I write all the time about opportunities to buy miles with programs like Alaska Mileage Plan, American AAdvantage, and Avianca LifeMiles, though at the moment there’s another airline loyalty program selling miles that some might find useful.
Etihad offering 20% bonus on purchased miles
Etihad Guest is offering up to a 20% bonus on purchased miles through March 5, 2019. That might not sound like a huge bonus, but the cost to purchase Etihad miles is much more reasonable to begin with than what some other programs charge.
With this promotion, Etihad is offering a tiered bonus, as follows:
- Buy 6,000-20,000 miles, get a 10% bonus
- Buy 21,000-40,000 miles, get a 15% bonus
- Buy 41,000-60,000 miles, get a 20% bonus
With Etihad Guest you can purchase up to 100,000 miles per calendar year, and up to 60,000 miles per transaction. Etihad ordinarily charges two cents per purchased mile, so during this promotion you can buy miles for as little as 1.67 cents each.
This would happen if you purchased exactly 60,000 miles, which would turn into 72,000 miles, and would cost $1,200.
This is a very good deal, though be aware that late last year Etihad sold miles with a 30% bonus, and prior to that they sold miles with a 25% bonus. So we have seen better bonuses in the past, though this is the best bonus we’ve seen in 2019.
One warning — Etihad miles expire after two years, regardless of any additional account activity.
Which credit card should you buy Etihad miles with?
Etihad mileage purchases are processed by points.com, meaning they don’t count as an airfare purchase for the purposes of credit card spend. However, anecdotally points.com purchases earn 3x points on the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, so that would be the card I recommend for these purchases.
If you don’t have that, I’d recommend using a card on which you’re trying to reach minimum spend, or otherwise a credit card that maximizes your return on everyday spend, like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or Citi® Double Cash Card.
See this post for more on which credit cards are best for buying points.
Should you buy Etihad miles with a 20% bonus?
While I wouldn’t proactively pick up Etihad Guest miles at this cost, there are several excellent niche redemptions with Etihad where this price could be worthwhile. For example:
- You can redeem just 44,000 Etihad Guest miles for a one-way business class ticket anywhere Royal Air Maroc flies
- You can redeem just 25,610 Etihad Guest miles for a one-way business class ticket on Czech Airlines between Prague and Seoul Incheon
- There are some solid redemption values for travel on Etihad flights, though they have a roughly distance based award chart where the cost varies based on the exact city pair
Royal Air Maroc’s 787 business class
I do think buying Etihad Guest miles for 1.67 cents each could represent a good value, though I should also mention that Etihad Guest is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Capital One, so for those with access to US credit cards, there are other useful ways to accrue these miles.
But for those who don’t have access to US credit cards and/or who would rather pay 1.54 cents per mile than transfer points, buying Etihad Guest miles could represent a great deal.