Gol Transportes Aéreos, shortened to GOL, is a Brazilian low-cost airline. Launched at the turn of the century, this airline now represents one of the major arteries through which South American consumers are transported aerially.
With its hub located in Rio de Janeiro, you can bet that GOL is one of the largest players in South America’s commercial aviation industry. GOL is known as a low-cost airline, but its frequent flyer program Smiles is one of the more lucrative ones, thanks to a laundry list of unique partners.
In this guide, we’ll be looking at the areas through which you can extract the most value from Smiles. We’ll first be looking at the reasons why you’d want to use or avoid Smiles. Then, we’ll talk about some of the top redemptions you can make.
The Pros and Cons of GOL Smiles Miles
As we mentioned above, Smiles is the frequent flyer program that GOL uses. However, Smiles is independently administered and managed separately from the airline, similar to the partnership between LifeMiles and Avianca Vuela.
Smiles is a loyalty program that opens up some very unique doors for award travelers.
Here are the main pros of using GOL Smiles Miles:
- Miles & Money make for some unbelievable award redemptions.
- Smiles has an amazing list of great airline partners, like Royal Air Maroc, Etihad Airways, Emirates, and more.
- The relative weakness of the Brazilian real currency makes mileage redemptions even more compelling.
- The ability to buy GOL Smiles miles at as little as 0.69 cents per mile makes it possible to essentially buy award flights at a massive discount compared to revenue ticket prices, provided you find availability.
- You can search for award availability without logging in.
- Some fuel surcharges are not passed on.
Here are the main cons of using GOL Smiles miles:
- While mostly reliable, the Smiles search engine can be frustratingly inconsistent for some partner airlines — it’s unknown whether award space doesn’t show up due to inventory or technical issues.
- Even though buying/earning Smiles miles is easy, face-value mileage prices are high — the same flight may be bookable with a different partner at 50-70% of the cost.
- There are no U.S. credit card transfer partners, only foreign co-branded credit cards and transfer partners.
- You can’t always book premium cabin tickets on all partners.
- The website is entirely in Portuguese, so you’re going to need Google Translate and patience to book your award ticket.
- There’s no award chart. To figure out how much a redemption will actually cost, you have to search online.
As you can see, there are so many different quirks with this airline program, but you’ll find that it is a potential gold mine for using miles and cash together to book some fantastic flights.
Using Your GOL Smiles Miles
Once you have GOL Smiles miles, the next step is actually using them. The process for redeeming GOL Smiles miles is straightforward:
- Visit Smiles’ online website.
- Enter the departure and arrival airport codes.
- Choose your flight date. The calendar won’t let you click on a flight date if you’re on the translated homepage. To choose a flight date, you’ll need to click Show Original in Google Translate’s plugin at the top of your browser and then click the desired travel date.
- Select the number of passengers.
- Click Flight Search.
- The flight results will appear, so filter the cabin by the desired class of service and choose the best fit.
- If you’re looking for nonstop flights, be sure to filter accordingly, as nonstop flights are usually displayed at the bottom, not the top.
Variable Award Pricing With All Airlines
In the past, airline frequent flyer programs have typically priced awards using region-based or distance-based structures. When you try to book with Smiles, you’ll notice that every single award flight will be priced slightly differently.
For example, if you’re flying from City A to City B with 1 stop, the mileage price will be different from that of a nonstop or 2 stop itinerary.
Here are the potential factors that will influence the award mileage price:
- Operating airline
- Flight routing
- Class of service
The operating airline matters because awards on Air Canada will be priced differently from Emirates, for example. Flight routing plays a huge role. If you’re flying on a 2-stop flight versus a nonstop flight, the award price will fluctuate. Finally, the class of service is the most important factor because flying first class will undoubtedly cost more than flying in economy.
Here are all of Smiles’ airline partners (there’s a ton):
|Smiles Airline Partners|
|Aegean Airlines||Bangkok Airways||Interjet||Sky Express|
|Aer Lingus||Brussels Airlines||Jetstar||South African Airways|
|Aerolineas Argentinas||China Eastern||Juneyao Air||SpiceJet|
|Aeromexico||China Southern||Kenya Airways||Surinam Airways|
|Air Canada||Copa Airlines||KLM||TAAG Angola Airlines|
|Air Europa||Croatia Airlines||Korean Air||TAME|
|Air France||Emirates||Middle East Airlines||TAP Air Portugal|
|airBaltic||Ethiopian Airlines||Paranair||Virgin Australia|
|Alaska Airlines||Etihad Airways||Passaredo||Volotea|
|American Airlines||Garuda Indonesia||Royal Air Maroc||Vueling|
|Bahamas Air||Hahn Air|
Keep in mind that you can’t redeem miles for flights on all of these airlines.
Awards Bookable Online vs. Phone
For the most part, you’re going to want to use the online search engine to search and book award flights. However, some award tickets never seem to pop up, despite confirming partner availability.
This could be due to a few reasons:
- Technical difficulties don’t display all possible routes, even if it’s a logical itinerary.
- GOL Smiles doesn’t get the same access to award space as other airline partners.
If you can’t find award space for a specific flight and you’ve already confirmed with multiple sources that it should be bookable, the next step would be to call Smiles at 800-468-2744.
This isn’t a recommended route, as the agents often just perform the same exact search through the same exact online search engine, but you might get lucky.
Award Redemption Rules
As far as award redemption rules go, Smiles is one of the simplest and most straightforward out there. The central premise is that as long as you get an award search result online, you can book the ticket using miles.
Here are some of the miscellaneous tidbits to keep track of:
- There’s an award service fee of R$50 (~$12) per person per ticket.
- You can only pay for your ticket’s taxes and fees with a Visa or Mastercard.
- Diamond Category and Smiles Club members get the award service fee waived for up to 5 reservations.
How to Boost Your GOL Smiles Miles
We’ve written a whole guide on how to boost your GOL Smiles miles, but the easiest way to do so is to buy miles through Smiles Club or by crediting your paid airfare to GOL Smiles.
Smiles Club is a monthly subscription that gives you a set number of bonus miles each month, plus some other perks. Depending on what plan you subscribe to, you’ll earn a fixed number of miles every month.
You can subscribe via 3 means:
- Monthly (credit card)
- Annual installments (up to 12 installment payments per year)
- Annually (1 payment up-front per year)
Here’s how much you’ll pay for each plan:
|Plan Name (Miles Earned per Month)||Monthly Price||Annual Installment Price||Annual Upfront Price|
|Plan 1,000||R$42 (~$10)||R$478.80 (~$110)||R$453.60 (~$104)|
|Plan 2,000||R$78 (~$18)||R$889.20 (~$205)||R$842.40 (~$194)|
|Plan 5,000||R$162 (~$37)||R$1,846.80 (~$425)||R$1,749.60 (~$402)|
|Plan 7,000||R$219 (~$50)||R$2,496.60 (~$574)||R$2,365.20 (~$544)|
|Plan 10,000||R$299 (~$69)||R$3,408.60 (~$784)||R$3,229.20 (~$743)|
|Plan 20,000||N/A||R$9,336 (~$2147)||R$8,845 (~$2034)|
When you buy Plan 20,000, you’ll earn Diamond Category membership as well, which is Smiles’ highest tier of elite status.
Here’s how much the prices break down to per mile:
|Plan Name||Monthly Price per Mile||Annual Installment Price per Mile||Annual Upfront Price per Mile|
|Plan 1,000||R$0.042 (~1.0 cents)||R$0.04 (~0.92 cents)||R$0.038 (~0.87 cents)|
|Plan 2,000||R$0.039 (~0.90 cents)||R$0.037 (~0.85 cents)||R$0.035 (~0.81 cents)|
|Plan 5,000||R$0.032 (~0.74 cents)||R$0.031 (~0.71 cents)||R$0.029 (~0.67 cents)|
|Plan 7,000||R$0.031 (~0.71 cents)||R$0.03 (~0.68 cents)||R$0.028 (~0.65 cents)|
|Plan 10,000||R$0.03 (~0.69 cents)||R$0.028 (~0.65 cents)||R$0.027 (~0.62 cents)|
|Plan 20,000||N/A||R$0.039 (~0.89 cents)||R$0.037 (~0.85 cents)|
You can also buy GOL Smiles miles at a rate of R$0.07 per mile, which is equal to around 1.59 cents per mile.
The 11 Best Ways to Use Your GOL Smiles Miles
Using GOL Smiles miles for award redemptions outright is generally not a great idea. The number of miles you’ll pay is generally significantly higher than the number of miles you’d use via a different partner booking the same flight.
However, using Smiles & Money, which is a scheme in which you pay for a portion of the ticket with miles and the remainder with cash, is an amazing redemption that is consistently excellent, regardless of which partner you’re looking at.
As a result, we’re going to be focusing most of our attention on redeeming awards using Smiles & Money. Smiles allows you to choose how many miles you pay for a particular redemption. For example, if you opt to pay fewer miles, the cash cost will be higher. Conversely, if you opt to pay with more miles, the cash cost will be lower.
The best way to think about Smiles & Money, therefore, is getting a deeply discounted business class flight with some miles and some cash.
1. Redeem Smiles & Money for Korean Air Business Class Flights between the U.S. and Korea
Korean Air is another great partner of GOL Smiles. Best of all, searching for Korean Air awards is very easy. As long as you see partner availability on SkyTeam websites like Delta or Air France/KLM, you should be able to book award tickets using Smiles miles.
Keep in mind that Korean Air only releases a small fraction of its true award availability to partners, which means you’ll want to avoid searching on Korean Air’s website, as it does not reflect partner award space inventory.
Here is a great example redemption you can make:
|Award Redemption||Los Angeles (LAX) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN)||Seoul-Incheon (ICN) – Atlanta (ATL)||Seoul-Incheon (ICN) – New York City (JFK)|
|Miles Cost (Smiles Club and Diamond)||109,500 miles + $32||130,700 miles + $40||126,100 miles + $40|
|Miles Cost||113,000 miles + $43||135,000 miles + $40||130,000 miles + $40|
|Smiles & Money Cost 1 (Smiles Club and Diamond)||19,300 miles + $545||23,100 miles + $678||22,300 miles + $655|
|Smiles & Money Cost 1||20,500 miles + $579||24,500 miles + $712||23,500 miles + $689|
|Smiles & Money Cost 2||37,500 miles + $477||44,750 miles + $598||43,000 miles + $587|
|Smiles & Money Cost 3||54,250 miles + $386||65,000 miles + $484||62,500 miles + $473|
One-way tickets on these flights run anywhere from $2,500-$3,200, which is a decent chunk of change. If you are a Smiles Club member, you can redeem as little as 19,300 miles + $545 in taxes and fees for these tickets, which is equivalent to a 10 cents per mile valuation.
2. Redeem Smiles & Money for Etihad Airways First Class Apartments
If you weren’t yet convinced that GOL Smiles has a fully-loaded list of airline partners, you will be now. Etihad Airways is partners with GOL Smiles. and you can redeem miles for any cabin class aboard Etihad Airways.
Although fuel surcharges are passed on with GOL Smiles redemptions, you’ll get the same partner award availability as with other loyalty programs, such as American AAdvantage.
Etihad’s First Class Apartments are legendary, as they offer a separate seat from your double bed. It’s no wonder Etihad makes it near the top of our ranking of the best international first class airlines.
Etihad’s First Class Apartments are offered only on the A380, which means the list of routes you can fly is small.
Here are some great example redemptions you can make:
|Award Redemption||Seoul-Incheon (ICN) – Abu Dhabi (AUH)||Abu Dhabi (AUH) – New York City (JFK)||Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Paris (CDG)||Sydney (SYD) – Abu Dhabi (AUH)|
|Miles Cost (Smiles Club and Diamond)||200,500 miles + $84||323,500 miles + $668||194,000 miles + $555||353,700 miles + $62|
|Miles Cost||207,000 miles + $84||334,000 miles + $668||200,000 miles + $555||365,000 miles + $62|
|Smiles & Money Cost 1 (Smiles Club and Diamond)||35,400 miles + $1,064||57,100 miles + $2,240||34,300 miles + $1,500||62,400 miles + $1,782|
|Smiles & Money Cost 1||37,500 miles + $1,110||60,250 miles + $2,319||36,250 miles + $1,545||65,750 miles + $1,873|
|Smiles & Money Cost 2||68,500 miles + $938||110,250 miles + $2,046||66,000 miles + $1,386||120,500 miles + $1,577|
|Smiles & Money Cost 3||99,500 miles + $836||160,500 miles + $1,761||96,000 miles + $1,215||175,250 miles + $1,258|
The most popular option is Etihad First Class Apartments between Abu Dhabi (AUH) and New York City (JFK), which also happens to be the only U.S. route operated by the A380. However, this is not the best deal.
The most likely best redemption is the Smiles Club award from Seoul-Incheon (ICN) – Abu Dhabi (AUH). This redemption regularly runs around $6,000, and redeeming 35,400 miles + $1,064 would give you a return of around 14 cents per mile!
If you ended up buying GOL miles outright, you would spend around $575 for 36,000 miles. Then, you’d tack on the $1,064 in supplemental taxes/fees, which means you’d fly in Etihad First Class Apartments between Seoul and Abu Dhabi for $1,638 in total, saving you at least $4,000. Not bad for starting out without any miles.
3. Redeem Smiles & Money for South African Airways Business Class between the U.S. and Africa
Another neat partner is South African Airways. The boutique flag carrier of South Africa is known for offering stylish business class cabins aboard the A330-300 aircraft and for its fun service.
South African Airways operates 2 nonstop routes to the U.S.:
- New York City (JFK) – Johannesburg (JNB)
- Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Accra (ACC)
The New York City flight features an older business class seat, while the Washington, D.C. flight contains the newest, best business class seat.
Hot Tip: If you’re interested in learning about seat types, nonstop routes to the U.S., and the best seats to pick on a particular airplane, check out our definitive guide to South African Airways’ nonstop routes from the U.S.!
Here are some great example redemptions you can make:
|Award Redemption||New York City (JFK) – Johannesburg (JNB)||Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Accra (ACC)|
|Miles Cost (Smiles Club and Diamond)||206,400 miles + $10||137,000 miles + $20|
|Miles Cost||213,000 miles + $10||142,000 miles + $20|
|Smiles & Money Cost 1 (Smiles Club and Diamond)||36,400 miles + $1,012||24,200 miles + $692|
|Smiles & Money Cost 1||38,500 miles + $1,069||25,750 miles + $726|
|Smiles & Money Cost 2||70,500 miles + $890||47,000 miles + $612|
|Smiles & Money Cost 3||102,250 miles + $716||68,250 miles + $487|
As you can see, fuel surcharges are not passed on with South African Airways flights from the U.S., which is great news. Unfortunately, the mileage cost is quite high if you redeemed miles for the ticket outright.
Luckily, you can leverage Smiles & Money to get some great redemption value. For example, ordinary Smiles members can redeem 25,750 miles + $726 in taxes and fees for the fifth freedom flight in South African Airways’ best business class.
This ticket is priced at around $6,800 one-way, which means that your Smiles miles will effectively be worth around 23-24 cents per mile — amazing for a business class flight.
On the flip side, New York City (JFK) – Johannesburg (JNB) in business class is nearly 15 hours in duration. Although the flight runs at a higher redemption price, you’ll still get terrific value on a ticket that would cost around $9,000 otherwise.
To drive this point home, ordinary Smiles members could redeem 38,500 miles + $1,069 for this $9,000 flight, returning 20-21 cents per mile in value.
4. Redeem Smiles & Money for Air Canada Business Class between the U.S. and Canada
One of the other ways to use Smiles miles for great value is to book business class flights with Air Canada. Air Canada offers excellent business class products on transcontinental flights.
Known as Signature Class, Air Canada’s business class product features fully lie-flat reverse herringbone seats arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration. These spacious business class seats are used on long-haul flights, as well as select transcontinental services.
Here are some great example routes you can take:
|Award Redemption||Los Angeles (LAX) – Toronto (YYZ)||San Francisco (SFO) – Toronto (YYZ)||Vancouver (YVR) – Newark (EWR)|
|Miles Cost (Smiles Club and Diamond)||47,700 miles + $10||49,500 miles + $10||53,200 miles + $46|
|Miles Cost||50,000 miles + $10||51,000 miles + $10||55,000 miles + $46|
|Smiles & Money Cost 1 (Smiles Club and Diamond)||8,400 miles + $249||8,800 miles + $261||9,400 miles + $308|
|Smiles & Money Cost 1||9,250 miles + $260||9,250 miles + 272||10,000 miles + $319|
|Smiles & Money Cost 2||16,500 miles + $226||17,000 miles + $226||18,250 miles + $285|
|Smiles & Money Cost 3||24,000 miles + $181||24,500 miles + $181||26,500 miles + $228|
The recurring theme for Smiles miles has been that mileage redemptions for award flights are usually bad deals. Redeeming Smiles & Money, however, can result in outsized returns on mileage.
If we look at the row Smiles & Money Cost 1, this usually represents the best deal. For example, you can book a cash ticket for $1,500-$2,000. On the other hand, you can redeem around 9,250-10,000 miles + $260-$319 in taxes and fees for this ticket, resulting in a 13-19 cents per mile value.
For a 5-6 hour flight each way, this is excellent redemption value. Also, you can treat these redemptions as “booking a cheap economy ticket with cash and using miles to get a business class ticket in lieu of an economy ticket.”
The last note is that Smiles has the same access to partner availability as United MileagePlus, ANA Mileage Club, or other Star Alliance partners.
5. Redeem Smiles & Money for TAP Air Portugal Business Class between the U.S. and Portugal
TAP Air Portugal is yet another partner of Smiles. This shouldn’t be too surprising, as the Portuguese airline shares deep economic and cultural ties with Brazil, a former Portuguese colony.
TAP Air Portugal has a unique long-haul route network, thanks to its pervasive connections to former Portuguese territories. The ability to redeem miles on TAP Air Portugal flights is an opportunity that can’t be missed, as the new business class product gets great reviews.
One note is that Smiles doesn’t have access to the same partner-level availability as Star Alliance partners like United MileagePlus, so you’ll need to keep that in mind if searching via a different website. In particular, the business class availability from the West Coast is nearly nonexistent, despite being available on MileagePlus.
Here is a great example route you can take:
|Award Redemption||Chicago (ORD) – Lisbon (LIS)|
|Miles Cost (Smiles Club and Diamond)||113,400 miles + $215|
|Miles Cost||117,000 miles + $215|
|Smiles & Money Cost 1 (Smiles Club and Diamond)||20,000 miles + $773|
|Smiles & Money Cost 1||21,250 miles + $796|
|Smiles & Money Cost 2||38,750 miles + $705|
|Smiles & Money Cost 3||56,250 miles + $602|
A quick search shows that this flight has a lowest possible retail price of $1,530 one-way, which means that the Smiles & Money Cost 1 redemption will net you a return of 3.5 cents per mile. This is a decent redemption value, but the valuation is depressed by the fact that TAP Air Portugal’s revenue business class fares are extreme relative to its European peers.
If you were a Smiles Club/Diamond category member, you’d be able to redeem 20,000 miles + $773 in taxes and fees, increasing your redemption to 3.8 cents per mile.
6. Redeem Smiles & Money for Air France Business Class between Paris and South America
Air France business class checks off all the boxes in a quality business class product. Whether it’s a fully lie-flat seat with lots of privacy, comfortable bedding, excellent catering, or the friendly service, there’s lots to love about Air France.
Air France operates some fantastic long-haul flights, which means loads of time in business class. If you’re considering flights between France and South America, you’ll find that these are Air France’s longest flights.
You can get tremendous value by redeeming Smiles & Money for these flights.
Here are some great example redemptions you can make:
|Award Redemption||Paris (CDG) – São Paulo (GRU)||Paris (CDG) – Santiago (SCL)||Paris (CDG) – Buenos Aires (EZE)|
|Miles Cost (Smiles Club and Diamond)||195,600 miles + $121||250,100 miles + $121||237,900 miles + $121|
|Miles Cost||202,000 miles + $121||258,000 miles + $121||246,000 miles + $121|
|Smiles & Money Cost 1 (Smiles Club and Diamond)||34,500 miles + $1,078||44,100 miles + $1,340||42,000 miles + $1,283|
|Smiles & Money Cost 1||36,500 miles + $1,123||46,500 miles + $1,397||44,500 miles + $1,340|
|Smiles & Money Cost 2||66,750 miles + $964||85,250 miles + $1,192||81,250 miles + $1,146|
|Smiles & Money Cost 3||97,000 miles + $782||124,000 miles + $975||118,250 miles + $930|
Let’s talk about the cash value of these flights. One-way business class tickets from Paris (CDG) to São Paulo (GRU) will be $7,000 at its cheapest. If you’re flying to Santiago, the cost is now $6,000. Lastly, Buenos Aires is a whopping $7,500.
Let’s spin that back around to miles value. If you redeemed Smiles & Money Cost 1 as a Smiles Club or Diamond member, you would get 10-17 cents per mile in redemption value. If you weren’t a Smiles Club member, that number would drop to 9.8-16 cents per mile in value.
This is still a fantastic deal, so you should not be sleeping on this redemption avenue.
7. Redeem Smiles & Money for Delta One Suites Between the U.S. and Europe
Delta One Suites is one of the most aspirational business class redemptions out there. Whether it’s the enclosed suite with sliding doors, great catering, or awesome amenities, Delta One Suites represents one of the most all-around business class products in the world.
Although award availability is hard to come by (particularly on West Coast routes), you can still find award space if you search hard enough. Here is a great example redemption you can make:
|Award Redemption||Detroit (DTW) – Paris (CDG)|
|Miles Cost (Smiles Club and Diamond)||136,300 miles + $10|
|Miles Cost||141,000 miles + $10|
|Smiles & Money Cost 1 (Smiles Club and Diamond)||24,100 miles + $671|
|Smiles & Money Cost 1||25,500 miles + $716|
|Smiles & Money Cost 2||46,750 miles + $592|
|Smiles & Money Cost 3||57,750 miles + $467|
The cash price of this ticket is nearly $9,000 one-way, which is an insane amount, considering this flight is less than 8 hours in duration. If you redeemed Smiles & Money Cost 1 (Smiles Club and Diamond), you’d get a value of 34-35 cents per mile!
That is some value-packed craziness.
8. Redeem Smiles & Money for Delta One Between the U.S. and Europe
Delta One, though comfortable and decent, is not as well-known as Delta’s premier Delta One Suites product. Unfortunately, Delta One Suites isn’t offered on all routes.
Still, Delta’s long-haul business class product is predominantly reverse herringbone seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. Though slightly less private than Delta One Suites, it’s still a great way to navigate across the skies.
Here are some great redemptions you can make:
|Award Redemption||Atlanta (ATL) – Frankfurt (FRA)||Detroit (DTW) – London-Heathrow (LHR)||Detroit (DTW) – Amsterdam (AMS)|
|Miles Cost (Smiles Club and Diamond)||84,700 miles + $6||69,100 miles + $6||72,300 miles + $6|
|Miles Cost||88,000 miles + $6||72,000 miles + $6||75,000 miles + $6|
|Smiles & Money Cost 1 (Smiles Club and Diamond)||15,000 miles + $472||12,200 miles + $382||12,800 miles + $405|
|Smiles & Money Cost 1||16,000 miles + $496||13,000 miles + $410||13,750 miles + $422|
|Smiles & Money Cost 2||29,250 miles + $416||24,000 miles + $342||24,750 miles + $354|
|Smiles & Money Cost 3||42,250 miles + $330||34,750 miles + $273||36,000 miles + $279|
These flights retail for $8,000 one-way in business class, which would put the Smiles & Money Cost 1 redemption value at an unbelievable 46-58 cents per mile. This is literally one of the only times you’ll ever see redemption value this high.
Smiles Club members will get 50-62 cents per mile in value, which is absolutely insane.
Well, that was unexpected! We dove face-first into the Smiles loyalty program, which partners with tons of different airlines. Although premium cabin redemptions aren’t available on all airlines, there are a solid number of airlines on which you can book premium cabin seats.
The most valuable aspect of this program is Smiles & Money, a scheme whereby you spend a mix of Smiles miles and cash to make redemptions.
The redemption value is absolutely stellar when you’re using Smiles & Money. Specifically, if you use the smallest possible denomination of miles and therefore the largest amount of money, you can get some jaw-dropping value out of this program.
In fact, this was the first instance we’ve ever seen a redemption value of greater than 50 cents per mile. When you consider the fact that you can buy these miles readily for 1.6 cents per mile, you’ll see just the sheer leverage you can achieve with Smiles miles.
This program is quite quirky, but those who stick through the weeds will reap the rewards of fantastic redemption value across a slew of A-list airlines.