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Despite ever-increasing mileage redemption pricing, and award space that’s difficult to find nowadays, there’s still one path to earning enough miles for a business class award ticket to Europe with a single card bonus and even using those miles with success.
The Citi Premier® Card has its biggest-ever initial bonus to earn 80,000 bonus points after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Earning on this $95 annual fee card is 3 points per dollar spent at restaurants; supermarkets; gas stations; air travel; and hotels.
- Spend at least $3800 of the required $4000 in a 3x category and you’ve earned a minimum of 90,000 points from spending and initial bonus.
- That’s enough miles for roundtrip business class to Europe.
This is because Citibank points transfer to Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles and Turkish charges just 45,000 miles each way (plus taxes and fees) for business class from the U.S. to Europe and vice versa.
Turkish Airlines serves 12 U.S. destinations and more countries than any other airline in the world allowing tremendous connecting opportunities. You can fly from Atlanta; Boston; Dallas-Fort Worth; Chicago O’Hare; Houston Intercontinental; Los Angeles; Miami; New York JFK; Newark; Seattle; San Francisco; and Washington Dulles.
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles is most known among frequent flyer aficionados for its inexpensive redemptions on United flights. For instance first class to the Caribbean or Hawaii is just 12,500 miles one-way on United when redeeming Turkish miles. However Turkish is so much more than this.
- Turkish Airlines offers 48 hour award holds so you can lock in an award prior to transferring points.
- Cancel and redeposit fee is just $25.
- US-Europe is just 45,000 miles each way in business class when redeeming for travel on Turkish (plus fuel surcharges)
- India is 52,500 miles (plus fuel surcharges).
It’s not just that their awards require comparatively few miles – that you can book business class to Europe for 45,000 miles one way when saver business class on Delta can cost 180,000 miles.
Perhaps more importantly I’ve found that (though award space even accessible by airline partners can be quite good) Turkish offers much better award availability on their own flights to members using their Miles & Smiles program than they offer when using miles from other programs. Put another way I have almost always found a seat.
As I mention, Turkish Miles & Smiles adds surcharges onto redemptions. Those vary by destination, for instance Istanbul to the U.S. non-stop may run $270 (plus another hundred in taxes) while parts of Europe may have surcharges as high as $335 one way. That’s a great deal for one way business class when fares can be over $4000 right now.
And here’s a trick, that some will value and others may find inconvenient. When I’m scrambling and can’t find award space anywhere and just need to get someone back to North America, it’s hard to beat Instabul – Mexico City for availability.
Turkish has numerous different business class configurations, from Boeing 777s that are 2-3-2 (avoid the middle-of-middle seat!) to Boeing 787s that are 1-2-1. Regardless of aircraft and therefore seating configuration, they do an outstanding on board service and their lounge in Istanbul is a marvel.
Note as well that it’s quite easy to load up on Turkish’s miles since Bilt and Capital One points transfer directly to Turkish as well. The Bilt Mastercard has no annual fee and lets you earn points for paying your rent at no additional cost. And both the Capital One Venture and their Venture X card have 75,000 point initial bonus offers right now, and allow you to earn 2 points per dollar on all qualifying purchases.
Citi Premier® Card