You Can Now Use Emirates Miles to Buy Merchandise at Dubai Airports

Oct 12, 2016

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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.

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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?

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