How to Travel to Spain for Cheap on Points and Miles

British Airways, Iberia and United offer reasonably priced nonstop award flights between the U.S. and Spain.
JT GenterJul 13, 2021

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American tourists can now visit Spain without needing to bring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, making it one of the easiest places to go. And because of fierce competition between airlines, Spain is one of the easiest places to fly using points and miles. This makes a win-win situation for any traveler sitting on a stack of travel rewards.

Whether you want to indulge in tapas in Madrid, explore the wonders of Gaudi in Barcelona or anything in between, here are the cheapest ways to travel to Spain using points and miles.

4 ways to fly to Spain with points and miles

1. Book through the Chase travel portal for cheap economy fares

Depending on your home airport, you may be surprised to find that it can be cheaper to fly to Spain than some U.S. domestic destinations. When you find such cheap cash fares, there's no need to search for airline award availability. Instead, use Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to take advantage of these attractive prices.

For Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card cardholders can redeem points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal at a rate of 1.25 cents per point. Its current sign-up bonus is: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

For example, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card customers can take advantage of a round-trip deal from Newark to Barcelona for about $350, paying just 27,985 Ultimate Rewards® points for the trip.

Cheap redemption deals can be had through the Chase travel portal even for last-minute trips. For example, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card members can fly from Miami to Madrid for under 40,000 Chase points round-trip in July:

For Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders

Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders can stretch their points even further: Instead of a 25% bonus through the Ultimate Rewards® portal, Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders get a 50% bonus. So, that nearly $350 round-trip airfare only costs 23,321 Ultimate Rewards® points instead of 27,985.

That's a cheaper redemption rate than you're likely to find by booking a traditional airline award.

For those without points to spare, you can still earn award miles by booking cash fares through the Chase travel portal.

2. Transfer Chase or AmEx points to Avios to book nonstop awards

Even if you can't find cheap flights, you may still be able to use Chase or AmEx points to score an affordable redemption. Both British Airways’ and Iberia’s loyalty programs offer reasonable award rates on nonstop flights between the U.S. and Spain. And you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards® or American Express Membership Rewards to British Airways or Iberia at a 1:1 rate.

Both Iberia and British Airways price awards based on the flight's distance. So, flights from the East Coast of the U.S. to Spain are going to be the cheapest.

Iberia economy class awards

For example, you can book an award flight during the peak summer season from New York-JFK to Madrid. Iberia's eonomy class (also called Blue) will run you as little as 20,000 Avios each way, whereas the airline's premium economy class will cost you 35,000 Avios one-way.

Travelers can save more by flying during off-peak dates. For instance, you could pay just 17,000 Avios each way in economy or 25,500 Avios each way in premium economy for flights between Boston and Madrid.

Awards can be booked one-way or round-trip for double the miles cost.

Nerdy tip: Booking a one-way award frees you up to build a multi-stop itinerary. For example, you can fly into Madrid and back from Barcelona. Or you could consider flying back via Paris, Amsterdam, Rome or wherever else you want to visit.

Iberia business class awards

If you want to fly in style, using Avios can provide an affordable way to book a business class award. During off-peak dates, the price to fly Iberia between Boston and Madrid is as cheap as 34,000 Avios each way. That's the cheapest way to fly to Europe in business class.

At this rate, the current sign-up offer on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card can get you three one-way business class awards to Spain (assuming you meet the minimum spending requirement).

U.S. airports that offer nonstop flights to Spain

In order to take advantage of these award rates, you'll need to book a nonstop flight to Spain on a Oneworld airline. American Airlines and Iberia team up to offer nonstop flights to Spain from eight U.S. airports:

  • Boston.

  • Charlotte.

  • Chicago-O'Hare.

  • Dallas/Fort Worth.

  • Los Angeles.

  • Miami.

  • New York-JFK.

  • Philadelphia.

If you're looking to book a trip this summer, keep in mind that not all of these routes are currently operating.

3. Transfer Citi points to United to book business class

So far we've highlighted how you can use Chase or AmEx points to fly to Spain, but you also have options if you’re holding Citi ThankYou points. One of Citi's partners, Turkish Airlines, provides incredible business class award rates through United MileagePlus. And, unlike the Avios sweet spot described above, you aren't limited to nonstop flights from the U.S. East Coast.

Turkish Airlines' Miles & Smiles loyalty program offers economy award rates that aren't anything special — you'll have to pay 30,000 miles each way for economy tickets. However, Turkish Airlines charges just 45,000 miles each way for a United business class fare between the U.S. and Europe.

For example, you can fly from Newark to Madrid in United's business class (also called Polaris) for just 45,000 miles one way.

Or book the same flight via United

If you book the same award through United, you'll have to pay 60,000 MileagePlus miles. Although that's a bit more than what Miles & Smiles charges, it's still a decent rate.

If you don't have enough United miles in your MileagePlus account, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to United at a 1:1 ratio to take advantage of this pricing.

4. Book premium cabin flights through AmEx Travel

AmEx's International Airline Program can help make flying in business class more affordable for travelers. This program is a perk for cardholders of The Platinum Card® from American Express and Centurion®-branded cards who book premium cabin fares.

Cardholders can book flights on one of dozens of international airlines via the AmEx Travel portal; though the discount varies based on the airline, route and date, the savings can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

You can also redeem AmEx Membership Rewards points through the portal at a rate of 1 cent per point.

Nerdy tip: You may want to save your Membership Rewards points for better-value redemptions and use a Platinum-branded card to earn 5x points on your airfare purchase.

Terms apply.

Routes from the U.S. to Spain

With ever-changing entry requirements, it's best to avoid connecting in a third country on your way to or from Spain. There are plenty of options for flying directly from the U.S. to Spain. This summer, five airlines are operating nonstop flights from eight U.S. airports to either Madrid or Barcelona, Spain's two major international airports.

Nonstop routes to Madrid

You can fly to Madrid nonstop on:

  • Air Europa from Miami or New York-JFK.

  • American Airlines from Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami or New York-JFK.

  • Delta from Atlanta or New York-JFK.

  • Iberia from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami or New York-JFK.

  • United from Newark.

Nonstop routes to Barcelona

Or fly nonstop from the U.S. to Barcelona on the following airlines:

  • American Airlines from Miami.

  • Delta from Atlanta or New York-JFK.

  • Iberia from New York-JFK or San Francisco.

  • United from Newark.

Where to stay in Spain using hotel points

Spain offers a wide variety of lodging options, including opulent paradors (historic buildings converted into luxury hotels), chain hotels, guest houses and vacation rentals.

If you want to use your hotel points, you'll want to check options through Marriott Bonvoy and IHG Rewards. Compared to Marriott's over 100 hotels in Spain, Hyatt (18 properties) and Hilton (15 hotels) have relatively few properties across the country.

Marriott Bonvoy

You're most likely to stretch your Marriott Bonvoy points value with stays at one of the country's 10 Category 1 hotels (costing between 5,000 and 10,000 points per night) or the 23 Category 2 hotels (pricing between 10,000 and 15,000 points per night).

IHG Rewards

IHG offers dozens of hotels throughout Spain. But due to IHG's dynamic award pricing, point rates are ever-changing. Depending on the date, you can find some very affordable luxury IHG redemptions.

For example, book a Crowne Plaza by the Madrid airport for 15,000 points per night or a Hotel Indigo near the city for 17,000 points per night.

Transferable points programs

If you don't already have hotel points, you're not out of luck. Spain has plenty of affordable lodging options that you can book with transferable rewards points.

Book your stay through AmEx Travel to redeem Membership Rewards points, or use the Chase travel portal to arrange lodging with Ultimate Rewards® points. By redeeming points via your Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can book 4-star hotels in Madrid for under 4,000 points per night:

Easiest of all, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card cardholders can book hotels using their card, and then use the Capital One Purchase Eraser tool to redeem their miles.

Nerdy tip: Since you have 90 days to erase a travel purchase with the Capital One Purchase Eraser tool, you can use miles earned on your Spain trip to erase any travel purchases made during the trip.

If you travel to Spain with points and miles

Spain is reopened to American tourists, and there are plenty of ways to use points and miles to fly to Spain and book lodging there.

No matter if you have Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, AmEx Membership Rewards points, Citi ThankYou points or Capital One Venture miles, there's a way for you to fly to Spain — or book a hotel stay — without breaking the mileage bank.


How to maximize your rewards

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