Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
- Just Booked: A Brussels Airlines Biz Class Award Flight With Etihad Miles
- My Best Advice: BOOK THE TRIP
In a few weeks, I’ll be in Brussels, Amsterdam, and Prague for the first time. I am calling this trip “BAP” (after the 3 cities).
This is the trip I booked waaay back in August 2016 for biz class seats with Etihad miles. At the time, I paid ~37,000 miles for round-trip seats from New York to Brussels on Brussels Airlines. Etihad has since raised the price to 88,000 miles – which can still be a good deal to Europe in Business.
That was about 9 months ago – the furthest out I’ve ever planned a trip. At the time, I figured I’d fill it in when the time came. Which is now.
Here’s how I put together a $5,00+ week-long trip to Europe for $238 out of pocket.
In This Post
Booking BAP (Brussels, Amsterdam, Prague)
1. To New York and back
First things first, I had to get myself to New York for the flight.
I booked the way there with 6,637 Citi ThankYou points and nothing out of pocket:
This will be my first big solo trip as a single guy. Still feeling a bit strange about it…
Then I booked my way back to Dallas with 5,810 Southwest points:
The reason for the different airlines simple came down to schedules.
For this flight, I charged the $5.60 in taxes to my Citi Prestige card. I hadn’t used my $250 annual airfare credit yet, so again, nothing out of pocket.
2. New York to Brussels
I wrote about the gory details of booking these flights with Etihad miles.
I paid 36,620 Etihad Guest miles and ~$93 back in August 2016.
So this gets me to Brussels!
I’ll spend 2 days exploring the city.
I’m staying at this cute Airbnb duplex near Grand Place for 2 nights.
I had a $100 Airbnb gift card from a promotion a long time ago. And an $80 credit for referring a new Airbnb host. So $180 skimmed right off the top.
In the end, I charged $39 to my Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points. That’s $18 a night out of pocket.
3. Brussels to Amsterdam
Then I’ll take the Thalys train from Brussels to Amsterdam.
A First Class “Premier” seat was a little more than the regular seat. Considering this was my biggest expense of the entire trip, I decided to splurge. And paid $106 for the train ticket to Amsterdam.
Remember Club Carlson? A few years ago I Club Carlson-ed my way through Europe. And stayed at several of their hotels in Ireland. Of course, they are now dead to me, but I had 117,000 Club Carlson points literally just chillin’. And I wanted to burn them on this trip.
Lucky for me, I found 2 nights at the Park Plaza Victoria Amsterdam for 100,000 Club Carlson points.
Of course me being me, I wanted to see how much it would’ve cost with cash:
In this case, my 100,000 Club Carlson points were worth ~$595 – not bad at all.
4. Amsterdam to Prague
Next, to Prague.
I found an EasyJet flight for ~$160. I bought it outright with my Citi Prestige card, which covered the entire cost thanks to the remainder of the $250 annual airfare credit.
I found 3 nights open at the Sheraton Prague Charles Square Hotel for 7,000 Starwood points per night. So I booked it on the spot.
The 3 nights would’ve cost ~$719, so in this case, my Starwood points were worth over 3 cents each. That’s not stellar for Starwood points, but I really didn’t want to pay over $700. Plus, I just signed-up for a promotion to earn 20,000 Starwood points in the next couple of months, so I figured I could easily replace them.
Because this is a Sheraton, I have access to the Executive lounge thanks to my SPG biz Amex (yessss!). This includes breakfast, snacks all day, and drinks in the evening – I expect I’ll be here a lot, if only for the drinks. 😉
And not having to pay for those things adds a ton of value to the Starwood points in my eyes. I know I’ll be grateful for these perks once I get there.
So for the flight to Prague and hotel stay, I paid nothing out of pocket. Boom.
5. Prague back to Brussels
The flights back were over $200:
There was no chance in Hades I’d pay if I didn’t have to, and it occurred to me I could book the flight, again, with Etihad miles. You can book one-way flights with their new award chart. And Prague to Brussels is only 5,000 Etihad miles each way!
I found the flight I wanted on the United website, then called Etihad to book it. 10 minutes and ~$23 later, I was booked. It was so easy.
$216 – $23 is $193, which means my 5,000 Etihad miles were worth 4 cents each. Perrrfect.
So that gets me back to Brussels where I’ll catch my flights home – and will conclude BAP 2017. I already can’t wait to write about it!
In total I paid:
- Dallas to New York American Airlines flight: 6,637 Citi ThankYou points (~$106)
- New York to Brussels round-trip Brussels Airlines flights: 36,620 Etihad Guest miles and ~$93 ($3,057)
- 2 nights in Brussels at this cute Airbnb: $39
- Brussels to Amsterdam Thalys train ticket: $106 (my biggest expense lol)
- 2 nights in Amsterdam at the Park Plaza Victoria Amsterdam: 100,000 Club Carlson points (~$595)
- Amsterdam to Prague EasyJet flight: $160, but $0 after airfare credit
- 3 nights in Prague at the Sheraton Prague Charles Square Hotel: 21,000 Starwood points (~$719)
- Prague to Brussels flight on Brussels Airlines: 5,000 Etihad miles and ~$23, but $0 after airfare credit (~$193)
- New York back to Dallas Southwest flight: 5,810 Southwest points and $5.60, but $0 after airfare credit (~$83)
I calculate the value of this trip is ~$5,058 for everything above (noted in parentheses).
So I really cobbled this together from all my points and miles efforts over the past year or so. In the end, I paid ~$238 out of pocket for a week in Europe. Incredible.
I put it together with points from:
- Citi ThankYou
- Club Carlson
Although I believe this could be replicated for similar prices with Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards points.
It would be unwise not to mention I’m paying annual fees on many of the cards I used to earn the points. Even with those included, I got way outsized value with points. Like, extremely.
Trips like this are the reason why I’m always thinking about category bonuses, signing-up for promotions, and making calls to get approved for new cards (or get bonus points for keeping a card). It’s some work, but the reward far outweighs the effort.
Hopefully this gave you some ideas for your next trip. And if there are any must-visit places in Brussels, Amsterdam, or Prague – please share. I want to fit in as much as I can while I’m there!* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update! And thanks for using my links to apply for new card offers!
Out and Out has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Out and Out and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred - Earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points and 2X bonus points for travel and dining - BEST EVER OFFER!
- Chase Ink Business Preferred - Earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points and 3X bonus points for travel, internet, cable, and phone service
- Capital One Venture Rewards - Earn 100,000 bonus miles and 2X miles on every purchase with no bonus categories to think about
- Amex Blue Business Plus - Earn 10,000 Amex Membership Rewards points and 2X bonus points on up to $50,000 in spending per year with NO annual fee
The responses below 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.