16 Best Ways To Redeem Emirates Skywards Miles for Max Value [2017]

Emirates First Class Champagne

Emirates is among the highest regarded airline experiences in the world. From economy to first class, Emirates is a distinctive experience.

In the 30 years since its first flight, Emirates has stretched across the globe from its Dubai hub. With its central location in the world and destination airport for duty-free shopping, Emirates is the airline of choice for many world travelers.

However, Emirates Skywards award flights are not generally great value compared to many other airline programs. Indeed, to redeem for Emirates flights, you may find a better value if you have miles with partners such as Alaska, JAL, and Korean.

If you are a regular Emirates flyer with lots of miles, let’s hunt around for some great Emirates Skywards values!

Boost Your Emirates Skywards Miles

Credit card transfers let you earn Emirates Skywards Miles without ever setting foot on their planes, or top off your balance for an award if necessary.

American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards

American Express Membership Rewards points convert to Skywards Miles at a rate of 1,000 points for 1,000 Skywards miles.

See the table below for the American Express cards that earn Membership Rewards points.

Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
The Platinum Card® from American Express

Need Inspiration?
> 57 Best Ways To Use Amex Points
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • Up to $200 Uber Savings Annually.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $550
  • Our Review
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
  • Earn 25,000 points.
  • 3x points for flights booked directly with airlines.
  • 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and at US supermarkets. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $195
  • Our Review
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Our Review

Recommended Amex Cards (Business)

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN

Need Inspiration?
> 57 Best Ways To Use Amex Points
  • Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Our Review
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points
  • Get 3x points - Choose 1 out of 5 categories. Terms Apply.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175
  • Our Review
The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 2X points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Our Review

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Cards

Emirates partners with Starwood Preferred Guest as well. You can convert SPG points to Skywards Miles at a 1:1 ratio. For converting 20,000 SPG points in 1 transaction you get a 5,000-mile bonus!

The minimum allowed SPG points transfer depends on your SPG status: Preferred Guest (2,500 miles), Gold (1,500 miles), or Platinum (no minimum). Transfers can take as long as a week.

Earn SPG points faster by using their American Express credit cards:

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Need Inspiration?
> 45 Best Ways To Use SPG Points
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints®
  • Up to 5x Starpoints® on eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Our Review
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn up to 35,000 bonus Starpoints®. Offer ends 11/1/17.
  • Up to 5x Starpoints® on eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Our Review

Hot Tip: Link your SPG and Emirates accounts with Your World Rewards for extra travel benefits, and to earn points and miles in both programs with your Emirates flights and SPG hotel stays.

The 16 Best Ways To Use Your Emirates Skywards Miles

We searched far and wide to find some great redemptions on Emirates. Following are some of the best ways to use Emirates miles, but they’re not the only ways! Use these to come up with some creative ideas of your own for your next trip.

1. Fly New York to Milan Nonstop on Emirates

Emirates First Class Suite
Enjoy a luxurious Emirates first class suite when flying between New York City (JFK) and Milan.

Emirates flies nonstop New York to Milan. Why fly a traditional U.S. or European carrier when you can experience Emirates!

For only 45,000/90,000/135,000 miles in economy/business/first, you can experience Emirates service at miles prices much lower than many airlines charge to Europe.

Note that you cannot redeem for any other Emirates U.S. to Europe award that would require a transit of Dubai. The Miles Calculator will show prices, but Emirates will not book them.

Need help booking? Read our booking guide for Emirates First Class or Business Class using points

2. U.S. Domestic Flights on JetBlue (One-Ways Allowed)

Emirate Skywards is not just for exotic international travel.

Emirates partners with JetBlue, and one-way awards on JetBlue are as little as 7,500 miles. The catch is that connecting flights may price as 2 separate awards, so the best values are for non-stops.

3. Portugal to Morocco, Madeira, or Azores on TAP

Emirates partners with Star Alliance member TAP Portugal.

The award chart quickly gets exorbitant for long flights, but mainland Portugal to Northern Africa (Morocco), Madeira, and Azores is only 15,000/30,000 round-trip in economy/business.

Europe to Africa awards on many airline program award charts can be expensive, so this shortcut from Portugal to Morocco is a great deal.

If you haven’t heard about the Portuguese islands of Madeira and Azores, look them up and start dreaming of fantastic trips!

4. Fly in Style to the Seychelles on Emirates…

The Seychelles are an island paradise far in the Indian Ocean. Only a handful of airlines fly to the Seychelles, and Emirates is one of the best.

From eastern North America, round-trip flights are 85,000/170,000/255,000 in economy/business/first.

Western North America is only slightly more at 90,000/180,000/270,000.

Seychelles Beach
Magical Seychelles beaches found in the Indian Ocean northeast of Madagascar. Image courtesy of shutterstock.com

5. …Or the Maldives on Emirates

On Emirates Skywards, getting to the Maldives is the same price from North America as the Seychelles. Have a trip of your dreams start with a luxury flight en route!

Round-trip flights from eastern North America are 85,000/170,000/255,000 in economy/business/first.

Again, western North America is only slightly more: 90,000/180,000/270,000.

Need help booking? Read our booking guide for Emirates First Class or Business Class using points

6. Cape Town Foodie Tour on Emirates

Cape Town, South Africa is one of the hottest foodie destinations in the world. The innovative, great value food and nearby wine country is drawing connoisseurs the world over. You can continue up to Namibia for a fantastic safari and towering sand dunes.

From eastern North America, round-trip flights are 95,000/190,000/285,000 in economy/business/first.

Western North America is only slightly more: 100,000/200,000/300,000.

Cape Town Waterfront
Enjoy this Cape Town waterfront when you fly to South Africa with Emirates. Image courtesy of shutterstock.com

7. Safari in Kenya or Tanzania on Emirates

Kenya and Tanzania are justifiably the most famous safari destinations in the world. Seek out the annual Great Migration in person by flying on Emirates to Nairobi or Dar Es Salaam.

Round-trip flights from eastern North America are 85,000/170,000/255,000 in economy/business/first.

From western North America, flights are only slightly more: 90,000/180,000/270,000.

Need help booking? Read our booking guide for Emirates First Class or Business Class using points

8. Dubai to Perth on Emirates

Perth is the gate to Western Australia’s towering forest and spectacular diving. Flying North America to Australia the traditional way across the Pacific often involves multiple connections to Perth. If you live in the U.S., you can reach Perth on Emirates with only 1 convenient stop in Dubai.

Round-trip flights from North America (east or west) cost 70,000/144,000/216,000 in economy/business/first.

Burn Beach Western Australia
Burn Beach, Western Australia is a beautiful destination to visit. Image courtesy of shutterstock.com

9. Sydney to Bangkok on Emirates

Enjoy Emirates’ “fifth freedom” routes between Australia and Southeast Asia. Sydney to Bangkok is a nearly 10-hour flight that connect 2 of the great world cities.

Round-trip, this route costs 56,000/55,000/180,000 in economy/business/first.

10. Brisbane or Melbourne to Singapore on Emirates

If Singapore is more your thing, Brisbane and Melbourne fly nonstop up to Singapore. Melbourne also flies to Kuala Lumpur.

Round-trip flights cost 27,500/120,000/82,500 in economy/business/first.

Need help booking? Read our booking guide for Emirates First Class or Business Class using points

11. Indian Ocean Island Hopping on Air Mauritius

The lemurs of Madagascar are one of the great wildlife encounters in the world, but getting there is not easy! One creative option is to stop in Mauritius, then continue on Emirates partner Air Mauritius.

From Mauritius, you can fly to Rodrigues, Reunion, or Madagascar for just 25,000 miles round-trip to see the lemurs!

Going further to South Africa or India is not much more expensive.

lemurs
Go see the lemurs of Madagascar by booking on Air Mauritius. Image courtesy of shutterstock.com

12. Sri Lanka to Singapore on Emirates

This quirky route from Sri Lanka to Singapore is a nice way to connect South Asia and Southeast Asia on a round-the-world trip. Sri Lanka has much of the appeal of India in a much more compact and logistics-friendly package.

Round-trip, this flight will cost you 56,000/120,000/180,000 in economy/business/first.

13. Hong Kong to Bangkok on Emirates

Looking to sample Emirates service on a quick flight? Emirates runs the 3-hour flight between Hong Kong and Bangkok.

This round-trip flight is only 20,000/40,000/60,000 in economy/business/first.

Need help booking? Read our booking guide for Emirates First Class or Business Class using points

14. Hop Around Brazil With Gol (One-way Tickets Allowed)

Unlike most other partner airlines, Emirates allows you to redeem on Brazil’s Gol for one-way tickets. Many flights are only 4,500 miles in economy! See the full city chart here.

One of the great Gol options (and one of the most expensive if you pay cash) is the pristine beaches of Altantic islands Fernando De Noronha. This is where Brazilians dream of having a beach holiday!

Fernando De Noronha
Brazil’s most pristine beaches in Fernando De Noronha are a dream for most. Image courtesy of shutterstock.com

15. Japan to Australia or Hawaii on Japan Airlines

The Emirates award chart for partner Japan Airlines is not the best. However, one sweet spot is Japan Airlines flights to Australia or Hawaii for 40,000/85,000/125,000 in economy/business/first.

16. South Korean Domestic Flights Including Jeju Island on Korean Air

The Korean Air award chart is quite expensive with the exception of domestic Korean flights: only 10,000/12,000 for round-trip flights in economy/business.

You can use that bargain award to visit Jeju’s honeymoon retreat, Jeju Island, to see 4 seasons of spectacular nature.

Jeju Island
Korea’s honeymoon destination is Jeju Island, the beautiful paradise pictured above. Image courtesy of shutterstock.com

Booking Awards With Emirates Skywards

The booking process for award flights can be difficult to understand, which is why we made some how-to booking guides! See one of the following guides for help booking Emirates:

Other Hotel Transfer Partners

Emirates partners with several other hotel loyalty programs for transfers. While these aren’t always the most favorable rates compared to other options for your hotel points, they can be really helpful for using up “orphan” hotel points if you don’t have enough for a hotel award. You could also top up your Emirates balance if you are just short of an award there. Here are the Emirates transfer partner options:

HotelTransfer Ratio
AccorHotels4,000:2,000
Hyatt2.5:1 (5,000-mile bonus if 50,000 miles transferred at once)
IHG10,000:2,000
Jumeirah2:1
Marriott Rewards*10,000:1,500
Radisson Blu10:1

*For other Marriott Rewards transfer ratios, see the Skywards Marriott page.

You can earn hotel points by using hotel credit cards:

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Chase Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • 5 Points Per $1 Spent at Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels.
  • Annual Fee: $85
  • Our Review
Chase IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
  • Earn 5x points at IHG hotels and 2x points on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants.
  • Annual Fee: $0 first year, then $49
  • Our Review
Chase Hyatt Credit Card
  • 3x points at Hyatt properties and 2x points at restaurants, airfare purchased directly from the airline and car rental agencies
  • Annual Fee: $75
  • Our Review

See Ways To Earn TONS of Emirates Skyward Miles for more!

Emirates Skywards Program

How Much Do Emirates Skywards Awards on Emirates Cost?

Emirates does not publish an award chart for its flights. Instead, use the Miles Calculator on the Emirates website to price specific routes.

Routes are priced according to zone; see the full zone definitions here.

For travel from the U.S., Emirates divides the country into North America East and North America West. Depending on the total distance of the trip, award prices from North America West may be significantly higher than North America East.

Also look out for huge cash fuel surcharges and fees on awards. Unfortunately, you must call in with specific flight details to find out how much they will cost.

Emirates Skywards Classic Awards

Classic Awards on Emirates flights start at 15,000 miles round-trip.

Classic Awards come in lower-price Saver and higher-priced Flex Plus levels. Only Flex Plus fares can be booked as a one-way ticket.

Cash+Miles

Emirates launched Cash+Miles in September 2016. You must use a minimum of 2,000 miles on a Cash+Miles ticket, and every 5,000 miles translates to a $40 discount. In most cases, this is a low-value use of miles so tread carefully!

Upgrades

You can use Emirates Skywards miles to upgrade paid tickets. Prices start at 9,000 miles and are determined by route and ticket type.

Most tickets can be upgraded in advance, and you may also have the opportunity at check-in or even upon boarding.

Exceptions are:

  • Business Class Saver Fare tickets: must upgrade at least 6 hours prior to departure.
  • Economy Class Saver Fare tickets: can only be upgraded at check-in (online or at the airport), or upon boarding.

Emirates has some incredibly long flights…once you board and see your seat for the next 15 hours, you may be in the mood to splurge on an upgrade!

Changes and Cancellations

Emirates Skywards has reasonable award fees:

  • No close-in award booking fee
  • Date change: $25
  • Destination change: $75
  • Refund: $75

How Much Do Emirates Skywards Awards on Partner Airlines Cost?

Each Emirates Skywards partner airline is subject to its own award prices and allowed routes. Look for partners you can book one-way awards with, such as JetBlue.

Emirates Partner Airlines
Air MauritiusJetBlueS7 Airlines
Alaska AirlinesJetstar South African Airways
GOL Linhas AéreasKorean AirTAP Portugal
Japan AirlinesMalaysian AirlinesVirgin America
Jet AirwaysQantaseasyJET*

Only Qantas and EasyJet partner awards are available on the Emirates website. For other partners, you can call Emirates Skywards or submit the online partner award form and be contacted by Emirates within 24 hours.

Hot Tip: Save time searching for partner awards by checking websites of Emirates partner airlines. Checking an airline for its own award flights may be misleading, though, because more flights may be available to its own program members than to partner airlines. Instead, use Air Canada Aeroplan to check South African Airways and TAP Portugal; or British Airways to check Japan Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Qantas, and S7 Airlines.

Mileage Expiration

Emirates Skywards Miles are valid for 3 years from date earned. This is not exactly 3 years: in the 3rd year, the miles expire at the end of your birthday month.

Unlike many airlines, regular earning of miles does not extend mileage validity. Use them or lose them!

The Alaska Airlines Partnership

Prior to March 2016, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles had been a tremendous value to redeem for Emirates first and business class flights. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case following a major devaluation.

Emirates and Alaska are still partners, though, so if you only have occasional Emirates flights, choosing to earn Alaska miles may be a smart play.

The Japan Airlines Partnership

Japan Airlines Mileage Bank is another program you can use to hunt for award values on Emirates. Though it lacks a major U.S. credit card transfer partner, Japan Airlines is a Starwood Preferred Guest airline transfer partner, so you can earn miles that way.

The Korean Air Partnership

Korean Air is a partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, so Korean Air Skypass is another option to redeem for Emirates award flights. Note, however, that for first class awards, you’ll generally need to pay miles plus a large cash component (sometimes topping $1,000!).

Conclusion

Emirates Skywards has some hidden gems if you look deep into the program and its partners. Hopefully, these give you ideas for some great trips to take on one of the world’s finest airlines!

While these are what we think are the best ways to use Emirates miles, there are certainly other options available. Happy redeeming!

Photo Credits
emirates.com/Shutterstock.com

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

FAQ

How do I create an Emirates Skywards account?
Sign up here for a free Emirates Skywards account.

Where can I find my Emirates Skywards number?
Log in to your Emirates Skywards account here  to see your account number.

Can my business have an Emirates account?
With Emirates Business Rewards, your business can earn miles and manage travel. Register here. Your employees continue to earn miles for their own flying, so this arrangement is win-win!

What is an Emirates Skywards Saver fare?
On cash tickets, the fare types are Special, Saver, Flex, and Flex Plus. Each has different benefits, miles-earning, and fees.

On Emirates Skywards award tickets (Classic Awards), Special fares are lower-priced awards that are only available for round-trip tickets. Flex Plus are more expensive, more available, and allow one-way awards.

What are Emirates Skywards miles worth?
Use the Miles Calculator to find out how much awards on Emirates cost. For partner airlines, you’ll need to check out the award chart and rules for each partner individually.

How many Emirates Skywards miles do you need for an upgrade?
Upgrade prices are determined by your route and ticket type. You’ll need to access your reservation on the Emirates website to check your upgrade offer. You may also be offered an upgrade at check-in, at the airport, or even once on board.

Who are the Emirates Skywards partners?
Emirates Skywards travel partners range from airlines to hotels to rental car agencies. See the complete list of Emirates Skywards partners here.

How long are Emirates Skywards Miles valid?
Emirates Skywards Miles are valid for 3 years, and you cannot extend the life of miles.

Can I earn Skywards Miles with a credit card?
You can transfer points to Skywards Miles from a wide variety of loyalty programs. For instance, earn points with credit cards such as:

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