Emirates Skywards has just launched its latest promotion on purchased miles, and it sure is creative and different than anything else we’ve seen from the program.
Earn Tier Miles when you buy Skywards miles
Typically when Emirates has a promotion on purchasing Skywards miles, the program offers either a discount on the purchase price, or a bonus. This time around is different.
Through Saturday, October 3, 2020, Emirates is offering one Tier Mile for every four Skywards miles you purchase:
- You can earn Tier Miles as long as you purchase at least 5,000 miles in one transaction
- You can purchase up to 100,000 miles per Skywards account per calendar year
- You can only purchase miles if you’ve had at least some activity in your Skywards account
- It can take up to 48 hours for purchased miles to post to your account
- Points purchases are processed by points.com, so wouldn’t count as airfare for the purposes of credit card spending; I’d recommend using a card on which you’re trying to reach minimum spending, or otherwise, a credit card that maximizes your return on everyday spending
Emirates Skywards ordinarily sells miles for 3.0 US cents each, and that’s still the price you’d pay here. In other words, you could purchase 100,000 Skywards miles at a cost of $3,000.
If you purchased that many miles you’d earn 25,000 Tier Miles as well, which would be enough for Skywards Silver status. As a reminder, Emirates’ elite tiers are as follows:
- Skywards Silver status requires 25,000 Tier Miles
- Skywards Gold status requires 50,000 Tier Miles
- Skywards Platinum status requires 150,000 Tier Miles
Personally if I were trying to earn Emirates status I would instead pick up one of Emirates’ US-issued credit cards, which offer Silver and Gold status.
Is buying Emirates Skywards miles worth it?
Emirates Skywards doesn’t have an award chart, but rather has a redemption calculator that will tell you how many miles you’ll need for a ticket. Typically one-ways cost more than half as much as a roundtrip, so the value proposition varies.
Several months back Emirates Skywards finally eliminated carrier imposed surcharges, which greatly improves the value proposition of redeeming miles through the program.
You’re generally going to find the best value booking premium cabin awards, so to give you some examples of pricing…
New York to Milan or Newark to Athens will cost you:
- Business class: 62,500 miles one-way, 90,000 miles roundtrip
- First class: 85,000 miles one-way, 135,000 miles roundtrip
Redeem Skywards miles for Emirates business class
Los Angeles to Dubai will cost you:
- Business class: 113,750 miles one-way, 165,000 miles roundtrip
- First class: 155,000 miles one-way, 247,500 miles roundtrip
Redeem Skywards miles for Emirates first class
Those are just a couple of examples, though you can expect that the further you fly, the more miles will be needed.
In many situations booking through the Skywards program is the best value, though there are other options as well, like booking through Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan or Japan Airlines Mileage Bank.
Unfortunately Emirates Skywards doesn’t have any great award redemption values for travel on partner airlines, so you should exclusively be considering this if you actually want to travel on Emirates.
Skywards doesn’t have good partner airline redemption rates
Other ways to earn Emirates Skywards miles
Emirates Skywards is transfer partners with all major transferable points currencies, including Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Capital One, so there are lots of great ways to earn Skywards miles. Sometimes we even see transfer bonuses, which can improve the value proposition of transferring points even further.
Since I value most transferable points currencies at ~1.7 cents each, that’s one reason I’d rather transfer points than outright buy miles, even with a promotion.
On top of that, Emirates now has US-issued credit cards that you can earn Skywards miles with.
In the past Emirates Skywards has offered discounts on purchased miles, which could put the miles into a price range where a purchase makes sense.
With this promotion Emirates is taking a completely different approach, instead giving members the chance to earn elite status by buying miles. In general buying Skywards miles for three cents each definitely isn’t worth it.
I also don’t think it’s worth dropping $3,000 to earn Skywards Silver status. However, if you’re approaching the next elite tier and buying a small number of miles would help you qualify, then maybe this promotion could make sense. However, I suspect not that many people are in that position this year.
What do you make of Emirates’ creative promo for purchasing Skywards miles?