Paris: 50 Do’s and Don’ts guaranteed to improve your trip

Looking for advice about how to act or what to do during your upcoming trip to Paris? The amount of “advice” online can be daunting, with endless lists about how to act like a “real” Parisian (whoever they are!).

The truth is, there isn’t just one type of Parisian, nor is there one way to act when visiting the city.

But you know us — we couldn’t resist creating a jumbo list of our own. However, we’re listing only friendly do’s and don’ts that will help you make the most of your trip and your budget. Do… keep reading!

Related Paris reading:
• 10 costly mistakes that tourists make
10 Ways to prepare for your Paris vacation
The best SIM Cards for a trip to France

Paris Cheese

Browse the cheese, but don’t forget to say hello, er “bonjour”, to the shopkeeper. Photo: LEAF Project

Basics

1. Do say “Bonjour when engaging with another person. This includes all salespeople, servers, front desk, etc. Bonus points for adding a “Monsieur” or “Madame”.

2. Don’t worry about not speaking French beyond the basics. However, do learn a couple of words. Bonjour. Au revoir. Merci. Monsieur. Madame. Oui. Non. Voila — you’ve got it. (Want more? Here are 10 French phrases that can help you save money.)

3. Do seek out locals, or at least try to talk to them at a picnic or in a bar. But try to drop a couple of words in French. It’s a good conversation starter.

4. Don’t expect the French to be rude. They’re just humans. (And you’re far less likely to find yourself in a rude situation if you stick to rule #1 above.)

5. Do learn how to use an “inside voice”. Parisians, in general, are a lot quieter in public places than we’re used to being in the US. You will notice this tout de suite in the Metro, restaurants, in line at the bakery, etc.

Forget a beret! Rock a scarf in Paris. Photo: onourtravels

Forget a beret! Rock a scarf in Paris. Photo: onourtravels

Clothing and Packing

6. Do wear comfortable shoes (no stilettos) and clothes that can easily be layered. Pack a nice outfit for special occasions, but don’t go overboard here. You’re mostly going to be walking, and walking, and walking…

7. Don’t come unprepared for the weather. Research the weather before you go and pack accordingly, when possible. Pack an umbrella and a light rain jacket.

8. Do wear a scarf in the winter and fall. It might seem like a cliché, but it’ll keep you warm and Parisians wear them all the time. Wrap yourself up — you’ll fit right in.

Paris Picnic

A Paris picnic in the park is a definite DO! Photo: Caleb Phillips

Eating and drinking

9. Don’t buy bottled water in a restaurant unless you like or need bubbly water. Otherwise, stick to a “carafe d’eau”. It’s delicious — and free.

10. Do spend at least an hour at a café terrace at some point during your trip sipping something. Bring the journal, notepad, book, or postcards, and have the whole experience.

11. Do refill your water bottle at any of the city’s outdoor water fountains. It’s the same delicious water Parisians drink daily. Eco-friendly! Free! Photo-op!

Go for a "tradition"! Baguettes at La Grande Epicerie in Le Bon Marché. Photo: kanuck

Go for a “tradition”! Baguettes at La Grande Epicerie in Le Bon Marché. Photo: kanuck

12. Don’t buy a baguette “ordinaire”. Stick to the “tradition”. Trust us on this one.

13. Don’t fuss over eating like you eat back home. This is not home, so breakfast options and coffee choices are not the same. (Sorry. But not really.)

14. Do eat things that you have never tasted before. This is Paris and we like to eat. (And we like to eat things that might seem rather unusual to you at first. Go for it!)

15. Do order a carafe of wine at lunch to share… or for yourself. Wine is cheap in France! And you’re on vacation, right?

16. Do eat as much as you can. Once you’re home, you won’t get any more baguettes. Well, maybe you can buy one from Whole Foods, but it won’t taste the same. Here’s how to eat like a local for under €20 a day.

17. Don’t go to McDonald’s. I mean, it’s fine for a bathroom break (and for emergency free Wi-Fi), but the experience isn’t really that different or more exciting than you’d have at the Golden Arches back home.

18. Do throw yourself a picnic if possible. Head to an outdoor market, get some cheese from a fromagerie, some fresh baguettes and head to the wine store. We’re so there.

19. Don’t write off ethnic food in Paris. A lot of it is really good and unique. Just don’t fiddle with the American stuff. But the falafel? Winner!

20. Don’t tip needlessly in restaurants. Please don’t. We’ve talked about this already.

21. Don’t eat anywhere within a beret’s toss of a major tourist destination, especially Sacre Coeur, Eiffel Tower, or Notre Dame. Push a bit farther afield and look for something more authentic without “tourist pricing”. Here are a few choices for dinner in Paris.

22. Do consider restaurants that aren’t listed on TripAdvisor. The site isn’t the final word on dining in Paris — and, actually, it can be quite an echo chamber, sending more and more tourists to the same restaurants, while smaller establishments remain ignored. Head off on your own… follow your nose and your own instincts.

Paris Hotel

Book accommodations in a central location like Hotel Marignan in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Photo: EuroCheapo

Hotels

23. Don’t pay for breakfast in a hotel or hostel if you don’t have to. It will probably cost you about €9-14 for something that you get (fresher!) at the corner bakery for about €3-4.

24. Do book a hotel that’s as central as possible to avoid wasting time in transit. You might have to pay a few more euros per night, but you’ll save a lot of time and money. EuroCheap has hotels whether you’re a romantic or traveling with your family. Check out our full guide to cheap Paris hotels.

25. Don’t touch those items in the minibar. Head to the nearest supermarket to pick up water, drinks, snacks, champagne, fruit, etc.

Paris Cafe

Always keep an eye on your stuff in touristy areas like cafes and popular attractions. Photo: Danile Lobo

Money and Safety

26. Don’t carry your passport and all of your credit cards with you. Leave your passport and some of your plastic in a safe back in the hotel. (Also, do make a copy of the passport and keep it with your travel documents.)

27. Don’t fall for street scams (aggressive petitioners, “charity” collectors, bracelet/ring scam artists, three-card monte dealers, shell game hucksters, etc.). But don’t be freaked out by normal people. Simply avoid anyone who approaches you in an unusual manner. If it feels odd, keep on walking.

28. Don’t let your guard down. Petty crime exists here. Just because Paris can seem like a movie set doesn’t mean pickpockets don’t lurk in the shadows. When sitting at a cafe, keep your purse safe and valuables (including that smartphone!) off the table. Things can disappear from your table between sips…

Paris Shop

Photograph the outside of the quaint shops, not the people inside. Photo: Natalie Marchant

Shopping

29. Don’t take pictures of people in shops. They tend not to like it that much. It’s going to get awkward.

30. Do go to Paris’s famous flea markets to find something totally unique to bring home. We promise you’ll find something more special than an Eiffel Tower snow globe. (Well, you might find a cool vintage Eiffel Tower snow globe.) Check out a few of our favorite flea markets.

31. Don’t be entirely cheap. Sometimes a few extra euros can go a long way. And if you want to embark on a shopping spree, here’s how to do it on a budget.

Paris Boat Tour

Yes, a river cruise along the Seine is touristy, but it’s also a lovely way to see Paris. Photo: Jean-Pierre

Sightseeing

32. Do visit all of the touristy sights that you’ve been eager to visit, even if there’s someone in your group moaning and groaning about it. Don’t leave with regrets about not having visited (fill-in-the-blank). You can even get started on your very first day in Paris.

33. However, don’t feel you have to go to Versailles, even though it’s famous and big and glorious. It won’t change your life unless you’re completely obsessed with Louis XIV.

Do you really want to spend very much time with these people pushing up against Mona? Photo: asrusch

Do you really want to spend very much time with these people pushing up against Mona? Photo: asrusch

34. Do buy a travel guide. Much of the information listed is evergreen and will be useful. Plus, it doesn’t run out of batteries and it’s a lot less costly to lose (or spill a glass of wine onto) than an iPad. Here are a few of our favorite Paris guidebooks.

35. Do read a few websites and travel blogs before visiting. (As you’re reading this post right now, you’ve already mastered this one. Well done!) Often websites have more offbeat and more recently updated information than guidebooks and magazines.

36. Don’t bring a selfie stick. No one will like you, and many museums look down on them. Take your photo the old fashioned way — ask that guy from Minnesota walking past you to take it.

37. Do take a boat ride along the Seine. It’s breezy and romantic — well, unless you get stuck with a group of 100 teenagers who are literally going bonkers.

38. Don’t come with a padlock and leave it locked to one of our monuments. Please just don’t.

39. Do take advantage of the city’s many free museums, festivals, and concerts. Paris is full of amazing free attractions, especially during the summer.

40. Don’t just see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. Try to find something else that resonates with you — and that you don’t have to fight to get close to.

41. Do keep your expectations realistic and remain flexible, with a sense of humor, if possible. Paris is not perfect and sometimes things don’t go as planned. (The Eiffel Tower workers go on strike the day you visit? Take a photo — you’ve got a story!)

42. Don’t plan too many day trips from Paris. I’ve lived here for years and have yet to discover all of Paris. If you have a week, you might not want to spend five days day tripping…

43. Don’t walk around with your headphones on while visiting. Why should your ears miss out while your other senses get to enjoy Paris?

44. Do know the hours and opening times of major sights in advance. Go early or late to avoid the big crowds. And know if you can book major tickets in advance (you can at the Musée d’Orsay and Eiffel Tower, among others).

45. Don’t scorn other tourists – we’re all in this together.

Paris Metro

Don’t be afraid to take the Metro and be assertive when boarding if needed. Photo: Chris Yunker

Transportation

46. Do use the Metro to get around town when you have more than 4-5 stations between you and a destination. Is it closer? You can easily walk that. Of course, you can also take a taxi, bus or Uber, too.

47. Don’t be shy in the Metro. Say “pardon” and shove gently when needed.

48. Don’t ride a Vélib public bike if you do not feel safe cycling in a city. It seems fun (and it is!), but it can also be dangerous, especially if you’re unfamiliar with Paris’s streets and traffic patterns.

49. Do some pre-trip research on how Paris works, even if it’s very basic. Know how to get to and from the airport, for example. And be prepared for your first day in Paris.

Paris Wifi

Paris has many public Wi-Fi spots, but it’s also important to disconnect when on vacation. Photo: JC Lemay

Wi-Fi

50. Don’t try to connect to free Wi-Fi every chance you get. Yes, it’s tempting, especially if you’re used to being constantly connected back home. But you’re on vacation — Instagram and Facebook when you get back to the hotel at night. You have the power to put away your phone! (Your traveling companions will thank you for this one.)

One last thought

Do resign yourself to the fact that you can’t see it all during your visit. You’ll just have to come back. Paris is a life-long love affair, and it only gets better with each visit.

Your tips

What do you do to make your Paris adventure even better? Tell us in the comments below.

The post Paris: 50 Do’s and Don’ts guaranteed to improve your trip appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

Italy: 5 Budget tips for exploring the Amalfi Coast

Famed for its sweeping vistas of the deep blue Mediterranean sea, picturesque hilltop villages, and an abundance of Southern Italian charm, the Amalfi Coast is a destination that any lover of beauty and romance should experience at least once.

Of course, a seaside location this idyllic is also full of budget-busting traps that can quickly bring your focus away from the scenery and towards the lightening of your wallet.

To help you and your budget cope, we’ve come up with a few tips that can help you enjoy the natural delights of amazing towns like Capri, Sorrento, Positano, and Amalfi — without it costing you an arm and a leg. And did we mention the surprisingly affordable hotels on the Amalfi Coast?

Read more about saving in Italy
11 Simple ways to save on your trip to Italy
Avoid these common tourist mistakes in Italy
10 Best cheap hotels in Florence


How to save on a trip to the Amalfi Coast

Despite its spendy reputation, this beautiful part of Italy is within the reach of Cheapos. Read on to find out how you can save on your vacation to the Amalfi Coast.

Sorrento Picnic

Picnics are a tasty and cheap way to save on your Amalfi Coast trip. Photo: Greger.

1. Pack a lunch for the journey

Restaurants on the Amalfi Coast have gorgeous views, incredible cuisine, and usually a very hefty price tag. If you’re making the trip from Naples, you can easily find affordable and delicious food for a picnic. It will cost a fraction of what you’d pay in towns along the coast or in the islands.

For under €2, grab a mini pizza, an arancino (a fried rice ball stuffed with ham, cheese, or porcini mushrooms), or just some prosciutto, cheese and bread to make a nice sandwich — and presto — you have your lunch for the day! With your delicious packed meal, you are now free to find a spot to enjoy your food with a million-dollar view.

2. Make it a day trip

Hotels on the Amalfi Coast tend to cater to more luxurious big spenders, so it might be best for Cheapos to enjoy the scenery during a day trip rather than an overnight adventure. Budget hotels and hostels are abundant in nearby Naples and can also be found on the other end of the Amalfi Coast in the smaller but cheerier (and cleaner) city of Salerno, as well.

Want to spend the night? Check out these hotels on the Amalfi Coast in Positano, Ravello, Amalfi, and Sorrento.

Drive Amalfi Coast

The view from a scenic drive along the Amalfi Coast. Photo: John S.

3. Split a rental car and drive along the coast

In Naples, there are car rental agencies that offer a rate starting at a shockingly low €10 per day at certain times of the year. With this rate, the cost of a one-day car rental (plus gas and tolls) to drive the length of the coast and back to Napoli via Salerno (about a three-hour trip) should be €50-60 in total. (Search for car rentals in Europe.) If you can find a few other people to travel with, you’ll have a low budget way to see every beautiful stop along the way and at your own leisurely pace.

Related: Driving in Italy: 7 tips for staying safe, sane and on budget with your rental car

4. Village hop with cheap public transport

For under €4, you can take the Circumvesuviana train from Garibaldi Station in Naples to the Amalfi Coast starting point city of Sorrento. Once in Sorrento, you can catch a SITA bus which has stops at each of the wonderful towns dotted along the coast (don’t forget to stop in the unforgettable town of Positano!).

Ticket prices are under €2 for intermediate trips between villages or €8 for the 24-hour ticket which allows you to hop on and hop off as you please anywhere between Sorrento and Salerno. Remember to take the window on the right side of the bus to catch the amazing views!

Capri

Take a boat to Capri! Photo: Juan C.

5.  Take the slow boat to the islands

The gorgeous islands of Capri and Ischia are must-see destinations on any trip to the Amalfi Coast. Getting there from the port of Naples can be done via two kinds of boats: the high-speed ferry or the “slow” ferry. Don’t let the name deceive you, as it’s only a 30-minute difference between the two, but the ticket on the slower boat can cost 30% less. Prices start under €15 for a one-way ticket. Check the online ferry schedule for more information.

Frankly, who wouldn’t want an extra 30 minutes enjoying a boat ride on the Bay of Naples? It’s an easy decision for any traveler not in a huge hurry wanting to save a few bucks.

Want to extend your island excursion? Book a hotel room in Capri!

Have you been to the Amalfi Coast? Share your favorite tips on how you save.

The post Italy: 5 Budget tips for exploring the Amalfi Coast appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

International Health Insurance Options for Expats

international health insurance for expatriates

You’ve found your perfect place to live abroad or a beach where you can live a nice life in retirement, but there are still nagging details that go along with the fun. If you’re going to move abroad for an extended time, one of your first questions is probably going to be, “What am I […]

Want to live a better life for half the price? Sign up for the Cheap Living Abroad Newsletter.

             

Source: Cheapest Destinations

You Can Use Your Citi ThankYou Points Towards Your Student Loans

If you have credit cards that earn points in the Citi ThankYou program, you probably already know just how versatile these rewards can be. You can use points from cards like the Citi Premier and Citi Prestige to book travel through the Citi portal, redeem for gift cards, cash in for statement credits, or shop for merchandise. Most importantly though, you can transfer your points to airline partners like Air France/Flying Blue.

If you dive into the Citi ThankYou program handbook, however, there are actually more ways to redeem your points than you might expect. Some of the redemptions that caught my eye include:

Payments Toward Student Loans

According to Citi’s terms and conditions, you can “redeem points for a check to pay your student loans” in denominations of $25, $50, $75, $100, $250, $500, $750 and $1000.

Checks are payable to your financial lending institution, and they’re valid for 180 days.

Payments Toward Mortgage Loans

You can also ask for a check to your mortgage lender in the same $25, $50, $75, $100, $250, $500, $750, and $1,000 increments. These checks are valid for 180 days and you can mail them alongside your regular mortgage payment.

Make a Charitable Contribution

You can also use your points to make a charitable contribution to participating charities of your choice, although you can only do so in increments of $25, $50, $75, and $100. Checks are valid for 180 days, and you must work with a “participating” charity defined by Citi.

Shouldn’t You Use Your Points for Travel?

Ideally, you should strive to use your Citi ThankYou points for some type of travel, whether that means booking airfare or hotels through the Citi portal or trying to utilize one of the program’s airline partners. However, we all know that travel plans don’t always work out how we wish.

I’ve known many people over the years who have earned travel rewards for no reason. They hoped to book a specific trip when they signed up for a specific card, but life ended up getting in the way somehow. For example, I’ve known people who lost their jobs right before they were preparing to plan a big trip, and I’ve also known people who used credit cards the wrong way and wound up in debt. In that type of situation, it’s a lot better to redeem your points for mortgage payments or student loans versus a trip that’s going to require you to spend money you don’t have.

At the end of the day, this is really why I like flexible travel programs so much to begin with. You can use your points for lucrative travel options if you want to, but you don’t have to.

Have you ever used points for student loans or mortgage payments? Why or why not?

 

[Featured Image: Shutterstock]

Source: frugal travel guy

Picture of the Week: the incredible resolution of the Fuji GFX100 and, also, a bee

I’ve been absolutely in love with my Fuji GFX100 since I bought it almost a month ago.  It’s extreme, absurd, too much, and a bit ridiculous, but that all seems to go away whenever I see the images from it. Which brings us to just now.  I was sitting there saying to myself “man, I need a picture of the week, I’ve been slacking on those” as I was walking into my condo.  My next door neighbors have some beautiful decorations on their balcony area including some railing planters with seasonal flowers.  I noticed some honeybees flying around doing, you know, bee stuff and had an idea. So, I don’t own a macro lens for the GFX…yet.  But what I do own is a 250mm telephoto lens (roughly 200mm on a full frame camera) and have 100 megapixels to play with.  I grabbed my camera to set up for a shot.  I digitally zoomed in to make sure I was focusing on the bee which would’ve worked perfectly but then the bee filled the screen and AHHH BEE.  I calmed down, focused, and shot a few quick shots. To show you the full power of this awesome camera, I’ve compressed the original image down to 2048 pixels on the long edge (which is how I share almost all my pictures on this blog, it’s far more than most people recommend but my readers are worth it).  And then I cropped to a native 2048 pixels across just so you can… read more

The post Picture of the Week: the incredible resolution of the Fuji GFX100 and, also, a bee appeared first on Andy's Travel Blog.

Source: Andys travel blog

The Best Bottles of Tequila for Under $15 in Mexico

bargain tequila in Mexico Campo Azul

My advice is always to look for the local bargains wherever you go in the world. In Mexico that includes good tequila for a good price. For a whole lot of brands, you can expect to pay half what you would in the USA. Sometimes less. I’m promoting Mexico from an “honorable mention” to a […]

Want to live a better life for half the price? Sign up for the Cheap Living Abroad Newsletter.

             

Source: Cheapest Destinations

10-day Itinerary in Spain: Touring Barcelona, Seville & Madrid, with budget tips

You’ve got a bit more than a week to spend in Spain? Lucky you! As a resident of Barcelona, I’m of course tempted to say that you could easily spend the whole time in my city, but most visitors try to see more of Spain than just the northeastern corner when they come.

Indeed, you’ve not quite seen Spain if you’ve only been to Barcelona. Many tourists come here and ask where they can find the following: bullfights, flamenco and sangria. In Barcelona bullfighting has been banned. It’s not part of the Catalan culture, and neither is flamenco for that matter.

Can you see a flamenco show in Barcelona? Oh yeah. And go for it, but keep in mind that it’s from the south of Spain, and you should head to Seville if you’re truly interested in experiencing “real” flamenco. In fact, why not travel to Madrid too, one of the finest cities in the world.

So with an average, 10-day vacation, where should you go in Spain? There are many itinerary combinations you could concoct, but here is one suggestion that includes highlights of things to see and do along the way:

Gaudi

Famous architecture by Gaudi is a must-see on any trip to Barcelona. Photo: Regina W Bryan

Days 1, 2, 3: Start in Barcelona

I recommend starting your journey in Barcelona. While here, don’t miss:

Gaudi architecture is everywhere you look, but don’t miss the famous cathedral La Sagrada Família or Parc Güell.

Get a sip of Catalan cava, reds and whites at fun wine bars.

Taste local Catalan delicacies at these affordable restaurants, cafes and tapas bars.

Stroll down Las Ramblas and explore La Boqueria, Barcelona’s famous food market.

See a concert at the Palau de la Música

Take a lovely stroll (or even swim!) along Barcelona’s many beautiful beaches.

Check out one of the city’s best neighborhoods, El Born, a trendy and historic place to explore.

• Wander through the historic streets of the Gothic Quarter.

Related: EuroCheapo’s budget tips for Barcelona and EuroCheapo’s recommended budget hotels in Barcelona.

Seville

Seville, the beautiful heart of Andalusia, is just a short plane ride away from Barcelona. Photo: James Forsyth

Days 4, 5, 6: Explore Seville

To save time, hop on a cheapo flight from Barcelona to Seville that takes less than two hours. The train can take more than five hours.

Highlights:

Take in the difference in climate and vibe. Seville is much smaller and quieter than Barcelona and less overwhelming. It’s a nice change of pace.

Eat delicious and cheap tapas in the plethora of bars all over town. The low prices in Seville restaurants will make Cheapos very happy.

Get on the train for a 45-minute ride to Córdoba to tour La Mezquita (now the city’s cathedral). Prepare to have your socks knocked right off.

Drink sherry, which is a delicious fortified wine produced in Andalusia.

Gawk at the architecture of the Real Alcázar.

See a flamenco show for free (or at least the price of a drink). and visit the flamenco museum. Ask around to avoid touristy spots.

Related: EuroCheapo’s budget tips for Seville and EuroCheapo’s recommended budget hotels in Seville.

Madrid is a quick ride from Barcelona thanks to frequent express trains. Photo: Regina W Bryan

Madrid is a quick ride from Barcelona thanks to frequent express trains. Photo: Regina W Bryan

Days 7, 8: Explore Madrid

Take the Ave fast train to Madrid for a quick 2 hour and 30-minute journey.

Highlights:

Madrileños know how to have fun, so check out the nightlife scene, said to be the best in Spain. Whether you like bar hopping or live music and cinema, there’s something for everyone. Here are some tips for a great night on the town.

Madrid’s museums are among the best in the country. Check out the Prado, Reina Sofia or Thyssen-Bornemisza that all offer free and reduced admission times.

Sample traditional foods and drinks of Madrid at our favorite local restaurants or a tasty tapas tour.

 • See a bullfight, if that’s your bag. Madrid is a good place to experience it.

Related: EuroCheapo’s Madrid full city guide and EuroCheapo’s recommended budget hotels in Madrid.

Day 9, 10: Back to Barcelona

Train: Getting from Madrid back to Barcelona is easy. You can take the Ave fast train from Atocha Station to Barcelona is less than 3 hours.

Flying: You might be able to find a flight that’s cheaper than the train, but in the end with transportation to the airport and security, it will take about the same time.

It’s almost time to go home, but you still have one more night on the town. Just make sure to stay centrally to have easy access to the El Prato airport bus which takes about an hour. We like the Hotel Atlantis which is a clean and efficient stay in the heart of the city. Or try one of these centrally-located hotels perfect for short stays.

Related: The top 10 affordable hotels in Barcelona

A whirlwind tour? Yes, and very much not in step with the popular slow-travel movement. However, with stops in Barcelona, Seville, Córdoba, and Madrid, you’ll have a great introduction to the country and a much better idea of what Spain really is — a beautiful country with rich and diverse cultures and climates.

Your trip ideas for Spain

How would you organize a 10-day trip to Spain? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

The post 10-day Itinerary in Spain: Touring Barcelona, Seville & Madrid, with budget tips appeared first on EuroCheapo's Budget Travel Blog.

Source: Euro Cheapo

What’s Your Favorite Way to Use Citi ThankYou Points?

While my favorite flexible rewards program will always be Chase Ultimate Rewards, I still like the Citi ThankYou program. For those who don’t know, you can earn points in this program with cards like the Citi Premier and Citi Prestige. I like the Citi ThankYou program because you can redeem points in several different ways, including booking travel directly or transferring to airline partners.

I don’t currently have the Prestige, but I do have the Premier and have had the Prestige in the past. I actually have around 130,000 Citi ThankYou points to burn across my husband’s Premier account as well as my mom’s. She owes me some points — it’s a long story.

How I Redeem Citi ThankYou Points

Recently, I cashed in the remainder of my personal stash of Citi ThankYou points for a few different excursions in London — specifically, I used 10,620 Citi ThankYou points for a tour of the Tower of London with my husband and kids in July and 6,275 points plus $29.50 for the four of us to visit Westminster Abbey. This wasn’t the best redemption option, but I was really just using up the rest of my points for stuff we planned to book anyway.

At the moment, I’m also considering using my Citi Premier points to book airfare through the portal. You get 25% more value out of your points when you book airfare with this card, and I have several trips coming up. And really, the pricing seems very good.

For my 40th birthday trip to Aruba, for example, my preferred flight on American Airlines is currently at $506 per person for our dates. However, the same flight through the Citi portal would set me back $504.13 with my Citi Premier card, which translates into 40,300 points. I’m thinking about using my remaining Citi points to book flights for us and our friends.

Still, my absolute favorite way to use Citi points is for 1:1 transfers to Air France/Flying Blue. I use this transfer partner frequently for inexpensive economy flights back and forth to Europe on Delta. I like Air France/Flying Blue because you can transfer points to this program from Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Rewards. Having multiple points to transfer from makes it a lot easier to rack up the points you need for a specific redemption in a hurry.

The Bottom Line

While Citi’s flexible rewards program may not be as popular as ones offered through Chase or American Express, there are still plenty of ways to maximize its value. Personally, I tend to use rewards for flights whenever I can, whether that means transferring to an airline or booking through the portal. However, Citi’s flexible options mean you’re never tied down to a specific redemption. You can even redeem points for gift cards, merchandise, or statement credits if you want. Should you? Now, that’s a different story.

What is your favorite way to use Citi ThankYou points?

 

[Featured Image: Wikimedia/Carlos Delgado]

Source: frugal travel guy