2024 Paris Olympics: How I used points and miles to save money

2023 is coming to a close, which means the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris are fast approaching. The opening ceremony is scheduled for July 26, with the Games finishing Aug. 11; the Paralympics will run from Aug. 28 through Sept. 8.

Those on top of their game have probably already booked their flights and accommodations, potentially back in July and August, when award availability calendars opened.

People like me, however, have been a bit late to the game. I wasn’t planning on attending the Olympics until late November, but I was lucky enough to snag tickets to three Olympic events — beach volleyball, volleyball and water polo — for 376 euros (about $404). That includes an (admittedly expensive) 200-euro ticket to see beach volleyball played under the Eiffel Tower at night — iconic.


So, how would I get to and from Paris? And where would I stay, given that award availability is nearly nonexistent and cash prices are sky-high? Well, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Here’s how I’ve locked in my Paris Olympics plans and even saved money by maximizing my points and miles.

Related: France: 2024 will be a year of commemorations and competitions

Business-class flight to Europe for 39,000 points

For the past few years, I’ve attended Chicago Pride in late June and then Madrid Pride the weekend after. (I taught English in Madrid for a year and five summers, so I like to return for an annual visit.)

In July 2023, when the award schedule opened up, I took advantage of a 30% American Express Membership Rewards transfer bonus to Iberia Plus to book a one-way Iberia business-class flight from Chicago to Madrid. I transferred 39,000 Amex points to Iberia to book this award for 50,000 Avios plus $129 in taxes.

It’s not a cutting-edge product, but it is still a lie-flat seat. BENJI STAWSKI/THE POINTS GUY

You can get nonstop Iberia business-class flights from the U.S. to Madrid for as low as 34,000 points, which would have required only 27,000 Amex points with the transfer bonus. However, I’m flying on a peak date, so the regular price was 50,000 Avios instead of 34,000.

After spending two weeks in Madrid, I’m planning a 10-day road trip through the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Then, I’m considering attending the Tomorrowland electronic dance music festival in Belgium before heading to Munich to see Taylor Swift, where I got floor tickets for 239 euros each — much cheaper than in the U.S.

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Air France-KLM Business-class flight for 50,000 points

After Munich, I’ll stay in Stuttgart, Germany, for three nights. From there, I was able to snag an incredibly valuable redemption with Air France-KLM Flying Blue.

First, I was surprised to find Air France business-class award availability from Paris to Los Angeles for 50,000 Flying Blue miles plus $383 in taxes for the exact date I wanted (the middle weekend of the Olympics). Though I am based in Austin, I can easily add a cheap domestic economy-class flight to get back home from Los Angeles.


Since Flying Blue offers complimentary stopovers for travel on Air France-KLM and partner airlines, I searched for and found award availability from Stuttgart to France and phoned Flying Blue to make my redemption (unfortunately, you can’t do it online).

I was on the phone for 11 minutes with a very helpful agent — I told them the flights I wanted, and they confirmed the availability. Then, I asked them to hold while I transferred 50,000 Capital One miles to my Flying Blue account, which arrived instantaneously. I ended up paying an extra $87 in taxes and fees for the flight from Stuttgart to Paris, which was fine as that was what an economy-class cash ticket would have cost.

Though paying $470 in taxes for this redemption was a bit hard for me to digest, the fact that I got two flights for the price of one and will fly more than 11 hours in a lie-flat business-class seat to Los Angeles in the middle of the Olympics makes it worth it.

3 nights of accommodation for 60,000 points plus $800

The last piece of the puzzle? A hotel or vacation rental. This was the part I had the least hope for.

In searching for award availability across the four major hotel points programs (Hilton Honors, IHG One Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt), I found hardly any options within the city limits of Paris. And when paying cash, most properties were sold out or blocked by third-party booking agencies.

However, one property — the Holiday Inn Express at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) — had rooms available for 59,000 points per night. This hotel is a free eight-minute tram ride from the main train station in Terminal 2, which gets you to most attractions and venues in the city’s center in about an hour.


I covered my one-night stay with points earned from a welcome bonus on the IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card and used cash to book two additional nights for 372 euros per night, totaling 744 euros. Luckily, I’ll be splitting this cost with a friend I’m going with.

It’s worth noting that both the award night and the two nights booked with cash have strict cancellation policies, with free cancellation only permitted within 24 hours of booking, so there’s no turning back now.

Related: Paris Olympics: Here’s everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip

Bottom line

This six-week summer trip to Europe is shaping up to be a fantastic one. In total, I’ve used 148,000 points plus $999 in taxes and cash bookings for my business-class flights to and from Europe and three nights of accommodation in Paris during the Olympics. If I were to have paid cash for my travel plans, these flights and the hotel would’ve cost me $9,749. Of course, I’ll spend much more on accommodation and internal flights for the rest of my trip, but I’m happy I’ve substantially reduced my costs with these redemptions.

The four main takeaways from my case study are:

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