Elite status and flight discounts: Emirates unveils new offers on its credit card lineup
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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.
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Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard®
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.
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.
Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard®
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
Featured photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy.
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