Is there such a thing as an Emirates Skywards Credit Card…?
In June 2018 MBNA wrote to all cardholders of the Emirates Skywards credit card letting them know that the card was closing. With no obvious way of earning Emirates Skywards Miles from an Emirates-branded credit card, existing customers have been forced to look elsewhere!
Why did MBNA pull the plug on the Emirates credit card? With a limit introduced by the EU on the amount that some branded credit cards could charge retailers, MBNA recalled a significant number of their loss-making airline rewards cards.
Since then it doesn’t appear that Emirates has taken steps to replace the Emirates Skyward credit card. As such, loyal Emirates flyers have had to look elsewhere to credit cards which will allow them to earn Emirates Skywards Miles.
Within this review, I’ll cover the best, available cards which will allow you to transfer points to Emirates – essentially taking the place of the Emirates credit card.
Let's break this post down...
Branded Emirates American Express Card
Unfortunately MBNA weren’t the only provider caught up in the 0.3% cap. It also impacted American Express, which withdrew a number of its licensed cards from the market. With the cap making it almost impossible to run a successful mileage scheme it is unlikely that Emirates will relaunch an Emirates American Express card any time soon. However, don’t worry, all is not lost as you’ll find out later in this review.
Best Alternative Emirates Card On Which You Can Still Earn Emirates Skywards Miles
Whilst there is no longer a specific Emirates Skywards credit card provider there are a couple of options for those seeking to earn points which can then be transferred across to Emirates.
In this quest to recommend the right replacement Emirates Skywards card, I’ll start with an option which comes with no sign-up fee and then move on to other fee-paying Emirates card alternatives.
Free Emirates Credit Card Alternatives
The good news is that all is not lost and whilst there is no specific Emirates American Express card, you can still transfer American Express Membership Rewards points across to Emirates at a rate of 1:1.
The best free American Express card currently on the market is the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card. The card comes with a fantastic sign-up bonus of 20,000 points when you spend £2,000 in the first 3 months, making it one of the best Emirates credit cards in the market at the moment. What’s even better is that you can earn a further 2,000 points using this link taking the total points to 22,000. With the card you’ll earn 1 point for every pound spent. I’ve reviewed the card in full here. You should note that after the first year, Amex begin charging £140 pa for the Gold card, at which point I’d recommend cancelling and possible reapplying 6 months down the line.
Paid for Emirates Credit Card UK
The highest points-earning option is the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express credit card where it’s possible to earn up to 1.25 Emirates Miles per £1 spent. To achieve this you’ll need to undertake the following steps:
- You’ll earn 3 Starwood Preferred Guest points per £1 spent.
- These can then be converted at 3:1 into Emirates Skywards Miles.
- HOWEVER if you transfer chunks of 60,000 points you’ll get a 5,000-mile bonus resulting in a total 1.25 miles from this alternative Emirates credit card.
The card comes with a fee of £76 pa and a bonus of 30,000 Starwood points (10,000 Emirates points) when you spend £2,000, which would be less attractive than the free Amex Gold card where you’d earn 22,000 Emirates points using this link.
The final option out of the alternative Emirates credit cards would be the American Express Platinum card. Again you’ll earn 1 Emirate Skywards Mile for every £1 spent and an improved 30,000 Emirates Miles sign-up bonus (or 35,000 if you use this link) however the card comes with a hefty annual price tag of £450 pa! Read my recent review to see whether the Amex Platinum is worth it for you…
For a change, I’m happy to report that the best option for anyone wishing to find a replacement UK Emirates credit card would in fact be the free option (yes FREE) of the Amex Gold Card which using this link could earn you a sign-up bonus of 22,000 Emirates Skywards Miles and 1 point for every pound spent.
Things You May Not Know You Can Do With the Points From the Emirates Skywards Card.
The obvious option for those who had the historic Emirates UK credit card would have been to use the points towards an Emirates flight. You’ll see below why I think redeeming points earned on a Emirates Skywards credit card for miles is a waste of time. Partly because the miles can expire but also because I believe there are better flight redemption options available elsewhere.
There are four main alternative redemption options that you may want to consider (especially if your points are going to expire shortly):
- Using points for tickets to Arsenal either in the stands or in the Emirates suite. Standard tickets range between 10,000 and 20,000 miles depending on the game. A far better option would be redeeming for the Emirates box which comes with full hospitality including food and drink for between 15,000 and 40,000 miles per person.
- easyJet flights. Yes that’s right, Emirates will basically buy you an easyJet ticket for cash using your miles. Having a quick look, you can get a £54.99 ticket for 15,000 miles equating to 0.37 per mile redeemed (not great – I try to aim for 1p per mile).
- You can transfer your points across to Heathrow Reward points at a rate of 3 miles to 1 reward point. With 1 reward point equivalent to 1p you’d be redeeming your miles at 0.33p per mile.
- Finally you can also use Rocketmiles to book hotel rooms. Again redemptions are in the region of 0.3p per mile redeemed and as such would be considered a last resort if your points were expiring.
Why I Wouldn’t Recommend Trying to Find an Emirates Credit Card UK
I’m going to spend this section of the review outlining why I think the withdrawal of previous Emirates credit cards UK may actually be a blessing in disguise if you’re seeking to earn points to hopefully travel the world for free.
Now I’ve suggested a couple of alternative Emirates cards which will allow you to earn American Express Membership Rewards points which if you wish could be redeemed for flights to say Dubai with Emirates.
A return flight from London to Dubai would require 45,000 miles in economy, 125,000 in Business and 170,000 miles in First. That’s a considerable sum of money to spend on an alternative Emirates Skywards credit card partner.
Let’s compare this to a couple of other options in the market:
Now one VERY important point I’d highlight here is that if there are two people travelling it’s actually possible with British Airways to cut the required air miles in half by using a BA 2-4-1 voucher. Quite possibly the most valuable give-away known to credit card spenders. I’ll explain below:
- For this example we’ll assume that you’re happy to just redeem your points for a First-Class ticket for two people travelling in one direction (I’d suggest London to Dubai so you can experience the Heathrow T5 Concorde lounge – reviewed here).
- If you’re happy to travel during off-peak times (i.e. outside of school holidays) this would set you back 68,000 points per ticket. This would usually require spending of £114,000 on an Amex Gold credit card (22,000 points for spending £2,000 in the first 3 months followed by 1 point per pound spent).
- For most this would be nearly impossible HOWEVER fear not, between you and a companion it’s possible to redeem for significantly less!
- Let’s start with both travellers signing up to the Amex Gold card for which you’ll get 20,000 points each when you spend £2,000 in the first 3 months (or 22,000 if you use this link). Let’s say you’ve used the link and earned 44,000 points sign-up bonus on top of the 1 point for every £1 you’ve spent (£4,000 equaling 4,000 points). Total 48,000 points which can be transferred to BA at 1:1.
- The next card you’ll need to sign up to is either the BA Premium card (reviewed here) which comes with an annual fee of £195 or the free BA Amex card (reviewed here). There are two reasons I’d suggest signing up to the Premium card. Firstly you’ll receive 25,000 miles (26,000 if you use this link) for spending £3,000 in the first 3 months. This compares to 5,000 miles (or 6,000 if you use this link and scroll down to the bottom) for the free BA Amex card. Secondly you only have to spend £10,000 in 12 months on the Premium card to get the 2-4-1 voucher compared with £20,000 on the free BA Amex card. Finally you also receive an increased earning rate of 1.5 miles per pound spent compared with 1 mile on the free card.
- Let’s assume one of you signs up to the BA Premium card using the link above and you trigger both the £3,000 spend in 3 months to receive the 26,000 points and spend a further £7,000 in the remaining 9 months to receive the 2-4-1 voucher. This would give you 26,000 points plus 15,000 points for spending £10,000 on the card in a year. Resulting in a total of 41,000 miles. (TIP: My other half and I share the card, otherwise that £10,000 would be struggle)
- Combining the miles from both Gold cards and the Premium card would give you a total of 89,000 miles. Using the 2-4-1 voucher this would essentially allow two people to book flights requiring 178,000 air miles. More than enough for 2 First-Class flights to Dubai!
If the above is of interest, why not read my BA First Class Review where my other half and I travelled to Sao Paulo for free!
Emirates Credit Card – Conclusion
Since the removal of the MBNA Emirates Skywards credit card back in July, there are still a number of alternative ‘Emirates Cards’ which you can use to earn Emirates Skywards Miles. As you can see from the above, I’m not convinced that the spending money on Emirates credit cards is the best way to collect miles, however using the American Express Gold card to collect rewards points can give you the flexibility to transfer your points to a number of different schemes (not just Emirates or British Airways!).
Don’t forget to use the following links to get an enhanced sign-up bonus: