Croatia is one of the only European nations currently open to American tourists and it’s truly a sight to behold.
From the beaches of Dubrovnik and Split to the historic city streets of Zagreb, there’s truly something for everyone in this European country. Currently, Americans can travel to Croatia without quarantine so long as they’re vaccinated and bring their CDC-issued vaccine card.
It’s getting easier to travel to Croatia too. One U.S. airline will start nonstop service to the country this spring, and many European airlines offer one-stop service through hubs like Frankfurt (FRA) and Paris (CDG). This gives you plenty of ways to use points and miles to fund your trip to the Land of a Thousand Islands.
Here, I’ll discuss the cheapest ways to get to and stay in Croatia with your points and miles. We’ll start with flight options and then move onto booking hotels, activities and ground transportation with points. The goal is to help you save as much money as you can when booking a trip to Croatia and maybe even upgrade your travel experience in the process.
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In This Post Airlines that fly to Croatia You can fly nonstop from New York City to Dubrovnik with United Airlines. (Photo by Dawid Rojek / Shutterstock.com)
United is the only U.S. carrier that has scheduled service to Croatia in 2021. The airline will restart seasonal nonstop service between Newark (EWR) and Dubrovnik (DBV) on June 3, 2021, and run the flight through Oct. 23. This provides easy access to Croatia for New Yorkers and one-stop access for anyone near United’s various gateways with nonstop service to Newark.
Nearly all the major European carriers offer service to major cities in Croatia too. The most convenient options will be flights through Frankfurt (FRA), Munich (MUC), Rome (FCO) and Zurich (ZRH) as these hubs are closest to Croatia. However, any major European hub will be an easy connection to and from Croatia so long as connection times work out. You’ll find flights to Dubrovnik, Split (SPU) and Zagreb (ZAG) from most major European hubs.
Related: What it was like to visit Croatia during the COVID-19 pandemic
Best redemption options
Each of the three alliances will get you to Croatia — let’s take a closer look at the cheapest ways to book flights in economy, business and first class.
Cheapest Oneworld awards to Croatia Fly Oneworld airlines to Croatia with a stop in London or Madrid. (Photo by Markus Mainka/Shutterstock)
With limited partner flight options, the Oneworld Alliance is the worst option for flights to Croatia. One-way economy flights booked through the American AAdvantage program cost just 30,000 miles while off-peak awards cost 22,500. Business class costs 57,500 one-way, and first class is 85,000 miles. These are good deals, but only limited flight options are available.
(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines)
Though award space is usually plentiful on British Airways, you’ll pay substantial fuel surcharges exceeding $1,000 round-trip on premium cabin flights. You may be able to reduce these fuel surcharges if you book with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, but still expect to pay around $500 for a round-trip award.
How to earn points for an American Airlines award to Croatia
There are many ways to earn American miles, but you can earn them quickly with a co-branded credit card. Here are the current offers:
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Earn 2x AAdvantage miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1x mile elsewhere. ($450 annual fee) Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Earn 2x AAdvantage miles on gas station, restaurant, and eligible American Airlines purchases and 1x mile elsewhere. ($99 annual fee, waived the first year) CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: Earn 65,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first four months of account opening. ($99 annual fee, waived for the first 12 months)
The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select, CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related: The best websites for searching Oneworld award availability
Cheapest SkyTeam awards to Croatia You can fly SkyTeam airlines to Croatia with a stop in a major European hub. (Photo by Alberto Riva / The Points Guy)
You’ll generally find the best deals to Croatia when booking with Air France and KLM‘s joint Flying Blue program. Flights start as low as 21,500 miles one-way in economy and 53,000 in business class but can be lower during sales. That said, the program’s dynamic pricing means you may pay more during high-demand dates.
(Screenshot courtesy of KLM)
You can also book with Delta SkyMiles, but pricing is even more unpredictable. You’ll generally find economy and business class awards starting at 40,000 and 135,000 SkyMiles one-way, respectively. So with that in mind, use Flying Blue points for this redemption and save your SkyMiles for a better-value award ticket.
You can transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou and Marriott Bonvoy to Flying Blue.
How to earn points for a Flying Blue award to Croatia
Chase is offering great signup bonuses on its transferrable points cards. Each of these cards earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points that you can transfer instantly to Flying Blue:
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Plus, earn a $50 statement credit towards grocery store purchases in the first year of account opening. Ink Business Preferred Credit Card – Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Chase Sapphire Reserve – Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
Related: The best websites for searching SkyTeam award availability
Cheapest Star Alliance awards to Croatia United can whisk you away to Croatia on a nonstop flight from Newark. (Photo by Carlos Yudica/Shutterstock)
As discussed, United will operate seasonal nonstop service from Newark (EWR) to Dubrovnik (DBV) later this year. Alternatively, you can book connecting tickets with European Star Alliance members like Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, SAS and Swiss. Each of these partners flies to the U.S. and various cities in Croatia. Your connecting flight may also be on Croatia Airlines, the flag carrier of Croatia.
The cheapest way to book these tickets is with Asiana Club. You can use this program to book one-way tickets from the U.S. to Croatia for 25,000 miles in economy, 40,000 in business class and 65,000 in first class. You will pay high fuel surcharges on tickets operated by Austrian, Lufthansa, Swiss and other Star Alliance carriers that charge these surcharges. Thankfully, you won’t pay these on United flights.
One major downside to Asiana is that it’s hard to earn miles with the program. You’re restricted to earning with its own cobranded credit card or transferring in miles from Marriott Bonvoy. Those with Amex points may want to book with ANA Mileage Club and book tickets to Croatia for 55,000 miles round-trip in economy and 88,000 in business class. You will, however, be subject to fuel surcharges on these tickets if flying on a high-surcharger carrier. You can book with Avianca LifeMiles or Air Canada Aeroplan to avoid these.
(Screenshot courtesy of ANA)
The easiest way to earn ANA Mileage Club miles is by transferring from American Express Membership Rewards.
How to earn points for an ANA award to Croatia
Booking with ANA will generally yield the best deal on United flights because of its low redemption rates. Here’s a look at American Express cards you can use to earn Membership Rewards points to transfer to ANA:
American Express® Green Card: 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Earn 3x points on dining at restaurants, travel and transit (including flights, hotels, transit, taxis, tours, and ridesharing services), 1x points on all other purchases ($150 annual fee; see rates and fees). American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of account opening. Earn 4x points on dining at restaurants; 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x points); 3x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines or American Express Travel; 1x points on all other purchases, ($250 annual fee; see rates and fees). The Platinum Card® from American Express: 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership. Earn 5x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines or with American Express Travel (earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), 5x on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, and Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts; 1x on all other purchases, ($550 annual fee; see rates and fees).
The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related: The best websites for searching Star Alliance award availability
Hotels Zagreb at night. (Photo by Razvan Ionut Dragomirescu / Shutterstock.com)
You can use your hotel points in Croatia too. Here’s a quick look at where to spend them in Dubrovnik, Split and Zagreb.
Hilton hotels in Croatia
Hilton has a single property in Dubrovnik and three hotels in Zagreb. These hotels span a handful of brands, from Canopy to DoubleTree to Hilton Garden Inn. Hilton Honors’ dynamic pricing makes it tough to give an exact estimate of how much you’ll pay per night. That said, the prices below reflect a one-night weekday stay in the middle of July.
Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik: 67,000 points per night Canopy by Hilton Zagreb City Centre – 26,000 points per night Hilton Garden Inn Zagreb, Radnicka – 19,000 points per night DoubleTree by Hilton Zagreb – 29,000 points per night How to earn Hilton points
Consider applying for a Hilton cobranded credit card to earn Hilton points quickly. Each has a solid welcome bonus and various benefits like elite status, an annual free night and more. These are the current welcome offers:
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Earn 150,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening. Hilton Honors American Express Card: Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening. The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening.
The information for the Hilton Aspire Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related: How to redeem points with the Hilton Honors program
Hyatt hotels in Croatia
Hyatt has two properties in Dubrovnik — both of which look incredible. They’re located a little outside of downtown Dubrovnik and are situated right on the beach. Cash rates are well over $600 per night over the summer, but you can save money by booking them with your World of Hyatt points. Here’s a look at pricing:
Hotel Excelsior Dubrovnik: 30,000 points per night Villa Orsula Dubrovnik: 40,000 points per night How to earn World of Hyatt points
You can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to World of Hyatt or earn with the Hyatt cobranded credit card. Here’s the current offer:
World of Hyatt Credit Card: Earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 more bonus points by earning 2 bonus points total per $1 spent on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 in the first six months of account opening.
Related: Earning two years of rewarding top-tier Hyatt elite status after just 11 nights
IHG hotels in Croatia
You can book two properties in Dubrovnik with your IHG Rewards points. Both are under the Mr & Mrs Smith brand, a collection of independent boutique hotels that have a partnership with IHG. Both are located on the beach and are disconnected from the city — perfect if you need time away from the craziness of city life.
Like Hilton, IHG now has highly dynamic award pricing. Here’s a look at pricing for a weekday night in July:
Mr & Mrs Smith Hotel Bellevue Dubrovnik: 77,500 points per night Mr & Mrs Smith Villa Dubrovnik: 122,500 points per night How to earn IHG points
You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to IHG, but you won’t get a great redemption value. Instead, consider earning with an IHG cobranded credit card:
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Earn 125,000 bonus points plus a Reward Night (worth up to 40,000) after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card: Earn 60,000 points after spending $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Related: 13 ways to stock up on IHG Rewards points
Marriott hotels in Croatia
Marriott has properties in Dubrovnik, Split and Zagreb. Each is very well priced and can be an excellent use of your Marriott Bonvoy points if cash rates are high. That said, always compare the points and cash rates first as it may make more sense to pay cash on some dates. For example, a mid-July night at the Westin Zagreb costs $96.68 after-tax or 20,000 points. This would give you just 0.48 cents per point — far less than TPG’s Marriott Bonvoy valuation of 0.8 cents per point.
Here’s a look at award night pricing for all hotels:
Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera Hotel: 40,000 points per night Le Méridien Lav, Split: 60,000 points per night Sheraton Zagreb Hotel: 20,000 points per night The Westin, Zagreb: 20,000 points per night How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points
Marriott points transfer from American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, but it’s not usually a good deal. I recommend earning Marriott Bonvoy points with a Marriott cobranded credit card instead.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Earn 125,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after using your new card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months. Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first six months of card membership. Offer ends 5/12/2021. Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card: Earn 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after using your new card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made on your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Offer ends 5/12/21. Terms apply. Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card: Earn 50,000 Marriott points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Related: Battle of the hotels: Why I think Marriott is the best
Radisson hotels in Croatia
Radisson doesn’t have properties in Dubrovnik or Zagreb, but it does have an outpost in Split. You can book a night at the Radisson Blu Resort & Spa in Split for 50,000 Radisson Rewards points per night. You’ll enjoy incredible views of the Adriatic sea, multiple restaurants and a full-featured wellness spa on-site.
How to earn Radisson Rewards points
You can earn Radisson Rewards points with a Radisson cobranded credit card. These are the current offers:
Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature® Card: Earn up to 100,000 points after once you spend $3,000 on your card within the first 90 days of account opening Radisson Rewards Visa® Card: Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on your card within the first 90 days of account opening
The information for the Radisson Cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related: 9 mistakes to avoid when redeeming hotel points
There’s a lot to see and do in Croatia. If you plan on pre-booking tours and other activities, you can save by booking through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal and paying with your Chase points. Your redemption value will vary based on the type of Chase credit card in your wallet. Chase Freedom cards can redeem at 1.0 cents per point, Chase Sapphire Preferred at 1.25 cents per point and Chase Sapphire Reserve at 1.5 cents per point.
For example, Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders can use 3,677 points to book a bike tour of Zagreb this July. This tour includes a bike rental, helmet, a tour with a local guide and even an espresso break. This can be an excellent way to see Zagreb like a local and learn more about its history.
(Screenshot courtesy of Chase)
If you find yourself in Split, you can use just 1,693 points to book a short walking tour of the city. The tour lasts an hour-and-a-half and shows you the ins and outs of the city. All tours are conducted in groups of 12 or less, and the guide is English-speaking. You’ll see Diocletian’s Roman Palace and Marjan Hill and walk away with newfound knowledge of the city.
(Screenshot courtesy of Chase)
Related: How I used Chase Ultimate Rewards to book my trip to Croatia
Ground transportation Buses provide a cheap and easy way to/from major airports in Croatia. (Photo by BalkansCat / Shutterstock.com)
Uber operates in all major Croatian cities, so you can open your Uber app and request a ride as usual. This takes the guesswork out of hailing a traditional taxi at the airport or wherever else your trip takes you. According to Uber’s website, both UberX and UberVan operate in the country.
Alternatively, you can take a shuttle bus from the airport to the city center in Dubrovnik, Split and Zagreb. In Dubrovnik, there’s a shuttle bus that operates 30 minutes after each flight arrival, seven days a week. The bus costs roughly $8.80, and you can purchase your ticket online or at the airport. Return buses depart every 90 minutes from Dubrovnik’s main bus station.
A similar bus is offered at the Split airport. The Split airport shuttle takes 30 minutes from the airport to the city center and costs roughly $4.80 one-way. Time tables are available at the airport and on the bus carrier’s website. You can purchase your ticket online or at the airport.
Finally, in Zagreb, you’ll want to take a public bus to the city center. The bus leaves the airport every 35 minutes and makes a handful of stops on the way to Zagreb’s city center. The timetable and route map are available on ZET — the transit agency’s — website, and you can purchase tickets at the airport. A one-way ticket costs $2.40.
Regardless of how you travel, you can offset your ground transportation expenses with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. You can use this card to offset any travel expense at a fixed value of 1 cent per mile. This means a $20 Uber ride requires 2,000 Capital One miles to cover. You have up to 90 days after purchase to redeem points toward a travel expense.
Related: Marriott and Uber launch new partnership, earn Marriott points on rides and food delivery
Croatia is one of the first European countries to reopen to Americans. If you’re considering a 2021 trip to the country, use this guide to help you use points and miles to fund your trip. While there may be more limited flight and points hotel options to Croatia than other European countries, it’s still relatively easy to book if you know where to look.
For rates and fees of the Amex Green card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
Feature photo of Dubrovnik’s Old Town by canadastock / Shutterstock.com
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