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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
There’s great news as we approach the end of 2018, with Capital One announcing new transfer partners and limited-time offers on both the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Capital One Spark Miles for Business. The issuer’s miles will now be transferable to 12 different airline loyalty programs, resulting in a 40% jump for the currency in TPG’s most recent valuations. While not every program on the transfer partner list is one I’d consider utilizing, a number of them definitely are destinations for my future Venture miles. Today I am going to focus on one transfer partner that happens to be one of my favorites and one of the most under-valued programs out there: Etihad Guest.
Under the current offer, you can sign up for the Venture Card and earn 75,000 miles after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. These miles will then be transferable to Etihad Guest at a rate of 2:1.5 (transfers are expected to go live in December). Since the Venture Card earns 2x miles on all purchases, you’re effectively getting 1.5 Etihad Guest miles per dollar spent on everything you buy. Your 75,000-mile sign-up bonus will thus equate to earning 56,250 Etihad Guest miles (or nearly 64,000 once you factor in what you’d earn from the $5k minimum spending), plenty to book some incredible partner award bookings.
Booking Etihad Partner Awards
- Partner redemptions are only available over the phone. Call (877) 690-0767 and work your way through the phone tree to the Etihad Guest menu. Have your Etihad Guest number ready to give the agent. A semi-new Serbian call center seems to have taken over the workload from the Manchester, UK, call center, and as a whole, I’ve found the new agents to be fairly well trained.
- For the most part, agents have to search and find the airline and flight you’d like, manually query that partner to confirm award space and then go through the ticketing process. They’ll most likely put you on hold for each of these steps, which can increase your call time and frustration level. But the value you’ll receive is worth the 20-minute phone call. Sometimes they’ll request to call you back based on the time it takes to complete the query process — rest easy, as every time I’ve done this, they’ve actually called me back within a reasonable time period. Just triple check that they have your correct phone number.
- Before you get off the phone, ensure you have both the Etihad and partner booking reference numbers.
- Before calling, do as much of the legwork as possible given your specific partner airline and the route you’re trying to book. Know the exact flight number(s) and check all possible avenues like ExpertFlyer and partner websites that may show at least an insight into award availability.
Best Uses of 56,250 Etihad Guest Miles
For each of the below partners, I’ll cover routes costing less than 56,250 Etihad miles. Each airline name is hyperlinked to the Etihad partner chart showing you how many miles an award flight will cost (WARNING: most of these links are PDFs).
Etihad requires fewer miles to fly American-operated flights than you’d need through the AAdvantage program to book many routes in American’s network. In fact, the Etihad chart for American flights matches the pre-2016 devaluation numbers the carrier used to charge:
- North America to Europe one-way in business is only 50,000 Etihad miles.
- A321T transcontinental business class flights are 25,000 miles, so a round-trip ticket is bookable with this sign-up bonus alone.
- North America to Hawaii in business class is 37,500 miles.
- North America to Japan or South Korea one-way in business is only 50,000 Etihad miles.
You need to find SAAver award seat availability on AA.com and then call Etihad to book the flight. Unless you’re sitting on a stash of American miles (or carry AAdvantage elite status and can utilize fee waivers for changing/cancelling awards), you should always look to use Etihad miles before AA miles to book American-operated international flights.
Etihad’s award chart for ANA operated-flights is distance-based, opening up some terrific sweet spots. Business class from Seattle (SEA) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT) will only set you back 54,000 miles one-way based on the distance of the actual flight. You can also fly several medium-haul intra-Asia routes like Tokyo to Bangkok (BKK) in business for only 34,000 Etihad miles. Booking ANA flights through Etihad Guest is particularly attractive given the option to book one-way awards. Other partners (like Virgin Atlantic Flying Club) require you to redeem miles for round-trip itineraries.
The Brussels Airlines route from New York-JFK to Brussels (BRU) is a great option at just 27,000 miles one-way in economy and 44,000 miles one-way in business class. For the transatlantic route, that’s a fantastic deal. The same pricing applies for Washington-Dulles (IAD) to Brussels. That means your sign up bonus from the Venture card will earn you enough for a round-trip economy flight from JFK or IAD to Brussels.
This Etihad partner may not be high on your list, but if you find yourself in Europe, you can fly Czech Airlines from Prague (PRG) to Seoul (ICN) for 12,805 miles one-way in economy or 25,610 miles one-way in business. In case that isn’t full registering with you, that’s Europe to North Asia for 51,220 miles round-trip. It’s unreal that you can fly business class from Europe to Asia and back with your Venture card sign-up bonus and conveniently have 5,000 miles left to put towards your next Etihad partner flight.
Expensive, short-haul intra-South America flights can be booked on Brazilian carrier Gol Transportes Aereos for 3,000 to 9,000 Etihad miles in economy each way. Earlier this year, I booked a $600 flight from Buenos Aires (EZE) to Rio de Janeiro (GIG) for 9,000 Etihad Miles on GOL. Your sign up bonus would allow you to book nine Argentina to Brazil hops, saving a ton of cash when the price is high.
You’ll need only 44,000 Etihad Guest miles to fly Royal Air Maroc’s 787 Dreamliner from New York (JFK) to Casablanca (CMN) and beyond. The award chart tops out at 44,000 miles for any itinerary 2,001 miles and longer. That means you can add an additional segment — like Casablanca to Doha (DOH) — and it will still be 44,000 Etihad miles for the business class journey. Economy is half the price of business class at 22,000 miles, so enjoy round-trip flights from New York to Africa for 44,000 miles, leaving you 12,250 additional Etihad miles for your next partner flight.
The partner award chart for Virgin Australia is quite lengthy and is divided into individual routes but holds a few gems worth pursuing. Brisbane (BNE) to Queenstown, New Zealand (ZQN) yielded me quite a bit of value earlier this year at only 10,900 miles one-way for a rather expensive, three-hour flight. Dozens of domestic Australia flights can be had for 6,900 miles one-way in economy. You can also fly from Sydney (SYD), Melbourne (MEL) or Brisbane to Bali (DPS) for 33,800 miles one-way in business class. A balance of 56,250 Etihad Guest miles would go a long way towards a lot of Australian flying.
See a Lot for a Little
Piecing together some of the sweet spots from above into multi-partner itineraries could allow you to see a lot of places for 56,250 miles or close to it. Here are a few ideas:
Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) — Buenos Aires — Rio de Janeiro — Miami (MIA) — Dallas-Fort Worth
See Argentina, Brazil and South Beach from Dallas for 61,500 Etihad miles (you’d have enough for this redemption when you factor in the additional 10,000 Capital One miles you’d earn from the minimum spend to get the 75k sign-up bonus):
DFW – EZE: American Airlines off peak 20,000 miles
EZE – GIG: GOL 9,000 miles
GIG – MIA: American Airlines off peak 20,000 miles
MIA – DFW: American Airlines 12,500 miles
New York-JFK — Milan (MXP) — Casablanca — New York-JFK
See Italy and Morocco for an incredible 52,000 miles total using American Airlines and Royal Air Maroc:
JFK – MXP: American Airlines off-peak 20,000 miles
MXP – CMN: Royal Air Maroc 10,000 miles
CMN – JFK: Royal Air Maroc 22,000 miles
It’s easy to see how one could really get creative in using multiple Etihad partners which really span the globe. You may not think 56,250 miles could go such a long way, but the above itineraries show the true potential. It’s great to have another option to earn Etihad miles at an effective rate of 1.5 Etihad miles/dollar on all purchases thanks to the Capital One Venture Rewards transfer program.
Featured image courtesy of Etihad.