How to travel to London with points and miles in 2024


This series of articles about credit cards, points and miles, and budgeting for travel is brought to you in partnership with The Points Guy.

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What comes to mind when you think of London? For me, it’s a mix of museums, historic sites and nerdy pop culture references that make fantastic photo-ops — it’s home to Abbey Road Studios, Harry Potter’s Platform 9¾ and a big, blue “Doctor Who” Tardis Police Box, after all.

While a trip to London can be expensive, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Sticking to public transportation, checking out free museums and attractions and using points and miles to fly and stay there can make a huge difference. 

There’s plenty to see and do, whether it’s your first trip to London, you’re visiting with kids, or you’re only in town for a quick city break. It’s also a great destination if you’re just getting started with points and miles.

Here’s everything you need to know about traveling to London with points and miles — plus some of our favorite things to do there.

How to get started with travel points and airline miles

All Nippon Airways’ esteemed “The Room” business class from just 88,000 miles round-trip © Eric Rosen / The Points Guy

The cheapest award flights to London

Don’t limit your search to just one London airport, as most nonstop flights from the U.S. arrive at Heathrow Airport (LHR) or Gatwick Airport (LGW). 

Additional connections may be available via other European hubs or to smaller British airports like London City Airport (LCY), Luton Airport (LTN) or Stansted Airport (STN) from other parts of the continent.

You’ll also find the best nonstop deals from major U.S. airport hubs, so it might be worth doing a repositioning flight to New York (JFK), Dallas (DFW) or Los Angeles (LAX) if you live in a more remote part of the country.

  • Cheapest economy class ticket to London: 20,000 Virgin Points round-trip (from the East Coast, off-peak season)
  • Cheapest business-class ticket to London: 88,000 All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club miles round-trip
  • Cheapest first-class ticket to London: 136,000 British Airways Avios round-trip (from the East Coast, off-peak season)

The best travel credit cards

American Airlines AAdvantage

While not the cheapest redemption, it’s one of the most straightforward, letting you fly nonstop to Heathrow Airport from 10 U.S. cities on American Airlines or any number of combinations via its Oneworld alliance partners.

Here’s how many AAdvantage miles you’ll need to fly on American Airlines:

  • Economy Class: From 50,000 miles round-trip
  • Business/First Class: From 125,000 miles round-trip

You can also use AAdvantage miles to fly with British Airways, though you’ll end up paying higher fuel surcharges than you would by flying on American. 

Here’s how many AAdvantage miles you’ll need to fly on British Airways:

  • Economy Class: 45,000 to 60,000 miles round-trip
  • Business Class: 115,000 miles round-trip
  • First Class: 170,000 miles round-trip

Accumulate AAdvantage miles quickly by transferring points from Bilt Rewards (1:1) or Marriott Bonvoy (3:1). You could also sign up for one of the airline’s cobranded credit cards to score a lucrative welcome bonus.

  • Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after making your first purchase and paying the $99 annual fee within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 within the first three months of opening your account.
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: Earn 65,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 within the first four months of account opening.
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 70,000 bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card: Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months from account opening. Plus, earn up to 14X total points for every $1 spent at thousands of hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card: Earn 3 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card*: Earn 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card*: Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

How to make a travel budget using points and miles 

British Airways 777 Club Suites
British Airways 777 Club Suites © Eric Rosen / The Points Guy

British Airways Executive Club

While you can fly nonstop to Gatwick Airport from New York (JFK), Orlando (MCO) and Tampa (TPA), you’ll find wider award availability for Heathrow Airport, which offers direct routes from 21 U.S. cities.

British Airways uses a distance-based award chart, so plug in your desired airports on Great Circle Mapper’s website to calculate the mileage first. 

Be aware that you’ll have to pay higher fuel surcharges on award flights, though you can avoid this by connecting via another European city — for instance, flying to Dublin via Aer Lingus or Madrid via Iberia, both partners, then redeeming Avios for a short flight to London from there (or vice versa).

Here’s how many Avios you’ll need round-trip from New York or Los Angeles, ranging from off-peak (fall and winter) to peak season (summer and during school holidays):

  • Economy Class: 26,000 or 40,000 Avios from JFK; 39,000 or 60,000 Avios from LAX
  • Business Class: 100,000 or 120,000 Avios from JFK; 150,000 or 180,000 Avios from LAX
  • First Class: 136,000 or 160,000 Avios from JFK; 204,000 or 240,000 Avios from LAX

British Airways Avios can also be used to book flights with Oneworld partners like American Airlines. Here’s how many you’ll need to fly from JFK or LAX:

  • Economy Class: 41,500 or 51,500 Avios round-trip
  • Business Class: 124,000 or 154,500 Avios round-trip
  • First Class: 165,000 or 206,000 Avios round-trip

To accrue British Airways Avios quickly, sign up for the airline’s cobranded credit card to take advantage of its welcome bonus. Otherwise, transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Capital One Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards (1:1) or from Marriott Bonvoy (3:1).

  • British Airways Visa Signature® Card: Limited time offer! Earn 85,000 Avios after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $8,000 within the first six months of opening your account.
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $20,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

The best credit cards for airport lounge access

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

The trick here is to only use Virgin Points to pay for your flight to London and either book your return flight with another points-and-miles currency from this list or fly back to the U.S. from another European city to avoid the high fuel surcharges. While they might not be too bad for economy-class tickets, the cost can be astronomical for business- or first-class redemptions.

Check Virgin Atlantic’s rewards website for off-peak and peak season dates, which vary based on where and when you’re going.

Here’s how many Virgin Points you’ll need to fly from the East Coast, Midwest/South or West Coast:

  • Economy Class: 20,000, 25,000 or 30,000 miles round-trip (off-peak); 40,000, 45,000 or 50,000 (peak)
  • Business Class: 95,000 to 135,000 miles round-trip (off-peak); 115,000 to 155,000 (peak)

Virgin Points can also be used to fly with partners like Delta, which is still a decent deal despite a recent award devaluation, or Air France/KLM, among others.

Here’s how many Virgin Points you’ll need for a Delta flight from the East Coast, Midwest/South or West Coast:

  • Economy Class: 30,000, 35,000 or 40,000 miles round-trip (off-peak); 50,000, 55,000 or 60,000 miles (peak) 
  • Business Class: 95,000 to 135,000 miles round-trip (off-peak); 115,000 to 155,000 miles (peak)

Virgin’s cobranded credit card offers a generous amount of points to start with. Points can also be transferred from Marriott Bonvoy (3:1) or Bilt Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One Rewards or Citi ThankYou Rewards via Virgin Red (1:1).

  • Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $8,000 within the first six months of opening your account.
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $20,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
  • Citi Premier® Card: Earn 60,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account.

The best credit cards for airport lounge access

An Air France 787
An Air France 787 © Eric Rosen / The Points Guy

Air France / KLM Flying Blue 

While you can’t fly nonstop from the U.S. to London aboard Air France or KLM, Flying Blue miles provide a decent one-stop option for award flights to the UK via Paris (CDG) or Amsterdam (AMS). They can also be redeemed for nonstop flights with SkyTeam alliance partners like Delta and Virgin Atlantic.

Check the Flying Blue Rewards website for Promo Awards and to calculate how many miles you’ll need for your award flight.

Here’s how many Flying Blue miles you’ll need to fly to London from the U.S.:

  • Economy Class: 40,000 miles round-trip
  • Business Class: 100,000 miles round-trip

To accrue Flying Blue miles quickly, transfer points from Marriott Bonvoy (3:1) or Bilt Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards or Capital One Rewards (1:1).

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $8,000 within the first six months of opening your account.
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $20,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account.
  • Citi Premier® Card: Earn 60,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening your account.

The best credit cards for airline miles

ANA fleet at Tokyo Narita Airport
ANA fleet at Tokyo Narita Airport © Tung Cheung / Shutterstock

All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club

Using ANA miles to book flights with Star Alliance partners like United, Air Canada, TAP Portugal, LOT Polish Airlines and SAS is a real points-and-miles sweet spot. 

Note that while they can also be redeemed for flights with Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa or SWISS, the fuel surcharges tend to be much higher. Flying with United, rather, would mean redeeming more miles but paying fewer fees.

Keep in mind that only round-trip redemptions are allowed with ANA, and you can only book award flights for you and your family members. It’s easiest to search for award availability on United’s website and then confirm it with ANA. 

Here’s how many ANA miles you’ll need to fly to London from the U.S.:

  • Economy Class: 55,000 miles round-trip
  • Business Class: 88,000 miles round-trip
  • First Class: 165,000 miles round-trip

Racking up ANA miles is easy, as points can be transferred from Marriott Bonvoy (3:1) or American Express Membership Rewards (1:1).

Best credit cards for international travel

The Principle Hotel on Russell Square in London can be booked with IHG points
The Principle Hotel on Russell Square in London can be booked with IHG points © Chrispictures / Shutterstock

London hotels you can book with points

London is home to heaps of points hotel chains, including those by World of Hyatt, Marriott Bovoy, IHG One Rewards and Hilton Honors, among others.

Sign up for your favorite brand’s loyalty program so you can earn points toward future stays — or consider applying for a cobranded hotel rewards credit card and earning free nights thanks to the welcome bonus.

Fans of Hilton hotels should consider the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire credit card, which provides $200 in statement credits, meant to cover resort fees and other on-property charges at properties worldwide.

Should you book travel with cash or points?

World of Hyatt

Choose from several members-only World of Hyatt properties like The Academy, located in London’s chic Bloomsbury neighborhood, with nightly rates from 20,000 points. Between Covent Garden and the Tower of London, the new Hyatt Regency London Blackfriars has rooms from 20,000 per night.

In the trendy East End, the Andaz London Liverpool Street offers rates from 25,0000 points per night, putting you within walking distance of Brick Lane, home to the best Bangladeshi food in London, and the legendary Ten Bells pub, of Jack the Ripper fame.

The welcome bonus from the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve or the World of Hyatt Credit Card provides enough points for three nights at The Academy or the Andaz or two nights at the Hyatt Regency.

To top up your points balance, transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Word of Hyatt (1:1).

Best travel credit cards for foodies

Marriott Bonvoy

The Westin London City, within walking distance of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tate Modern, offers nightly rates from 62,000 points. In Fitzrovia, The London Edition is another elegant option, sporting rooms from 89,500 points per night.

If train station access is a priority, the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London has luxurious rooms starting at 52,000 points per night, putting you within walking distance of St. Pancras International and King’s Cross, home of The Harry Potter Shop and the greatest photo-op of your life — Potterheads, this is your moment to geek out as you “pass-through” the famous Platform 9¾. 

The welcome bonus from the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express provides enough points for one free night at The Westin or the St. Pancras Renaissance and nearly enough for a free night at The London Edition.

Points can be transferred from American Express Membership Rewards to Marriott Bonvoy (1:1) if you still need to bump up your balance.

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London's Waldorf Hilton
London’s Waldorf Hilton © Christian Mueller / Shutterstock

Hilton Honors

In Covent Garden, The Waldorf Hilton, London, offers rooms from 75,000 points, while the DoubleTree by Hilton London–Marble Arch near Hyde Park has rooms starting at 59,000 points per night. The DoubleTree by Hilton London–West End is a great option, with rates from 60,000 points per night.

The welcome bonus from the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card offers enough points for two nights at either hotel, while the welcome bonus from The Platinum Card from American Express awards enough for a complimentary night at each property.

Points can be transferred from American Express Membership Rewards to Hilton Honors (1:2) if you need to bring up your balance.

Best credit cards for adventure travel

IHG One Rewards

Just a stone’s throw from SoHo, Covent Garden and The National Gallery, Hotel Indigo London–1 Leicester Square has nightly rates starting at 49,000 points. Closer to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, Hotel Indigo London–Paddington offers rooms from 42,000 points per night. 

Fans of the royals can stay by Buckingham Palace at the InterContinental London Park Lane, which has nightly rates from 79,000 points. Those who prefer the lovely residential neighborhood of Russell Square should opt for the Kimpton Fitzroy London, with rooms from 53,000 points per night.

The welcome bonus from the IHG One Rewards Traveler Credit Card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve provides enough points for a free night at the Hotel Indigo properties or the Kimpton. 

Transfer points from Bilt Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards (1:1) to increase your balance.

Traveling to Europe using points and miles

Admiring 17th-century Italian paintings in the Italy room of the National Gallery, London
Admiring 17th-century Italian paintings in the Italy room of the National Gallery, London © Alex Segre / Shutterstock

Activities and ground transportation

Getting around London is super easy thanks to the sprawling London Underground, more commonly known as The Tube, and double-decker buses. Walking and cycling also make fun ways to explore the city, as does cruising down the Thames. 

Cabs, mini-cabs and ride-share services are also widely available. For a real treat, try a licensed black cab — its drivers have spent three to five years training and testing to learn everything there is to know about London, so don’t be afraid to ask questions about the city’s best restaurants and sites.

The British capital is well connected to other parts of the UK by train — and even Paris and beyond via Eurostar — making your options for day trips from London seemingly endless. If you’re more of a road trip person, note that cars here are driven on the left side of the road (from the right side of the car) and the roads are fairly easy to navigate.

Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can check the Chase Travel℠ portal to save on car rentals and guided tours. Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents per point or 1.5 cents per point, respectively, so you could save a decent amount.

Certain cards, like the Capital One Venture and Capital One Venture X, let you redeem miles toward recent travel purchases at a rate of one cent per mile. The Chase Sapphire Reserve also has a $300 annual travel credit meant to “erase” travel expenses.

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London bikers on the go
London bikers on the go © Kristi Blokhin / Shutterstock

Bottom line

With a little thought and preparation, there’s no reason a trip to London has to break the bank. By paying attention to airline alliances and credit card transfer partners, taking advantage of welcome bonuses from cobranded and travel rewards credit cards and being strategic about your points and miles, you’ll be able to save a ton on your next trip in no time.

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*Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

This article was first published Jan 19, 2024 and updated Jun 15, 2024.



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