How to Use Points and Miles to Get to Brazil for the Rio de Janeiro Carnival

Flight redemptions so good you'll be dancing the samba
A dancer at the rio de janeiro carnaval


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What are travel credit cards, and how do they work?

Travel credit cards are financial products that offer various rewards and benefits geared towards frequent travelers. They typically earn you points or miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. These rewards can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and other travel-related expenses. Travel credit cards may also include perks like travel insurance, airport lounge access, and no foreign transaction fees.

How do I choose the best travel credit card for my needs?

Choosing the best travel credit card depends on your travel habits, spending patterns, and preferences. Consider factors like the type of rewards offered (points, miles, or cash back), the card’s annual fee, sign-up bonuses, earning rates, redemption options, and additional travel perks. Analyzing these features will help you find a card that aligns with your lifestyle and offers the most value.

What are the benefits of using a travel credit card over other types of credit cards?

Travel credit cards provide unique advantages for travelers, such as earning rewards specifically tailored to travel expenses. Additionally, many travel credit cards offer travel-related perks like free checked bags, priority boarding, and travel insurance. Some cards also waive foreign transaction fees, making them ideal for international travelers.

What is a sign-up bonus, and how can I qualify for it?

A sign-up bonus is a promotional offer provided by the credit card issuer to entice new cardholders. To qualify for a sign-up bonus, you usually need to meet specific spending requirements within a certain timeframe after opening the account. The bonus can be in the form of points, miles, or cash back, and it’s a great way to jump-start your rewards earning.

Do travel credit cards charge foreign transaction fees?

Not all travel credit cards charge foreign transaction fees. Many of the top-tier travel cards waive these fees, making them ideal for international travel. However, it’s essential to read the card’s terms and conditions to confirm this before using it abroad.

How can I maximize the rewards earned with my travel credit card?

To maximize rewards, use your travel credit card for everyday expenses and large purchases. Take advantage of bonus categories and special promotions to earn more points or miles. Consider combining your travel credit card with loyalty programs to stack rewards and get even more value out of your purchases.

The Rio de Janeiro Carnival is up there with the best parties on the planet. The famous celebration, held on the Friday before Ash Wednesday (February 9 this year), draws thousands of revelers with its spectacular atmosphere, making Brazil’s best-known city the center of the world for a little while.

But with that much attention, you can be sure flight prices for the week of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival won’t be cheap.

Thankfully, points and miles can do the heavy lifting for you, leaving you to spend more money on your outfit. I’d double-double down on the sequins.

Here are some of the best ways to use points and miles to get to Brazil for the Rio de Janeiro Carnival.

How to search for award flights to Brazil for the Rio de Janeiro Carnival

Before starting any points search, it’s important to identify the carriers making the trip. We’d always recommend using Google Flights or Skyscanner to suss out some potential routes, and commence your research from there.

Whether or not you’ll find a direct flight will depend entirely on your location. But don’t worry, even if you can’t find one, there are still some fantastic redemptions to get to the Rio de Janeiro Carnival for pennies on the dollar.

Here are some of the best airlines to use.

1. Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines’ loyalty program is one of the best out there. Thanks to its tremendous partner award charts, using the airline to book other airlines like American and LATAM is easy.

In this case, a quick search from multiple cities in the US to Rio gives us redemptions as low as 25,000 miles plus $19 one way. That’s an outstanding deal that could see you get there and back for 50,000 miles.

The only downside to Alaska Airlines is that earning miles with the airline can be complicated if you don’t fly with them often—and let’s face it, only a tiny portion of the country does.

How to earn enough Alaska Airlines points to get to the Rio de Janeiro Carnival

The simplest way to earn Alaska Airlines miles is to fly with the airline or one of its partners. That includes airlines like American and British Airways. However, if you don’t fly enough for this to make a dent, there are some workarounds.

No credit cards transfer points to Alaska, but it is possible from the Marriott Bonvoy program. Luckily, you can transfer points to Marriott using some of these cards.

Which credit cards can earn you those points?

American Express® Gold Card​

The American Express Gold Card is an excellent option for getting points to your Alaska Airlines account. While you can’t transfer them directly, you can route them through your Marriott account. It’s not the most efficient way, as the transfer rate isn’t impressive, but that 60,000-point intro bonus can go a long way to helping you out. You’ll need to spend $6,000 within six months of opening the card to earn the bonus.

American Express® Gold Card

60,000 Membership Rewards® Points

after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first 6 months of card membership

Annual Fee: $250  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Similar to American Express, Chase allows its cardholders to transfer points to Marriott and then on to Alaska Airlines. The bonus on the Sapphire reserve is currently 75,000 points, earned after spending $4,000 within three months.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

75,000 Bonus Points

after you spend $4,000 on purchases in 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee: $550  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

All Nippon Airways (ANA)

ANA is consistently one of the best airlines for redeeming roundtrips around the world. This is mainly attributed to its outstanding zonal award chart. To calculate the volume of points required for any given redemption, customers just need to check their home and destination zones.

Based on the ANA award chart, the United States is in Zone 6, while Brazil is in Zone 9. An economy roundtrip between these zones only costs 55,000 points! What a deal. You’ll be at the Rio de Janeiro Carnival with cash and points to spare. You can expect to fly with United, Copa, or Avianca on your trip.

How to earn enough points to get to the Rio de Janeiro Carnival

If you’re hoping to attend the Rio de Janeiro Carnival for almost nothing, you’ll need some ANA miles. Currently, only American Express transfers points to the airline, so you’ll need one of the following cards.

Which credit cards can earn you those points?

American Express® Gold Card​

The American Express Gold Card’s 60,000-point intro bonus is enough to cover your entire trip to Brazil with 5,000 points to spare. That’s a no-brainer in our book. Just make sure you can comfortably hit the $6,000 spending threshold within six months.

American Express® Gold Card

60,000 Membership Rewards® Points

after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first 6 months of card membership

Annual Fee: $250  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

The Platinum Card® from American Express

American Express’s premium offering is an outstanding card with perks like lounge access, hotel experiences, and statement credits. But its huge 80,000-point intro bonus is the real showstopper. Once you hit the $8,000 in six months spending goal, you’ll have at least 88,000 points. That’s the exact amount you’d need to grab a business class roundtrip to the Rio de Janeiro Carnival with ANA.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

80,000 Membership Rewards® Points

after you spend $8,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of card membership

Annual Fee: $695  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

3. Qantas Airways

The Australian carrier Qantas might not be on your radar, but it should be. The airline uses a distance-based awards chart for American Airlines flights, allowing for a slice of predictability on an otherwise volatile route.

Some of the best rates we found included a 37,800-point redemption from New York to Rio plus $63. Not bad at all. Naturally, you can grab an even better deal if you find an airport closer. The only downside to Qantas is the availability of its award seats, which can be scarce.

How to earn enough Qantas points to get to the Rio de Janeiro Carnival

If we work off that rate of 37,800 points, which could get lower the further south you go, we have a ton of options for getting there; Qantas is a transfer partner for multiple credit card companies, including Amex, Citi, and Capital One.

Here are some cards you can use to grab those points and be on your way to the Rio de Janeiro Carnival.

Which credit cards can earn you those points?

card_name

The Capital One Venture X is an unbelievable travel card. Despite being a premium product, its perks, intro bonus, and earning potential make it affordable for almost anyone. Its current intro bonus is set at 75,000 miles after spending $4,000 in three months. If you can grab a return flight for the same rate, you’ll have enough for the whole trip.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

75,000 Bonus Miles

after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee: $395  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Citi Premier® Card

The Citi Premier Card is a criminally overlooked credit card. Despite having some valuable transfer partners (like Qantas), it’s often passed over for the more familiar names. That’s a big mistake, as you’d be missing out on a mega 60,000-point intro bonus after spending $4,000 within three months of opening the card.

Citi Premier® Card

60,000 Bonus Points

after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum Card is known as a big hitter, and its current 80,000-point intro bonus is more than enough to get you to the Rio de Janeiro Carnival and back for almost nothing with Qantas. You’ll just need to hit that $8,000 spending threshold within six months of opening the card.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

80,000 Membership Rewards® Points

after you spend $8,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of card membership

Annual Fee: $695  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

The point

Despite being a slightly less frequent route, there are still plenty of ways to get to the Rio de Janeiro Carnival for almost nothing. Just make sure you’re careful about how you hit those spending thresholds—you don’t want to go into debt for a free flight.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This post contains references to products from one or more of our partners and we may receive compensation when you click on links to those products.

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