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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.
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