Where Should I Bank Miles from Flying Emirates Airlines?

by on July 20, 2014 · 15 comments

in Alaska, Emirates, JAL, Japan Airlines, JetBlue, Korean Air, Starwood, Sunday Reader Questions

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‪This week I got a tweet from TPG reader Mark asking about what he should do with miles earned on Emirates Airlines:

“@thepointsguy I have a trip on Emirates to Asia. What airline should I assign points to, as I doubt I will fly on Emirates again soon?”

Mark is headed to the Middle East on Emirates, and he wants to know which airline he should bank those miles to, since he won’t fly Emirates enough in the future to make them useful. Emirates Skywards is an okay frequent flyer program; they’ve got a bunch of partners despite not being in an alliance, but their fees can be really high, so if you don’t plan on flying Emirates flights, I recommend banking them to Alaska Airlines.


Alaska has an amazing frequent flyer program that’s often overlooked. They’re also not in an alliance, but they’ve got their own great set of transfer partners, including Cathay Pacific, Fiji, American, and Delta. Alaska also has very low surcharges; even if you were planning to fly Emirates in the future, it would be much cheaper to redeem Alaska Airlines miles for an Emirates flight than to redeem Emirates Skywards miles. You can use Alaska miles for one way travel, so you don’t need to bank a ton to get meaningful rewards, and you can always transfer in Starwood Preferred Guest points to top up your account.

Japan Airlines is also an Emirates partner. Their program is a bit funky, but once again you can transfer SPG points to top up, and you can redeem for Emirates flights much cheaper than you could using Emirates miles. You might also consider JetBlue, especially if you fly them regularly in the U.S. If you have a lot of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, you could also consider banking to Korean Air and redeem for SkyTeam awards (since Korean is one of the 11 Ultimate Rewards transfer partners). Korean Air has a pretty good first class product, which could be useful depending where you’re headed.

Qantas and Virgin America are other options, but I wouldn’t recommend them.

To answer Mark’s question definitively, I would bank my Emirates miles to Alaska Airlines. If you have a particular interest in another of the programs I mentioned, go for it, but I don’ t think you can go wrong with Alaska.

If you have additional questions, please message me on Facebook, tweet me @ThePointsGuy, or send me an email at [email protected]

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Justin

    The icing on the cake – double miles on Emirates when crediting to Alaska:

  • Allen

    Alaska is the best program out there.

  • Hyacinthe

    …if you’re based in North America.

  • Gisele

    I have a super rookie question: Is he supposed to credit this trip to Emirates Skywards and THEN transfer them to Alaska’s frequent flyer program or, should he use his Alaska frequent flyer number from the get go, when he books this flight on Emirates? Thank you!

  • Rainbow

    Great post! my question is that I want to close my Amex biz plat card due to hefty fee :( and I’ve got 125k points. Where do I transfer these points to be able to redeem with Emirates in the future?

  • trey

    No transfers between frequent flyer accounts. Bank directly to Alaskan.

  • Gisele

    Thank you!

  • mvill

    what is the best airline plan to bank miles to within the star alliance offering low surcharges, one-way flight rewards, low redemption levels, etc?

  • kelvinchiong

    I’m flying Turkish Airline, which partner airlines should I bank my points on?

  • Jose

    Justin is that promo still valid? I seem to get an air about registration code for the promotion.

  • Mel

    I agree, Alaska has the best reward program out of all major carriers now. I stupidly switched over to Delta this year because I do fly them more often, but their program is horrible for earning. It is also easy to get super cheap awards on Alaska, at 12,500 miles each way. I’m afraid they are going to get bought out and all will be gone though….

    One word on Emirates miles on Alaska, for discount economy you will only get 50% of your actual miles flown, though they will still count towards status.

  • Tiffany

    I was baffled about what to do with my points on an upcoming Emirates flight (Dulles to Kuala Lumpur) but this post was so helpful! Like Mel, I tend to fly Delta, but Alaska Airlines’ program seems like a good one to have in my portfolio.

  • Martin

    Unfortunately this no longer works.

  • len

    Their website says you must have had a frequent flier account with Alaska at the time of travel on partner airlines. You can’t do it retroactively and still get the points. Bummer.

  • kibo

    Okay so I am new. I have 12,500 miles ea on two emirates skywards accounts. What does it mean to bank them to Alaska? I cannot even transfer them from one account to the other (to have 25k in one) within Emirates without paying $25 per 1,000 miles. How do I utilize these miles?

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