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American Expat in Dubai – Emirates Earning

American Expat in Dubai – Emirates Earning

  1. ds2

    I’m American living in Dubai. I fly Emirates exclusively and have earned ~ 120,000 tier miles in the past 12 months. My question is what is the best card to use to accumulate Emirates miles? The US cards, Chase, Citi, etc, have bonus categories that local cards don’t have, but the only program that has Emirates as a transfer partner is Amex MR, and they don’t have multipliers for dining or everyday spend (outside the US). Am I better off using my CSP or Citi Prestige and redeeming via the travel portals, getting mostly 1x with Amex MR for food/dining spend, or, while somewhat inconvenient, I could transfer my Citi TY points and fly on Etihad and Qatar.

    I’d really like to accumulate Emirates miles as I fly them for business and am close to Platinum status, but getting just 1x for food, dining, and everyday spend via Amex is frustrating. As a final thought, I know some programs (like Alaska) allow you redeem for Emirates flights, does that make sense for a “local” based in Dubai. Also, having Emirates miles directly seems valuable as upgrading via miles is a good use (buy economy, use miles to upgrade to biz, etc) rather than using miles one.

    Thanks for any thoughts and suggestions, sorry I rambled a bit.

  2. MidSouthSkier

    Welcome [USER=3427]@ds2[/USER] – so you’ve got this conundrum – you’ve earned and want to keep the benefits of crediting your flights to Emirates but you are fully aware there could be better opportunities for earning with your credit card.

    While it’s still technically only 1 point per dollar, what about the Amex SPG card? For every 20K points you transfer at one time, you get a 5K bonus. (Max transfer of 79,999 miles per day). So 20K SPG points becomes either 25K Alaska miles or 25K Emirates miles.

    Plus, SPG has a [U][URL=’http://www.starwoodhotels.com/preferredguest/account/starpoints/redeem/travel.html?language=en_US’]partnership with Emirates when you stay at SPG properties[/URL][/U] that could increase your earnings.

    But maybe the trick is to accrue Alaska miles on the side so that when you’ve reached your max status for the year you can use fewer Alaska miles to fly. Here are sample 1-way rates for DXB-JFK on Alaska vs. Emirates:
    Economy/Business/First
    42.5K/82.5K/150K
    62.5K/100K/136250

    So if you’re flying economy or business, you’re better off using Alaska miles. If you want to fly in First, it’s actually cheaper to use Emirates miles. (Note that this is one example and if adding connecting flights and/or stopovers the equation may change.)

    When Emirates became an Amex Membership Rewards transfer partner a few years ago, the TPG team did a series on using Emirates miles, including [U][URL=’https://thepointsguy.com/2013/11/emirates-series-using-miles-to-upgrade/’]a post on using them to upgrade[/URL][/U]. I don’t know if everything is still accurate but if it is, it seems like using miles to upgrade from coach to business could be a great deal.

    Hopefully that’s enough to give you a head start but if you have other questions, feel free to post them and we’ll try to provide an answer.

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