This is our first in a series of ‘travel rewards tips’ designed to showcase some of the amazing deals you can get by using credit cards to maximize travel rewards. While this particular tip might not apply to you if you don’t live near Boston, it shows how ridiculously good some of these credit card signups really can be:
Aer Lingus is a partner airline of British Airways’ Avios program, and the great part about that is that BA’s Avios system is distance-based on the actual miles flown. Boston to Shannon or Dublin fits in the sweet spot of only 25,000 Avios points per round-trip ticket in economy, which is an unbelievably good deal!
I’d argue this is the single best way to get from the US to Europe using points; for instance, this exact same flight would cost you 60,000 United airline miles. Importantly, you never want to use British Airways Avios points to actually fly on British Airways routes, because they hit you with ~$500 in “fuel surcharges” on each flight, which basically makes your point redemption worthless. That makes this Aer Lingus redemption even better: there are no fuel surcharges — just the normal (unavoidable) taxes.
The flight we priced out in cash in May 2014 cost over $1,800 round-trip for two tickets from Boston to Dublin, and you’re getting them for only 50,000 Avios! (Important note: there are always unavoidable government taxes and fees with award tickets, so this is a “nearly” free trip)
Here are some credit cards you can open to earn Avios:
- British Airways Visa Signature Card: offers a bonus of 50,000 Avios (when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months the account is open; $95 annual fee waived the first year), which earns you enough points for two of these round-trip flights!
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: offers a bonus of 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (when you spend $3,000 in the first three months the account is open; additional 5,000 UR bonus if you add an authorized user who makes at least one purchase; Annual fee of $95 waived the first year) which you can transfer to British Airways Avios points.
- American Express Platinum Card: offers a bonus of 40,000 American Express Membership Rewards (when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months the account is open; $450 annual fee applies) which you can transfer to British Airways Avios points.
Steps for two free tickets from Boston to Ireland:
- Sign up for a free British Airways Executive Club account (2 minute signup)
- Sign up for a British Airways Visa Signature Credit card
- Spend $2,000 on your British Airways Visa within 3 months of opening the account. $95 annual fee waived 1st year
- Wait until your 50,000 Avios have been deposited into your BA Executive Club account and then call the BA Executive Club number 1-800-452-1201 to book your flights on Aer Lingus (for some reason the Aer Lingus flights do not show up on the BA website, so you have to know this tip in advance that you can in fact book these flights by calling the Executive Club number. The BA website says, “Please contact your local Executive Club Service Centre to spend your Avios on Aer Lingus and Alaskan Airlines flights”). You should also ask for the $25 phone booking fee to be waived since you are unable to book this flight online; the representative I spoke with said they would honor that request.
And it really is as easy as that! Four simple steps and you get two round-trip flights for just the small taxes and fees!
Please Note: This is an extremely popular route for award flights, and there is limited availability on each flight at the “saver” level where you can book for 25,000 Avios. If you intend to use this method, which absolutely works, you must plan your travel at least 6 months in advance in most cases.
This tip will not seemingly apply to most people outside the New England area, but we found another way around this: If your airport is 650 miles or less from Boston and you have direct American Airlines flights (like Richmond to Boston), this would only add 9,000 Avios to the trip for a total of 34,000 Avios. That is still a remarkably good deal for a round-trip flight to Europe.
You’d fly from your airport to Boston and then from there on to Dublin, and just reverse that trip on the way back. See this article on Using British Airways Avios points for an explanation of their award chart.
We also priced out tickets from New York or Chicago to Ireland direct on Aer Lingus and those were 40,000 Avios; flying from Atlanta to Dublin (connecting through Chicago) was just under 50,000, so still not bad. This makes a dream trip to Ireland very accessible for just about anyone on the eastern half of the United States.
If this is your first time hearing about this concept of maximizing travel rewards, read our introduction here and sign up for our completely free travel rewards coaching program below: