How to Book Emirates (and Emirates Partners) With Points

When it comes to its airline services, Emirates offers incredible value but you’ll need to be savvy when redeeming your rewards.
11/19/19 | By Ben Luthi
Book with Points on Emirates

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If you’re planning to take a trip abroad using your travel rewards, Emirates should be on your radar. The Middle East-based airline is ranked as the fifth-best airline in the world by Skytrax, and even its economy class can make you feel like you’re flying in luxury.

You don’t have to be an Emirates loyalist to earn rewards with the airline either. Here’s what you need to know about why people love Emirates, all the essentials to the airline’s own loyalty program, and how to book with points on Emirates using other rewards programs.

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About Emirates

Emirates is based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and is the largest airline in the Middle East. It has a fleet of more than 265 planes and covers more than 155 destinations in over 80 countries. Those destinations include 12 cities in the U.S., although you won’t find any domestic flights on the airline — these U.S. cities all jumping-off points to international destinations. The airline’s most popular route is between Dubai and London, which ranked as the sixth busiest route in the world in 2017.

While Emirates doesn’t have the world’s largest fleet size — that crown goes to American Airlines — it does have the biggest fleets of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, the largest airliner in the world and the largest twin-jet, respectively.

Why people love Emirates

If you’re working on learning how to book with points on Emirates, you’ll want to save up for a first-class flight, but a main-cabin experience won’t disappoint either.

Emirates is known for its world-famous first-class experience. On the Airbus A380, each seat comes with privacy doors, fine dining anytime you want, an onboard shower spa, and a lounge bar. If you’re flying on one of the airline’s Boeing 777s, you’re essentially getting a private suite in the sky, complete with a minibar, temperature controls, mood lighting, and more.

Even if you’re flying economy, you can expect free Wi-Fi (two hours only), regionally-inspired meals, and excellent service.

Emirates partners

Emirates isn’t a member of any major alliances, but it does have a number of established partner airlines, including:

  • Air Mauritius
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • easyJet
  • GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes
  • Japan Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • Jetstar
  • Korean Air
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • S7 Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • TAP Portugal

If you fly on any of these airlines (excluding easyJet), you can earn Emirates Skywards miles instead of points or miles with the partner airline. And, vice versa, if you have Skywards miles, you can use them to book flights with any Emirates partner.

Emirates also partners with American Express, Capital One, and Chase, allowing you to transfer points and miles earned with select credit cards to the Skywards loyalty program. These partnerships can create a lot of opportunities for incredible experiences with Emirates.

Emirates Skywards: The Emirates loyalty program

Emirates Skywards is the airline’s frequent flyer program. It’s free to join, which you can do through the Emirates website.

Earning miles

You can earn miles directly with the Skywards program when you fly on Emirates or on flydubai. How much you earn is based on four factors:

  • Route: The airline uses geographic zones to determine how many miles you earn based on your origin and destination.
  • Fare type: Emirates has four different fare types: Special, Saver, Flex, and Flex Plus. Also, flydubai has Lite, Value, Flex, and Business fares. The type of fare you book affects how many miles you earn.
  • Fare class: Depending on which fare type you choose, you can earn up to 175% more miles in business class and first class.
  • Tier level: As a Blue member, you won’t earn any bonus miles. But if you’re a Silver, Gold, or Platinum member, you’ll earn extra miles every time you book.

Emirates provides a miles calculator that allows you to see how many miles you’ll earn on a given fare before you book. Just enter your origin and destination, and whether it’s a one-way or return trip, then you can view the miles ranges based on the factors above.

Other ways to earn miles include:

  • Booking rental cars with Emirates partners
  • Booking hotel stays with Emirates partners
  • Shopping with select Emirates partners

When miles are credited to your account can vary based on how you earned them.

  • With partners, the airline doesn’t provide any details about when miles will show up in your account, and it may vary from partner to partner.
  • With flights, you’ll receive your miles after you’ve completed your flight. If it’s a one-way trip, you’ll receive all your miles at once. If it’s a roundtrip flight, you’ll receive some miles when you complete your outbound trip and then the rest when you complete your return.

Once you earn Skywards miles, they are valid for roughly three years. More specifically, you’ll lose them at the end of the month in which you were born in the calendar year during which they’re set to expire. So if you earned miles in May 2019 and your birthday is in July, those miles will expire at the end of July 2022.

Unlike with some other frequent flyer programs, you can’t delay expiration with activity in your account. However, if you have miles that are set to expire in the next three months, you can pay a fee to extend their life for another year beyond the original expiration date.

Spending miles

In general, the best way to use airline miles is to book flights with the airline itself or with Emirates partners. Emirates offers award flights starting at 15,000 miles, but you can also pay with a combination of cash and miles, and you only need 2,000 miles to take advantage of that option.

In addition to using miles to book flights, you can also request upgrades from economy to business class or from business class to first class. Upgrades start at 9,000 miles. Other redemption options include:

  • Booking hotels through Rocketmiles
  • Special event tickets, exclusive invitations, and more
  • Donating your miles to charity

Emirates Skywards membership tiers

The frequent flyer program has four membership tiers, including Blue, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. When you join the program, you’ll be a Blue member. You can move up in status when you earn Tier Miles with Emirates or flydubai or when you complete a set number of flights with Emirates, flydubai, or a codeshare flight marketed by Emirates but operated by a partner airline.

Once you’ve been promoted to a certain tier, you’ll enjoy its benefits for 14 months. Here’s what you need to know about each of the membership tiers when it comes to how to qualify for each status level — and how many extra miles you earn with each status.

Blue Silver Gold Platinum
Eligibility requirements Join Emirates Skywards for free Earn 25,000 Tier Miles or take 25 flights Earn 50,000 Tier Miles or take 50 flights Earn 150,000 Tier Miles
Bonus miles earned on Emirates flights None 25% 50% 75%

Blue

You typically can’t expect a lot with most airlines for just showing up. But with Emirates, the lowest level of membership comes with some impressive perks, including:

  • Instant upgrades at check-in with Skywards Miles
  • Unlimited free Wi-Fi in business class and first class
  • Discounted Wi-Fi in economy
  • Discounted Emirates lounge access for you and guests in the airline’s lounges in Dubai and for yourself in select lounges worldwide
  • Waitlist priority

Silver

As a Silver member, you’ll get all the benefits of Blue status, plus:

  • Instant onboard upgrades with Skywards Miles
  • Free economy seat selection for you
  • Complimentary Emirates business class lounge access and discounted first class lounge access for you in Dubai
  • Priority check-in and boarding
  • Additional 12kg checked baggage allowance
  • Earn Skyward Miles and Marriott Bonvoy points when you travel

Gold

Once you reach Gold status, you’ll have all the perks associated with Blue and Silver, as well as:

  • Unlimited free Wi-Fi onboard
  • Free economy seat selection for you and other passengers on your reservation
  • Complimentary lounge access for you and one guest in all Emirates business class lounges in Dubai and worldwide, plus discounted first class lounge access for you in Dubai
  • Priority baggage delivery
  • Guaranteed seat, even on fully-booked flights
  • Additional 16kg checked baggage allowance
  • Elite hotel benefits at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties

Platinum

Platinum status, which you can only achieve through earning Tier Miles, offers all the benefits of every other level, plus:

  • First class check-in and baggage delivery
  • Complimentary lounge access for you and your guests in all Emirates first and business class lounges in Dubai and worldwide (discounted access for extra guests)
  • Gold tier membership for a spouse, partner, or friend
  • Access to Classic Flex Plus reward tickets even on high-demand flights
  • Additional 20kg checked baggage allowance
  • Elite hotel benefits at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties
  • Complimentary extra legroom seat selection for yourself when traveling in economy

How to book with points on Emirates

Using your rewards to book an Emirates flight is pretty straightforward. Sign up as a member and search flight availability through the airline’s website. If you want to pay with a combination of both cash and miles, you’ll go through the process as if you’re going to book with cash and then you’ll have the option to add miles at checkout.

If you want to book your full fare with miles, click on “Book Classic Rewards.” You’ll have the choice to search Emirates flights only or partner flights only, based on what you’re looking for. Start by adding your origin and destination, dates, fare class preference, and whether your dates are flexible. Alternatively, you can run an advanced search, which allows you to add up to 10 cities. From there, hit the “Search” button, and you’ll be able to view your options.

How much is each Emirates Skywards mile worth?

Emirates Skywards miles don’t have a set value. This means instead of giving you, say, 1 cent per mile like many general travel rewards programs do, the value of your miles is based on different factors, such as your origin and destination, fare type and class, travel dates, and the cash price of the ticket.

Although the figures can fluctuate, reports by travel rewards experts show Emirates Skywards miles are worth roughly 1.1 cents a piece on average. This means you could get more or less value based on how you redeem your rewards, so it’s important to take the time to research your options and redeem when you can get an above-average rate.

Examples of how to book with points on Emirates

If you’re planning a trip abroad and want a taste of what Emirates has to offer, you’ll generally get little value from economy tickets. There is, however, a lot of potential with the airline’s business class and first class fares. Here are some examples of how you can use your miles to get flights with the airline.

New York to Dubai

As of the writing of this article in November of 2019, we found a flight in economy for $1,569.25 or 72,500 miles plus $609 in taxes and fees. This gives you a redemption rate of 1.32 cents per mile, which is slightly above the average for the program.

Note: Subtract the taxes and fees on the award ticket from the cash price of the fare and use the difference to calculate your value per mile. $1,569.25 - $609 = $960.25 / 72,500 miles = .013245 — or 1.32 cents per mile. You can use this same formula to see how I calculated the value of the miles on each of the following redemption.

If instead you chose a business class ticket, you’d pay $4,999 or 172,500 miles and $1,723 in cash, giving you a much better 1.9 cents per mile. So you can see in just one example how first class becomes a much better redemption option than economy when you fly Emirates.

Chicago to Hong Kong

If you want to visit the Pearl of the Orient, you can get there in economy for $1,330 or 130,000 miles and $755 in taxes and fees. That gives you a measly 0.44 cents per mile, less than half the average.

On the other hand, the cash price for first class for our dates is $9,401, or you could book with 285,000 miles and $1,755 in taxes and fees. With such a high cash price, you’d get 2.68 cents per mile with your first class experience — which makes it a great use of your travel rewards.

Dallas to Johannesburg

If a trip to South Africa sounds right, you can pay $1,556 or use 137,500 miles and pay $733 in taxes and fees for a seat in the main cabin. That gives you a value of 0.6 cents per mile.

If you have enough miles for a first class ticket, that’ll cost you 300,000 miles plus $1,743, versus an eye-watering $12,615 cash price with similar dates. Subtract the taxes and fees from the traditional price tag, and you’ll get an impressive 3.62 cents per mile.

San Francisco to Perth

For a main cabin ticket to the city of lights in West Australia, you’ll pay $1,697 out of pocket, or you can use 165,000 miles and pay $872 in taxes and fees. If you use your miles, you’ll get just 0.5 cents a piece in value.

In business class, however, you can book an award flight for 330,000 miles and $1,778 in taxes and fees, or pay $8,822 for a cash ticket. That’ll give you a value per mile of 2.13 cents.

Los Angeles to Phuket

If you’re heading to Thailand, an economy flight from Los Angeles to Phuket will cost you $1,507 in cash or 182,500 miles plus $739, giving you a redemption value of 0.42 cents per mile.

If you’re looking for an aspirational redemption, a first class flight will cost you 290,000 miles and $1,737 in taxes and fees, compared with a steep $19,787 out of pocket. With this redemption, you’ll get an incredible 6.22 cents per mile in value.

How to earn enough miles to fly Emirates

In addition to earning miles through flights with Emirates and its partner airlines — as well as its hotel, car rental, and lifestyle partners — here are some other ways you can rack up rewards with the international airline, including transferring credit card points.

Use Chase credit cards

The Chase Ultimate Rewards program allows you to transfer your points to the Emirates Skywards program at a 1:1 ratio. You can earn Ultimate Rewards points with several different Chase credit cards, but only the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card allow you to transfer.

#1 Premium Travel Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Benefits

  • 50,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 3X on travel after earning your $300 travel credit
  • 3X points at restaurants
  • Access to Priority Pass airport lounges

Use Marriott credit cards

If you have Marriott Bonvoy points, you can transfer them at a 3:1 ratio. And for every 60,000 points you transfer, you’ll get an additional 5,000 bonus miles. Some of our favorite cards that allow you to earn Marriott Bonvoy points include the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card.

A Great Card for Travel Rewards Beginners

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Benefits

  • 75,000 point sign-up offer
  • 6X points at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels
  • One free night each year
  • No foreign transaction fee

Use American Express credit cards

If you have any credit card that earns American Express Membership Rewards points, you can transfer your points to Emirates Skywards miles at a 1:1 ratio. While any card in the program will do, The Platinum Card from American Express and The Business Platinum Card from American Express are good options because they also come with luxury travel perks.

Best Luxury Travel Benefits

The Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card from American Express

Benefits

  • 60,000 Membership Rewards point welcome offer
  • 5X points on eligible flights and hotels
  • $15 in free U.S. Uber rides each month ($20 in December)
  • $200 airline fee credit each year
  • Access to Centurion and Priority Pass airport lounges
  • Terms apply

Have friends or family members transfer Skywards miles to you

If you know someone who also has Skywards miles, you can combine your points by transferring them. The caveat is that you have to pay $15 for every 1,000 miles you transfer, which comes out to 1.5 cents per mile, which reduces the value you can get from a redemption or can even neutralize it altogether. Also, you can only transfer up to 50,000 miles per year. This option may be worth considering if you’re short a few thousand miles. Otherwise, steer clear.

Buy more Skywards miles

If you’re just shy of the amount you need for a redemption and don’t want to pay with a combo of cash and miles, you can buy miles at a rate of $30 per 1,000 miles, or 3 cents per mile, up to 100,000 miles per year. Again, because it’s expensive to do this, it’s not a great idea in most situations.

Multiply Skywards miles on an upcoming trip

If you already have a trip booked with Emirates, you can multiply the number of miles you earn on the flight by paying $20 per 1,000 miles on up to 50,000 miles per year. That’s cheaper than buying them outright, but it’ll still cost you 2 cents per mile, which isn’t ideal unless you need just a few thousand miles for your next redemption.

Reinstate expired Skywards miles or extend expiring miles

If you’ve had miles expire in the last six months, Emirates allows you to reinstate them for a fee of $20 for every 1,000 miles you want to reactivate. If you have miles that are expiring within the next three months, you can extend their life by 12 months at the same rate. You can reinstate or extend up to 50,000 miles each year.

If you can, make it a goal to use up your miles before they expire. And if they do expire, it’s generally not worth it to try to get them back unless you have a redemption in mind that’s worth far more than 2 cents per mile. As always, an important part of getting a good redemption is doing the math and comparing the potential value of your miles in any given situation.

The best credit cards to earn you more Emirates Skywards miles

Chase Sapphire Preferred Chase Sapphire Reserve Ink Business Preferred Credit Card The Platinum Card from American Express The Business Platinum Card from American Express
Welcome bonus Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months Earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards points: 50,000 points after you spend $10,000, then another 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 on purchases within the first 3 months
Rewards rate 2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases 3X points on travel immediately after earning $300 travel credit, 3X points at restaurants and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else 3X points on the first $150,000 spent each year on travel, shipping, internet, cable, or phone services, and advertising purchases with social media and search engines; and 1X points per $1 on everything else 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare and hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels on Amextravel.com, 1.5X points on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more, and 1X points per $1 spent on other purchases
Annual fee $95 $450 $95 $550 $595
Perks Various trip protections Complimentary airport lounge access, a $300 annual travel credit, TSA or Global Entry application fee credit, and more Various trip protections Complimentary airport lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit, up to $200 in annual Uber credits, elite hotel status, and more Complimentary airport lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit, elite hotel status, and more

Commonly asked questions about booking Emirates with points

As we did our research for this guide, we came across several frequently asked questions about booking Emirates with points. While we’ve covered some of these in the guide already, here’s a more direct question-and-answer setup that can help you find out what you need to know.

Can you use JetBlue points on Emirates?

No. JetBlue is an Emirates partner, and you can earn and redeem Skywards miles on JetBlue flights. However, you can’t use any points you’ve earned with the JetBlue TrueBlue program to book flights with Emirates. So, if you want to earn points good for Emirates when flying JetBlue, make sure you’re earning Skywards miles.

How much is 1 Emirates mile worth?

On average, Emirates Skywards miles are generally considered to be worth about 1.1 cents a piece. Depending on how you redeem, though, you could get less than that or far more. Being flexible with your dates and destination can help you maximize the value of your rewards.

Can I use my Skywards Miles to buy a ticket for someone else?

Yes. You can spend your miles to book a flight for yourself or anyone else. Just make sure to add their information during the checkout process instead of yours.

What is the difference between Emirates Skywards Miles and Tier Miles?

Tier Miles are miles that can help you earn elite status with the Emirates Skywards program. While you can earn regular Skywards miles in several different ways, you can only earn Tier Miles when you fly with the airline and select partners.

How many Emirates miles do you need for a ticket?

You can redeem a one-way ticket with the airline for as little as 15,000 Emirates Skywards miles. Depending on the different factors in your reservation, though, the number of miles required can vary greatly.

On average, Emirates Skywards miles are generally considered to be worth about 1.1 cents a piece. Depending on how you redeem, though, you could get less than that or far more. Being flexible with your dates and destination can help you maximize the value of your rewards.

Can I use Emirates miles to book hotels?

Yes. Emirates partners with Rocketmiles to allow you to use your airline miles to book hotel stays, starting at 5,000 miles. Before you do so, however, run the numbers and compare the value of your redemption option with what you’d get if you were to use your miles to book an award flight instead. It’s always a good idea to do the math before jumping on any redemption.


The bottom line on booking flights with points on Emirates

Emirates provides one of the best first class experiences in the world and doesn’t cut corners in economy either. If you’re looking to take advantage of what the airline has to offer, consider the different ways you can earn and use Emirates Skywards miles to maximize the value you can get.

For example, consider holding onto your points or miles for an aspirational first class ticket rather than economy, where the redemption value is subpar. Also, keep in mind that Emirates award tickets come with relatively high taxes and fees. Make sure you have the cash on hand to pay those expenses.

Finally, remember that Emirates can take you to scores of destinations around the world. The more flexibility you have with where you want to go and when you can travel, the easier it will be to squeeze as much value out of your rewards as possible.

#1 Travel Rewards Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Benefits

  • 60,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits
  • No foreign transaction fees
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