How A Weekend in Barcelona Earned Me Enough Points For A Norwegian Ticket To New York

In late September, Norwegian asked me to take a weekend trip to Barcelona where I would host their Instagram and share the many uses of their loyalty program, Norwegian Reward. They taught me how to maximize my return using the program. In this post, I’ll be going over every aspect of my $1200 trip and teaching you how Norwegian Reward can be used for significant returns on your next vacation.


A few days ago I posted about Norwegian Reward and what makes the program so special. In this post, I’ll show how I leveraged Norwegian Reward and its partners to earn a return equivalent to $300 (2605 Cashpoints) on a $1200 weekend in Barcelona. This return doesn’t even account for possible credit card earnings.

Norwegian Reward is a unique airline loyalty scheme in the way that it’s essentially a cash back program. On all Norwegian tickets, basic Norwegian Reward members earn 2% CashPoints. 1 CashPoint = 1 Norwegian Krona = approximately $0.1. With a 1% return, a $1 spend produces a return of just around 1 cent. These rewards can easily be stacked with regular credit card earnings, i.e. double or triple points on airfare, so there is no opportunity cost to collecting them.

Booking my tickets to Barcelona

I wanted to fly from London to Barcelona, as opposed to flying from my home town Gothenburg. Although Norwegian serve that route as well, I’d already planned a trip to Fort Lauderdale the week before and saw this as a great opportunity to merge two trips. Looking at flight options, I saw Norwegian had one daily flight from Gatwick, departing at 7:20pm and landing at 10:20pm.

Norwegian 737 at Gatwick.
Norwegian 737 at Gatwick.

Coincidentally I needed to be at Heathrow for an event the day after I arrived from Fort Lauderdale, which worked out great since I got to stay overnight at the Bloc Hotel at Gatwick and depart the following day to Barcelona. Already in London I started utilizing the multitude of Norwegian Reward offers, which gave me a 12% return on my hotel stay.

Bloc Hotel Gatwick
Price: £240 per night
Norwegian Reward return: 305 CashPoints (approx. $35)

My roundtrip flights to London, including one suitcase and seat selection, earned the typical 2% CashPoints + 5% CashPoints for paying with my Bank Norwegian Credit Card. I also visited the No1 Lounge at Gatwick, which cost £23.60 and earned me an additional 25 Cashpoints.

Flight tickets to Barcelona and No1 Lounge
Price: £76.80 + £23.60
Norwegian Reward return: 163 + 25 CashPoints (approx. $22)

When flying intra-European, I usually choose between Norwegian or SAS Youth Fares. Norwegian offers free onboard wifi and most of their 737-800s have the Boeing Sky Interior, so I generally prefer to fly with them.

The Sky Interior in the Norwegian 737-800.
The Sky Interior in the Norwegian 737-800.

After an easy two hour flight down to BCN, we disembarked and proceeded through baggage claim.

My aircraft after landing in Barcelona.
My aircraft after landing in Barcelona.

While Barcelona sees a lot of gringos, I must come off as the most gringo of them all because taxi drivers love to rip me off every time I visit. To be on the safe side and avoid being charged €10-20 extra in miscellaneous fees, I pre-ordered a car from CarTrawler, another Norwegian Reward partner. The transfer to central Barcelona cost only €35, with a CashPoint return of 5%. Split between a few people, this option easily outweighs the time consuming metro ride into town. If I recall, a taxi would charge around €40 for the same ride.

Transfer from the airport 
Price: €35 x 2 for return
Norwegian Reward return: 16 x 2 = 32 Cashpoints (approx. $4)

Booking my hotel in Barcelona

As one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, Barcelona has a plethora of hotels in every price range. I generally prefer design-oriented hotels as opposed to more traditional ones. Having never used RocketMiles before, I knew I could leverage the 300 Cashpoint welcome bonus on my first stay to get a good return on my two nights. I ended up finding a really cool place, The Mirror Hotel, for $410 per night. While that’s not a rate I’d usually pay per night, the 1700 Cashpoints I earned in return made it more reasonable. Earning 850 Cashpoints per night was like getting $100 off. 1700 Cashpoints in itself is enough for a one-way Norwegian ticket from Europe to the US!

The Mirror Hotel, Barcelona.
The Mirror Hotel, Barcelona.

I would highly recommend staying at The Mirror if you ever get the chance. The design was incredible (very Scandinavian), though my personal highlight was the breakfast. While the selection was decent, it was the quality and unusual choices that set it apart.

The Mirror breakfast The Mirror breakfast 2 The Mirror breakfast 3

Hotel for two nights
Price: $820
Norwegian Reward return: 1700 Cashpoints (approx. $200)

Booking my activities in Barcelona

Having been in Barcelona once and seen most of the tourist attractions, I was keen to make my second visit about seeing the city from a more unique perspective. After looking at various excursions, I set my eyes on visiting Monserrat, a monastery in the mountains outside the city. I booked the half day tour through GetYourGuide since I knew I could trust them to deliver. It cost €65, which seems a little pricy, but luckily I earned 10% Cashpoints in return. The 60 Cashpoints brought the cost down to under €60, which wasn’t too bad given that a tapas and wine tasting was included.

I’m so grateful I decided to take this tour! The scenery was beyond stunning – some of the nicest I’ve seen in Europe. Our guides were also incredible, picking us up from central Barcelona and telling great stories along the way.

Monserrat 1 Monserrat 2 Monserrat 3 Monserrat 4 Monserrat 5

Following Monserrat, we got to visit a wine distillery for the wine and tapas tasting, which was a lot of fun.

Monserrat wine tasting Monserrat wine tasting 3 Monserrat wine tasting 2

That afternoon, I scheduled a bike tour of the city which included wine and tapas as well. For €49, I received 45 Cashpoints. The bikes had motors, which made for a thrilling ride around the city with the knowledgable guide.

Barcelona ebikes

Barcelona bike tourBarcelona bike tour

I love socializing when I travel, but dislike night clubs and bars with a passion. This turned out to be a fabulous way of meeting really interesting people and bonding over wine in a different setting.

The restaurant we went to following the bike tour.
The restaurant we went to following the bike tour.
More delicious tapas!
More delicious tapas!

The following day, I decided to go to La Sagrada Familia. A two hour tour with fast track entry cost €25 and I got 24 Cashpoints back. Given how hard it can be to access the stunning building, no less avoid waiting in lines, I thought this was a great value. For anyone visiting Barcelona, this is a must-do.

La Sagrada Família La Sagrada Família 2

Since I was already going a little crazy with my touring, I booked a private sailboat in the evening to conclude the trip. It cost €54 and I even got 10% Cashpoints on this since I booked through GetYourGuide. I think the price was fair for what I got – the views from the boat were breathtaking.

sailboat-2 Sailboat 4

It was fun having the boat to ourselves so we could jump in and swim when and wherever we wanted to.

sailboat-3

Tours for two full days in Barcelona
Price: €198
Norwegian Reward return: 198 Cashpoints (approx. $22)

Bottom Line

To conclude, I hope this post showed you in just how many areas Norwegian Reward can be used. By simply utilizing the partners listed on Norwegian Reward’s website, I managed to earn 2605 Cashpoints during a weekend in Barcelona. This is entirely without accounting for credit card earnings! As I said in my previous post, it really is a no-brainer to sign up. It’s free, has no opportunity cost, and earned me enough Cashpoints in two days for a one way Norwegian ticket to New York or a return trip to Rome!

Comments

  1. Not the main style of travel of folks used to F, etc. but very useful for more frugal/experience focused travelers! Tours were reasonably priced & seemed quite nice!

  2. Well done Daniel. It’s refreshing to read reviews on how to save and travel cheaply as not everyone can afford business/first. The free WiFi on Norwegian is certainly a huge bonus. Keep going with the reviews. @David get a life you bitter twat

  3. Wait so you’re telling me if I spend thousands of dollars through select partners Norwegian will REBATE A PORTION OF IT??? Wow, I’m re-organizing my life plan.

  4. Seriously what is wrong with some of these people here. Feel free to not read it. I found the report quite interesting a nice change compared to the mainstream lucky reports (which I like as well). For all the haters why don’t you start your own blog and report on what you are.doing.

    Thanks Daniel.

  5. I think you should post every week with a summary of what you spent money on and how many points you earned….

    Seriously, what a stupid advert post.

  6. These posts have gotten me interested in Norwegian and it’s nice to have a change of pace.

    But the $400/night hotel and paid lounge access is a bit suspect. Norwegian is an LCC, and most is us reading this blog have free lounge access, but I guess the point is just to show that you CAN earn points if you pay for lounge access.

    Actually on a Norwegian flight as I write this! Thinking about flying on the ARN-BKK route early next year. It looks like an interesting route.

  7. All other comments aside, the post is misleading since the bulk of rewards came via RocketMiles. Might as well write how you used Rocketmiles to maximize the return on Norwegian, everything else is secondary.

    By the way, that restaurant looks like Els 4 Gats close to La Rambla – one of Picasso’s favorite watering holes. Great place, good food and live piano/singer on some nights.

  8. Call me a hater (or even worse things, Elijah) but this is clearly an advert for Norwegian. The math doesn’t even add up. Using all of the bolded summaries, he earned 2435 points. Based on his value of ten cents per point, that is the equivalent of $243.50, not $300. And, again based on his bolded summaries, he didn’t spend $1200, he spent more than $1500 to earn those points. Seems pretty misleading to me, suggesting that he got a 25% return, when it was more like 15% or so.
    If you just count the Barcelona part of his “weekend in Barcelona”, then his total is about $1200, but his points are only about 2100, slightly better at 17.5% return, but certainly not $300 on $1200.
    And for those that say this is a refreshing new direction for the blog, $1200 for a weekend in Barcelona ain’t exactly frugal.

  9. This post is beyond stupid and clearly an advert

    The Mirror hotel @ 410 euro a night is laughable. It should be more than 200euro You can stay at the MO for that.

    You overpaid everywhere so not really great.

    Lucky – Delete this point and ban this clown for posting again

  10. This is the trip I mentioned in an earlier comment. Daniel spent the weekend in Barcelona “blogging” with Norwegian’s Instagram stories. This post seems like a follow up on his posts on Norwegian’s Instagram account, and appears very much like an advertisement for Norwegian and Norwegian Rewards.

    Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll stick to SAS youth fares. 😉

  11. There is a reason Spain is on my travel list for 2017, even if I have to admit it is mainly for the tapas and wine. Those tapas look to die for!

  12. Wow, lotta hate for Daniel here. Have mixed feelings about this post myself – it’s interesting to see how lucrative this sort of programme can be, and even if you revise the calculations to something more accurate, the return on the spend is pretty good.

    On the other hand, there are a few problems. As farnorthtrader points out, his calculations don’t add up. That always makes me suspicious. And the writing style definitely has an “infomercial” vibe to it. Now Daniel does say right up front that Norewegian “asked him” to take this trip, and that he received coaching from them on how to maximize return from their programme. Fair enough. But it does lead me to wonder if he may be skating the edge of Ben’s editorial disclosure policy in that the content may not have been directly provided by or reviewed by Norwegian, but he could have received some coaching or suggestions on writing the article that stopped short of “provided”.

    It also ties into something alluded to in many comments on his posts: people tend to be innately suspicious of 19-year-olds who splash out money that, unless it’s coming from parents or some other undisclosed source, that they logically shouldn’t have, especially since he appears to travel very frequently, so it isn’t like this was a once-a-year splurge or something. And that in turn ties into the infamous “I treated other people like crap and am not the least bit ashamed of it” post. (BTW, has that post been removed?)

    Ben, I’d suggest that you firm up the language in your editorial disclosure for the blog to confirm that the content is not just not “provided” by airlines, etc., but is also not “influenced” by them in any way, and confirm that the policy not only applies to your regular providers but to guest posters as well. Your regular readers trust you and the rest of your regular team, but that trust doesn’t automatically extend to guests, especially ones that come in with a modest but decent following on another platform (Daniel is no Pewdiepie by any stretch of the imagination, but close to 55k Youtube subscribers and a couple of videos with north of a million views is respectable, especially for a more “niche” subject) and may have more of an interest in promoting their own platform than being a permanent part of yours.

  13. I’m heading to Spain in May so a timely post for me! Def going to book the monastery tour…looks neat…and like the wine a day tapas ending. Although I don’t really do the whole budget travel thing, which Daniel focuses on, I do love that his posts also highlight the destinations. Keep up the good work.

  14. A 400+ Euro a night hotel counts as “budget travel”? The numbers don’t seem to add up either and it was sponsored by Norwegian? OK. I now know that Norwegian has a cash back program, I guess I’ll book a $2000 a night hotel to get some real budget savings.

  15. I’m gonna half side with the haters to express my disdain for the concept of spending 1200 dollars to get a $300 rebate on a low cost airline. I recently booked a Europe-New York flight on Norwegian for $150. No need to spend $1200 to get a $150 ticket, is there? That said, Daniel included some good tips here (like prebooking CarTrawker from BCN) and those pictures of Montserrat Monastery and La Sagrada Familia are gorgeous. While I don’t intent to burn through 1200 bucks, this post does remind me I need to make it back to Barcelona sooner rather than later

  16. Quite a dissapointment to learn that even at OMAAT a sponsored product placement takes place. Lucky, you have “produced” over a thousand reviews by now, made a huge effort to be as transparent and fair as it gets and now your reputation might come at risk because of letting some inexperienced guy write review-like posts.

    I’m very cheerful about young people doing something “extra”, but it would be more fair if he started at his own blog to gather experience and stepped into OMAAT after getting some so much needed knowledge and fluency.

  17. I agree with previous comments that this post is certainly not up to standard. More posts like this would seriously dilute the OMAAT brand equity.

    Sometimes, a good employer needs to be tough when an employee does not fit the team or purpose.

    Daniel has convincingly showed with this post that he has no concept of value, which however is the whole point of this blog. Since (in my opinion) people either have this concept or not (this perspective cannot be learnt), it is better for all sides when he moves on. He can be a fantastic, enthusiastic social media promoter for Norwegian, for example.

    Daniel’s concept: book a $1000 a night suite and brag about the “free” minibar that is included.
    OMAAT concept: buy a couple of drinks if they come with a free suite night attached.

  18. This is a great example of paying premium prices to use a coupon-buying something you’d normally not buy because you have a coupon for 50 cents off. I live in Barcelona about half the time: it costs me 20-25 euros to the center by taxi and 5.90 euros by AeroBus from El Prat; 410 euros for a hotel room is ridiculous-unless of course, you want to spend that much. And, the list goes on. This is a shameless advertisement for Norwegian Air. There’s nothing wrong with that since that’s what these blogs have become, but state this up front and don’t make it sound like you got such a great deal: you didn’t!

  19. @cecille no one stopping you from sticking to SAS youth fares. Daniel shares his experiences which may not suit everybody. We are all different. Open your mind a bit more.

  20. I think Daniel’s post offers some good advises to young people start getting into the mileage programs. I can’t believe how many haters are on here. If Lucky post more CX, EY first class, people complaint. If Daniel post about low cost airline, people complaint. Sometimes the blogger just have to realize many readers are bitchy whiners and will complaint no matter what. If the topic of the post isn’t to your liking, skip it over! No need to be so hateful toward a kid starting out travel blogging.

  21. If he paid $410 a night in Barcelona, he got scammed. There are tons of 5 star hotels in Barcelona going for under $200 a night. Overpaying for a hotel to get a discount with a low-cost airline, again, scam. This is as good as Americans who go to Rome and brag about what a great tour deal they got at the Vatican. Sir, you got scammed, don’t brag about it.

  22. @RK, it’s true a lot of people here are going over the top and down a slippery slope of negative nonsense spouting. I have nothing to say to them and don’t condone it at all. But there are also plenty of us who have respectfully taken to task a young writer representing a travel blog which has a modicum of credibility left. I’m getting my niece started out with points and mileage program and this is the LAST type of advice I would want her to read. She’d get sticker shock and be led to believe this is a rich person’s game. Am I being age prejudiced by judging a 19-year-old spending that much money on a weekend trip? Probably. That would have been more than my budget for a 3 week trip to Europe when I was Daniel’s age. Judy’s comparison to Americans bragging about overpaying for Vatican tours is spot on. This is not a good direction for OMAAT to take. I do hope the writer and editor take this as constructive criticism.

  23. I appreciate there is much scepticism about the post, which is suggesting incurring a high threshold spend to redeem a cheap ticket on a budget airline. This blogger has been called out previously on this site for “promoting” Norwegian without acknowledging he received reward for the promotion. Now he includes snaps of his holiday to somehow justify his nonsensical spending patterns to “earn” cash back. I am sorry but this blog does not pass the sniff test as to it not being a paid for promotion. Lucky, the reputation of your site and your credibility has now been compromised by this contributor in his two most recent postings. If you allow such comments to be published without making any statement that no benefits were received from the promoted service provider, then you will further tarnish your reputation.

    Daniel as an aside observation as to your economising with the truth – you state in your post “taxi drivers love to rip me off every time i visit Barcelona”, and in the very next paragraph, “having been in Barcelona once before”. So you actually mean you were ripped off once during your previous trip, or you were ripped off on every single taxi trip you made on your once previous visit? Expressions of opinion versus fact are usually accompanied with “IMO” which enables the reader to reach their own conclusion as opposed to your factually incorrect statement. Please do not perceive this comment on your post as an attack, I just prefer clarity and honesty over sensationalism.

  24. This post is very similar to my experience. I used my CapitalOne venture card to do roughly the same thing. 2% cash back on the $1200 a night Presidential Suite at the MO got me the cash for a quick LGA-BOS jump in just three nights!

  25. this article is absolutely FANTASTIC! it’s innovative for Ben to find a clueless person to piss money away to show us what NOT to do. genius.

    as soon as i read that you paid 70 euros in airport transfers in…. BCN…. wow- that’s some budget travel at its best… well, i knew i was in for something special.

    so… an article on how to overpay for a hotel in BCN (that’s quite a trick in that city) so that you can earn pretend ‘rewards’ to fly dreadful coach across the atlantic- bc award tickets are soooo high prices on those routes (not). awesomeness.

    anyway, again…. brilliant piece. a how not to guide. Gary may be the thought leader, but you’re the trail blazer. can’t wait for the next installment: “how i flew first class from US-asia on CX for only $32,000 and smartly used my Chase IHG Visa (insert affiliate link here) to buy the CX ticket to…. wait for it…. to earn TWO FREE NIGHTS at the Bangkok Siam Holiday Inn Express!!!” suckers! 🙂 i know… unbelievable, huh?!? pinch me.

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