Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with the latest information.
As a European citizen with friends and family in the region, Europe is my go-to travel destination. To save on airfare, I’ve been earning Capital One miles and Citi ThankYou points, both of which can be transferred to Turkish Airlines’ Miles&Smiles program.
This program offers an excellent award chart and fantastic deals on business-class flights from the U.S. to Europe, with one-way flights costing under 50,000 miles. It’s one of the best redemption deals available for traveling to Europe.
Why it’s special
Turkish Airlines award tickets to Europe are an incredible value when you compare its pricing to other carriers. United MileagePlus charges 80,000 miles — at a minimum — for a one-way flight to Europe in business class. Nowadays, the carrier prices all award tickets dynamically and typically adds a surcharge for partner flights. You’ll now routinely find business saver tickets to Europe for over 100,000 United miles on Star Alliance partner airlines.
On the other hand, Air Canada Aeroplan charges based on the length of a flight. Flights from the East Coast start at 60,000 points but quickly rise when you book longer flights. Further, Avianca LifeMiles charges 63,000 LifeMiles for a one-way business class flight to Europe.
Turkish charges the same 45,000 miles on all flights to Europe, so all awards to the region are predictable and affordable.
The upside to MileagePlus, Aeroplan and LifeMiles is that, unlike Turkish Miles&Smiles, they don’t add fuel surcharges to award tickets on carriers like Lufthansa and Swiss. You can avoid these surcharges by booking with a handful of Star Alliance partners that don’t add fuel surcharges. These include the following carriers that fly from the U.S. to Europe:
So if you’re booking with Turkish miles, stick to these airlines to get the best deals on your award tickets. You shouldn’t pay more than the taxes and fees the origin and destination countries levied. This includes the TSA security fee and landing taxes levied by some countries.
How to book this award
You can book most Star Alliance awards on the Turkish Airlines website; however, you’ll routinely find that Turkish Airlines’ website shows there’s no award space when, in actuality, there is. If this happens, consider calling Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles at 800-874-8875.
Here’s how to book Star Alliance award flights on Turkish Airlines’ website.
Step 1: Log in to your Turkish Airlines account
Head to the Turkish Airlines website and either sign-up or log in to your account. You can find these buttons at the upper right-hand corner of the page.
Step 2: Find the Star Alliance booking page
Now, you need to navigate to the Star Alliance booking page. Click your name at the upper right-hand corner of the screen and select “Miles Transactions” from the drop-down menu. Then, find the “Star Alliance award ticket” section and click “Book now.”
Step 3: Search for your flight
Enter your desired itinerary at the center of the screen and click the red arrow to start your search.
Step 4: Select your flight
Your search results will appear at the center of the screen. Click the “Business Class” button to only see business-class flights. Click on its price to see more details and then click the “Select this flight” button to start the booking process.
Step 5: Confirm your flights and pay
You should now see a flight summary. If all looks good, enter your passenger information, and follow the on-screen prompts to book your ticket.
How to earn points for this award
While there are no Turkish-branded credit cards available in the United States, you can transfer rewards from three programs with transferable currencies directly to Miles&Smiles at a rate of 1:1:
The easiest way to earn Bilt points is by adding the Bilt Mastercard® (see rates and fees) to your wallet. As long as you make at least five purchases on the card per billing cycle, you’ll earn 1 point per dollar on rent (up to 100,000 points each calendar year) plus 3 points per dollar on dining and 2 points per dollar on travel.
Meanwhile, there are a number of cards that earn transferable Capital One miles, including:
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card ($95 annual fee, see rates and fees): New cardmembers earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card ($395 annual fee, see rates and fees): New cardmembers earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
- Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card (no annual fee, see rates and fees): New cardmembers earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $500 within the first three months from account opening.
- Capital One VentureOne Rewards for Good Credit (no annual fee, see rates and fees).
- Capital One Spark Miles for Business ($0 annual fee for the first year, then $95, see rates and fees): New card members can earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $4,500 in the first three months of account opening.
Finally, here are some terrific options for earning Citi ThankYou points:
- Citi Premier® Card (see rates and fees): Earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.
- Citi Rewards+® Card (see rates and fees): Earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,500 in the first three months of account opening.
- Citi® Double Cash Card (see rates and fees; via a linked ThankYou account).
- Citi Custom Cash℠ Card (see rates and fees; via a linked ThankYou account): Earn $200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first six months of account opening.
This is one of the best sweet spots for booking business-class tickets to Europe: 45,000-mile flights with the Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles program.
You’ll get the best deal when you book one of these tickets on a carrier that doesn’t add high fuel surcharges to their tickets. This includes major carriers like United, SAS and LOT Polish Airlines. You can leverage this to get an ultra-cheap business-class award ticket with little out-of-pocket expense.
Additional reporting by Ben Smithson.