We show you how to use an American Express credit card to get virtually free flights to Europe with Avios air miles
Here we will show you how a family can take a flight for virtually nothing. We have done this for the last two summers, flying to Florence which you can read about here, and to Majorca which you can read about here.
You can use points built up from using an American Express credit card for long haul flights and hotel stays. But in this article, we talk about getting Avios flights to France, Italy, Spain and other parts of Europe.
We love to spread the word about what is possible so that everyone we know can benefit too – here is what you need to do. This article has been updated to reflect recent AMEX changes.
How to get family holiday flights for four
Step 1 – Sign up for the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card. To get extra points, do this via a link from an existing cardholder (we are happy to recommend you, just email email@example.com for a link). Then you will get 12,000 points instead of 10,000 providing you spend £3,000 in the first three months.
Step 2 – Use the card for all your online shopping (remember to add the card to your regular accounts such as PayPal, eBay, Amazon and supermarkets ) and for your fuel, food, travel, bills etc.
You get one point for every pound you spend on the card.
Step 3 – After three months, recommend your partner for an American Express Gold card, that earns you 6,000 points for the recommendation. Your husband/wife/partner then gets 12,000 points providing they hit the £3,000 spending target in three months.
After six months you will have 30,000 points from the introductory bonus plus say 7,000 points from general spending.
Step 4 – Convert the points into air miles. You can choose from various schemes on the site, but Avios via the British Airways Executive Club (BAEC) is the most well-known. You need to join the BAEC and transfer the miles.
The conversion rate is 1:1 so you would get 37,000 Avios points.
Step 5 – Choose where you want to fly
A return to Paris or Amsterdam for four people – 36,000 Avios
A return to Majorca or Florence for four people – 60,000 Avios
With British Airways you pay a fixed charge of £35 per ticket for European Avios redemptions, although this is slightly less for children because of reduced taxes, usually around £23 on some flights.
Step 6 – Another little bonus is the American Express card also comes with two free lounge passes. If both partners have a card you could start the holiday with a nice little airport lounge visit!
The small print – This AMEX card is free for the first year, it costs £140 after the first year but you can always cancel. It is a credit card so you must pay it off in full every month otherwise the interest payments will dwarf any potential miles gain.
Disclaimer – we are not a financial services site. Remember, do not use a credit card unless you are going to pay it off in full every month.
Follow the steps above and for just over £100 you can get a trip to Europe in peak season saving potentially £1,000 on plane tickets.
We also like this brilliant site called Head for Points which has all the Avios and other air miles schemes in great detail.
Please let us know if you found this article helpful.
A family trip to London does not need to be as expensive as you think – read our tricks to save money
Find the free attractions
There are plenty of museums in London which don’t charge an entry fee. The dinosaurs and whales of the Natural History Museum and the next door rockets in the Science Museum are great for children.
There are also the historical artefacts in the British Museum and there’s the chance to walk the streets of Victorian London at the Museum of London.
If you want to take a step back into your own younger days, the V&A Museum of Childhood has toys, teddy bears and dolls through the decades as well as hands-on fun.
One area per day
Be sensible and tackle one part of London at a time where you can walk between attractions and save money on transport.
Try to do one section a day otherwise costs rise and children’s feet start to hurt.
This was our recent three-day itinerary:
Day 1 – Westminster, London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace.
Day 2 – Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Hyde Park.
Day 3 – Tower Bridge, Tower of London.
The area around the Tower of London is one to explore
Mix your transport
It is expensive to get around in London.
If you stay centrally, you can walk to lots of attractions, so pick a well-located hotel.
The Tube is the quickest option for longer trips but can be expensive, although an Oyster card makes it cheaper and children up to aged 10 are free with paying adults. You can also use contactless credit or debit cards now to pay as you go on London’s public transport, which makes life much easier, see the Transport for London website for more.
However, the London Underground can be difficult with a pram or buggy as most don’t have lifts. The wheelchair symbol on the Tube map shows stair-free stations.
If you have to go further, then the bus is the cheapest option and you can see the sights from the top deck, which can be great fun for children.
A taxi or Uber can work out relatively cheap too if you’re a large family but children’s car seats are not readily available.
Some taxi companies have children’s car seats, but they have to be booked in advance. It is legal for babies and children to travel in a taxi in London without a child safety restraint if one isn’t available. But a proper car seat is by far the safest option for your little ones.
Eat for less
It can be very expensive to eat out in London.
If you are on a budget and staying in a hotel, enjoy a big breakfast allowing you a smaller lunch.
Then think about making a picnic, we often buy a loaf of bread and cheese and make up our sandwiches to take out.
If you want to eat out, check for voucher codes and offers in advance. Read through the small print though because some chain restaurants exclude prime locations from voucher offers.
Don’t forget, London has amazing street food. We love the street food market at Camden for delicious lunches.
The Changing of the Guard
The Changing of the Guard is a great free show but can be a long and busy wait. One tip with toddlers is watch the band warm up at Wellington Barracks instead of battling the crowds outside Buckingham Palace.
Then you can go into St James’s Park when the soldiers are at the palace and watch them marching away afterwards.
Fewer crowds and less waiting around. Check the dates of the event here Changing the Guard.
Buckingham Palace hosts Changing the Guard but we watch elsewhere
For a full list of free child friendly attractions see this link Visit London with kids.
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Do you have any tips to share for doing London on a budget?
(Pictures in this article are courtesy of VisitLondon.com)