Europe is often atop many folks travel list and earning miles for free flights is a great way to cover the flight across the pond. Award flights from the US to Europe are likely the most competitive and highly demanded award routings, often making grabbing an award seat hard to come by without booking a few months in advance.
With the luxury of having various mileage programs to choose from it’s always a good idea to have several options for award flights, and earning miles quickly from sign-up bonuses is a great way to lock in a free flight to Europe. Here are a few credit card offers to consider with sign-up bonuses that will get you at least one free economy flight from the US to Europe.
Sign-up Bonuses Worth 1 Round Trip Economy Flight to Europe
The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® – 40,000 Miles
Bonus: 40,000 miles after first purchase
Annual fee: $89
Best use: Off-peak awards for 30,000 miles round trip
Application Link: The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®
If the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® isn’t on your list of cards to apply for this year, there is good reason it should be. Even with the US Airways and American Airlines merger going through you will likely be able to apply for this card until it is complete, but I don’t know how long it will be around. After the merger is complete this card will get converted into the Barclays American Airlines credit card.
You’ll earn 40,000 miles after the first purchase and paying the $89 annual fee, which is enough for a round trip economy flight to Europe from the US. The fact that there is no spending requirement makes this card a spectacular deal, and purchasing your morning cup of joe could net you a free flight to Europe.
US Airways offers discounted awards to Europe during it’s off-peak award season between January 15 and February 28, and you can book a round trip economy flight for 35,000 miles. Plus as a cardholder you will get a 5,000 mile discount on awards on US Airways flights, so you could book on their own metal and fly for only 30,000 miles round trip to Europe!
Link: US Airways Award Chart
Normally (non off-peak) it costs 60,000 miles (55k as a US Airways cardholder) round trip to fly to Europe, so after earning the sign-up bonus you will be 15k miles shy of an award flight anytime of year.
There is no saying when this card will disappear, so it’s a good idea to apply for it before it’s gone and lock in an extra 40,000 US Airways miles. Any unused US Airways Dividend miles will be converted to American Airlines AAdvantage program after the merger is complete.
Miles & More® Premier World MasterCard® – 50,000 Miles [expired]
Bonus: 20,000 miles after first purchase & 30,000 miles after spending $5,000 within 90 days
Annual fee: $79
Best use: Round trip flight to Europe with 2 stopovers for 50,000 miles
Application Link: Miles & More® Premier World MasterCard®
The Miles & More® Premier World MasterCard® is offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 bonus miles until June 30th, 2014. You can get a free round trip award flight from the US to Europe since it’s only 50,000 miles round trip in economy. This makes Lufthansa miles among the cheapest option for award flights to Europe all year long.
You will get 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 within the first 90 days. The card does have a $79 annual fee, but seems well worth it when you can use the bonus for a flight to Europe worth ~$1,200. Fuel surcharges are higher on some Miles & More partner airlines, but you can fly on Polish lot to mostly avoid paying high fuel surcharges. For instance, a round trip award flight on Lufthansa will run around ~$300 in taxes and fees.
Using Miles & More miles you can also add a stopover in each direction on a round trip, making it possible to visit 3 European destinations on one award that only costs 50,000 miles. These miles offer some of the most generous stopover and open jaw rules and can add a substantial amount of value to your award ticket.
Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard® – 50,000 miles
Bonus: 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within three months
Annual fee: Waived the first year, then $95
Best use: Off-peak awards for 40,000 miles round trip
Application Link: Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard®
Although it is not as great as the historic 75k miles that the card offered, the Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard® has still been standard go to offer over the past few years. You will earn 50,000 American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months.
You will be able to redeem 40,000 AA miles for an off-peak award from October 15 to May 15. Although paying 10,000 more miles that US Airways off-peak awards you will get more flexibility with AA’s off-peak award time frame. 40,000 miles round trip in economy to Europe is still a killer deal, and you will be able to fly on any of the oneworld partners.
Sign-up Bonus Worth 2 Round Trip Economy Flights to Europe
Citi Executive AAdvantage World MasterCard – 100,000 miles
Bonus: 100,000 miles + $200 in statement credits after spending $10,000 within three months
Annual fee: $450
Application Link: Citi Executive® / AAdvantage® World Elite™ MasterCard®
The Citi Executive AAdvantage World Mastercard is still offering a 100,000 mile sign-up bonus which can be redeemed on American Airlines or one of its many Oneworld partners, but it doesn’t come with a small spending requirement.
To earn the 100k bonus miles you will have to make at least $10,000 within the first three months, so unless you have big expenses coming up soon (or can easily manufacture spend), this might not be the right card for you. There is also a $450 annual fee associated with the card, but you will get a $200 statement credit that essentially takes the annual fee down to $250.
If the $10,000 minimum spend requirement hasn’t scared you off, then the 100,000 sign up bonus miles can get you two economy round trip awards to Europe during the off-peak season or a mix of one round trip off-peak award plus one peak award to Europe. Two round trip tickets to Europe can cost about ~$3,00 depending the season, so the value you can get from the 100k miles helps put the $450 annual fee into perspective.