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This weekend, Emirates announced a new option for redeeming Skywards miles: using them to offset paid fares. Under this new “Cash+Miles” option, you can redeem miles at a rate of 0.8 cents each toward the base fare of an Emirates ticket. In our latest points and miles valuation, we value Emirates miles at 1.2 cents per mile. So, this new Cash+Miles option definitely isn’t a great value.
However, you can redeem as few as 2,000 miles ($16), making this a (potentially) appealing option if you need to clear out a small Emirates mileage balance. Of course another alternative would be to boost your Emirates mileage balance by transferring points from either American Express Membership Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest. Then, you can take advantage of award sweet spots or use miles for an upgrade.
As a general rule, if an airline is trying to convince you to spend miles a certain way, it’s going to be a bad deal. This is true of using miles for TSA PreCheck (Alaska Airlines, Southwest, United Airlines), lounge memberships, to pay for merchandise, gold bars and — yes — paying for airfares.
|Airline||Pay with Miles Rate (Cents)||TPG Valuation|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||~0.67||1.5|
|British Airways Executive Club||0.7 – 1.2||1.5|
Compared to the Aeroplan option to redeem miles at a rate of <0.7 cents per mile — which is less than half of our valuation of Aeroplan miles — this Emirates deal isn’t the worst. However, unless you’re just looking to zero-out a small Emirates Skywards mileage account, you should probably pass.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards