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Emirates joins UK Amex Membership Rewards with a 25% transfer bonus

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A fortnight ago, I ran this article on Emirates Skywards joining the US American Express Membership Rewards programme.  I mused at that point about whether they would also join the UK programme.

Well, we have our answer.  On Saturday night, Emirates Skywards popped up on the Membership Rewards website.


You can learn all about the Skywards programme on the Emirates website here.

A 25% transfer bonus is currently in place.   Please note four important points:

The 25% transfer bonus ONLY applies to your first redemption

The transfer bonus offer expires on 21st November, so you don’t have much time

The bonus will post immediately with the base points

The minimum transfer is 1,000 points and then in increments of 500

It is impossible for me to give a definitive guide to whether or not you might want to move American Express points over to Emirates.  However, I did fly back from Dubai with them last week (trip report to follow) on a redemption.

Here are a few things to bear in mind:

Emirates Skywards miles have a 3 year expiry.  There is NOTHING you can do to stop them expiring.  It is therefore risky to accumulate miles in Skywards without having a plan for them. 

(They actually expire at the end of the month in which your birthday occurs, after the three years is up.  We had the odd position last year where my wife had a slug expire in January but mine didn’t expire until November, despite earning them on the same day!)

As a UK resident, the only easy way of using up Emirates miles which are about to expire is to use them for easyJet flight credit!  This gets you about 0.4p per mile, which is not a fantastic deal but better than nothing.

There are other airline partners but in general the redemption options are not great except for redeeming on Emirates flights.

Here are a few basics to bear in mind with Emirates redemptions:

Rather like US frequent flyer programmes (and unlike most European ones), Skywards has two levels of redemption – Flex and Saver

The key difference is pricing and availability.  Saver awards are harder to find (although no more than BA Club World awards), must be booked as a return trip and only allow one stopover per return trip.

Flex rewards can be booked as one ways and allow one stopover in each direction.  More importantly, Flex availability is usually very good.  Even though we flew back from Dubai on the Saturday at the end of half term – with BA not having a single Club World seat available for days on either side – Emirates could offer me 4 business class seats on pretty much every departure to London that day.

Emirates obviously has decent connections to the UK regions.  This make it more interesting than BA.

The new joint venture with Qantas means that Emirates offers another option for getting to Australia.

The Maldives is also easily done with Emirates, it is about a four hour connection from Dubai

You can top up your Emirates Skywards account with their UK credit card which I outlined here.  They are also a Starwood Preferred Guest transfer partner if you want to get 25,000 free miles from the current SPG promotion.

Emirates is not currently showing as a partner in the International Dollar / Euro Card MR programme, although given that their website still shows Jumeirah as a partner – they left in June – and indeed still calls Club Carlson ‘Goldpoints Plus’ three years after it rebranded, I wouldn’t be 100% certain it isn’t there!

Here are some pricing examples:

British Airways London to Dubai in Club World – 80,000 Avios

British Airways London to Dubai in Club World – 60,000 American Airlines miles

Emirates London to Dubai in Business Class (Saver level) – 90,000 Skywards miles, no one-ways allowed

Emirates London to Dubai in Business Class (Flex level) – 125,000 Skywards miles

Emirates does charge fuel surcharges, and these are roughly as much as British Airways would charge

This handy miles calculator lets you see how many Emirates miles are required for a particular route.

What is my plan?

We have family in Dubai, which is why we are down there quite a bit.  My initial feeling is that I will do a transfer of 200,000 Membership Rewards points before the transfer bonus expires. 

That will get us 250,000 Skywards miles, good enough for 4 x one-way tickets to Dubai at the Flex level.  That will give me great flexibility to fit in a holiday – during school holidays – on days we want, using BA to Dubai or Abu Dhabi for one direction and Emirates for the return, taking advantage of their good Flex availability.

Your thoughts

Please share your thoughts on Skywards below if you are an existing member.  If you an existing Skywards members and want to top up your account with some Amex Membership Rewards points, check out my reviews of the Amex Gold (20,000 miles sign-up bonus) and Amex Platinum (30,000 miles sign-up bonus).

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  1. Have always been pleased with the ease of upgrading classes online, especially from Business to First. Not the cheapest redemptions in terms of how many miles needed, and the surcharges put them a few steps behind Etihad for me. Only really worth it if you know you are getting their top product, as there is a huge inconsistency in what they fly! I agree with Raffles, that it’s not a FFP for stacking up miles due to the difficulty of renewing, but rather one to transfer into when you need the miles (unless you are a frequent Emirates revenue flyer). It is always worth checking back when flights are not available, because they do tend to pop up randomly. I haven’t sussed out a pattern yet.

  2. Hi, where did you see the transfer bonus? I see emirates now listed as a partner but no mention of the bonus. I didn’t receive an email either (I’m opted in to the marketing mails)..

  3. My two largest pots of miles are with BA and Emirates. Contractually restricted to economy class flying for one client, I find Skywards is really good for space-available upgrades on individual sectors e.g. the long haul back to London. It’s possible to upgrade at any point, even on board, and is much more flexible (as are their tickets as a whole) compared with BA. I’ve not calculated the value of those points – 25,000 miles for a one way Y>J upgrade from Dubai to London – but it’s a useful option.

  4. Its worth mentioning that you can redeem points from Alaskan Airlines and JAL for Emirates flights, and redemptions seem more generous than directly via Emirates. Haven’t tried it out myself, but worth considering when transferring points and making bookings.

    Also worth a mention is that Emirates recently changed upgrading with points. If you bought a saver ticket you can only upgrade using points at check in. Flex tickets can still upgrade at any point if available, and require less points to upgrade.

    • Yes, the JAL reward chart (for Emirates) is very attractive. Alaska also looks better now that, I think, they allow you to book non-US Emirates itineraries. However, the benefit for me is the Flex extra availability, which you can’t book via JAL or Alaska.

  5. “The transfer bonus offer expires on 21st November, so you don’t have much time”

    I have just added EK as an Amex transfer partner, it says that this may take up to 14 days to register so I may miss the +25%

    • I know, I saw this last night. I don’t believe it will take that long. I added mine last night and will keep an eye on it – still ‘pending’ as of now.

      • Just got an email to confirm that Emirates account is now linked. Took two days, so anyone who linked yesterday should get a confirmation on Wednesday.

  6. A little confused – is it possible to transfer miles *from* Emirates and to Membership Rewards?

    All the narrative above seems to suggest you can only go through MR to EK and not the other way?

  7. Wozza2404 says:

    EK’s appalling earn/burn ratio, together with their unpredictable J product on most routes without the A380, was the reason I walked away from them 18 months ago.

    The only redemptions of any worth to me (YMMV) are the J-F A380 upgrades from paid Business. You can pick up some absolute bargain fares in one of their sales, and then get the LHR leg upgraded to F for 32k miles. Still steep, but the only redemption I’m keen on doing with EK as their F A380 product is absolutely astounding.

    I must admit, I do miss having a “proper” F product available to me now I’m with BA. That’s part of the reason I maintain EY status alongside BA.

    My EK miles will be totally depleted soon, so I may well consider punting enough over for 2 F upgrades to treat Mrs W and I think that will be the last hurrah for EK and I.

  8. Trying to transfet BA Avios to Emirates as the offer of 25% bonus expires tomorrow but when I click on “transfer my points” on the Amex website, it keeps redirecting to Transactions page, not sure how to move forward with this one, any ideas please??

    • I just checked and, in Internet Explorer, it is working OK. Perhaps try another browser?

      • Thanks, have a mac which is Safari, changed settings to use IE instead but still doesn’t work. Looks like I will have to try from work computer tomorrow but 25% bonus offer would have gone by then I assume?

  9. I thought it said “by 21st November” but I will give it a go later this morning and see what happens.

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