Hello from Spain!
Well, almost. I am currently 35,000 feet above the Atlantic on a flight bound for Barcelona (technology is a wonderful thing).
Anyway, before I indulge in a week filled with tapas and Spanish wine I wanted to give you the rundown of how I pulled this off so that you can get started on planning your own European getaway.
Many of you have asked that I share these types of overviews so I will make a point of doing so for all of my upcoming trips.
So, without further ado, here’s how I booked a week in Spain and Portugal for next to nothing.
Columbus to Barcelona – 20,000 American Airlines Miles and $14.50
Anyone who has been reading 10xT for more than a couple weeks knows that I am a HUGE fan of American Airlines off-peak award rates to Europe. At just 20,000 miles each way on saver award level tickets (30,000 each way standard award) these are one of the best uses of points/miles in the game.
(Note: American has made a few changes to their off-peak awards starting on March 16, 2016. Check out their new award chart for more details)
I originally booked flights for my wife and me to head to Spain on Wednesday due to some other scheduling conflicts. They were just 20,000 American Airlines miles and $14.50 each. (The $58 below is for two round-trip flights)
But after our schedules cleared up a bit we decided to add a few days to our trip and leave on Sunday instead. Thankfully I was able to change our flights without paying any additional miles or fees.
We each earned the required AA miles thanks to the sign up bonus from the American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum MasterCard, which was offering 50,000 AA miles at the time. More than enough to cover round-trip flights to Europe during the off-peak season.
Le Meridien Barcelona – 12,000 Starpoints per Night
After doing a little bit of research on Barcelona hotels I decided to stay at Le Meridien Barcelona.
Starwood is by far my favorite hotel reward program, Le Meridien is one of my favorite Starwood brands, and the Le Meridien Barcelona looked too good to miss.
I am a little low on Starpoints at the moment (thanks to another upcoming trip to Europe next month) so I ended up booking one night with points and the second with cash.
My first night was booked using just 12,000 Starwood points.
And the second night cost €300.86 (~$327). I used my Capital One Venture card to pay for the second night knowing that I would use points to erase the charge later.
Barcelona to Lisbon for $71.30 on Vueling (Erased with Capital One Miles)
After a couple of days in Barcelona we decided to fly to Lisbon, Portugal before continuing on to Madrid.
Using traditional points/miles for such a short flight is usually not a good move so we decided to take advantage of one of Europe’s many low-cost carriers, Vueling Airlines.
Our one-way flights from Barcelona to Lisbon cost just $71.30 each.
I used my Capital One Spark Miles card to pay for the flights and then cashed in 12,235 points to erase almost all of the charge.
The Sheraton Lisboa Hotel & Spa – 3,500 Starpoints + $55 per Night
Keeping with my Starpoints trend I decided to stay at the Sheraton Lisboa Hotel & Spa for just 3,500 Starpoints and $55 per night.
This is called a “Cash & Points” redemption, meaning that you pay for your reservation with, you guessed it, cash and points.
Perfect for folks like me who are running low on Starpoints. As an added bonus, Starwood Cash & Points bookings count toward elite status, which I am hoping to hit in 2016.
The Sheraton Lisboa certainly isn’t the fanciest hotel in Lisbon but for 3,500 points + $55 a night you could certainly do worse. The typical cash rate is ~$175 per night.
My wife and I earned our Starpoints thanks to the signup bonuses offered by the Starwood Preferred Guest and Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Cards, which were each offering 25,000 Starpoints at the time.
Lisbon to Madrid for $61.46 on EasyJet (Erased with Capital One Miles)
I used the same Capital One Miles strategy for our flight from Lisbon to Madrid, booking 2 flights for $61.46 and using my Capital One Spark Miles card to erase the charge.
The Westin Palace Madrid for 6,000 Starpoints + $110 per Night
Before booking my hotel in Madrid I reached out to a number of fellow points/miles enthusiasts for recommendations.
Every single one of them recommended the same place, The Westin Palace Madrid.
After spending 2 minutes on their website I could see why.
This iconic hotel is one of the finest in Madrid and typically goes for $250+ per night.
Luckily, it is also a Starwood property. Further confirming why Starwood is by far my favorite hotel rewards program.
I was able to book 3 nights at the Westin Palace Madrid for just 6,000 Starpoints and $110 per night.
(I had to create 2 separate bookings because of my last-minute date change)
Again, working my way toward Starwood status thanks to the Cash & Points booking.
Needless to say, we are pretty excited about staying at this hotel.
Madrid to Columbus for 20,000 American Airlines Miles and $14.50.
And last but not least, our flights home were simply the second half of our American Airlines booking.
They cost just 20,000 American Miles and $14.50 each, meaning the total cost for 2 round-trip flights to Europe was a whopping 80,000 American Miles and $116.
And there you have it! A week in Spain and Portugal for a fraction of the normal cost.
I’m off to grab some tapas. Talk to you next week!