France is one of the most visited countries on Earth, and its capital city of Paris remains one of its biggest draws. This thriving metropolis boasts everything you could want in a European getaway — historic landmarks, world famous art, amazing food, and Insta-worthy photo ops galore.
You can visit historic Notre Dame cathedral, roam enchanting neighborhoods like Saint Germain and Le Marais, see Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at the Louvre, and ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower in a single day. You can also nosh on exquisite French pastries, macaroons, cheeses, and wine. With so much to do — and so many goodies to consume — why wouldn’t you want to visit Paris? (See also: 8 Money Lessons I Learned From Three Weeks in Europe)
Planning a trip to Paris with rewards
For many people, the biggest deterrent is the cost of getting there. International flights aren’t cheap, after all, and you still have to pay for a place to stay.
That’s why savvy travelers leverage travel credit cards and cash-back to cover the biggest components of their Parisian getaway. With the right combination of airline credit cards and hotel cards, it’s not that difficult to plan a vacation to Paris for the same price — or less — as a trip closer to home.
Before you rule out Paris for your next vacation, consider how you could use rewards to score a trip for two for $500 or less.
Getting to Paris with airline miles
Paris may be an eight-hour flight from many East Coast cities, but it’s not that difficult to get there with airline miles. Because it’s such a popular tourist destination, all the major airlines fly there and many offer multiple flights per day. As a result, you won’t have to look too hard to find a frequent flyer program that can get you to Paris with ease. (See also: The Cheapest Way to Fly to Europe)
One of the most popular airline programs for flights to Paris is the American AAdvantage program. With this frequent flyer program, you can fly off-peak to Europe (including Paris) for 22,500 miles per leg plus airline taxes and fees. That works out to 45,000 miles for a round-trip flight, which is a fairly easy sum of miles to earn with an airline credit card.
Another popular program for travelers who live near a Delta hub is Air France/Flying Blue. This frequent flyer program lets you book flights to Europe with Delta, and you can frequently book flights for 25,000 to 29,000 miles one-way, or as little as 50,000 miles round-trip. Another airline program that’s easy to earn miles with is United MileagePlus. You can book round-trip flights to Europe in economy for 60,000 miles round-trip. (See also: Best Airline Rewards Programs for Trips to Europe)
In addition to miles, you’ll need to pay airline taxes and fees for your trip. These generally work out to around $100–$150 per person for flights to Europe, but they can vary based on the airline you book with, along with any partner airlines you’ll fly with.
If you want to plan a trip for two to Paris, getting your flights squared away is one of the first steps you should take. Consider signing up for airline credit cards that let you rack up miles in a program that will let you fly to Paris from your home airport. With two spouses or partners each getting their own card, it’s feasible to earn enough miles for two round-trip flights. Just remember that you’ll be on the hook for government-mandated taxes and fees for those flights, and these fees will likely range from $200 to $300.
Covering Paris hotels with rewards
The next component of your trip you’ll want to cover with rewards is your Parisian lodging. You have all kinds of options at your fingertips, but the best choice for you depends on the type of place you want to stay.
If you prefer to stay in a higher-end hotel, the World of Hyatt program is a smart option for any stay in Paris. This hotel program will let you book the following hotels with points:
Hyatt Paris Madeleine: 25,000 points per night
Hyatt Du Louvre: 20,000 points per night
Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile: 15,000 points per night
Park Hyatt Paris Vendome: 30,000 points per night
It’s easy to rack up rewards in this program with their co-branded credit card. However, you can also earn points with some credit cards for transfers to the World of Hyatt program.
Another program that’s easy to earn points with is IHG Rewards. InterContinental Hotels Group properties you can book with points in Paris include:
Holiday Inn Paris Notre Dame: 40,000 points per night
Crowne Plaza Paris Republique: 45,000 points per night
Holiday Inn Paris Opera: 35,000 points per night
Holiday Inn Paris Gare de Lyon Bastille: 40,000 points per night
Holiday Inn Paris St. Germain des Pres: 40,000 points per night
Also consider the fact that hotel brands like Marriott, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Radisson Rewards offer properties in and around Paris and greater France. Make sure to compare hotel loyalty programs to see which one might be best for you depending on where you want to stay before you sign up for a new credit card to earn points.
In addition to large hotels, Paris is also packed with rental condos and Airbnbs you can book. If you would rather shack up in a cozy flat with more of a neighborhood feel, we recommend signing up for a credit card that lets you earn flexible travel credit. With a card that falls into this category, you can earn a big sign-up bonus plus ongoing rewards to pay for any type of hotel or condo you prefer.
Ideally, you’ll use hotel points, flexible travel credit, or a combination of the two to pay for all your hotels in Paris. By doing so, you can avoid the expense of lodging altogether and save your travel funds for the other components of your trip.
Covering excursions with rewards
When it comes to the other components of your trip, there are plenty of free things to do in Paris. You can go inside Notre Dame Cathedral, walk through courtyards and winding city streets, and peer at major historical sites such as the Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde. However, there are some activities in Paris you’ll need to pay to take part in. Fortunately, credit card rewards can also come in handy when it comes to the getting the most out of your trip.
With some credit card rewards programs, you can use points to book all kinds of activities and excursions through their travel portal. While the options are nearly unlimited, activities available to you include things like food tours, skip-the-line entry into the Louvre, Eiffel Tower entry, guided city tours, and Seine River cruises.
If you can cover your flights with miles, pay less than $300 in airline taxes and fees, cover your lodging with hotel points, and limit spending on extras, you could easily book a trip to Paris for $500 or less outside the cost of food.
Since French cuisine is divine and you’ll need a while to rack up the points for this trip, it’s wise to start planning now. You definitely want to save up enough to have a few of those French meals that will make you understand why French cuisine is so famous.