’t recommend transferring Bonvoy points to American Airlines as there are other ways to earn AA miles. Unfortunately, American isn’t a transfer partner of any bank programs but you can use Citi and Barclays co-branded cards to earn miles directly.
Cards to Help You Earn More American Miles
The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard and the Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard are both great options to earn American miles. The bonus offered by these cards can vary so try to grab it when its higher.
You can get both of these cards, but you might want to wait until you’re no longer eligible for cards issued by Chase.
AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard
Total AAdvantage Bonus Miles
after your first purchase and payment of the $99 annual fee
Annual Fee: $95
Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
$0 for your first year, then $99.
Delta Air Lines
Delta doesn’t have an award chart anymore but you should expect to pay at least 25,000 SkyMiles for a one-way ticket in economy and 75,000 miles for a business class flight on Air France or 80,000 miles Delta One (what Delta calls its business class).
Sometimes, you’ll see Delta’s rates for business class as high as 320,000 miles one way. Yes, really that many miles. Don’t book when rates are that high! However, Delta often runs award sales (especially for economy awards) to various destinations, so be on the lookout for these.
Delta has direct flights to France from a bunch of U.S. cities and you can often include a domestic connection without needing additional miles.
While you can book flights on Air France from the cities we mentioned in the Flying Blue section above, Delta also flies non-stop to Paris from the following U.S. cities:
|Raleigh Durham (RDU)||New York (JFK)|
|Dallas Fort Worth (DFW)||Salt Lake City|
|San Francisco||Los Angeles|
Booking one-way awards allows for more flexibility if plans have to be changed, but just be aware that if you need to change both flights, you’ll be on the hook for two change fees.
Delta doesn’t pass on the surgcharges if you are flying on Delta operated flight or on Air France flights originating in the U.S. If you book an award with one of Delta’s partners, such as Air France originating in France, the surcharges can be around 200-300 euros one-way.
How to Book with Delta SkyMiles
Delta’s search engine is pretty straightforward and you don’t need to create an account to search. Just plug in your dates and make sure you check Shop with Miles. If you want to look for business class tickets, click on Advanced Search to select Delta One.
My dates are flexible is already checked. It’s a good thing because we want to see the lowest awards. You’ll see the availability calendar on the next page. See the spread here, from 25,000 to 130,000 SkyMiles?!
And here’s what you can expect to see for Delta’s business class. Having some degree of flexibility can really pay off.
Of course, you might prefer to save a few thousand miles and book Air France business class for 75,000 miles instead.
As you can see, there’s little rhyme or reason to how Delta prices awards. Having some flexibility with travel dates can sometimes help you save lots of miles.
How to Earn Delta SkyMiles
Delta SkyMiles are easy to acquire with a variety of American Express co-branded personal and business credit cards.
Delta is also a transfer partner of American Express. Membership Rewards points transfer to Delta at a 1:1 rate and the transfer is usually instant. Amex charges something called “excise tax offset fee” of 0.0006 cents/point with a maximum of $99 when transferring points to a U.S. based program. So if you transfer 80,000 points, you’ll have to pay $48.
You can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points. 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points will transfer for 25,000 SkyMiles, including Bonvoy’s 5,000 miles bonus.
Delta also has a robust shopping portal. You can earn a good stash of points by going through the shopping portal to make your everyday purchases.
Cards to Help You Earn More Delta SkyMiles
The welcome bonuses on Delta’s credit cards issued by American Express, such as Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card or Delta SkyMiles Gold Business American Express Card, fluctuate. Because you can only get a welcome bonus on an American Express card once per lifetime, it’s worth waiting for a higher offer.
It’s not recommended to get them if you are under 5/24 with Chase. However, business cards issued by American Express won’t affect your 5/24 status so the business versions of Membership Rewards and Delta cards could be an option earlier in your points journey.
and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus earn up to $100 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months.
Annual Fee: $250 Terms Apply. | Rates & Fees.
after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months. Plus earn up to $50 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months.
$0 introductory annual fee for your first year, then $99.
Terms Apply. | Rates & Fees.
United is one of Star Alliance biggest partners, which means there are a number of ways to get to Europe on United’s own flights or one of its partners’ flights.
Unfortunately, United is moving to dynamic award pricing flights in November 2019. With the removal of award charts, United has made booking awards more complex as you won’t have a point of reference. Expect to see a range of award rates.
For now, you should use these one-way award rates as a benchmark for flights on United and its partners:
|United Operated Flight||Partner Flights|
|Economy Class||30,000 miles||30,000|
|Business Class||60,000 miles||70,000|
A big advantageUnited doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges, so you’ll just have to pay taxes, which are minimal going to Europe and around $80-100 coming back.
United’s award rates aren’t the lowest. However, United miles are fairly easy to earn and United has access to a good amount of partner award space.
How to Book with United Miles
It’s very easy to search for award space on United. You don’t need to login to search, but United shows more award space on its own flights for those with United elite status and those with its co-branded cards from Chase. This can be useful if you need a domestic connection on United.
After you login, enter your destination and dates and click on Find flights:
If you have a flexible schedule, you can check Calendar shop to see the whole month. But even without checking this box, you’ll see one week’s worth of availability on the next screen.
You might see some Mixed cabin awards indicated in red, which means that one of the flights is in economy. Move the cursor over the red question mark and you’ll be able to see the details.
How to Earn United Airlines Miles
Because United is a transfer partner of Chase, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to your United MileagePlus account at a 1:1 ratio. The transfer is usually instant. United miles can also be earned directly via the United℠ Explorer Card. There’s a personal and a business version.
You can use United’s shopping portal to earn extra miles. It often offers generous spending bonuses, especially around major holidays. If you time your shopping just right, it’s possible to earn thousands of United miles without spending a lot of money. United also has a dining portal, and while it’s not as useful, or as generous as the shopping portal, it’s worth looking into if you need to top off your miles or need to keep your miles balances alive.
Cards to Help You Earn More United Miles
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are my favorite transferable currency because I often book awards with United miles. The Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card is a great card for business owners as it comes with a great welcome bonus and useful bonus categories.
The United Business Explorer Card can be a great card to keep long term if you book domestic flights on United a few times a year. As long as you are a cardholder, you get one free checked bag on domestic flights, as well as priority boarding, even when flying domestic basic economy. The card earns 2X on United purchases, restaurants and hotels and 1X on everything else.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Virgin Atlantic doesn’t have non-stop flights to Paris from the U.S. but is a partner of Delta and you can often get a better redemption than if you were using SkyMiles to book. For a one-way economy ticket you’ll need 30,000 Flying Club miles. However, the real sweet spot is business class which requires 50,000 miles — Delta might charge 80,000 miles for the same flight!
One important aspect of Virgin Atlantic’s program to remember is that it charges separately for every segment, so it’s best to book non-stop awards on Delta. Any itinerary with a connection will require more miles.
Despite that, I’m including Virgin here because Virgin miles are easy to earn with a variety of credit cards. Transfer partners American Express and Citi occasionally run transfer bonus promos as well.
You can book one-way or round-trip awards. Virgin doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges on flights from the U.S., so taxes and fees will be minimal. However, you will be on the hook for substantial surcharges on flights originating from Europe.
The favorable redemption rates and the transfer bonuses make this a great program in spite of higher surcharges. To save money and points, you can book your outgoing flight with Virgin and the return with another program that doesn’t pass on the surcharges.
How to Book with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
You don’t need to create an account to search. Navigate to Virgin Atlantic, plug in your flight details and click on Advanced Search to select the class of service and click on Miles.
If you have some flexibility, make sure Flexible Dates is checked when you click on the departure date.
You’ll see a weekly calendar on the next screen.
Click on your date to see the flight details.
It’s easy to see economy and business class awards (Virgin calls it Upper Class) on the same screen.
Here’s an example of an award flight with a connection. Rather than 50,000 Flying Club miles, you need 72,500 miles as 22,500 miles is Virgin’s rate for a domestic first class flight on Delta.
I did a search on Delta’s site for the same dates and the economy class on the non-stop flight was 44,000 Delta SkyMiles. The same flight with connections I found in business class for 72,500 Virgin miles, would have been 80,000 Delta SkyMiles!
This is why knowing how a variety of airline loyalty program work can really help you save tons of miles and points.
Virgin allows award holds, so once you find award space, call Virgin and ask to put your award on hold while you transfer credit card points to your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club account
How to Earn Virgin Flying Club Miles
There are lots of ways to earn Flying Club miles. Virgin is a transfer partner of all major transferable programs: Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One, Citi ThankYou Points and American Express Membership Rewards. Except for Capital One, each transfer at a 1:1 rate to Virgin and the transfers are generally quick. Capital One miles transfer to Virgin at a 2:1.5 ratio.
Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to Flying Blue at 3:1 rate. If you transfer 60,000 Marriott points you will receive 5,000 bonus miles. You can transfer 60,000 Marriott points for 25,000 Flying Blue miles.
Keep an eye on transfer bonuses to Virgin Atlantic from one of the transferable currencies.
Cards to Help you Earn More Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles
All Virgin’s credit card transfer partners have excellent cards that can help you earn a good amount of Virgin miles. Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve® earn valuable Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred to Virgin.
Citi Premier is a great card for everyday use with a generous welcome bonus and great bonus spending categories.
The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express is an excellent card for small business owners. It has no annual fee and earns 2X on all purchases up to $50,000/year. Because it’s a business card, it won’t affect your 5/24 status with Chase.
There’s even a co-branded Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard issued by Bank of America. Depending on your flight needs, it might be a good choice if you are over 5/24.
As you can see, there are lots of great ways to get to France on points and miles. There’s so much to see, do, and eat in France! When you go, make sure to explore cities, small towns and little villages and experience different food, wine and culture from all of France’s very diverse regions.
New to the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card to start with.
With a best-ever bonus of 100,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!
Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.