Have you ever wanted to fly on Emirates, one of the top airlines in the world?
If you have, you might want to consider the new Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard. It is issued by Barclays and it is one of the most interesting airline credit cards out there in my opinion.
In this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know about the card including things like the bonuses and perks.
Table of Contents
Emirates Skywards Rewards Overview
- 3X on Emirates flights
- 2X on airfare
- 2X on hotels
- 2X on car rentals
- 1X everywhere else
- Elite status
- Lounge access
- Priority perks
- $99 annual fee
- No foreign transaction fees
The first bonus that we saw offered with this card was for 30,000 bonus Skywards Miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
30,000 miles (by itself) may not be very useful for someone located in the US looking to fly abroad on Emirates. However, as you can see below there are some redemptions that you can get close to.
Below, I researched a handful of different routes and pricing for economy, business class, and first class to give you an idea of what prices would look like. (Emirates does not publish an award chart and the prices for awards vary.)
Notice how low many of the fees are now as well.
- New York (JFK) – Milan (MXP): 38,750 + 21 USD
- Dubia (DXB) – Chicago (ORD): 62,500 + 109.25 USD
- Dubia (DXB) – Los Angeles (LAX): 71,250 + 109.25 USD
- Dubia (DXB) – Hong Kong (HKG): 45,000 + 61.63 USD
- New York (JFK) – Milan (MXP): 62,500 + 41 USD
- Dubia (DXB) – Chicago (ORD): 100,000 + 212.90 USD
- Dubia (DXB) – Los Angeles (LAX): 113,750 + 212.90 USD
- Dubia (DXB) – Hong Kong (HKG): 72,500 + 112.05 USD
- New York (JFK) – Milan (MXP): 85,000 + 41 USD
- Dubia (DXB) – Chicago (ORD): 136,250 + 212.90 USD
- Dubia (DXB) – Los Angeles (LAX): 155,000 + 212.90 USD
- Dubia (DXB) – Hong Kong (HKG): 98, 750 + 112.05 USD
As you can see the cheapest flight that I found was from New York to Italy and went for 38,750 miles.
So if you want to fly on most of these routes you are going to need many more miles. But given the quality of the product, especially the first class experience, you’ll often find it worth it to save up some miles on Emirates!
Just remember that Emirates is a transfer partner of major programs like a Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards. This means that you can transfer your points out to Emirates and build up your balance rather quickly.
Barclays imposes something known as “6/24.” This is a soft rule that means that if you’ve opened six or more cards in the past 24 months, you might not get approved for their cards. This is not always enforced so you don’t always have to worry about it.
And there are other eligibility rules at play with this card as well. Personally, I would just recommend that you check out the free app WalletFlo so that you can automate your eligibility for all of these terms and conditions.
- 3X on Skywards Miles for every USD 1 spent on emirates.com or at the Emirates Sales office
- 2X on airfare
- 2X on hotels
- 2X on car rentals
- 1X everywhere else
3X on Skywards Miles
You’ll earn 3X on Skywards Miles for every USD 1 spent on emirates.com or at the Emirates Sales office, which is pretty impressive. Most co-branded airline credit cards only offer 2X on their respective airline.
However, Emirates miles are not worth that much and the value may only be around 1.2 cents per mile. But given the high multiplier of 3X, that still comes out to a pretty respectable earning rate of about 3.6 cents per dollar spent.
For that reason I think this is a pretty solid airline credit card.
Tip: Keep in mind that you can earn 5X on airfare with the American Express Platinum Card and then transfer those points over to Emirates so it is possible to earn more miles on your Emirates flights.
2X on airfare, hotels, car rentals
Earning 2X on airfare, hotels, and car rentals is not terribly attractive to me. You’re looking at around 2.5% back on those categories which just is not very competitive considering how easy it is to get at least 3X on travel.
For example, you could use a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and earn 3X on travel. And as mentioned when it comes to airfare there are different ways to earn much more points like the American Express Platinum Card which offers 5X on airfare.
1X on all purchases
1X on all purchases is the standard default earning rate for co-branded airline cards. I would rather use a card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited and earn 1.5X and then transfer points out to Emirates.
So the strong point for the bonus categories is definitely for spend on Emirates. However, it’s worth considering that you can earn higher earning rates with other cards that still allow you to transfer your points over to Emirates.
Tip: Check out the free app WalletFlo so that you can optimize your credit card spend by seeing the best card to use! You can also track credits, annual fees, and get notifications when you’re eligible for the best cards!
As a cardmember you can get a 25% savings when you buy or gift miles.
Emirates Skywards Silver
During your first year you can enjoy complimentary Emirates Skywards Silver.
It’s not very common for an airline credit card to give you airline status so this is a pretty interesting and innovative perk.
You can maintain this elite status by spending $20,000 on your card each year. $20,000 in a given year is not a terribly difficult challenge so this will be an attractive option for many frequent fliers/high spenders.
The main benefits of silver status are explained below.
One elite status perk is complimentary lounge access to Emirates Business Class lounges.
You will only get access to lounges in Dubai and it will only be for the cardmember. Emirates has some really nice lounges and you will not find better quality larges from many other airlines.
The only drawback to this benefit is that you don’t get access to the lounges located outside of Dubai and some of those could be great. For example we visited the business first lounge in Milan, Italy and it was a pretty solid experience.
You will be able to select your economy class seat free of charge. The amount you will have to pay to select your economy class seat will depend on the duration of your flight.
You could be looking at paying anywhere from $15-$40 so this could be a nice little savings on economy fights.
Priority check-in, boarding, and baggage delivery
You’ll get priority check-in and priority boarding although you will not get priority baggage delivery.
Priority check-in will allow you to get access to exclusive check-in counters at business class or first class check-in areas when flying economy class.
You will receive a 25% bonus on your Skyward miles when flying on Emirates.
The Emirates card is a very interesting airline credit card my opinion.
I really like that it offers you elite status for one year and gives you the opportunity to retain that status with a pretty reasonable annual spend requirement.
The bonus categories are not the best I’ve seen but that is mostly just because there are other cards out there that can earn miles with Emirates at more competitive earning rates.
If you have any interest in flying Emirates, I would seriously consider this card.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.