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Emirates’ new 777-300ER first class is easily one of my favorite first-class products, but it’s not especially easy to book with miles — assuming you can even fly it on a route that works with your itinerary. However, this top-notch cabin just became more accessible to a huge group of points and miles enthusiasts, thanks to a new partnership between Emirates and Chase.

It’s now easier to use Chase points to fly Emirates first class. (Photo by Zach Honig / TPG)

Skywards, the loyalty program of both Emirates and FlyDubai, is joining as an Ultimate Rewards airline partner, offering 1:1 transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards. Skywards joins the following existing Ultimate Rewards partners, becoming the 13th transfer program:

  • Aer Lingus
  • British Airways
  • Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)
  • Hyatt
  • Iberia
  • IHG
  • JetBlue
  • Marriott
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Southwest
  • United
  • Virgin Atlantic

You can also transfer points to Skywards from both American Express Membership Rewards and Capital One at a 1:1 ratio and 2:1 ratio, respectively. In both cases, points transfer instantly.

Note that in many cases, Skywards redemptions come along with some very hefty surcharges, so you could be on the hook for a significant cash co-pay, depending on your origin, destination and class of service. For example, a one-way first-class award from New York-JFK to Dubai (DXB) requires 136,250 miles plus $842. Considering that TPG values Ultimate Rewards at 2 cents each, you’d be looking at $2,725 worth of points — a total cash equivalent of just over $3,500. That’s a far cry from the $15,000+ you’d need to book this same flight using cash, though.

Potentially of more interest is Emirates’ collection of one-off airline partners. The airline isn’t a member of any of the three major alliances, but does partner directly with several carriers, including JetBlue and Alaska. You can also find value when redeeming Emirates miles for Japan Airlines flights, with prices from the US to Japan clocking in at 60,000 miles in economy or 125,000 miles in business round-trip.

If you don’t have a stash of Ultimate Rewards points, you can earn them with a number of Chase credit cards, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which offers a 60,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months. The CSP is a classic choice for both beginners and advanced points and miles experts — read our in-depth review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred for more details.

Emirates Skywards is a welcome if not groundbreaking addition to the Ultimate Rewards program, giving Chase card holders new options for booking the airline’s premium cabins, along with flights on both US and international partners. It makes the already robust Chase program even more valuable to points and miles collectors.

Know before you go.

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2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the 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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