The Essential Guide to

Emirates Skywards

Last updated: July 4, 2023
Best Ways to Earn
Barclays co-branded credit cards
Transfer from US credit card programs
Best Ways to Redeem
Emirates First Class
Emirates fifth-freedom flights

Emirates Skywards is the loyalty program of Emirates and its associated low-cost carrier Flydubai.

Emirates flies the world’s biggest fleets of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s to 158 destinations in 85 countries.

In Canada, the airline flies to Toronto and Montreal, while in the US, it flies to 11 gateway cities, including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Emirates is well-known for its stellar business class and First Class products, and the Skywards program unlocks opportunities for you to enjoy those experiences without paying full price.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything there is to know about Emirates Skywards, including how to optimize your earning and redeeming within the program.

Earning Emirates Skywards Miles

There are a number of ways to earn Skywards miles, but the best ways are by signing up for co-branded credit cards and by transferring points from a partner program.

Barclays Co-Branded Credit Cards (US)

Barclays is the sole issuer of Emirates co-branded credit cards in the US, and there are two cards you can choose from: Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard, and Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard.

The higher-end Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard commands a $499 annual fee, which is justified by a bevy of perks.

With the card, you’ll get automatic Skywards Gold status on the first year, as well as unlimited Priority Pass lounge access for you and your guests. The card also carries a welcome bonus of typically 60,000 miles.

Meanwhile, the Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard fetches a more modest annual fee of $99. The card comes with automatic Skywards Silver status, and a welcome bonus of typically 50,000 miles.

Transferring from Other Programs

Emirates is a transfer partner of major credit card rewards programs in the US. The following programs allow conversions at the rate of 1 point = 1 Skywards mile:

Marriott Bonvoy points could also be converted to Emirates Skywards at a rate of 3 Bonvoy points = 1 mile, with a bonus of 5,000 miles for every 60,000 Bonvoy points transferred.

Even with the bonus, it’s an unfavourable exchange altogether, so you should only convert your Marriott Bonvoy points to Skywards miles when you need a top-up on a planned redemption. Otherwise, you should save your Bonvoy points for aspirational hotel and resort stays.

Other than Marriott Bonvoy, you could also transfer points from the following hotel programs at suboptimal rates:

  • Accor Live Limitless: 2 points = 1 Skywards mile
  • Hilton Honors: 10 points = 1 Skywards mile
  • IHG One Rewards: 5 points = 1 Skywards mile
  • World of Hyatt: 2.5 points = 1 Skywards mile

Flying with Emirates and Flydubai

By default, you’ll earn Skywards miles when you fly with Emirates or Flydubai. As a distance-based program, the amount you’ll earn is based on the number of miles you fly.

Earn Skywards miles when you fly on Emirates

However, you’ll earn more miles when you pay for a higher fare class and cabin, and you’ll also earn bonus miles as a Skywards elite member.

With Emirates’ different fare and cabin products, there’s no published accrual chart, but you can use the miles calculator.

Let’s take Toronto to Dubai as an example. Without elite status, a one-way flight will earn you the following Skywards miles:

Flying with Partner Airlines

When you fly on a paid ticket with one of Emirates’s partners, you can credit your flight to your Emirates Skywards account. In order to do so, you must add your Skywards number during booking or check-in.

You can earn Skywards miles when you fly with the following carriers:

  • Air Canada
  • Air Mauritius
  • Bangkok Airways
  • Copa Airlines
  • GOL
  • Jetstar
  • Japan Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • South African Airways
  • TAP Portugal
  • United Airlines

Note that you’ll earn Skywards miles in accordance to each airline’s earning policy.

Buy Skywards Miles

Outside of credit cards, the quickest way of earning Skywards miles is by buying them. By default, Emirates sells Skywards miles at 3 cents (USD) per mile.

Per calendar year, you may purchase up to 100,000 miles, or up to 200,000 miles with Skywards elite status.

Bonus miles promotions of 20–35% happen fairly often. If you chance upon a 35% bonus miles promotion, your acquisition cost drops to 2.22 cents (USD) per mile.

Even with a bonus, buying Skywards miles is quite pricey; hence, you should only consider buying if you’re short of a few thousand miles for a redemption.

Multiply Skywards Miles

Emirates Skywards has the “Multiply Miles” feature, which allows you to double, triple, or quadruple your Skywards miles earning on past or future flights.

You can multiply your Skywards miles at 2 cents (USD) per mile, and you can multiply up to 50,000 miles per year. Though you can multiply fewer miles, the rate is significantly better than buying miles directly.

Other Ways to Earn Skywards Miles

Outside of credit cards and flying, you can also earn Skywards miles through a variety of ways.

First, when you rent a car, you can earn Skywards miles with the following companies:

  • Hertz: 5 miles per dollar (USD) spent
  • Avis and Budget: up to 8 Skywards miles per dollar (USD) spent
  • CarTrawler: 1 mile per dollar (USD) spent
  • Europcar: up to 1,200 Skywards miles per rental
  • SIXT: up to 1,200 Skywards miles per rental

You can also earn up to 12,500 Skywards miles per night by booking hotel stays through Emirates Skywards Hotels.

Should you prefer to book with hotels directly, you can earn Skywards miles at major hotel chains, including:

  • Hyatt: 500 miles per eligible stay
  • IHG: 2 miles per dollar (USD) spent
  • Jumeirah Hotels: 1 mile per dollar (USD) spent
  • Marriott International: 1 mile per dollar (USD) spent
  • One and Only Resorts: 1 mile per dollar (USD) spent
  • Rotana Hotels: 500 miles per eligible stay

Lastly, you can earn up to 120 miles per $10 (USD) spent when you shop online through the Skywards Miles Mall portal. The website has storefronts for the US, UK, UAE, Australia, and India.

Redeeming Emirates Skywards Miles

While there had been a devaluation of Skywards miles in the recent past, you’d still get the best value out of your miles by redeeming them for award flights.

Emirates Flights

Emirates doesn’t publish an award chart; instead, you can use the miles calculator to determine how many Skywards miles you’ll need to redeem for your desired route.

There are four types of awards: Special, Saver, Flex, and Flex Plus. As their names suggest, the former two cost fewer miles, but the latter two offer more flexibility.

In many cases, Special and Saver awards aren’t available, especially when booking one-way awards. You can think of it as Emirates’s way of imposing dynamic pricing on its award flights.

Note that the miles calculator doesn’t display taxes and fees, which can be quite hefty. To know exactly how much you’re being charged, you must try to book your ticket.

For example, a one-way flight from New York (JFK) to Dubai (DXB) shows a cost of 163,500 Skywards miles for First Class. You’ll also have to pay an extra $838 (USD) in taxes and fees.

A round-trip business class ticket from Toronto to Manila costs 190,000 miles for Business Saver and 302,500 miles for Business Flex Plus. Taxes and fees come to an eye-watering $3,315 (CAD).

Keep in mind that with Emirates awards, you may include a stopover in Dubai based on the following conditions:

  • You can’t stop over on a one-way Saver award.
  • You can stop over once in either direction on a round-trip Saver award.
  • You can stop over on a one-way Flex award.
  • You can stop over in both directions on a round-trip Flex award.

To book a stopover in Dubai, search your award flights using the multi-city option on the Emirates booking engine.

Flydubai Flights

As a low-cost carrier, Flydubai’s Skywards redemption scheme is different from Emirates. You can redeem Skywards miles against the cost of your ticket when you book online or through the phone. There’s no minimum number of miles you can redeem with Flydubai, which means you can pay for your flights with cash and miles.

Use Skywards miles to book flights on Flydubai

Partner Flights

Unlike with flights on Emirates, Skywards publishes a distance-based award chart for partner airline redemptions. In addition to the partner airlines listed on the earning section, you can also redeem your Skywards miles on flights by European low-cost carrier, easyJet.

Save for easyJet, you can redeem your Skywards miles across all partners based on the following chart (per one-way bound):

For easyJet flights, you can redeem your Skywards miles towards the cost of a flight, as if you were redeeming for a Flydubai flight. However, since easyJet flights are generally cheap when purchased with cash, it’s not advisable to redeem your Skywards miles towards them.

Keep in mind that to redeem a partner flight, you cannot use the Emirates booking engine as if you were redeeming an Emirates flight. Rather, you’ll have to request through the Ask Emirates live chat or through an online form.

Taxes and fees on partner airline redemptions tend to be a lot lower than Emirates flights, since you won’t pay carrier-imposed surcharges.

Book Air Canada flights using Emirates Skywards miles

For example, an Air Canada economy flight from Toronto to Vancouver, which falls within the 2,000–3,000-mile range, costs 26,000 miles plus only $48 (CAD) in taxes and fees.

An economy flight between Tokyo and San Francisco on Japan Airlines costs 44,000 Skywards miles plus only 5,970 JPY ($41 USD) in taxes and fees.

Flight Upgrades

You can also redeem your Skywards miles towards flight upgrades. To figure out exactly how many miles you’ll need to upgrade, you can use the miles calculator.

The number of miles required varies based on the route, as well as your originally-booked fare category.

For example, a one-way economy flight from New York (JFK) to Dubai (DXB) can be upgraded to business class for 70,200–133,000 miles.

Meanwhile, a one-way business class flight from New York (JFK) to Dubai (DXB) can be upgraded to First Class for 70,200–91,260 miles.

Other Ways to Redeem Skywards Miles

While redeeming for flights is the best use of your Skywards miles, you can also redeem them in a few different ways.

Skywards Exclusives offers a number of events and experiences you can spend your miles on.

Since Emirates is often a sponsor of sporting teams and events, you can expect to redeem a Real Madrid game ticket for 20,000 miles, or a VIP seat at the final stage of the Tour de France for 50,000 miles.

Emirates Skywards Sweet Spots

If you wish to sample Emirates’s business class and First Class products without having to fly to Dubai, you can check out the airline’s wide assortment of fifth-freedom flights.

Currently, Emirates flies fifth-freedom flights between:

  • Accra (ACC) and Abidjan (ABJ)
  • Conakry (CKY) and Dakar (DSS)
  • Harare (HRE) and Lusaka (LUN)
  • Hong Kong (HKG) and Bangkok (BKK)
  • Larnaca (LCA) and Malta (MLA)
  • Male (MLE) and Colombo (CMB)
  • Mexico City (MEX) and Barcelona (BCN)
  • New York City (JFK) and Milan (MXP)
  • Newark (EWR) and Athens (ATH)
  • Rio de Janeiro (GIG) and Buenos Aires (EZE)
  • Sydney (SYD) and Christchurch (CHC)
  • Singapore (SIN) and Melbourne (MEL)

For instance, you can fly First Class from Bangkok to Hong Kong on the Airbus A380 for only 45,000 miles.

Granted that the flight only lasts three hours, you’re still getting the complete Emirates First Class experience – from a full gourmet meal with a caviar course to the onboard shower and bar.

Experience Emirates First Class on a fifth-freedom flight from Bangkok to Hong Kong

Emirates Skywards Tips & Tricks

With the “My Family” feature, Emirates allows you to pool your Skywards miles with family members, instead of transferring them for a fee. This can be especially useful when you’re short of miles for a planned redemption.

To create a sharing pool, you’ll need to create a family account, which allows up to seven additional members, including children and infants. You may customize each member’s contribution percentage towards the family pool.

While the terms state that family members must be immediate family, Emirates Skywards doesn’t require proof of relationship.

Emirates Skywards Status

Emirates Skywards has four membership tiers: Blue, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. In order to reach the next tier, you must accumulate enough Tier Miles, which are distinct from Skywards miles used for redemptions.

Tier Miles are earned through flying Emirates, Flydubai, or partner airlines, and usually, you’ll earn the same number of Tier Miles and Skywards miles on each flight. Note that Tier Miles cannot be earned by transferring points from partner programs.

Alternatively, without the need for Tier Miles, you can advance to the next tier by flying the required number of segments or flights.

All in all, you’ll need to accomplish the following to progress to the next tier:

  • Silver: earn 25,000 Tier Miles or take 25 flights
  • Gold: earn 50,000 Tier Miles or take 50 flights
  • Platinum: earn 150,000 Tier Miles and at least one flight in business class or First Class

As an Emirates Skywards elite member, you’re entitled to several benefits on Emirates and Flydubai, including:

  • Bonus Skywards miles when flying Emirates
  • Complimentary seat selection
  • Priority contact center service
  • Priority check-in, boarding, and baggage delivery
  • Excess baggage allowance
  • Complimentary lounge access

In addition, as part of Emirates’s partnership with Marriott, Skywards Gold and Platinum members are entitled to 4pm late checkout and elite check-in at participating properties under the Marriott umbrella.


Frankly, when compared to other programs, Emirates Skywards doesn’t provide as much value when redeeming for flights. Recent devaluations have caused redemptions to hike in price, making Skywards miles less valuable.

Still, as Emirates boasts of aspirational experiences in business class and First Class, you might be thinking of racking up Skywards miles. The best ways for you to do so are by signing up for Barclays co-branded credit cards and by transferring from other credit card programs.

Skywards miles can be used to book Emirates flights across different cabins and fare categories, while for Flydubai flights, miles can be used towards paying for the flight cost.

As for partner airlines, award seats can be redeemed based upon a distance-based chart, with redemptions starting at 8,000 miles.

If you’re a frequent traveller on Emirates, you should consider qualifying for a higher Skywards status by flying or by signing up for a Barclays co-branded credit card.

Elite members are entitled to a host of benefits, including priority airport services, lounge access, and extra baggage allowance.

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