Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written and evaluated by experts who know these products inside out. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. See our advertising policy here where we list advertisers that we work with, and how we make money. You can also review our credit card rating methodology.

How To Upgrade Your Etihad Flight With Miles and Cash [2024]

Dan Miller's image
Dan Miller
Dan Miller's image

Dan Miller

Content Contributor

5 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 35U.S. States Visited: 50

Realizing that it wasn't all first class flights and 5-star hotels, Dan started the Points With a Crew blog in 2014, with the aim of helping families (especially large families) to use miles, points a...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
Keri Stooksbury's image

Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

38 Published Articles 3324 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 47U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...
& Stella Shon
Stella Shon's image

Stella Shon

News Managing Editor

104 Published Articles 730 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 25U.S. States Visited: 22

With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in ...

We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. Terms apply to the offers below. See our Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone.

It’s very common for people to want to buy a cheap economy ticket and then upgrade their ticket using miles. After all, who wouldn’t want to move up from an uncomfortable middle seat in economy to a lie-flat seat in business class or even the Etihad First Class Apartment?

Unfortunately, upgrading your flight with miles is not always possible, since many types of tickets are not upgradeable, and even if they are, they may cost more than you’re willing to pay. In this article, we’ll look at how you can upgrade your Etihad flight with miles and when it might make sense.

Flying in a Premium Cabin on Etihad

Etihad has some of the best premium cabins of any airline in the world, so it can make a lot of sense to fly Etihad business class or Etihad first class. Read some of our Etihad premium cabin flight reviews to get an idea of what it is like to fly in style on Etihad:

Etihad First Class Apartment bed
The First Class Apartment’s luxurious leather couch converts into a fully flat bed. Image Credit: Juan Ruiz

Types of Etihad Upgrades

Etihad offers 3 different kinds of upgrades on its Flight Upgrade page:

  • Upgrade with Etihad Guest Miles — Pay a flat fee in miles to upgrade your flight. The exact amount of Etihad Guest Miles that it takes to upgrade will depend on the fare class of your original ticket.
  • Place a Bid To Upgrade — Before your flight, you can place a bid on an upgrade to a premium cabin in either Miles or cash. If your bid is accepted, you’ll be charged immediately and receive your updated boarding pass when you check in online or at the airport.
  • Instant Airport Upgrade — If you choose not to bid before you check in, you may have 1 last chance to upgrade at the airport when you check in. You can pay for the instant upgrade of your Etihad flight with either cash (at select airports), credit card, or Etihad Guest Miles. 
Hot Tip:

Etihad is one of the few airlines that allows you to upgrade with either cash OR Miles. You can choose which method of payment works best for your situation. If you’re flush with Miles, you can upgrade with Miles and save your cash.

Paying To Upgrade Your Etihad Flight With Miles

The first way that you can upgrade your Etihad flights is by paying Etihad Guest miles beforehand. Etihad publishes a Miles Calculator that shows the cost to both book and upgrade your flight with Miles. Simply enter your origin and destination to see the cost to upgrade your Etihad flight with Miles.

Etihad Miles Calculator upgrade cost
Your cost to upgrade will depend on the fare class of your original ticket. Image Credit: Etihad

Etihad allows you to upgrade 1 class of service from your original ticket; for example, you can upgrade from economy to business or business to first class. You can even upgrade a first class ticket to the Etihad Residence.

Note that the cost to upgrade your flight will depend on the fare class of your original ticket, and GuestSeat tickets (the lowest and cheapest fare class) are generally not able to be upgraded.

Bidding To Upgrade Your Etihad Flight

Another option for upgrading your Etihad flight is to bid for an upgrade. You can bid for an upgrade by entering your record locator and last name.

Etihad bid for upgrade
Bid for an upgrade using cash or Miles. Image Credit: Etihad

You can choose to bid using either cash or Miles, and Etihad will indicate how likely your upgrade is to be accepted. As you might imagine, the more you bid, the more likely your bid is to be accepted.

If your bid is accepted, you will receive an additional confirmation email from Etihad, and you will immediately be charged your bid amount. You can access your updated boarding pass when you check in either online or at the airport. You can’t change or cancel your bid once it has been accepted or if there are fewer than 4 hours before your flight.

It’s also important to note that you will only earn Miles based on your original ticket and fare class, though if you are an Etihad Guest member, you will receive 10% additional bonus Miles if you successfully bid for an upgrade.

How To Earn Etihad Guest Miles

There are a few ways that you can earn Etihad Guest miles. One way is by flying on Etihad and crediting your flights to Etihad Guest. You can also credit flights from any of Etihad’s more than 20 partner airlines to Etihad and earn more Miles.

There is currently no Etihad-branded credit card in the U.S., however, there are several flexible rewards programs that can transfer to Etihad Guest, including American Express Membership Rewards® points*.

American Express Membership Rewards® Cards

American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to Etihad Guest miles at a rate of 1,000 points to 1,000 Etihad Guest Miles. Here are some of our top picks for American Express cards that earn Membership Rewards points:

BEST LOUNGE ACCESS
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressTerms Apply / Rates & Fees
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.

Learn More(at Amex's secure site)

Apply With Confidence

Know if you're approved with no credit score impact

If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.

The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
80,000 points
$1,760
$695
See Pay Over Time APR
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

When it comes to cards that offer top-notch benefits, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better card out there than The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Make no mistake — the Amex Platinum card is a premium card with a premium price tag. With amazing benefits like best-in-class airport lounge access, hotel elite status, and tremendous value in annual statement credits, it can easily prove to be one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet year after year.

Pros
  • The best airport lounge access out of any card (by far) — enjoy access to over 1,400 worldwide lounges, including the luxurious Amex Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, Plaza Premium Lounges, and many more!
  • 5x points per dollar spent on flights purchased directly with the airline or with AmexTravel.com (up to $500,000 per year)
  • 5x points per dollar spent on prepaid hotels booked with AmexTravel.com
Cons
  • $695 annual fee (rates and fees)
  • Airline credit does not cover airfare (only incidentals like checked bags)
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market. As of 03/2023.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Save on eligible delivery fees, shipping, and more with a Walmart+ membership. Use your Platinum Card® to pay for a monthly Walmart+ membership and get up to $12.95 plus applicable taxes back on one membership (excluding Plus Ups) each month.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only. Terms Apply.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: CLEAR® Plus helps to get you to your gate faster at 50+ airports nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Card. CLEARLanes are available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues.
  • Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 year period for TSA PreCheck® application fee for a 5-year plan only (through a TSA PreCheck® official enrollment provider), when charged to your Platinum Card®. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Shop Saks with Platinum: Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases in Saks Fifth Avenue stores or at saks.com on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • Unlock access to exclusive reservations and special dining experiences with Global Dining Access by Resy when you add your Platinum Card® to your Resy profile.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: See Pay Over Time APR
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

American Express Membership Rewards

BEST FOR DINING
American Express® Gold CardTerms Apply / Rates & Fees
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

This is the best card for food lovers who dine out at restaurants (worldwide), order take-out and want big rewards at U.S. supermarkets!

Learn More(at Amex's secure site)

Apply With Confidence

Know if you're approved with no credit score impact

If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.

This is the best card for food lovers who dine out at restaurants (worldwide), order take-out and want big rewards at U.S. supermarkets!
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
60,000 points
$1,320
$250
See Pay Over Time APR
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The American Express® Gold Card is a game-changer.

With this card, you can earn 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants and you’ll also earn 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1x.

There isn’t another card on the market that offers a 1-2 punch like this. Of course, there are several other benefits of the Gold Card as well, including extra monthly dining rewards and more.

Pros
  • 4x points per dollar at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • 4x points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets, up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases; and 1x thereafter
  • 3x points per dollar on flights purchased directly from airlines or at AmexTravel.com
Cons
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Get a $100 experience credit with a minimum two-night stay when you book The Hotel Collection through American Express Travel. Experience credit varies by property.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: See Pay Over Time APR
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

American Express Membership Rewards

Final Thoughts

There is something glamorous about flying in a premium cabin, and Etihad’s business class and first class experiences are among the world’s best. If you are looking to upgrade an Etihad flight with Miles, know that you have a few different options.

You can pay for an upgrade before you fly with Etihad Guest Miles, bid for an upgrade with either cash or Miles, or take your chances at an instant upgrade at the airport. No matter which option you choose, make sure you crunch the numbers and see if it is worth it to you.


*Membership Rewards® Program

Terms and Conditions for the Membership Rewards® program apply. Visit membershiprewards.com/terms for more information. Participating partners and available rewards are subject to change without notice.

The value of Membership Rewards points varies according to how you choose to use them. To learn more, go to www.membershiprewards.com/pointsinfo.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use Miles to upgrade on Etihad?

Yes, it is possible to use Miles to upgrade an Etihad flight by 1 class of service. You can use the Etihad Miles Calculator to see how many Miles it takes to upgrade your flight, or you can use Miles to bid for an upgrade before you fly. However, it’s important to note that only certain fare classes are eligible for upgrade.

How many Etihad Guest Miles to upgrade?

The exact amount of Etihad Guest Miles that it takes to upgrade your flight will vary depending on the distance of your flight and the fare class of your original ticket. The easiest way to tell how many Etihad Guest Miles it will take to upgrade your flight is to use Etihad’s Miles Calculator page.

Can you bid for an upgrade on Etihad Airways?

Yes, there are a few different ways that you can upgrade your Etihad flight, and one of the ways is by bidding for an upgrade with either cash or Miles. You can bid for an upgrade on Etihad’s website by using your record locator and last name. While the amount that you bid is up to you, Etihad will give you an indicator that tells you how likely it is that your bid will be accepted.

How many Etihad Guest Miles do you need to upgrade to business class?

This will depend on the route, but you can use Etihad’s Miles Calculator to see the minimum number of Miles needed. For instance, an upgrade from economy to business class from New York (JFK) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) will start at 54,000 Miles.

Dan Miller's image

About Dan Miller

Realizing that it wasn’t all first class flights and 5-star hotels, Dan started the Points With a Crew blog in 2014, with the aim of helping families (especially large families) to use miles, points and credit card rewards to take that trip that they might have thought they couldn’t afford. He has spent over 10 years covering developments in the travel rewards credit card space. His expertise extends to all things personal finance, including student loans, budgeting and real estate, and his work has been featured in sites all over the Internet, including NerdWallet, Forbes, Business Insider, Rocket Mortgage, CreditCards.com, Bankrate, Turbotax, Credit Karma and Intuit Mint.

The Ultimate Lounge Playbook!

Discover the exact steps we use to get into 1,400+ airport lounges worldwide, for free (even if you’re flying economy!).

playbook cover
DMCA.com Protection Status