How to Use Points and Miles to Get to the Turkish Riviera

They don't call it the Turquoise Coast for nothing.
A view from above of a Turkish Riviera beach with blue water, golden sand and large cliffs

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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 Turkish Riviera is the worst-kept secret in Europe. Its ancient landscape, dotted with wondrous ruins and lined by turquoise Mediterranean waters, has been drawing money-saving sun-seekers for years, but American audiences have yet to succumb to its allure.

In fairness, it’s a long way to go to sit on a beach for a week. But combined with a visit to the country’s most iconic city, Istanbul, there’s a trip of a lifetime waiting for anyone willing to take the plunge.

If you still need convincing, it’s easy to get to the Turkish Riviera for almost nothing using points and miles. And that’s exactly what we’ll be showing you today.

How to begin your search for points and miles flights to the Turkish Riviera

The region’s main hub is the city of Antalya. While it has a well-connected airport, the bulk of those connections are found in Europe and the Middle East. For American travelers, it’s easiest to search for flights to Istanbul, and then grab a cheap flight to the coast from there.

Istanbul’s airports are incredibly well-connected, so finding direct flights from cities like New York should be simple. In a worst-case scenario, a quick stop somewhere like Amsterdam or Paris shouldn’t delay you by too much.

Start your search by checking out which airlines fly into Istanbul on the day you want to arrive, and then cross-reference your available points with the airlines they transfer with. When you have a match, you’re in business.

Using Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles for flights to the Turkish Riviera

The most obvious airline to check is Turkey’s flagship carrier, Turkish Airlines. The airline is fast becoming one of the best airlines on the planet in terms of its physical product, and once had arguably the most valuable loyalty program out there.

Sadly, recent devaluations mean the incredible sweet spots once found in its Miles&Smiles program are no longer as generous. Still, it’s more than worth a look, as its award chart means direct flights from the US run at around 40,000 points each way. 

How to earn enough Miles&Smiles Miles for flights to the Turkish Riviera

As you won’t find too many Turkish Airlines flights in the US, you probably won’t earn any miles by flying with the airline. United is a partner though, so make sure to list it if you fly with that airline. 

But don’t write off Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles just yet. They’re super easy to earn thanks to Capital One, Citi, and Bilt all being transfer partners. Opening a card from one of these issuers could be your key to the Turkish Riviera.


The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card’s 75,000-mile intro bonus gifts you more than enough Aeroplan points to redeem roundtrip flights to the Turkish Riviera. As you’ll need to spend $4,000 within three months of opening the card, you’ll have at least 83,000 points by the time they drop into your account.

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

Using Air Canada Aeroplan for flights to the Turkish Riviera

Air Canada’s Aeroplan is a reliable airline loyalty program to include in your search for flights to the Turkish Riviera. That’s because it’s one of the few airlines that still uses an award chart. Instead of opting for a dynamic system where point redemptions fluctuate based on a number of factors, Air Canada uses a zonal chart.

The basic rate for a flight between the North American zone and Turkey’s placement in the Atlantic Zone is 40,000 points, matching Turkish Airlines. The big plus here is that redeeming points can be far simpler than Turkish Airlines’s often complex booking platform. 

How to earn enough Aeroplan Points for flights to the Turkish Riviera

Again, despite not being a US carrier, Air Canada Aeroplan points are incredibly easy to earn. American Express, Capital One, Chase, and Bilt all allow customers to transfer points into their Aeroplan accounts gifting you a number of potential card choices to get you to the Turkish Riviera.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card is American Express’ most premium product. While it does have a hefty annual fee, it’s nullified by a mega 80,000-point intro bonus. You’ll need to spend $8,000 within six months of opening the card to earn those points, but that’s an automatic roundtrip to Turkey if you can hit that target safely. You’ll be up to your eyeballs in kofte in no time.

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

Using the United MileagePlus for flights to the Turkish Riviera

This has the potential to be the best value option on this list today, so why didn’t we put it at the top? The simple answer is consistency.

United’s MileagePlus loyalty program is one of the best American programs for redeeming points. Despite being a dynamic program, where points fluctuate based on different metrics, it’s far more consistent than its main competitors like Delta. The lowest rate we found for flights to Istanbul was just 30,000 miles each way, making it the cheapest option.

However, that rate wasn’t readily available and took a little bit of digging. Most of the other price points were similar to those listed. In a best-case scenario, you could search for the 30,000-mile rate and base your trip around those flights

How to earn United MileagePlus Miles

United doesn’t have quite as many credit card transfer partners as the previous options, but as it’s possible to do so from Chase, you’re still left with multiple excellent products to choose from. Two of Chase’s main personal credit cards have bonuses large enough to cover a roundtrip, while its business card options could prove even more fruitful.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the best premium cards on the market. It boasts a solid 75,000-point intro bonus, earned by spending $4,000 within six months of opening it. If you’re able to wrangle those 30,000-mile dates, you could be flying to the Turkish Riviera for almost nothing.

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

The point

While getting directly to the Turkish Riviera isn’t as simple as some destinations, Turkey’s major hub in Istanbul is incredibly easy to get to using points and miles. Opt for one of the cards mentioned, book a flight to Istanbul, and hop on a cheap domestic route from there to the coast. You’ll be in heaven in no time.

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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