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If you consider yourself to be a world traveler, you’re probably feeling bummed out right now. With U.S. citizens being restricted from tourism in many countries around the world, your holiday options are somewhat limited.

Although the travel restrictions are changing on a seemingly daily basis, you are probably getting antsier than ever to go somewhere. And if you have a bunch of credit card rewards points or airline miles, you’ll want to use them as cost-effectively as possible to maximize the bang for your buck. 

In this guide, we’ll be examining the best international destinations that are open to U.S. citizens and you can fly to in the near-future. If you’re considering planning travel extremely far out, check out our 5 best post-pandemic first class flight deals you can book using points.

Additionally, our sole focus will be on booking premium cabin products, such as business class or first class. It’s ultra-important to book the best first class seats for social distancing, which will keep you extra-safe from contracting any sort of illness.

Let’s get started!

Find out how to maximize your points!

The 5 Best Countries You Can Visit That Are Open to U.S. Tourists [Points Flights and Hotels Options]

Croatia

Croatia

Croatia. Image Credit: Wikipedia

Croatia is a beautiful country to visit in its own right. As the main film location of HBO’s epic fantasy series Game of Thrones, Croatia is one of the world’s most beautiful, mythical, and accessible destinations. U.S. tourists can travel to Croatia without a 14-day quarantine as long as you present a negative nasal and pharynx swab test for SARS-CoV-2, not older than 48 hours (starting from the time of taking the swab until arrival at the border crossing). 

Here are some of the best ways you can fly to Croatia from the U.S. with points in business class:

Airline and Connecting CityPoints Cost Per Person (Round-Trip)Taxes and Fees Per Person (Round-Trip)Cash Price of Ticket
Turkish Airlines via IstanbulFrom 88,000 Amex pointsAs little as ~$6~$4,300
Air France via ParisFrom 106,000 Chase, Amex, or Citi pointsAs little as ~$400~$4,800
KLM via AmsterdamFrom 106,000 Chase, Amex, or Citi pointsAs little as ~$400~$5,020
British Airways via LondonFrom 61,000 Amex or Citi pointsAs little as ~$1,200~$5,300
Lufthansa via Frankfurt/MunichFrom 88,000 Amex pointsAs little as ~$61~$7,000
Qatar Airways via DohaFrom 90,000 Amex or Citi pointsAs little as ~$11~$18,500
Aeroflot via MoscowFrom 106,000 Chase, Amex, or Citi pointsAs little as ~$20~$6,000
Virgin Atlantic via LondonFrom 88,000 Amex pointsAs little as ~$550~$6,150

Here are some first class options you can book if you’re in the mood for opulence:

Airline and Connecting CityPoints Cost Per Person (Round-Trip)Taxes and Fees Per Person (Round-Trip)Cash Price of Ticket
British Airways via LondonFrom 162,000 Amex or Citi pointsAround ~$1,400~$9,000+
Lufthansa via Frankfurt/MunichFrom 160,000 Amex pointsAs little as ~$62~$16,000+
American Airlines via LondonFrom 162,000 Amex or Citi pointsAs little as ~$11~$11,000+
Emirates via DubaiFrom 270,000 Chase, Amex, or Citi pointsAs little as ~$20~$31,000+

 

Nugget of Advice:

Flying first class makes a big difference when it comes to maintaining utmost privacy. Check out our best first class seats for social distancing!

Here are some of the best hotels you can book in Croatia using points:

Hotel NamePoints Cost Per Night (standard room)City
San Canzian Village & Hotel25,000 Hyatt pointsBuje
Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik70,000 Hilton pointsDubrovnik
Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera Hotel30,000 – 40,000 Marriott pointsDubrovnik
Villa Orsula Dubrovnik40,000 Hyatt pointsDubrovnik
Boutique Hotel Alhambra30,000 Hyatt pointsMali Losinj
Hotel Lone, Rovinj30,000 – 40,000 Marriott pointsRovinj
D-Resort Sibenik25,000 Hyatt pointsSibenik
Hotel Vestibul Palace25,000 Hyatt pointsSplit
Le Méridien Lav, Split40,000 – 60,000 Marriott pointsSplit
Canopy by Hilton Zagreb – City Centre18,000 – 40,000 Hilton pointsZagreb
DoubleTree by Hilton Zagreb19,000 – 30,000 Hilton pointsZagreb
Hilton Garden Inn Zagreb Radnicka, Croatia20,000 Hilton pointsZagreb
Sheraton Zagreb Hotel15,000 – 20,000 Marriott pointsZagreb
The Westin Zagreb15,000 – 20,000 Marriott pointsZagreb

Find out how to maximize your points!

To the Point:

You might think that these ticket prices are impossible to attain, especially if you’ve tried booking business class flights in the past. But you’ll need to throw out everything you think you know about booking top-notch business and first class flights in order to take advantage of phenomenal deals that’ll save you millions of points in the long-run. Learn more by checking out our guide on first class flights, which you’ll want to read before booking any flights through Amex Travel. 

French Polynesia/Bora Bora

Bora Bora

Bora Bora. Image Credit: Fshoq

Traveling to Bora Bora is definitely a bucket list item for many. Bora Bora is part of French Polynesia, which consists of over 100 islands in the South Pacific. In fact, Bora Bora is one of our 5 best vacation spots for couples using points!

French Polynesia re-opened its borders for international tourists as of July 15. In order to board your flight, you must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within the previous 72 hours. You must also submit an electronic form certifying that you have travel insurance that would cover coronavirus-related expenditures. You can also agree to personally pay for any coronavirus costs that you incur.

There aren’t many choices for nonstop flights from the U.S., but here are the major airlines that you can fly in business class, along with associated costs:

AirlinePoints Cost Per Person (Round-Trip)Taxes and Fees Per Person (Round-Trip)Cash Price of Ticket
Air Tahiti Nui (through Los Angeles)From 147,000 Chase, Amex or Citi pointsAs little as ~$11~$5,400+
Air France (through Los Angeles)From 128,000 Chase, Amex, or Citi pointsAround ~$500~$5,800+
United Airlines (through San Francisco)From 154,000 Chase pointsAs little as ~$11~$4,700+

Here are some of the best hotels you can book in French Polynesia using points:

Hotel NamePoints Cost Per Night (standard room)City
Le Méridien Bora Bora50,000 – 70,000 Marriott pointsBora Bora
The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort70,000 – 100,000 Marriott pointsBora Bora
Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & SpaFrom 80,000 Hilton pointsBora Bora
Conrad Bora Bora NuiFrom 89,000 Hilton pointsBora Bora
InterContinental Hotels Bora Bora Resort Thalasso SpaFrom 70,000 IHG pointsBora Bora
InterContinental Hotels Le Moana Bora BoraFrom 70,000 IHG pointsBora Bora
InterContinental Hotels Resort TahitiFrom 50,000 IHG pointsTahiti

The Maldives

The Maldives

The Maldives. Image Credit: Leica Camera AG

The Maldives is yet another picturesque beach vacation destination that is one of the world’s most exclusive travel spots in the world, if not the most exclusive. In fact, it makes our list of the 5 most exotic places to travel to using points!

Effective as of September 10, 2020, the Maldives requires all visitors to present a negative PCR test certificate conducted no more than 72 hours prior to departure. 

Until then, you need to fill out a health declaration form, and anyone with symptoms will be required to pay for and take a coronavirus test. You may also be subject to random testing at no cost to you. Tourists will be provided with a free 30-day visa. You must also have a confirmed booking a tourist facility and the entire vacation needs to be at the same hotel, except when transiting.

Getting to the Maldives from the U.S. is challenging, thanks to its ultimate exclusion off of the cost of Sri Lanka. Most who fly in economy must pay more than a thousand dollars for an economy ticket, though it’s typically a troublesome route that takes you through at least 2 connecting airports and long, unproductive layovers.

If you have points and can plan well, you can end up booking amazing first class (and business class) flights to make your vacation that much more relaxing. Here are some awesome business class flights you can book using points:

AirlinePoints Cost Per Person (Round-Trip)Taxes and Fees Per Person (Round-Trip)Cash Price of Ticket
Cathay Pacific business class via Hong KongFrom 170,000 Amex or Citi pointsAs little as ~$39~$7,000+
Turkish Airlines business class via IstanbulFrom 136,000 Amex pointsAs little as ~$11~$5,000+
Emirates business class via DubaiFrom 170,000 Chase, Amex, or Citi pointsAs little as ~$39~$8,200+
Qatar Airways business class via DohaFrom 180,000 Amex or Citi pointsAs little as ~$11~$8,300+
Etihad Airways business class via Abu DhabiFrom 304,771 Chase, Amex, or Citi pointsAs little as ~$30~$8,200+
Swiss Air business class via ZurichFrom 136,000 Amex pointsAs little as ~$11~$9,000+
Aeroflot business class via MoscowFrom 182,000 Chase, Amex or Citi pointsAs little as ~$1,000~$6,500+
Singapore Air business class via SingaporeFrom 218,000 Chase, Amex, or Citi pointsAs little as ~$49~$7,000+

Here are your best-bet first class flights you can book from the U.S. to the Maldives using points. Notice that these are all 1-stop options:

AirlinePoints Cost Per Person (Round-Trip)Taxes and Fees Per Person (Round-Trip)Cash Price of Ticket
Emirates first class via DubaiFrom 255,000 Chase, Amex, or Citi pointsAs little as ~$39~$16,000+
Etihad Airways first class via Abu DhabiFrom 414,681 Chase, Amex, or Citi pointsAs little as ~$30~$30,000+
Cathay Pacific first class via Hong KongFrom 250,000 Chase, Amex, or Citi pointsAs little as ~$39~$18,000+
Nugget of Advice:

Racking up enough points to book these amazing business or first class flights to far-flung destinations like the Maldives might feel like an impossible task, but you can get a massive headstart by reading out guide on how to fly first class by travel hacking.

Here are some of the best hotels you can book in the Maldives using points:

Hotel NamePoints Cost Per Night (standard room)Atoll
Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa30,000 Hyatt pointsGaafu Alifu Atoll
Conrad Maldives Rangali IslandFrom 95,000 Hilton pointsAlifu Dhaalu Atoll
SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by HiltonFrom 85,000 Hilton pointsSouth Malé Atoll
Waldorf Astoria Maldives IthaafushiFrom 120,000 Hilton pointsSouth Malé Atoll
JW Marriott Maldives Resort & SpaFrom 70,000 – 100,000 Marriott pointsShaviyani Atoll
The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli ResortFrom 70,000 – 100,000 Marriott pointsDhaalu Atoll
W MaldivesFrom 70,000 – 100,000 Marriott pointsNorth Ari Atoll
Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & SpaFrom 40,000 – 60,000 Marriott pointsNorth Malé Atoll
The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo ResortFrom 50,000 – 70,000 Marriott pointsBaa Atoll
Le Méridien Maldives Resort & SpaComing soonIhaviyani Atoll

Find out how to maximize your points!

Tanzania

Tanzania

Tanzania. Image Credit: Pikist

Tanzania is an East African country famous for its vast wilderness, particularly the 2 plains of Serengeti National Park and Kilimanjaro National Park. It’s also home to Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro. On top of this, Tanzania has the beautiful, tropical islands of Zanzibar. This African country has significant Arabic influences, and it’s a wonderfully safe country to visit. There’s no better way to holiday than using the points you’ve earned from maximizing your business rewards on a sublime safari vacation.

Tanzania is open to U.S. tourists, as long as you complete a Health Surveillance questionnaire and undergo screening, including a possible COVID-19 test. Here are the main airlines operating business class flights to Tanzania:

AirlinePoints Cost Per Person (Round-Trip)Taxes and Fees Per Person (Round-Trip)Cash Price of Ticket
KLM via AmsterdamFrom 207,000 Chase, Amex, or Citi pointsAs little as ~$850~$4,000+
Qatar Airways via DohaFrom 170,000 Amex or Citi pointsAs little as ~$11~$4,000+
Turkish Airlines via IstanbulFrom 104,000 Amex pointsAs little as ~$11~$4,300+
Emirates via DubaiFrom 170,000 Chase, Amex, or Citi pointsAs little as ~$39~$7,500+
South African Airways via JohannesburgFrom 104,000 Amex pointsAs little as ~$11~$6,600+

And here is your only first class option as of now:

AirlinePoints Cost Per Person (Round-Trip)Taxes and Fees Per Person (Round-Trip)Cash Price of Ticket
Emirates via DubaiFrom 255,000 Chase, Amex, or Citi pointsAs little as ~$39~$20,000+

And although you’ll probably be booking a boutique lodge/safari experience, here are your best hotels you can book using points in the event you feel like touring around any major cities:

Hotel NamePoints Cost Per Night (standard room)City
Four Points by Sheraton Arusha10,000 – 15,000 Marriott pointsArusha
Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam, The Kilimajaro12,000 Hyatt pointsDar es Salaam
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dar es Salaam – Oyster Bay34,000 – 50,000 Hilton pointsDar es Salaam
Protea Hotel Dar es Salaam Amani Beach15,000 – 20,000 Marriott pointsDar es Salaam
Protea Hotel Dar es Salaam Courtyard10,000 – 15,000 Marriott pointsDar es Salaam
Four Points by Sheraton Dar es Salaam New Africa15,000 – 20,000 Marriott pointsDar es Salaam
Protea Hotel Dar es Salaam Oyster Bay10,000 – 15,000 Marriott pointsDar es Salaam
Protea Hotel Zanzibar Mbweni Ruins15,000 – 20,000 Marriott pointsZanzibar
DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel Zanzibar – Nungwi30,000 Hilton pointsZanzibar
Park Hyatt Zanzibar15,000 Hyatt pointsZanzibar
25,000 – 30,000 Hilton pointsZanzibar

Find out how to maximize your points!

The Caribbean

Caribbean

The Caribbean. Image Credit: Public Domain Pictures

The Caribbean is a huge region consisting of many islands and territories. Many of these islands are world-famous for their luxurious beaches, including Anguilla, Turks and Caicos, Barbados, Saint Martin, Grand Cayman, and more. 

And while each of these islands has its own reopening guidelines and travel policies, they are, for the most part, open for U.S. tourists. This means that you can access a secluded beach getaway without having to travel too far internationally.

Also, the Caribbean is one of the more family-friendly places to travel. You’ll definitely want to check out our 5 best vacations you can book for your family using rewards from your business if you’re looking to save tens of thousands of dollars on travel for your family.

In The Bahamas, you must present proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within a week of arrival, as well as completing various forms and complying with various rules like wearing a mask, getting your temperature taken at the airport, and more. 

For the most part, you will need to fly through select airports in the U.S. to be able fly nonstop. These airports include New York-JFK, Miami, Newark, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, or Minneapolis. Those originating in the West Coast will have to connect through another U.S. airport to fly to the Caribbean. In order to maximize your experience, here are some solid flight options you can take that include high-quality business or first class seats:

AirlinePoints Cost Per Person (Round-Trip)Taxes and Fees Per Person (Round-Trip)Cash Price of Ticket
Delta One via AtlantaFrom 70,000 Amex pointsAround ~$11~$600-$2,000+
American Airlines Flagship First or Business Class via Miami, Dallas, or New York-JFKFrom 50,000 American AAdvantage milesAround ~$11~$1,000-$3,000+
JetBlue Mint via Boston and New York-JFKFrom 100,000 JetBlue pointsAround ~$11~$1,000-$2,000+
United Polaris via NewarkFrom 66,000 Chase pointsAround ~$11~$500-$2,500+

Final Thoughts

Travel has traditionally been a non-negotiable necessity for many of us. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has been in full swing, travel has, largely, been halted. However, with other countries opening back up again and implementing “new normal” policies, travel is finally picking back up again. 

If you’d like to stop wasting your points and start maximizing them for these business and first class tickets, click the button below to learn about the points wealth and travel management service that you’ll never want to live without again. 

Find out how to maximize your points!

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Editorial Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Any offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication but are subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.
Featured Image Credit: AuPACS