A trip to one of Europe’s most beautiful cities is never a bad idea, but at Christmas time Vienna is simply magical. If you’ve been dreaming about going to Europe to see the Christmas markets, it’s possible to do so by just opening two credit cards: The American Express® Business Gold Card and the Chase World of Hyatt Business Credit Card.

Business owners have a great opportunity here to earn enough points for a great trip with your everyday business spend. We’ll use Membership Rewards points earned with the Amex Business Gold card for flights and the World of Hyatt points for our stay in Vienna.

Being your own boss and owning your own business comes with a lot of responsibilities, but it also has some great perks. One of them is the ability to get business credit cards for your business that earn travel rewards that allow you to explore the world without spending a lot of money.

The Card to Get You There

American Express® Business Gold Card comes with a generous welcome bonus of 70,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 in the first three months.

It has an interesting earning structure. Businesses can earn 4X Membership Rewards points on the two most used bonus categories, each month. Other purchases earn 1X.

Categories eligible for 4X points include:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio)
  • U.S. purchases at gas stations
  • U.S. purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
  • U.S. purchases at restaurants including take out and delivery
  • U.S. purchases for shipping

This is perfect for a business owner who spends a lot in the eligible categories and wants to use just one card without worrying about moving their spend to a different card each month or each quarter.

Another great feature of this card is the 25% airline rebate. You’ll get 25% of your points back when you book a business or first class airline ticket, or any cabin flight with your selected airline, through the American Express Travel using Membership Rewards Points. The rebate is limited to 250,000 points back per calendar year.

Its annual fee is $295 a year (Rates & Fees) which is not waived the first year.

How to Book Your Award Flights to Vienna

After you meet the minimum spending requirements you’ll have at least 80,000 Membership Rewards points, and much more if you made purchases in the categories that earn 4X. Amex has 17 airline transfer partners, but we’ll look at three airlines that offer the best redemption rates to Vienna: Air Canada Aeroplan, Avianca LifeMiles and ANA.

Membership Rewards transfer instantly to Aeroplan and LifeMiles but it might take a day or two to transfer points to ANA. Watch out for transfer bonuses, as just recently Amex had a 20% transfer bonus to Aeroplan and a few other partners.

Air Canada Aeroplan

Aeroplan, Air Canada’s frequent flyer program has a hybrid distance and zone based award chart. So depending on where you are located in the U.S., you can expect to pay between 35,000 to 55,000 miles one-way in economy and between 60,000 and 85,000 miles one-way in business class. The Great Circle Mapper is a great tool for estimating distances between cities.

Air Canada frequent flyer program distance and zone based award chart

This might not sound like a great bargain, but Aeroplan has dynamic pricing for its own flights and you might be able to find award space on Air Canada operated flights at rates below those in the award chart.

From the three programs we are reviewing, I’ve seen the most options and the best award space availability to Europe on Aeroplan. This could be very important if you are booking multiple award tickets.

How to Search for Award Tickets on Aeroplan

First, you’ll need to create an account. Aeroplan’s search engine is very straightforward, so just enter your origin and destination and dates and make sure to toggle to Points.

How to Search for Award Tickets on Aeroplan

You’ll see the results displayed on the next screen. As you can see here, itineraries that include Air Canada flights are pricing cheaper than the award chart rates.

How to Search for Award Tickets on Aeroplan

Aeroplan doesn’t pass on airline-imposed surcharges, but there’s a 39 Canadian dollars booking fee.

Avianca LifeMiles

It might sound counterintuitive to be using LifeMiles, Avianca’s frequent miler program, because Avianca is a Colombian airline. And no, Avianca doesn’t fly between the U.S. and Europe, but it also belongs to Star Alliance and therefore we can use LifeMiles to book award tickets to Vienna.

LifeMiles doesn’t have an award chart, but the cheapest award ticket from the U.S. to Europe should be 30,000 miles one-way in economy and 63,000 miles one-way in business class. However, thanks to the program quirks, it’s often possible to find business class awards at lower rates when adding a short connecting flight in economy.

The biggest drawback of the program is the fact that LifeMiles doesn’t always show the same award space as other Star Alliance partners. You’ll sometimes see weeks with no availability at all. And the customer service could be hit or miss too, depending on the agent.

How to Search for Award Tickets on LifeMiles

You’ll need to create an account to search for award space. After you’ve logged in, just plug in the flight information and you’ll be asked to select a date on the next screen.

How to Search for Award Tickets on LifeMiles

After you’ve selected a date, you’ll see the results on the next screen. The cash component you see is not the final amount. The $25 non-refundable Star Alliance fee will be added to the total later on in the booking process.

How to Search for Award Tickets on LifeMiles

And this is an example of how much you can save on a business class ticket when you need to add a short economy segment.

How to Search for Award Tickets on LifeMiles

ANA

Here’s another example of an airline that doesn’t fly between the U.S. and Vienna. Nevertheless, it’s part of the Star Alliance and it has a great award chart. ANA allows one free stopover and one open-jaw booking, but you can only book round-trip awards.

You’ll need just 55,000 miles round-trip in economy and 88,000 miles in business class to fly from the U.S. to Europe.

In order to search for award space you’ll first need to create an account. ANA’s search engine is not the best, but it’s simple enough to use. If you want to save time, you can look for award space on Aeroplan first, then try to replicate the results via ANA.

How to Book Your Award Flights to Vienna with ANA

Keep in mind that ANA passes on airline surcharges and these could be quite high on some airlines, such as Austrian and Lufthansa. In order to avoid the surcharges, look for award space on airlines with low or no surcharges, such as United, Air Canada and TAP Portugal.

You’ll have an opportunity to play with routings on the next page and see which itinerary has the lowest surcharges.

How to Book Award flight to Vienna with ANA

How to Pay for Your Stay in Vienna

The World of Hyatt Business Credit Card is a recent entrant to the world of travel rewards cards. The card comes with a sizable welcome bonus of 75,000 Hyatt points after spending $7,500 within the first three months from account opening.

The card has an interesting earning structure. In addition to earning 9X at Hyatt properties (4X points when you pay with your card at Hyatt hotels plus 5X points as a World of Hyatt member), you can also earn 2X in the top three categories where you spend the most each quarter through Dec. 31, 2022.

Eligible categories include:

  • Dining
  • Shipping
  • Airline tickets when purchased directly with the airline
  • Local transit and commuting
  • Social media and search engine advertising
  • Car rental agencies
  • Gas stations
  • Internet, cable & phone services

Starting in January of 2023, you’ll earn 2X in your top two categories each quarter.

You will also earn extra points in the following purchases:

  • 4X at Hyatt hotels and resorts, including participating restaurants and spas
  • 2X for fitness club and gym memberships
  • 1X on all other purchases

Another unique feature of this card is the ability to earn 10% points back when redeeming World of Hyatt points for hotel stays. If you spend more than $50,000 on the card in a calendar year, you’ll get 10% of all points redeemed back. There’s a cap of 20,000 points back per year.

You’ll earn $50 in statement credits when you spend $50 or more at any Hyatt property, up to two times, each anniversary year.

The card comes with a Discoverist status for the primary card member. The cardmember can also give the Hyatt Discoverist status to five people.

The annual fee is $199 which is not waived the first year.

Where to Stay in Vienna

There are two Hyatt properties in Vienna where we can use our good stash of World of Hyatt Points. The Park Hyatt Vienna is a centrally located luxury hotel, but if you decide to stay at the Andaz Vienna Am Belvedere, you’ll be able to stretch your points further.

Hyatt has an award chart with peak, off-peak and standard rates.

Where to Stay in Vienna

However, when you search for free nights availability on multiple days, you’ll be shown only the lowest rate for your dates. If we look at the example below, 25,000 points is the lowest rate available on the days that I searched.

Where to Stay in Vienna

That doesn’t necessarily mean that every night of your entire stay will cost 25,000. There might be a peak night in there too, but you won’t find out unless you pull up the points calendar. However, the points calendar doesn’t tell you if there are award nights available on your dates.

Where to Stay in Vienna

Hopefully Hyatt will remedy this weird quirk soon and we can see everything on the same screen, but for now it helps to have two browser tabs open at the same time. You’ll need to cross-reference the points calendar to find out exactly how many points you’ll need for your stay.

Where to Stay in Vienna

Park Hyatt Vienna

The Park Hyatt Vienna is a category 6 property that you can book with 21,000 to 29,000 points.

Park Hyatt Vienna category 6 property book with points

This stately and elegant luxury hotel is located in Vienna’s historic old town, close to lots of shopping and some of Vienna’s most elegant restaurants. There’s even an indoor pool and a beautifully appointed spa where you can relax after an intense (and quite cold) day of shopping and sightseeing.

Andaz Vienna Am Belvedere

If you’d rather stretch your points, there’s a more budget-friendly option in Vienna. The Andaz Vienna is a category 3 hotel, bookable with as little as 9,000 points. You probably won’t find off-peak rates during the Christmas season, but even at 12,000 points it’s an amazing deal.

Andaz Vienna Am Belvedere book with points

All Andaz properties are unique and reflect the local aesthetic but with a modern twist. This is definitely not your cookie-cutter hotel – the Andaz Vienna Am Belvedere is a showcase for contemporary local art and design. The hotel is located near the Belvedere Palace, home to a spectacular collection of Gustav Klimt paintings. The Belvedere is especially charming in winter when it hosts its own Christmas Market.

Final Thoughts

Being your own boss and owning your own business comes with a lot of responsibilities, but it also has some great perks. One of them is the ability to get business credit cards for your business that earn travel rewards that allow you to explore the world without spending a lot of money.

By opening just two credit cards and meeting the minimum spending requirements on both, you’ll earn enough points to go on an amazing trip to Vienna!

Travel well,
Anna