Home Travel Tips How We Traveled to Paris for Cheap
How We Traveled to Paris for Cheap

How We Traveled to Paris for Cheap


Part 1: How We Traveled to Paris Cheaply
Part 2: Hotel Review: Park Hyatt, Paris

How much did this cost?

Annual fee for US Barclays card: $89 x2 = 178 (no longer offered)
Annual fee for AA Citi card: $95 x2 = 190
Total taxes and fees for the flights: $131.32 x 2= 262.64
Annual fee for Chase Hyatt card: $75 but waived the first year so $0

Total costs for 2 roundtrip flights and 4 nights at Park Hyatt Paris = $630.64 or $315.32 per person

What was the retail price had we paid in cash?

4 nights at Park Hyatt Paris in a Park Deluxe King room = 3,393.20 Euros ~ $3,782.00
PVD to CDG economy on AA: $3,537 x2= $7,074.00
CDG to PVD business on AA: $6,408×2 = $12,816.00
Total retail $23,672.00


It is universally acknowledged that Tran likes to save money. Therefore, once we decided on going to the City of Love for our engagement photos, he immediately searched for ways to fly there economically.

Before US Airways (US) merged with American Airlines (AA), they both had their own credit card products, US through Barclays and AA via Citibank. In December of 2014, Tran encouraged me to sign up for both cards to accumulate 100,000 AA miles per person before both airlines officially merged. I hesitated until February 2015 before plunging into this hobby and since then, never looked back.

Fortunately, we were able to book our flights before AA devalued their redemption chart. Since we traveled in late March, which was still considered off-peak at that time, the economy flight from PVD (Providence) via PHL (Philadelphia) to CDG (Paris) only cost 20,000 miles per person while a return leg in business class required 50,000 miles pp. Now it costs 22,500 and 57,500 miles respectively, which is still a great deal to Europe compared to other airlines. The total taxes and fees for both flights were $131.31.  Having this AA credit card allowed us to get 10% of the redeemed miles back so with 7,000 miles refund, this trip only cost 63,000 miles.  As a result, we ended up having quite a few miles left.

AA A330 CDG to PHL

Once the flights were finalized, it was time to focus on accommodations. We applied for the Chase Hyatt credit cards in order to get 4 nights free (2 nights each) at any Hyatt property in the world. We read great reviews so eventually chose the impeccable Park Hyatt Paris. It was my first taste of luxury and I was definitely impressed.

Since this trip, we never stayed in hostels again. This hobby has allowed us to travel lavishly for a fraction of a price.

How did we do it?
1.  Apply for Citi/ AAdvantage® Platinum Select® card.
Receive 60,000 AA miles after meeting the 3k spending requirement in 3 months, annual fee $95
Usually, the deal is between 40k-50k miles so this is the highest that I’ve seen.  That’s basically 2 free round trips within the continenal US, Mexico, Caribbean, and Central American or 1 r/t to Europe.

2. Chase Hyatt*  

Get 40,000 Hyatt points after meeting 2k requirement in 3 months.  The annual fee of $75 is no longer waived the first year.  On the cardmembership anniversary, you will receive a certificate for a free night at any Category 1-4 hotel,  precisely why Tran and I still keep this card after the first year.  We used our free nights in Napa/Sonoma and Anaheim last summer.


Paris engagement*We don’t have affiliate links for our credit card suggestions but if you apply through our referral links and approved, we would earn points too.  Thank you



  1. You two are just like me!! I document all my credit card perks, and have learned how to “play the game!” I too have traveled extensively in business class while only paying a bare minimum on several credit cards.

    Honestly, some credit card issuers have clamped down on some of their rewards, so you need to shop around. Many great bargains are out there, yet you need to search.

  2. Hey guys I love your blog it really has some interesting and nifty tips that I intend to you. Do you have any advise for college students in relation to credit cards, savings etc

    1. As a starting point, we have this post on credit cards: https://www.smartmoneyandtravel.com/which-credit-cards-should-you-apply-for-first/

      We recommend you take the same approach to credit cards and building rewards regardless of whether you are in college. That said, the card issuers may not allow you to obtain certain cards if you don’t have a credit history or strong score. If that’s the case, you should apply for an entry level credit card as soon as possible and start to build your credit score. You can monitor your score on Credit Karma. Once your score is above 700, you should be able to apply for a better card such as the Sapphire Preferred.

      We’ve been meaning to put together a post on best practices targeted at students and recent grads. Keep an eye out for that in the future.

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