One month in Europe using points

One Month in Europe with Points: Family of Five

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Katie’s note: Thanks to Aimee from @aimeespointsadventures for sharing the details of her family trip to Europe!

Spending almost a month in Europe feels out of reach for most families, and ours was no different. We started dreaming up this trip in 2020, and we were disappointed to cancel our plans then. In the end, that ended up making our 2022 European adventure even better because we were able to take advantage of more TIME to build up our points and miles! In the end, we covered round trip flights for 5 people, lodging for 28 nights, Disneyland Paris tickets, and more with points.

I’ve learned a lot in the last few years preparing for this trip, some of which I’d do the same and some differently, but all of that helped make free flights, accommodations, theme park, and train tickets available to us. I’m so grateful to Katie and others who have generously helped me with their travel hacking tips along the way! 

Table of Contents

    Flight: Chicago to London

    Total points used for 5 people: 175,000 AAdvantage miles plus $28 in taxes

    It was so much fun to take our kids on their first international flight as we traveled to London. Book as early as you’re able for the best award availability (we booked last September for flights this June). 

    Card Used

    AAdvantage® Aviator® World Elite Business Mastercard® – 80,000 miles offer (non-affiliate link)
    • $99 annual fee
    • First checked bag free for you and 4 companions on eligible bags when traveling on domestic itineraries operated by American Airlines.
    • Preferred boarding
    CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Seelect World Elite Matercard
    CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® (non-affiliate link)
    • $99 annual fee (often waived the first year)
    • First checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 4 travel companions on the same reservation
    • Preferred boarding

    London Hotel: London Marriott  Hotel Canary Wharf – 5 nights

    Total points used: 160,000 Marriott points plus £200 to upgrade to a Family Deluxe Room 

    We liked that the hotel was conveniently located near the Elizabeth Line and lots of restaurants. Summertime points bookings for a family in European cities can be tricky, so I was happy to get this reserved in January for our summertime stay. When you book Marriott rooms with points, you get the fifth night free.  

    We earned these last year from Marriott business cards. We each have some side gigs that qualify us for business cards. After my husband was able to sign-up for this card, he then referred me to the same card. You can transfer up to 100,000 Marriott points/year to other accounts, allowing us to combine points for this stay. 

    Card Used

    Marriott Bonvoy Business Card
    American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business card – 125,000 point offer
    • $125 annual fee
    • Provides 1 free night certificate every year on account anniversary (at a hotel up to 35k points)

    Oxford Hotel: Voco Oxford Spires – 2 nights

    Total points used: 32,000 points + 1 free night certificate

    From London, we went to Oxford for two nights to meet up with friends who hosted our kids on their canal narrowboat (such a treat!) while my husband and I stayed at the Voco Oxford Spires. We loved getting to spend time in this fascinating town with so much history, and this was a beautiful property. We used an IHG Free Night Certificate and 32,000 points to cover our stay. We got a complimentary upgrade to a Premium Room, thanks to the Platinum Elite status that comes with our IHG card, and some welcome gifts as well. 

    Card Used

    IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card – see current offers
    • $99 annual fee
    • Reward Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide (worth 40,000 points)
    • 4th night free when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
    • Earn 25 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
    • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
    • Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
    • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card

    Paris Hotel: Comfort Hotel Nation Pere Lachaise Paris 11 – 5 nights (2 rooms)

    Total points used: 80,000 Citi Thank You points transferred to Choice Hotels

    We headed back to London to take the Eurostar to Paris where we stayed at the Comfort Hotel Nation Pere Lachaise Paris 11. We booked two larger rooms on the top floor. We appreciated the clean rooms and helpful staff in a location that was convenient to the Metro and shops. Rooms cost 16,000 points per night. 

    Citi Premier points transfer 1:2 to Choice Hotels, so we were able to get 2 rooms here for five nights each from one Citi Premier sign-up bonus. We wanted to be on the east side of Paris for our day at Disneyland, and it worked well to get back and forth from here. 

    Card Used

    Citi Premier Offer
    Citi Premier – Limited time 80,000 point offer
    • $95 annual fee
    • Thank You Points can be transferred to a variety of partners like Jet Blue, Avianca, Turkish Airways, Choice and more. Points double when transferred to Choice!
    • You can also redeem points through the Citi Travel Portal. 50,000 points = $625 of travel BUT prices seem a bit inflated vs. directly booking with hotels
    • See my full guide to the card here

    Disneyland Paris Tickets + Local transportation – covered by Venture miles

    Having been to the US parks, I can say that Disneyland Paris has a magic all its own, but it was even better that our tickets were free thanks to our Capital One points. We bought them through UK-based Attraction Tickets so they would code as travel and we could erase the purchase with our points, and we also used our Capital One points to erase other train tickets, metro rides, and cab fares throughout our trip. 

    Card Used

    Capital One Venture X
    Capital One Venture X : Earn 75,000 bonus miles
    • $395 annual fee
    • $300 annual travel credit when booking through Capital One’s portal
    • 10,000 points every year on account anniversary (worth at least $100)
    • Easy airport lounge access for your whole family
    • Miles can be redeemed to erase any travel purchase. 50,000 miles = $500
    • Can be transferred to a variety of partners like Jet Blue, Wyndham, Avianca, Turkish Airways and more

    Flight: Paris to Nice

    Total points used: 55,000 American Express Membership Rewards transferred to Air France. Taxes were erased with a Capital One Venture X. 

    We flew from Paris to Nice on Air France. Booking flights with points rather than the cheapest cash fare allowed us to each check a bag for free, too. We paid for the taxes with our Venture X, allowing us to erase those fees as well. 

    Card Used

    American Express® Gold Card – 90,000 point offer via referral (not my referral, just the best offer – open incognito)
    • $250 annual fee
    • $120 total annual Uber credits ($10 per month) and $120 total annual restaurant credits (to certain restaurants, $10 per month)
    • 4x earning at restaurants worldwide, including Takeout and Delivery in the U.S.
    • 4x earning at U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases

    5 nights at Airbnbs in French and Italian Riviera

    Total points used: 76,300 Chase Ultimate Rewards 

    Using Chase’s Pay-Yourself-Back promotion for AirBnB stays, we decided to book our stays in the French & Italian Rivieras in AirBnBs. Having a kitchen and washing machine at this point in our travels was really helpful. 

    We stayed just a few blocks from the Promenade des Anglais, right on a tram stop, for 3 nights at this AirBnB in Nice. This was a good home base for exploring nearby Antibes and Monaco. We took the train (booked via the handy Trainline app) to Vernazza in the Cinque Terre, a spot we first visited 17 years ago before we had kids! We really enjoyed our two nights at this spacious AirBnB with a lovely patio near the train station.

    Card Used

    Chase Sapphire Preferred
    Chase Sapphire Preferred – Learn how to apply
    • $95 annual fee
    • Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to a variety of partners like Southwest, Hyatt, United, and more!
    • You can also redeem points through the Chase Travel Portal. 50,000 points = $625 of travel

    Hotels in Florence and Rome: 3 nights in Florence, 3 nights (two rooms) in Rome

    Points used: 138,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards, booked through portal

    Le Clarisse breakfast terrace in Rome

    After our coastal stays we headed inland, with a quick stop in Pisa along the way to get the requisite Leaning Tower photos, and used Chase Ultimate Rewards to book our final six nights in Florence and Rome. 

    We earned most of these points through Chase business cards, and then transferred them to our Sapphire card to get the 25% bonus on redemption value through the Chase portal and use our $50 annual hotel credit. 

    We were able to add breakfast as part of our reservations when booking both these stays, allowing us to cover those costs with points, too. Hotel Desirée in Florence was right by the train station with a pretty breakfast room and a cozy, clean room setup for five people. We could explore Florence easily on foot from here, and also did a long day-trip to Venice on the speed train. 

    For our last stop, we took the train to Rome and booked two rooms for three nights using Ultimate Rewards at the Hotel Le Clarisse al Pantheon, which had an amazing breakfast on a lovely terrace each morning and a great location in the heart of Rome. Our room had a queen bed, the kids had a queen and twin bed in their room next door, and we were walking distance to the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, lively piazzas, and the Trastevere neighborhood. 

    Card Used

    Chase Ink Business Cash
    Chase Ink Business Cash® – Learn how to apply
    • $0 annual fee
    • Earn $750 after (75,000 points) you spend $7,500 in 3 months
    • If you have a Sapphire card, you can transfer the Ink points to the Sapphire card to get all the airline and hotel transfer benefits!
    • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services eacInh account anniversary year.
    Chase Ink Business Unlimited® – Learn how to apply
    • $0 annual fee
    • Earn $750 after (75,000 points) you spend $7,500 in 3 months
    • If you have a Sapphire card, you can transfer the Ink points to the Sapphire card to get all the airline and hotel transfer benefits!
    • Earn unlimited 1.5% Cash Back rewards on every purchase

    Flight: Rome to Chicago

    Total points cost:  150,000 American Advantage miles plus $345 

    For our flight home, we used American AAdvantage miles again. Taxes were $69 per person flying home from Rome, the cheapest option I found returning from a European city, which is part of what determined our itinerary. 

    Our kids were excited to have their first airport lounge experience at the airport in Rome thanks to our Priority Pass memberships that are covered with the Venture X card, a great option for families to get free airport meals and drinks pre-flight. 

    AAdvantage® Aviator®  Red World Elite Mastercard®(non affiliate link)
    • $99 annual fee
    • Free checked bag
    • Preferred boarding
    • Get up to $25 back as statement credits on inflight Wi-Fi purchases

    AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
    Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® (non affiliate link)
    • $99 annual fee (usually waived the first year)
    • First checked bag free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 4 travel companions on the same reservation
    • Preferred boarding

    All cards used

    These are the 12 credit cards that helped to make our adventure to Europe possible. Most of these were only opened by one of us over the course of the last three years. We alternated business and personal cards and met the minimum spends through our regular spending. We also paid it off in full each month!

    • Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business Mastercard
    • AAdvantage CitBusiness Platinum Select
    • Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select
    • Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Mastercard
    • Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express
    • Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
    • Citi Premier Card
    • Capital One Venture X
    • American Express Gold Card
    • Chase Ink Business Cash
    • Chase Ink Business Unlimited
    • Chase Ink Sapphire

    Editorial Disclosure – The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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