Is jetting off to Scandinavia to see the northern lights on your bucket list? We all know how expensive northern European countries can be. Especially the smaller towns in northern Norway, one of the best places in the world to see the aurora borealis. Well, with the help of just two welcome bonuses, we can make this trip a reality.

Until recently, there were hardly any hotels in this part of Europe that we can book with points, but that changed when Citi introduced a new transfer partner, Choice Hotels. For this trip, we’ll use the points earned with the Citi Premier Card to book hotels and Ultimate Reward points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card for flights.

You’ll see for yourself how easy it is to put together a great trip with points earned by opening just two credit cards.

The Card to Get You There: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the best travel credit cards on the market and it’s our most recommended card for beginners. It comes with a generous welcome bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points that are worth at least $750 after you spend $4,000 on the card in the first three months.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card has a very generous earning structure:

  • 3X points on dining (including eligible delivery services), select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs)
  • 5X points on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards (after the $50 hotel credit is earned) and Lyft Rides (Lyft offer through March 2022)
  • 2X points on other travel
  • 1X point on all other purchase

You’ll also earn up to $50 in statement credits each account anniversary year for hotel stays purchased through Chase travel portal, as well as bonus points equal to 10% of your total purchases made the previous year.

The annual fee is $95 (not waived the first year) and the card is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule.

How to Book Your Flights to Norway

There are a couple of ways to use Ultimate Rewards points to book a flight to Norway. You can either transfer points to one of Chase partner airlines, or you can book the tickets via the Chase travel portal.

The price you’ll see in the portal is tied to a cash price; basically, you’ll be redeeming your points at 1.25 cents per point. How do you decide which way to go? You have to compare the prices in the portal with how many points the partner airlines will charge for award flights.

The prices will fluctuate wildly depending on demand, and now with a lot of airlines moving to dynamic pricing, it’s becoming harder to predict what the actual award rates will be. You’ll also see wild fluctuations based on your home airport. So, unfortunately, we just have to check all options, as there are no shortcuts.

My first stop was to check Google flights to see which airlines have reasonable flights to Norway. When I saw that Skyteam airlines, including KLM and Air France, fly to Oslo from New York City area airports, I decided to check the award space on Virgin Atlantic. Virgin is a transfer partner of Chase, and I know that I can book flights operated by some of the Skyteam member airlines with Virgin miles.

I found a great rate of just 12,000 miles one-way in economy. If I have 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points to play with, that means I can get two round-trip tickets and have some Ultimate Rewards points left for another trip!

United, another Chase transfer partner, wants 33,000 points one-way in economy, but with much lower surcharges.

When I checked the travel portal, I found good fare deals.

Try to collect and compare all of your options first, rather than just jumping on the first option that you come across. You might be able to save some points in the process.

Earn Citi ThankYou Points for Your Stay in Norway

The Citi Premier Card is one of the greatest travel cards on the market, but the ThankYou points it earns aren’t as popular as Ultimate Rewards. The card has excellent earning rates and a very reasonable annual fee of $95.

The card earns 3X at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations and on air travel and hotel purchases. It earns 1X on all other purchases.

The welcome bonus is 80,000 ThankYou points and Citi has some excellent transfer partners. One of the benefits the card offers is $100 off a single hotel stay of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, through thankyou.com, once per calendar year.

How to Book Hotels in Norway with Citi Premier Card

Citi ThankYou points transfer to Choice Hotels 1:2, so for every 1,000 Citi ThankYou points transferred to Choice, you’ll get 2,000 Choice Privileges points.

To transfer Citi points to Choice, you’ll need to log into your ThankYou account, hover over the Travel tab, then click Points Transfer.

You can then select how many points you’d like to transfer. Keep in mind that the names on the Choice Privileges account must match the name on the Citi ThankYou account.

Citi lets you transfer points to anyone with a ThankYou account, so if you’d rather make a reservation under someone else’s name, transfer your ThankYou points to your travel companion first.

Citi says that transfers can take anywhere between 24 hours and five days, but if the name matches and there are no issues, the points might transfer instantly.

Choice only lets you reserve three months out, and that’s one of the biggest drawbacks of the program.

While Choice Hotels aren’t the most luxurious properties that you can book with points, they provide excellent value in an expensive destination, such as Norway. And when you dig deeper, you can find some real gems. Choice hotels even come with free breakfast!

Let’s look at a couple of Oslo properties, because you might want to spend a night or two in the capital of Norway before or after your northern light adventure. We’ll then move to the town of Tromsø, one of the best spots for embarking on a northern lights “safari”.

Hotel Christiania Teater, Ascend Hotel Collection

This property, part of Choice Hotels’s high-end Ascend collection, can be booked with 20,000 Choice Privileges points with a free breakfast included. The Hotel Christiania Teater is located in the heart of the city, close to all the major attractions.

The cash rates hover well above $200/night, so using just 10,000 ThankYou points/night offers a great value.

Comfort Hotel Karl Johan

If you’d rather stretch your points, the Comfort Hotel Karl Johan costs just 12,000 Choice Privileges points a night. This decidedly cool hotel is located in the heart of the city and the decor is a mix of cool industrial chic and contemporary Scandinavian style.

Clarion Collection Hotel With

Before you send us an email saying the header is off, the hotel’s name is “Clarion Collection Hotel With.” There’s nothing else after with!

Our destination, the town of Tromsø, is known as the capital of the Arctic and is a perfect launching pad for your cold-weather adventure. The hotel offers free breakfast, comfortable rooms and a sauna. You’ll be close to all the outdoor recreational activities including hiking, rock climbing, snow skiing, golfing, glacier walking and whale watching.

One night costs 16,000 points, which means you’ll have to transfer just 8,000 ThankYou points to book a room at this property. The cash rates are in the $200 plus range, so this is a great value for points.

Final Thoughts

You’ll be glad you saved all this cash on flights and hotels because you’ll need it to get new warm clothes for your arctic adventure! Norway is not an inexpensive destination, but when your flights and hotels are covered with points, there’s a lot more room in the budget to splurge on all the winter fun.

Travel well,
Anna