The top bonus category for the Emirates World Elite card is naturally Emirates purchases, allowing you to earn 3x miles per $1 spent, so you’ll want to make this card your top choice when purchasing Emirates tickets.
You’ll also earn 2x miles per $1 on all other eligible travel purchases made with the card. This includes hotel stays, rental cars, cruises, and even airfare from another airline.
All Other Purchases
Your Emirates World Elite card earns 1x mile per $1 on all purchases outside of the above categories. These non-bonused purchases are an okay option if you’re trying to work towards qualifying for Emirates status, but otherwise, you’re better off opting for a card that offers a better rewards rate for non-bonused purchases like the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.
Amex Membership Rewards Cards
Emirates is a transfer partner of the Amex Membership Rewards program, so using the best Amex cards that earn Membership Rewards is a great way to be able to boost your Skywards Miles balance if need be — especially since American Express has some great credit cards.
Take the American Express® Gold Card, for instance, which offers 4x points per $1 at restaurants and at U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $25,000 per calendar year). Since Membership Rewards points transfer to Emirates at a 1:1 rate, this is effectively like earning 4x Skywards Miles per $1 on these purchases!
Chase Ultimate Rewards Cards
The Chase Ultimate Rewards program also offers Emirates as a 1:1 transfer partner. But while many Chase credit cards earn Ultimate Rewards points, not all of them have access to travel transfer partners. In fact, the only 3 that do are the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card.
Hot Tip: The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is our top pick for those getting started with points and miles thanks to its low annual fee, high-value points, and great bonus categories like travel, dining, supermarket, and select streaming service purchases.
Capital One Miles Cards
Emirates also partners with the Capital One Miles program, and points transfer at a 1:1 rate almost instantly.
Eligible credit cards include the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One Spark Miles for Business.
Marriott Bonvoy Your World Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy Cards
Emirates and Marriott have partnered to offer travelers the Your World Rewards program that allows you to earn Skywards Miles on all of your Marriott hotel stays, and Marriott Bonvoy points when you fly with Emirates.
Those with Emirates Skywards Silver, Gold, and Platinum status will earn 1x Skywards Mile per $1 spent on all eligible stays at Marriott hotels. Those with Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite, Platinum Elite, Titanium Elite, and Ambassador Elite status will earn 3x points per $1 on all eligible Emirates flights. Keep in mind that these points are in addition to Skywards Miles you’d earn on a flight and Marriott Bonvoy points you’d earn on a hotel stay.
Plus, you can use Marriott Bonvoy credit cards to boost your Emirates balance, as the airline is a 3:1 transfer partner of the Marriott program.
Hot Tip: You get a 5,000-mile bonus when transferring at least 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to an airline like Emirates, allowing you to receive a total of 25,000 Skywards Miles for these transfers.
Unsurprisingly, one of the best ways to redeem your Skywards Miles is towards award flights with Emirates. Since Emirates doesn’t publish an award chart, it can be difficult to track down exactly how many miles you’ll need for a specific award.
Obviously, the number of miles an award ticket will cost is based on the route you’re flying and what cabin class you want to fly in, but you can use the Miles Calculator on the Emirates site to give you an idea of how many miles you’ll need.
Cash + Miles
When you find yourself short on the number of miles needed for an award ticket, Emirates offers a solution via Cash + Miles bookings. While this may seem convenient, it is not particularly great value, because every 2,000 miles you redeem results in a $16 discount off the cash price of the ticket.
This gives you a value of 0.8 cents per mile, which is over 27% lower than our 1.1 cent valuation of Skywards Miles.
Already paid for your flight with cash but want to upgrade your ticket to the next cabin class? You can do that using your Skywards Miles! Prices for an upgrade start at 9,000 miles per direction, but the cost varies dramatically based on your route and ticket type.
However, it almost always makes more sense to book the actual ticket in the cabin you want with miles outright, but if you’re really trying to stretch out your mileage balance, then this could make sense.
Hot Tip: When upgrading with Skywards Miles, you can only jump up 1 cabin class, like from economy to business, or business to first. So make sure you’re aware of this before booking your original ticket.
Emirates allows you to redeem your miles towards unique experiences and events, like concerts, or sporting events, or travel experiences. This certainly seems cool on paper, and it is nice to have the option, but you’ll usually get a pretty poor value when redeeming your miles this way. So you’re better off paying for the experience in cash, and using your miles for a free ticket there!
Bottom Line: In almost every case, your best bet when it comes to redeeming your Skywards Miles will be towards award tickets if you want to get the highest value possible.