Travel Rewards: Two Free Boston to Dublin Round-Trip Flights with One Credit Card Signup

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 logoAer 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!

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 applies), 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:

  1. Sign up for a free British Airways Executive Club account (2 minute signup)
  2. Sign up for a British Airways Visa Signature Credit card
  3. Spend $2,000 on your British Airways Visa within 3 months of opening the account.  $95 annual fee applies
  4. 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 free!

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:

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"I couldn't believe that Brad was willing to get on the phone with me and walk me through understanding the complexity of travel rewards... I kept thinking, there's got to be a catch! But, there wasn't! Brad made it easy to understand and helped me develop a simple, focused strategy that wasn't overwhelming and could be implemented with my current budget."

-- Kendra Wright, HeyKendra.com

"With Brad's help my wife and I have earned hundreds of thousands of miles (and cash back as well!) over the last few months. Having Brad as a resource has been nothing short of incredible in our quest to travel cheaply."

-- Joe O., Las Vegas, NV

Comment Disclaimer:

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. says

    Surely, a lot of your regulars will look forward to more of travel rewards tips you can share. That is the good thing about frequenting the blogosphere. You get to pick up a lot of good stuff. Great going!

    • says

      Thanks for the encouragement Jen! I have a whole lot of these travel rewards ideas floating around and I’ve finally decided to put them on the site, even if they aren’t pertinent to everyone. I think there’s a lot of value in seeing how amazing this concept really is…

  2. says

    This one hit a sweet spot for my wife, so I think we’ll take advantage of this deal Brad (through your links, of course).

    Thanks a million for posting these. You’re saving us money and also giving us the kick in the pants to actually get out there and travel, too.

    • says

      Great, I’m so glad you and your wife will be able to take advantage of this one! And of course I sincerely appreciate you using our affiliate links to signup.

      This really is the best deal around to get to Europe, and I know from experience that Ireland is an amazing country to visit! I’m sure there are plenty of ways to get free hotel nights with travel rewards too, but if you’re looking for inexpensive yet classy lodging, Laura and I liked the Bewley’s Ballsbridge.

      I’m going to make these travel tips a regular thing because I am constantly thinking about and researching new options, and I think it will be interesting for people to see some of the amazing values you can get!

  3. says

    I’ve never had an avios point, it is certainly an interesting program. It is prudent to point out that if you venture to most other airlines going to (airberlin being the exception) Europe from the US, you’re most likely to get hit with significant fuel surcharges.

    It’s a hard program for me to nail down [....]

    • says

      I really believe that British Airways Avios points are one of, if not the single best points to have for Americans trying to maximize their travel rewards. Now that the US Airways routes are being included with all the American Airlines routes and are bookable with Avios, you have a massive network of flights to choose from. And unlike normal miles through AA or US Airways where you pay 25,000 miles round-trip for all continental US round-trips, many of these flights booked with Avios are well less than 25,000.

      Couple that with the fact that you can get them as transfers with Chase and Amex (often with 35%-50% transfer bonus on Amex) and the BA Visa and you can easily put together hundreds of thousands of these miles.

      The funny thing is that, to your point, there are massive fuel surcharges if you actually fly British Airways with these Avios points, so you would NEVER want to use them on British Airways.

      • says

        It certainly depends on where you are going. Which why saying a certain program is best for an entire population, or even a majority of an entire population, is quite a bold statement.

        I would have “lost my shirt” in the points/miles game if avios was a program I used.

        • says

          As Brad said. the fuel surcharges are nasty if you fly BA, but this is a killer deal if you fly within the states. My wife and I both signed up for the card. We got 4 round trip tickets to Hawaii (140,000 points) and then 3 round trip tickets to Florida (75.000 points) all for around $200 in fees. We liked the deal so much, we’re doing it again now.

          • says

            I’m still green when it comes to travel hacking, but am studying up. How on earth did you get so many points through Avios? That’s fantastic!

            Best,
            TL

          • says

            I was able to get a 100,000 BA credit card a few years ago and I got an Amex gold that had a 75k bonus plus a 35% transfer bonus to BA! So that was over 200k right there…

          • says

            I was able to get a 100,000 BA credit card a few years ago and I got an Amex gold that had a 75k bonus plus a 35% transfer bonus to BA! So that was over 200k right there…

        • says

          I’m not sure one can “lose their shirt” when collecting thousands of dollars of free travel…
          Clearly you’re right that it’s hard to make sweeping generalizations in this, or any, regard in life. That said, I’ll vociferously argue my position about Avios with anyone, anywhere, as I feel strongly about it in general terms. Just like in life, there are always exceptions, but generalities do hold some truth for a reason.
          The vast majority of people are not traveling first class through Southeast Asia, or Africa or the South Pacific. If that’s your thing, then Flyertalk is the best bet for the most cutting-edge information around.
          You will never get that level of information at Richmond Savers, and for good reason: it’s irrelevant to the 99.9% of the population who don’t have the time or energy to spend hundreds of hours sifting through arcane rules and posts trying to find the absolute best deal to fly them to the Maldives or Phuket.
          This site is for the vast majority of people who are nervous and scared to open credit cards to earn free travel, but who want to take their families somewhere nice for free if they can swing it without too much hassle. If you’ve noticed in comments on other PF sites, most PF bloggers are scared to do this, so you can only imagine what the general population thinks when they first hear about it.
          My case for Avios:
          1) The (very safe) assumption is the vast majority of Americans are traveling within the United States most regularly. BA is now a partner with the entire American Airlines network and soon will be partner with US Airways. Those are thousands of routes that are bookable with Avios points.
          2) Based on #1, we’re assuming the vast majority of Americans are flying in the US and not abroad. Avios are not the best for flights abroad (as BA tacks on fuel surcharges that render their points worthless when flown on BA flights), other than the above deal which is inarguably the single best way to get from the US to Europe if you happen to be lucky enough to live near Boston. There are no fuel surcharges on AA flights flown in the US using Avios points.
          3) For US flights, the max I’ve seen is 25,000 miles for NYC to LA using Avios. This corresponds exactly with the 25k that the other airlines charge for their intra-US flights. However, unlike the other airlines that charge 25k for all intra-US flights, using Avios to book AA and soon to be US Airways flights that are less than 2,000 miles (one-way) in actual distance are only 20,000 Avios Round-trip or fewer for rewards tickets. It is a mere 9,000 Avios Round-trip for flights 650 miles or fewer each way (DC to Chicago), 15,000 Avios round-trip between 651-1,151 (NY to Chicago), or 20,000 Avios round-trip between 1,152-2,000. That means the hundreds of routes that fly fewer than 2,000 actual miles one-way are better deals using Avios than any other domestic airline’s regular program.
          4) British Airways Avios points are plentiful and easy to collect. You and your spouse could each open up a BA Visa and get 100,000 points very easily. You can open up all Chase cards with Ultimate Rewards and all Amex cards with Membership Rewards and transfer to BA (sometimes with a bonus of 35%-50% with Amex). This can add up to hundreds of thousands of points very easily. When it only costs 15,000 Avios to fly RT from NYC to Bermuda or 25,000 RT from Boston to Dublin or 9,000 RT from DC to Chicago, those points are insanely valuable.
          5) Avios points can be pooled among family members, so points earned in your account and your spouse’s can be pooled together to book flights. This is rather unusual as most airlines do not allow you to pool. This means you can each earn points separately and book (and sit) together, instead of having to jump through hoops to book separately using rewards tickets on the same flight.

          • says

            As someone who travels frequently both domestically and less frequently internationally, I stand by my statement that avios is by far not the best program, even for a majority of Americans. That’s fine if you think so, and I won’t lose sleep over what you do. I just think it’s dangerous to tell people one program is better than another without knowing anything about what they want to do (or just working off assumptions). If you want an example, you can calculate the number of avios required to fly DEN to SLC, which I frequent. If you want to compare it to another program, United is a good one. It’s just merely one example to show how complicated this can be, even if you want to travel for “free” solely in the US.

            I understand that many people may not want to go to Asia, Africa or any other continent, just the same as I hope you understand everyone may not want to go to Dublin from Boston or Bermuda from JFK or Buenos Aries from Miami. I’d rather step back and see what people want to do and then make recommendations. That’s all I’m saying [....] as I hate to see people waste a credit card app.

          • Chris says

            Elroy, do you really think it’s “dangerous” to tell people one program is better than another?

            Like, daaanger danger? Or like, “hey, the free stuff on this table is a little more valuable than the free stuff on that table” danger?

    • says

      Great Nick — I’m glad this can be of use to you! This is the absolute best way to get to Europe and you’re so lucky that you are in Boston to take advantage of it. You’ll pay less than $100 in taxes and charges to fly RT to Europe!

    • says

      Sure thing Holly, glad this can be of use! As I mentioned in a comment on your site, these Avios points are amazing. Definitely among the most valuable in all the travel rewards world!

    • says

      Yeah, this is the very best sweet spot of all! There really are many, for instance the NYC to Bermuda trip for only 15,000 RT (that we’ll be posting about quite soon), which is unreal.

      We were lucky enough to get that 100k BA Visa offer, but don’t count yourself out: We opened an Amex Business Gold with a 75k offer and there was a 35% transfer bonus to British Airways, so that got us nearly 110k Avios! And that was just last year. I’ll shoot you an email when I see this offer again, or if I could recommend to you and everyone else reading this to sign up for our free travel rewards coaching service. Even if you aren’t interested in one on one coaching (and why not since we’ll get you a multi-thousand dollar trip for free?), we send out infrequent but important updates when major new bonuses are available.

  4. says

    I’ve just recently started looking into travel rewards. I haven’t done so in the past because I was worried about how it would impact my credit score. Lately there have been a bunch of folks in the pf community who are successfully traveling all over the place with rewards (without impacting their credit). Something I definitely want to look into in the new year.

    • says

      It is definitely worth looking into! In my experience it has not hurt our credit rating at all and we’ve been able to earn well over $10,000 worth of free travel — so that’s tough to turn down. It is honestly a lot of fun as well. If you need any help, we offer a free coaching service and I would be happy to help you get started…

    • says

      Very happy to pass along this info Laurie!! If you ever want to chat about getting started, I’d be happy to talk via email or Skype. I know people have tons of questions about this at the outset…

  5. Chris says

    I looooove the Boston to Dublin award! Last summer, I flew my three best friends with me for an awesome Europe adventure using that award. Additional tips:

    1) Paying $50 extra for an exit row seat is sooo worth it for me (I’m 6’4″)
    2) Business Class for 50K is a good deal too
    3) Southwest Airlines flies to Boston inexpensively (and has good credit card signup offers)
    4) Ryan Air is really cheap to get around Europe

    P.S. My second favorite award is Los Angeles to Honolulu round-trip, also for 25K Avios.

    • says

      Great additional tips Chris — thanks!
      We’re big fans of Ryanair to get around Europe for ridiculously cheap prices (I think we paid less than $20 for one flight..)
      This really is one of the best ‘sweet spots’ in all of travel rewards.
      It’s funny that you mentioned the LA-Honolulu because I have a future post about that one precisely!

      • Chris says

        I know! Our RyanAir flights cost less, than our taxi fare to the airport to catch the actual flight!

        I’m looking forward to your LAX-HNL using Avios post. I’ll be on that flight February 8-14. I can’t wait! Mai Tais are on me if you can sneak away to Hawaii then.

        Thanks again for your blog. I loved your posts on “Simplify Your Way To A Happier And More Efficient Life”, “A Lifetime Of Financial Advice In Your Wallet”, and the tip about the iPod Touch and FreedomPop.

        I can tell we think the same about alot of topics. Surprisingly, I already do most of the things you blog about, but it is good to have my choices reinforced, and to glean another nugget every now and then. It has taken me many years to be this frugal. My twenty year old Toyota (CoCo is her name), and my house that I bought for less than a fancy car, both love your blog too.

        • says

          Glad you liked those posts so much! I agree, it sounds like we’re on the same page with a lot of this stuff and I’m especially glad you liked rule #8! I enjoyed that one and I really think it’s true :) So many people waste thousands of dollars on garbage just to “impress” their friends, and then they wonder why they are poor…

  6. says

    Another excellent post. Please keep them coming. Amex is offering a 20% bonus currently on transferring points to BA. Would you suggest doing that now, or is it better to wait and see if it goes back up to a higher percentage?

    • says

      Hi Kim — glad you liked the post! I plan to post more of these on a regular basis, so stay tuned…

      I was able to get in on a 35% transfer bonus from Amex to BA, and I know they previously did a 50% bonus. That said, if you plan to use them soon, then 20% is certainly not bad. You can’t be sure that the 35%-50% bonuses will ever come back; they very well might, but who knows?

      If you plan to keep that account open for a long time and you don’t need the points right now, then maybe keep them in Amex. If you plan to close the account and you think 20% is a good bonus, then go for it!

  7. Joe says

    I’m curious as to know what the ramifications are for applying for an awards card, spending said rewards card, utilizing the awards, canceling the card before the annual fee kicks in, and then start again with a new one? I’m not a credit expert, but wouldn’t your credit report look kinda bad?

    • says

      Joe,

      It is a great question, and one that is at the top of everyone’s list when first learning about this concept. I was certainly worried about this from the outset, but after reading dozens of travel rewards websites and frequenting forums where people talk about this, I couldn’t come across one instance where someone’s credit was significantly damaged because they decided to take advantage of this.

      We have now opened 11 new credit cards over 2-3 years and our credit score and rating have not gone down at all. So in my own personal experience, there have been no negatives. As I try to state in every article about the concept, if you get into trouble with credit cards by spending too much or not paying it off in full, DO NOT do this!! If you are responsible, have a good credit score, and just want to earn some travel rewards, I think you will be okay. You can always start out slow like we did: Open one card to start, see how it goes and then decide if you want to pursue it further.

      The one caveat to all this is if you are looking to buy a home in the next 2 years. I would not advise opening multiple cards in the years leading up to a home purchase. Again, I don’t think it is going to negatively impact you too much, but the last thing you want is some pesky underwriter asking questions when they see a few new credit cards on your credit report.

      If you have more questions, please email me

      Thanks,
      Brad

      • John says

        There’s a free pseudo-credit score report site that I use, Credit Karma, that seems to do a decent job in generating a numeric score and tracks that score over time. It’s a good gauge of how hard credit pulls can impact your overall score.

        I agree with Brad, start with 1 or 2 and see how that impacts your score.

        • says

          Great point about Credit Karma — I’ll have to recommend that to my travel coaching list…

          I like the ‘pseudo-credit score’ phrase too :)

  8. John says

    I finally redeemed my Avios after sitting on 100K for many years. While I agree with several of your posters that these miles are good only for a very narrow segment of travelers out there, I go with the philosophy of, if someone out there offers you 100k points for doing basically nothing, take it!

    So I got my points wayyy back when the deal was 100k points for some miniscule spend, which I did, and held on to the points. Then the program got revamped and it lost the luster of multi-leg flights of yore. However, it did improve on the points cost of short haul flights. So much so, that I got 4 round trip tickets to Hawaii with 100k points coming up in a few months.

    Anybody with a good credit score can churn cards and rack up miles. But I appreciate you pointing out the efficient ways to use those ‘hard-earned’ miles and not have to be ripped-off in the process.

    • says

      All good points John. I think a lot of miles ‘experts’ get caught up in their ridiculous around the world redemptions, and first-class cabins and lose site of the fact that most people have much simpler travel plans in mind. So I don’t think these are good for a ‘narrow segment’ at all; I think the narrow segment is actually the miles guru bloggers — it is just that they have a larger platform to make it seem like their travel is mainstream…

      Most people are just looking to get from point A to point B in the US, and if their airports/flights take them on American Airlines or (post-3/31/14) US Airways, then it is hard to go wrong with Avios. They are so easy to collect through the BA Visa, Chase UR, Amex MR, which makes them even more attractive.

      For intra-US flights, you normally pay 25,000 miles RT on ‘normal’ redemptions, right? Well, using Avios, the worst is 25,000 on a NY to LAX type trip, so you’re no worse off there, but all the hundreds (thousands?) of routes on AA and US Airways that are less than 2,000 miles in actual (one-way) distance are going to be less than 25,000 miles, with the real short trips (650 miles or less) being only 9,000 Avios RT!!

      So for instance, when I want to go from Richmond to NYC, it will only cost me 9,000 Avios RT! This is a route that normally costs at least $350 in cash…

      This seems to unbelievably obvious to me that I want to shout about it from the rooftops, but clearly there’s some disagreement. So I’ll be content in the knowledge that I’m exploiting this chart to its fullest…

      • Chris says

        After analyzing my spending for 2013 (I took many trips from credit card signup bonuses last year), and thinking about things, I have come to a conclusion.

        My conclusion is this: Ultimately, I end up spending MORE money because of all my “free” trips, than I would have if I had never been incentivized to take the trip with miles & points.

        Yes, I have many amazing trips to remember, but I only would have taken a fraction of these trips, had it not been for all these signup bonuses. And with all of these bonuses, it eventually increased my actual spending, versus my baseline of staying at home.

        It’s kindof like buying something at a 95% off sale, that you would not have purchased otherwise. In that scenario, did you really save 95%? Or did you get suckered into spending money you wouldn’t have.

        Until I pay off my mortgage, I am switching to a pure cashback credit card (2%) for my actual spending, instead of my points cards, and selling or trading my signup bonuses for cash.

        I am happy with the amazing experiences to far away places that I now have, but I have mixed feelings. I could have traded my points for tens of thousands of dollars in cash (I am an advanced churner) over the last several years, instead of all of these trips that I otherwise would not have taken. I could have done local “stay-cations” and hikes and bikes and potlucks and games with friends instead, with just as much fun most likely, and have been closer to not having to do mandatory work ever again.

    • says

      Yes, that makes it not quite free. If you wanted to get these flights through a card with no annual fee, you can open any of the Chase cards that offer Ultimate Rewards points and then transfer them to British Airways. As of today the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold and Ink Plus all offer the first year annual fee waived. So you’d only pay the unavoidable taxes on these flights, which are around $100. Again, not quite free, but if you’re going to quibble over unavoidable taxes, then this likely isn’t the right strategy to look into…

  9. Danny says

    Hey Brad,

    Excellent post, thanks for the info. I applied for the CC today and was accepted, but I do have some concerns:

    When I look at the award chart availability from BOS to DUB for a specific date that I want (on Qantas and BAEC), nothing shows up. However, the date for DUB to BOS shows up fine. Should I be worried about this; should I just wait it out, or still call them when I have the available points? I’m a little apprehensive that I won’t be able to find an award flight for the specific outbound date that I want, and will then be screwed out of a great deal.

    Any help or info will be greatly appreciated.

    Danny

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