The American Express Gold Rewards Card for Canadians is an excellent travel card for Canadians looking for a high-impact card with a low annual fee. It comes with a welcome bonus of 25,000 points—which we value at between $500-$750—plus an impressive travel insurance policy, $100 in hotel credit, and much more.
With an annual fee of just $150, this card pays for itself several times over, even for infrequent travelers. This post will show you exactly how to use the card to get your next flight to Europe for $50 or less.
The phone line, which had been abuzz for the past 20 minutes, went totally silent. On the other end, Carly, a spry twenty-something making plans for a few weeks of exploring Europe over the summer, sat in bewilderment. It took her a few seconds to regain her composure.
"Yes, seventy-one dollars each," I replied.
"You'd better send me this in an email," she said, "Otherwise my friend is never going to believe me."
That afternoon, Carly called me back. "We're in. Let's do it."
And that's how Carly got her flight from Vancouver to Paris for $71.
Three months later, after a full day of hiking in Germany, Carly emailed me:
"I can't believe I nearly bought my ticket for full price!
Why doesn't everyone do this??"
The answer: because not everyone knows how.
And of course, while I could tell you more of Carly's story, or I could tell you about Aaron and Mike, or Jon and Sofia, I could also tell you what I've told everyone flying to or from Europe over the past few months: you're paying too much.
But luckily for you, you don't have to. And in this post, I'm going to use a real trip request from Sarah to show you how to save $500-$1,000 on your next Europe trip.
Feb 10-24, Toronto to Europe
Destinations are flexible
Arrival/departure cities must be different
*Note: Sarah submitted this trip request on November 10, 2015, and all screenshots below were taken on January 7, 2016.
As you learned in our
The first step is in knowing the best airlines to fly with. These are the top 7 airlines you'll want to fly with when redeeming your Aeroplan points:
As you can see, two of the top seven airlines are based in Europe - Turkish Airlines and Swiss Airlines - which means that their hub cities, Zurich and Istanbul, are great places to start looking. United Airlines services Europe extremely well, too, so the cities that United serves heavily will also be good targets.
A quick search shows that our logic is spot on: Sarah can get to either Zurich or Istanbul for $50.
But Sarah wants more than just two options, so here are two more that work just as well:
What if Sarah was leaving from Vancouver or Montreal instead of Toronto? No problem.
Or what if Sarah wanted to fly from New York to Oslo for $35, or San Francisco to Madrid for an amazing $15?! You got it.
Okay, so we know that we can easily meet Sarah's needs of getting her to Europe on her ideal date, and she's got 10+ great options of cities to choose from. But what about her flight home? As it turns out, getting home is just as easy.
Just like flying to/from Asia, it's easy to get to/from Europe for next-to-nothing. But we've skipped over the most crucial part: how Sarah got her Aeroplan points in the first place. So here it is: the dead-simple two-step process that Sarah followed to a tee to save over $700 on her trip.
Note: The principles in this post are universal, but these tools are for Canadians only. Sorry!
In November, Sarah got herself an American Express Gold Rewards Card, which gave her a whopping 25,000 points, more than enough to get her to Europe. All she had to do was spend 3 minutes
That same day, Sarah got an
And that's it.
Sounds too good to be true, right? I thought so too, until I helped dozens of people like Sarah follow these exact steps and get on flights like the ones above. Not all great things have to come at high prices.
Want more high-impact, Canada-specific travel offers like this one? That's all we do.
We only send you emails that save you $250 or more. Guaranteed.
There are just two hiccups you'll come across when booking your flights to/from Europe, and they're both easily avoidable. The Germany Limitation comes as a result of the majority of Aeroplan flights in and out of Germany being operated by Lufthansa, which matches Air Canada as the worst airline for redeeming your Aeroplan miles, so you need to change the airlines you fly with. But doing that within Germany is a bit tricky, just like Thailand proved to be in our deep look at
Given how small European countries are and the ease of flying between them - starting from the major cities in Germany, you can fly internationally in multiple directions for under $20 - there's no real need to fly to Canada directly from Germany. Do yourself a favour and add on a day or two in a nearby city like Amsterdam, Zurich, or Paris; not only will it add colour to your trip, the cost of your flights will drop significantly. That's what you call a win-win. Here's a breakdown of the taxes and fees when departing from Zurich instead, a full $75 cheaper.
The second hiccup is the
There are a few sweet spots that only those of us really deep in our Aeroplan knowledge know about, and one of them is Istanbul.
When I run a search for Istanbul, things look good at first: since you're flying with Turkish Airlines - one of the top 7 airlines listed above - you don't pay any fuel surcharge, which is why the price is so low. But upon a closer look, there's a problem: the Aeroplan points required for that flight, which are 30,000 for the rest of Europe, now sits at 37,500. That 25% jump is substantial, but luckily for you, you won't be paying it.
Let's open up another search tab and look back at one of our previous destinations: Rome. The search results look like any others, but there's something highly interesting hidden within them: the Turkish Airlines flights from Toronto to Rome have a stop in Istanbul!
You've probably put things together by now: The best way to get to Istanbul is not by buying a ticket to Istanbul; instead, it's by buying this ticket to Rome and getting out in Istanbul.
But we need to be very clear about something: this method of purchasing a multi-segment flight and skipping the end of it is not viewed positively in the airlines' eyes. Last year, United Airlines and Orbitz.com, one of the world's largest online travel agencies, collectively sued a website that was making it easier for travelers to find these types of tickets. So if you're going to do it, do yourself a favour and don't flaunt it.
Something else to consider: you should not check luggage when skipping a flight segment. While it is sometimes possible to check your luggage to an intermediate destination, it's not a sure thing, and assuming you don't want your luggage to end up in Rome while you're exploring Istanbul, it's better to just avoid checking bags altogether. Luckily, at the time of this writing, Turkish Airlines allows one piece of carry-on cabin baggage up to 8kg plus an additional personal item, which is enough for most people.
First, to give you the knowledge you need to make smart, informed decisions about flying to and from Europe. If you've been buying flights to Europe, or anywhere else, without this type of knowledge, you've probably been over-paying by a substantial amount. But that stops now.
And second, to show you that flying doesn't need to be expensive. With the right tools in place, you can cut your flight costs by 50% or more. In this case, all it takes is 5 minutes to read this post and 5 minutes to fill out these two online forms:
8 minutes of time to save $500-$1,000? That's worth it to us. How about you?
If you enjoyed this post, you'll probably like its sister post
If you have questions, feel free to
Mar 2019 Update: Right now we're recommending the
American Express is not responsible for maintaining or monitoring the accuracy of information on this website. For full details and current product information click the Apply Now link.