Italy Is Open to Vaccinated Americans. Here’s How to Get There With Credit Card Rewards


Tourist taking selfie with the leaning tower in Italy.

Image source: Getty Images

When in Rome, relax as the Romans do.

Chock full of history and culture, Italy is a popular destination for tourists of all stripes. And with cruise ships not operating at peak capacity, now may be the best time to head over to the boot-shaped Mediterranean favorite.

Of course, cruise ships may still be struggling, but airlines are in high demand, and ticket prices aren’t exactly at their lowest. If you want to travel to Italy but don’t want to fork over the cash, your rewards credit cards could be the answer — especially if you have piles of points sitting idle from 18 months of lockdowns.

How to get there

You can get to Italy on a great number of airlines, which means you can use many types of travel rewards. There are four popular transferable rewards programs that most of us frequent, and all of them offer some way to get to Italy with points and miles. Flying into Rome is probably your easiest destination, but Venice and Milan are also home to popular airports.

American Express Membership Rewards points are probably the most versatile of the bunch, offering lots of transfer options. Chase Ultimate Rewards points have almost as many partners, including one or two Amex can’t boast. Citi ThankYou points are more limited, but not without options. Capital One Venture Miles have a dynamic partner list, but few of them offer 1:1 transfers.

Air Canada

You can book Air Canada flights to Italy if you’re willing to fly out of a Canadian hub — which could be hard until Canada opens to U.S. tourists. You can use your Air Canada miles to book United and Lufthansa flights, however, which may be better options for now. Note that Capital One has a reduced transfer rate for Air Canada.

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Rewards Program

Transfer Rate

Amex Membership Rewards

1:1

Chase Ultimate Rewards

N/A

Citi ThankYou

N/A

Capital One Venture

2:1.5

Alitalia

The marquee airline of Italy, Alitalia has a massive variety of flights heading into (and out of) various Italian cities. However, just in case you can’t find an Alitalia flight that fits your needs, you can also book Delta and Air France flights with Alitalia miles. It’s probably best to use Amex rewards for Alitalia transfers because of Venture’s lower transfer rate.

Rewards Program

Transfer Rate

Amex Membership Rewards

1:1

Chase Ultimate Rewards

N/A

Citi ThankYou

N/A

Capital One Venture

2:1.5

British Airways

British Airways Avios can be used to book BA flights, as well as American Airlines and Aer Lingus flights to Italy. British Airways is known for its high fees, though, so be mindful. You’ll also want to carefully consider which rewards to use, especially since Venture Miles transfer at less than 1:1.

Rewards Program

Transfer Rate

Amex Membership Rewards

1:1

Chase Ultimate Rewards

1:1

Citi ThankYou

N/A

Capital One Venture

2:1.5

Rewards Program

Transfer Rate

Amex Membership Rewards

1:1

Chase Ultimate Rewards

1:1

Citi ThankYou

1:1

Capital One Venture

2:1

Flying Blue (Air France / KLM)

This is a joint rewards program between Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and you can use the rewards to fly either airline on your way to Italy. You can also book Delta flights with both airlines using Flying Blue rewards. All four rewards programs partner with Flying Blue, but watch out for Capital One’s lower transfer rate.

Rewards Program

Transfer Rate

Amex Membership Rewards

1:1

Chase Ultimate Rewards

1:1

Citi ThankYou

1:1

Capital One Venture

2:1.5

United Airlines

You can hop direct United flights to Italy from the airline’s U.S. hubs or book through another alliance airline like Lufthansa. Although Chase Ultimate Rewards are the only points that transfer directly to United, you can also use Air Canada rewards to book United flights.

Rewards Program

Transfer Rate

Amex Membership Rewards

N/A

Chase Ultimate Rewards

1:1

Citi ThankYou

N/A

Capital One Venture

N/A

Rewards Program

Transfer Rate

Amex Membership Rewards

1:1

Chase Ultimate Rewards

1:1

Citi ThankYou

1:1

Capital One Venture

N/A

Booking through your issuer is also an option

There’s seemingly no end to the options for flying to Italy using transferable rewards, but don’t let it get you down if you can’t find award flights. Most travel rewards programs also let you book flights through the issuer’s travel portal for a flat per-point rate.

If your rewards pile needs a little fluffing, a good sign-up bonus could be just what you need to bid your boring bedroom arrivederci. Just make sure you leave yourself enough time to earn the rewards before you need them.

We’ve all been cooped up for a long while, so spending a few weeks getting cozy with some wine and pasta is enough to tempt just about anyone. And with a few smart transfers, you could be eyebrow deep in ravioli before you can say ciao!

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View more information: https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/credit-cards/articles/italy-is-open-to-vaccinated-americans-heres-how-to-get-there-with-credit-card-rewards/

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