Skip to content

Elite status and flight discounts: Emirates unveils new offers on its credit card lineup

April 20, 2021
8 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor's Note

This story has been updated with the latest offers and information.

In the midst of the pandemic last year, Emirates launched a new credit card lineup for U.S. residents. In partnership with Barclays, the two cobranded cards appeal to fans of the Dubai-based carrier — with perks aplenty.

Now, there's an updated offer on both of these cards. Besides the up to 40,000 bonus Skywards Miles — worth $480 according to TPG's most recent valuations — there are two unique perks that have my attention. The first is an instant elite status benefit for a year, and the second is a potentially lucrative discount on Emirates tickets purchased with cash.

In addition, the Emirates Skywards loyalty program is a solid option to book flights using miles. That's because the (mostly) distance-based program partners with all the major transferable points currencies and also slashed hundreds of dollars off its fuel surcharges for its own flights last year.

Let's dive into both of these cards and their benefits.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Related: The top credit cards from international airlines

Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard®

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

The entry-level Emirates Skywards card has an annual fee of $99 and is offering 30,000 bonus Skywards miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. It also comes with Silver tier Skywards status. Typically, Silver members have to earn 25,000 Tier Miles or fly 25 flight segments. There are a handful of notable perks with Silver status, including:

  • Complimentary access to Emirates business-class lounges in Dubai
  • 25% bonus Skywards miles on Emirates flights
  • Free economy-class seat selection
  • Priority check-in and boarding

To retain Silver status after the first year, cardholders will have to spend $20,000 on the card during the course of the card membership year.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Flight discount perk

As part of the new sign-up bonus, you'll also receive a $99 discount per ticket on up to four economy seats when booked on the same reservation. That's a total savings of up to $396. The discount must be used within 12 months of account opening.

For example, on a random date this summer, a round-trip, economy-class ticket between Newark (EWR) and Athens (ATH) prices out at $876. With the card's $99 discount, that's more than 11% off, for a total of $777. And since it's a flat $99 offer, the promotion may be even prominent when used for select one-way flights. Unfortunately, Emirates, like many other airlines, prices most one-ways at nearly the same cost as a round-trip.

(Screenshot courtesy of Emirates)

Related: The best programs to book Emirates awards

Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard®

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

The premium flavor of the Emirates Skywards card has an annual fee of $499 and is offering 40,000 bonus Skywards miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. It also comes with Gold Skywards status. Typically, Gold members have to earn 50,000 Tier Miles or fly 50 flight segments. With Gold, you'll get even more perks on top of the Silver status benefits mentioned above. These include:

  • Complimentary access to Emirates business-class lounges worldwide for the cardmember and a guest
  • 50% bonus Skywards miles on Emirates flights
  • Priority baggage delivery
  • 10,000 anniversary bonus miles after spending $30,000 in a card membership year

To retain Gold status after the first year, cardholders will have to spend $40,000 on the card during the course of the card membership year — which will also trigger the anniversary bonus (which TPG pegs at $120 based on our most recent valuations).

Other cardholder perks include unlimited Priority Pass Select membership for the cardholder and a guest, along with a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit (up to $100) every five years.

The information for the Emirates cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Flight discount perk

As part of the new sign-up bonus for this card, you'll also receive a $499 discount per ticket on up to four business- or first-class seats when booked on the same reservation. That's a total savings of up to $1,996. The discount must be used within 12 months of account opening.

Of course, a consideration is that a premium cabin ticket can easily cost thousands of dollars. However, a $499 discount can still be a substantial savings. For instance, on a random date this summer, a round-trip, business-class ticket between Newark (EWR) and Athens (ATH) prices out at $3,365. With the card's $499 discount per ticket, that's nearly 15% off, for a total of $2,866 per passenger.

(Screenshot courtesy of Emirates)

Related: Review of Emirates first class, Dubai to Los Angeles

Instant Emirates Skywards elite status

One of the most exciting elements about both of these card products from Emirates and Barclays is that they will offer immediate elite status for one year upon card approval. This arguably makes it the easiest card you can use to earn status with an airline — with no initial spending or flying required.

To retain your Emirates Skywards status after the first year, you’ll have to accumulate a certain threshold of spending each card membership year.

Emirates lounge. (Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)
Related: Everything you need to know about Emirates Skywards

Many routes have resumed

After a months-long hiatus, many Emirates routes have resumed or will resume soon, including much of the Emirates premium experience. The popular fifth-freedom route between Newark (EWR) to Athens (ATH) will also restart on June 1, 2021, which coincides with Greece's plans to reopen to vaccinated travelers from select countries, including the U.S.

Earning

As with many cobranded airline cards, the category bonuses on both of these cards are fairly standard. Here's the full breakdown:

  • Earn 3 Skywards miles for every $1 spent on eligible Emirates purchases.
  • Earn 2 Skywards miles for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases, including airfare, hotel stays and car rentals.
  • Earn 1 Skywards mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

With a TPG valuation of 1.2 cents per Skywards mile, a 3x bonus on Emirates purchases is equivalent to about 3.6 cents in rewards per dollar spent. And while not amazingly lucrative, the 2x Skywards miles (worth 2.4 cents) on travel is a broad category that should be triggered by many purchases.

Related: These are the best airline credit cards of 2021

Here's a look at a few of the best uses of those miles once they land safely in your Emirates frequent flyer account. (Hint: The insane first-class suites are a great choice, and the sign-up bonus can help get you part of the way there!)

(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

With more countries opening to vaccinated travelers, now is an ideal time to look forward to — and plan for — future trips.

One of the best ways to do that is by earning and strategizing your points and miles for that next getaway. If Emirates is on your radar, there's good news on that front. Both of these credit cards can give instant elite status and substantial cash savings when you are ready to step foot on a plane again.

(Photo by Samantha Rosen/The Points Guy)

And the sign-up offers are just the icing on the cake. Or, since it's Emirates, we'll instead say the miles are just the olives on the inflight bar while flying at 36,000 feet.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more