How to get to (and stay in) Dubai using points and miles
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Dubai is one of the most interesting cities in the world. Its massive skyscrapers, over-the-top hotels and stunning beaches make it the perfect vacation for anyone that wants a trip to the future. Plus, you have plenty of great options for flying there. Whether you fly Emirates first-class or book a connecting ticket on a carrier like Swiss, KLM or Qatar Airways, you’re sure to have a great experience.
Better yet, the United Arab Emirates (or UAE) is currently open for American tourists so long as you pack a negative COVID test. So if you’re comfortable with traveling abroad during the coronavirus pandemic, Dubai can be a great place to vacation. Just be sure to keep an eye on the country’s COVID numbers — the virus is still a real threat worldwide.
In this article, I’ll give you a look at the best ways to fly to Dubai and stay there on points. On the flight side, I’ll show you the best economy, business and first class options on major carriers that serve the country. Then, I’ll discuss the best hotel options — ranging from five-star luxury to more modest offerings.
You’ll have everything you need to book a points-fueled trip to Dubai by the end of the article. Let’s dive in!
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First thing’s first: you’ll need to book airfare from the U.S. to Dubai to start your journey.
Here’s a look at all the best ways to fly to the City of Gold using your points and miles. I’ll start with the major alliance airlines and then move onto non-alliance options like Emirates. I’ll focus on the cheapest options for economy, business and first-class bookings.
Cheapest Oneworld awards to Dubai
Oneworld has three great options for flights to Dubai: Qatar Airways via Doha (DOH), Royal Air Maroc via Casablanca (CMN) and Royal Jordanian via Amman (AMM). Qatar and the UAE recently struck down their blockade, allowing for nonstop flights between the two nations. The airline has a superior in-flight experience — especially on Qsuite-equipped aircraft. On the other hand, it’s easier to find Royal Air Maroc and Royal Jordanian award space, but the airlines serve a limited number of U.S. airports.
Your best bet for booking these awards is American Airlines AAdvantage. Economy tickets cost 80,000 miles round-trip, business class costs 140,000 and first-class costs 230,000. Taxes and fees are low on both Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian flights when booked with AAdvantage — for example, this one-way flight from Detroit (DTW) to Dubai (DXB) has just $18 in taxes and fees, even in business class.
On the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles side, 80,000 miles round-trip in economy, 150,000 in business class and 335,000 in first-class. Note that Asia Miles’ pricing can be hard to predict, but we’ve found this pricing accurate in most cases.
Unfortunately, Asia Miles passes on fuel surcharges for Qatar and Asia Miles awards, which can add a substantial cost to your bookings. For example, a Royal Air Jordanian business class ticket from New York-JFK to Dubai (DXB) has roughly $278 in taxes and fees.
(Screenshot courtesy of Asia Miles)
There are a number of ways to earn AAdvantage miles, including spending on American Airlines cobranded credit cards. One of my favorites is the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® — this card offers 50,000 American AAdvantage miles after you spend $2,500 in the first three months of account opening. This is more than enough points for a one-way economy ticket and almost enough for a one-way business class ticket.
Asia Miles are far easier to earn since they transfer in from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards and Citi ThankYou. American Express is offering elevated welcome offers on a handful of its credit cards, with the best being:
- American Express® Green Card: 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Earn 3x points on dining at restaurants, travel and transit (including flights, hotels, transit, taxis, tours, and ridesharing services), 1x points on all other purchases ($150 annual fee; see rates and fees).
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first six months of account opening. Earn 4x points on dining at restaurants; 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x points); 3x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines; 1x points on all other purchases, ($250 annual fee; see rates and fees).
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership. Earn 5x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines or with American Express Travel (earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), 5x on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, and Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts; 1x on all other purchases, ($550 annual fee; see rates and fees).
The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card and Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Cheapest Star Alliance awards to Dubai
Most Star Alliance award tickets will go through Europe on partners like Lufthansa, Swiss and Turkish Airlines. Air Canada also operates nonstop flights to Dubai from its hub in Toronto (YYZ), or you can fly EgyptAir via Cairo (CAI) and Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa (ADD). My favorite option, however, is Swiss via its hub in Zurich (ZRH).
There are plenty of options for booking flights to Dubai with any of these carriers. You’ll generally get the best deals with Avianca LifeMiles. Round-trip tickets from the U.S. to Dubai cost 85,000 LifeMiles in economy, 156,000 in business and 210,000 miles in first-class. The program doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges, so you’ll pay under $100 in taxes and fees on round-trip tickets.
You can also use United MileagePlus miles to book your ticket. Prices are unpredictable due to United’s switch to dynamic pricing for partner awards. I’m finding partner flights pricing at 93,500 miles one-way in business class on most dates through the summer, which is significantly higher than Avianca’s price. That said, it might be worth considering if you have a stash of United miles to spend.
It’s worth noting that Asiana Club and ANA Mileage Club may offer lower award pricing on these tickets. That said, it’s difficult to earn Asiana Club miles in the U.S., and ANA Mileage Club adds large fuel surcharges on most Star Alliance partner awards.
You can transfer miles to Avianca LifeMiles from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards and Citi ThankYou. Alternatively, you can earn United miles with United cobranded credit cards or transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards. Here’s a look at the current welcome offers for United’s suite of credit cards:
- United Explorer Card: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months.
- United Gateway Card: Earn 20,000 miles after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
Cheapest SkyTeam awards to Dubai
SkyTeam airlines have more limited options for flights to Dubai. You’re most likely to fly with Air France or KLM Royal Dutch Airlines through Paris (CDG) or Amsterdam (AMS), respectively. Both of these airlines offer a solid in-flight experience and have continued to operate routes to both the U.S. and Dubai through the coronavirus pandemic.
You’re best off booking these tickets with Air France and KLM’s Flying Blue loyalty program. This program prices its awards dynamically with highly-volatile pricing, but it’s possible to find a great deal. Many summer dates have economy awards starting at just 34,000 miles one-way and business class tickets starting at 85,000 miles one-way. Note you’re subject to over $400 in taxes and fees on many of these tickets.
You can also book these award tickets with Delta SkyMiles. Delta devalued its program multiple times over the last year, but the U.S. to Middle East awards have remained reasonable. You can book tickets to Dubai for 37,500 SkyMiles one-way in economy and 85,000 in business class. You’ll pay lower taxes and fees when you book with Delta as well.
You can transfer points to Flying Blue from any of the major transferable points programs. This includes American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou. If you’re short on Chase points, you can earn them with these credit cards:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. Plus earn a $50 statement credit on grocery purchases in the first year of account opening.
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card – Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.
Cheapest non-alliance program awards to Dubai
If you’re looking for a nonstop flight to Dubai, you’re best booking a flight with Emirates. The Dubai-based carrier offers nonstop service from a handful of U.S. cities — including Chicago, Dallas, New York and others — to the city year-round. Plus, the airline is well-known for its top-notch first-class and solid business-class products that offer some of the best in-flight service in the sky.
You can book these tickets with the Emirates Skywards. Awards are priced based on the distance of a flight and, unfortunately, there’s no published award chart. That said, awards are fixed at a standard price. You can use Emirates’ handy calculator tool to quickly find how many points you’ll need for an award in any class of service.
It’s also worth noting that there are a few different tiers of Emirates awards. For economy and business awards, you can choose between Saver and Flex Plus tickets. Saver tickets are cheaper but are harder to find. On the other hand, first-class awards can be booked in Flex and Flex Plus, with Flex being the cheaper option. If possible, always try and book the cheapest tier for your desired cabin class to save miles.
From New York-JFK to Dubai (DXB), you’ll pay 72,500 miles round-trip in economy, 145,000 in business class and 217,500 in first-class. Considering the price of an Emirates first-class ticket can often top $20,000, this is a stellar deal. On top of this, Emirates recently lowered fuel surcharges on its own award tickets too. You can expect to pay under $500 in taxes and fees on any round-trip Emirates award ticket from the U.S.
You can transfer points to Emirates Skywards from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou. The airline also offers two U.S. cobranded credit cards with Barclays. Here’s a look at their current welcome offers:
- Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 60,000 bonus Skywards Miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
- Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 bonus Skywards Miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
Dubai is known for its world-class hotels — and you can stay in some of the best using your hotel points. You’ll find everything from five-star luxury to solid value options, so there’s truly something for everyone. You’ll be happy to know that hotels in Dubai are some of the best in the world, in terms of points value. You can use this to stretch your hotel points further or stay in a high-end luxury hotel without draining your points balance.
Here’s a look at the best options for all the major hotel loyalty programs.
Hilton has a whopping 23 hotels in Dubai, giving you plenty of options to choose from. Here’s a look at seven of your best options, which are centrally located near downtown and other major tourist and business districts. Hilton doesn’t have standard award pricing for its award nights, but these hotels consistently price on or around the prices below on off-peak dates:
- Al Seef Heritage Hotel Dubai, Curio Collection by Hilton: 18,000 points per night
- Canopy by Hilton Dubai Al Seef: 12,000 points per night
- Conrad Dubai: 19,000 points per night
- Habtoor Palace Dubai, LXR Hotels & Resorts: 33,000 points per night
- Hilton Dubai The Walk: 34,000 points per night
- Waldorf Astoria Dubai International Financial Centre: 43,000 points per night
- Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah: 64,000 points per night
These are exceptional deals for Hilton properties. Properties in the Al Seef area are located along the Dubai Creek, where you’ll find historic buildings from Dubai’s past. On the other hand, hotels located closer to the Financial Centre are close to famous buildings like the Burj Khalifa. Whatever you choose, the city can be easily navigated by taxi or metro.
How to earn Hilton points: Short on Hilton points? Consider opening a Hilton cobranded credit card. Each comes with a solid welcome bonus and has various benefits like elite status, an annual free night and more. Here’s a look at the current lineup of Hilton credit cards:
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Earn 150,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening.
- Hilton Honors American Express Card: Earn 80,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening.
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening.
The information for the Hilton Aspire Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Hyatt also has a large presence in Dubai. You’ll find everything from modest Hyatt Place properties to Park Hyatts around the city, so you have plenty of choice in how you redeem your World of Hyatt points. Remember, the program has a standard category-based award chart, so you’ll always get predictable award pricing.
Some of the best Hyatt properties in Dubai include:
- Andaz Dubai The Palm: 20,000 points per night
- Grand Hyatt Dubai: 15,000 points per night
- Hyatt Place Dubai Baniyas Square: 5,000 points per night
- Hyatt Regency Dubai: 8,000 points per night
- Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights: 12,000 points per night
- Park Hyatt Dubai: 20,000 points per night
While any of these hotels are a great option, I’m itching to stay at the Andaz Dubai at The Palm. The hotel is located right off the beach near Dubai’s famous Palm Islands. On-site, you’ll find modern rooms, an Andaz Lounge and a handful of restaurants. Plus, it’s close to the Mall of The Emirates and other attractions.
How to earn World of Hyatt points: You can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to World of Hyatt or earn with the Hyatt cobranded credit card.
- World Of Hyatt Credit Card: Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 more Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 in the first six months of account opening.
IHG has several properties in Dubai, including three InterContinental hotels. You can use your IHG Rewards points to book any of these hotels. The program moved to dynamic pricing but kept relatively consistent rates on off-peak and standard dates. Here’s a look at some of the best IHG properties in Dubai:
Crowne Plaza Dubai: 15,000 points per night
Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown: 20,000 points per night
InterContinental Hotels Residence Suites Dubai F.C: 20,000 points per night
- InterContinental Hotels Dubai Festival City: 25,000 points per night
InterContinental Hotels Dubai Marina: 25,000 points per night
How to earn IHG points: You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to IHG or earn with one of IHG’s cobranded credit cards:
- IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card: Earn 125,000 bonus points plus a Reward Night after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
- IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card: Earn 60,000 points after spending $2,000 within the first three months of account opening.
As you might expect, Marriott has a massive presence in Dubai. You’ll find everything from JW Marriotts to Ritz-Carltons in the city, so you have plenty of luxurious options. Or, you can stretch your Marriott Bonvoy points and stay at one of the city’s Aloft, Element or Courtyard properties. Whatever you choose, you’ll have a great stay in the Dubai neighborhood of your choosing.
Marriott has kept a standard award chart, albeit with peak and off-peak pricing. Here’s a look at standard award pricing for some of the city’s best Marriott properties:
- JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai: 50,000 points per night
- Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina: 35,000 points per night
- The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai: 85,000 points per night
- The St. Regis Dubai, The Palm: 85,000 points per night
- Sheraton Grand Hotel, Dubai: 35,000 points per night
- W Dubai, The Palm: 60,000 points per night
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points: You can transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards to Marriott, but it’s not typically a good deal. Instead, I recommend using a Marriott cobranded credit card to earn Marriott Bonvoy points. These are your options:
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card: Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Earn 125,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months. Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first six months of card membership. Offer ends 5/12/2021.
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card: Earn 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 5/12/21. Terms apply.
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card: Earn 50,000 Marriott points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Terms apply.
Radisson has a small footprint in Dubai, but its hotels are still worth considering. Most of Dubai’s Radisson properties are under the flagship Radisson Blu brand. Here’s a look at the Radisson properties worth considering:
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Canal View: 50,000 points per night
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek: 38,000 points per night
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Media City: 44,000 points per night
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront: 50,000 points per night
- The Radisson Blu Residence, Dubai Marina: 44,000 points per night
How to earn Radisson Rewards points: You can earn Radisson Rewards points with a cobranded credit card. Here’s a look at the current offers:
- Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature® Card: Earn 50,000 points after your first purchase plus 35,000 points once you spend $2,500 on your card within the first 90 days
- Radisson Rewards Visa® Card: Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on your card within the first 90 day
There is no shortage of interesting things to do in Dubai. From desert tours to tickets to the Burj Khalifa, you can save money on your trip’s activities by booking them through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal. Your redemption value will vary based on the type of Chase credit card you have. Chase Freedom cards can redeem at 1.0 cents per point, Chase Sapphire Preferred at 1.25 cents per point and Chase Sapphire Reserve at 1.5 cents per point.
For example, Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders can use 3,600 points to book a desert safari that’s complete with sandboarding and a camel ride. Alternatively, you can book the same experience for $45. This is perfect for thrill-seekers wanting to get out of the city and into Dubai’s famous surrounding deserts.
Alternatively, you can use 3,280 points for a ticket to the Burj Khalifa’s 124th and 125th-floor observation decks. This is an excellent way to get a breathtaking view of Dubai and its surroundings without breaking the bank.
You have a few different options for using points and miles to cover the cost of the journey from Dubai International Airport to your hotel.
The most convenient way for many to make this journey is in an Uber. Uber now serves Dubai and is reasonably priced, especially if you’re headed to a hotel in the Al Seef or touristy areas. An Uber Select — the cheapest option in Dubai — from the airport to the Conrad Dubai, for example, will usually cost between $10 and $15 one-way.
You can charge Uber rides to your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and use miles to cover your expenses.
Alternatively, you can take the Dubai Metro’s Red Line from the airport into the city. You can view pricing on the Dubai Roads & Transport Authority’s website.
Whether you’re traveling solo or as a family, Dubai is a great destination if you’re seeking a warm vacation abroad. In this article, you learned how to book flights, hotels and activities in Dubai using your points and miles. This can help you save money on your trip and upgrade your travel experience at the same time.
Feature photo by Tom Dulat/Stringer/Getty Images
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