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Dubai is known as a shopper’s paradise, and its airports are no exception. Now, Emirates and Dubai Duty Free have teamed up to allow passengers to redeem Emirates Skywards miles for products sold at the stores, including electronics, clothing and cosmetics. When you’re ready to check out, you simply present your Skywards membership card (or recite your membership number if you have it memorized) along with your passport and boarding pass, and the store will redeem miles for your purchase.

If you’re wondering what kind of value you’ll get for shopping with Emirates miles, well, it’s pretty terrible. You have to redeem a minimum of 4,500 miles, and that will be equivalent to 100 AED or roughly $27 — a value of 0.6 cents per mile. Considering that TPG values Emirates miles at 1.2 cents apiece in his latest valuations, this is far from ideal. After the minimum 4,500 miles that you need to redeem, you can redeem 45 miles for each additional AED you spend ($0.27), with no limit to the amount of miles you redeem.

You can redeem Emirates miles at Dubai Duty Free stores, but it’s a terrible value. Photo credit Michael Lurenberg/Getty Images.

In general, we say that redeeming miles for merchandise is a bad idea since you won’t be getting great value — but many airlines and hotel chains allow you to shop with your rewards. United even has a Miles Shop at Newark airport (EWR) where you can buy anything from headphones to model airplanes with your miles — at a terrible rate, of course. American Express lets cardholders redeem Membership Rewards points for merchandise sold on the issuer’s online shopping portal, but you’ll receive a paltry value of 0.5 cents per point when doing this.

There are a few ways in which you can get a decent value when redeeming points for merchandise. Both American Express and Chase allow you redeem points to purchase gift cards for a (limited) variety of retailers usually at a value of 1 cent per point — still not great, but better than most of the other options.

Photo credit Michael Luhrenberg/Getty Images

Have you ever redeemed travel rewards for merchandise?

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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.

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More Things to Know
  • 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
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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