Where to Find Cheap Flights to Europe Round-trip for Less Than $475

Two words: WOW Airline.

What You’ll Need:
 1. At least four months’ time before your trip
 2. Fair to Excellent credit score — get your free report from Credit Karma

How to Get cheap flights to Europe and back for less than $475

Step 1: Open up the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Gold Delta SkyMiles cards.
 Step 2: Receive your cards in the mail and immediately purchase your round-trip WOW flights. The earlier you reserve your seats, the better your chances are of getting those too-good-to-be-true super cheap flights. Book four to six months in advance.
 Step 3: Make purchases on your new travel credit cards to fulfill their sign-up bonus requirements.
 Step 4: Redeem credit card sign-up bonus points for flying to a WOW terminal if applicable.
 Step 5: Fly.

WOW Air is an Icelandic budget airliner that flies throughout Europe and, as of 2015, began operating out of the US and Canada. It flies out of four major international US airports: Boston Logan (BOS), Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Washington D.C./Baltimore (BWI). Come June 2016, flights will begin to fly into LAX and SFO.

The Big Question: How is WOW air?

It’s safe and stays true to the company’s mission statement — punctual. The price is not too good to be true.

Americans are used to packaged deals and paying flat fees for everything-inclusive. The concept of “budget airline” is still relatively new to us. Paying $189 for a seat is just that — a seat. You pay for every extra incremental thing. There is no blanket or pillow; you must purchase any snacks, hot foods, or drinks; each carry-on and/or additional checked bag costs extra; flights are non-refundable (unless returned within 24 hours from booking). Cancellation protection only applies in the extreme cases of death in the family or freak accident rendering you incapable of boarding your flight. If you know these limitations and expect the bare bones, then I recommend WOW.

I don’t recommend it, however, if you don’t reserve a flight with the super low fare. WOW offers flights that are sometimes more expensive than other international airliners yet will service you as if you had bought those $189 flights just the same — with the bare minimum.

WOW Air Extras Breakdown (Highlights)

Earlier, I recommended you give yourself at least four months ahead of your trip so you can get a travel credit card which rewards sign-up bonuses that then translate into free flights. Here’s why you’d want to get them — if you need to fly to one of the four international terminals that WOW operates out of, you’d want to redeem those bonus points to fly to said terminals domestically for free.

My two favorite travel cards:

1. Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card can be acquired by those with Good to Excellent credit scores (700–850). Although I would still try and apply even with a Fair credit rating (640–700) as long as you’ve had an account (checking, savings, Freedom card, previously closed Sapphire Preferred card, etc.) with Chase for some time. Your customer history gives you better odds of being approved. (This is an affiliate link. Click it if you don’t yet have a card, want to apply for one, find this article helpful, and would like to support a sister.)

Benefits Highlights:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening; 50,000 bonus points roughly translates to a round-trip domestic flight within the US.
  • NO FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEE. This is big. If you don’t want foreign transaction fees eating away at your travel budget at a rate of 3% per purchase outside of the states, you’d want this feature in your card-carrying arsenal.
  • Travel Protection — trip cancellation, interruption, delay reimbursement, and more. An important yet lesser known caveat is that Travel Protection only insures round-trip flights. So those one-way tickets are automatically out of the question. A big sad face to that.

Pros

  • Compared to MasterCard, the Chase Sapphire Preferred has a lower barrier to entry. Those who don’t have full-time salaries or who don’t have Excellent credit scores have a higher chance of getting accepted here.
  • VISA is widely accepted worldwide.

Cons

  • Almost no cons. There’s a $95 annual fee applied after the first year but having this card is so life-saving that it’s worth paying the fee to hold onto it. I got rid of this card right before I traveled to Southeast Asia for a year and learned at the beginning of the trip what a mistake I made. I had the misfortune of having two ATM machines in Malaysia — on two separate occasions — swallow up both my primary and backup debit cards, choking my cash supply. I only had an AMEX credit card left on me, and AMEX is not accepted anywhere in Southeast Asia. VISA and MasterCard, on the other hand, are ubiquitous.
  • Travel Protection insures round-trip-specific flights.

2. Gold Delta SkyMiles by American Express

Benefits highlights:

  • Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening; 30,000 bonus miles translates to about two and a half one-way domestic flights within the US.
  • Earn an additional $50 in statement credit after making a Delta purchase within 3 months of account opening. That’s $50 off your Delta flight. Yes please.
  • No foreign transaction fee.

Pros

  • $95 annual fee is waived on the first year. Let go of this card once you’ve redeemed your rewards points.

Cons

  • American Express is not widely accepted. Not even in America.
  • Once your SkyMiles points have been redeemed on Delta, there’s no free way of reinstating them should you decide to cancel your trip. Even with trip insurance, if you cancel your trip and ask for the credits back, they charge a whopping $150 fee.

Successfully opening up both these cards equates to almost five one-way domestic flights in the US.

And that’s it! Bon Voyage!


Originally published at goingbeyondthepicketfence.com on May 17, 2016.