20,000 Etihad Guest miles with their free UK credit card – but where can you go?

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Etihad launched their UK credit card back in May 2013. Even accounting for the fact that the card was free, the sign-up bonus was a little underwhelming – 5,000 Etihad Guest miles.

Since then they have run two temporary promotions.  In June 2013 they raised the bonus to 17,000 miles. That was pretty impressive.  In June 2014 they offered 12,000 miles.

Today, though, Etihad and MBNA have raised the bar.  Until the end of November, you will receive 20,000 Etihad Guest miles if you take out the cards (free) and spend a modest £4,000 within SIX MONTHS.

Full details are here.

The card has a representative APR of 18.9% variable.

Etihad card

Here are the key facts:

The cards are a double pack of American Express and Visa

There is no annual fee

You earn 1.5 miles per £1 on the Amex and 0.75 miles per £1 on the Visa

The issuer is MBNA, so no churning – it is likely you won’t be able to get another bonus in the future on this card if you apply now

And the rules for this promotion:

You receive the standard 5,000 miles for your first purchase within 30 days

You receive an additional 5,000 miles for spending £1,000 within 60 days

You receive an additional 10,000 miles for spending £4,000 within 180 days

All in all, the targets are very reasonable, especially as spend on the both the Amex and Visa cards count towards the target.

20,000 Etihad Guest miles won’t get you too far if you want to travel from the UK. However, they are partners with American Express Membership Rewards, so you can top up your account via them at 1:1.

Etihad is also a partner with plenty of other people including Heathrow Rewards. And, of course, they are partners with most major hotel and car rental programmes.

Etihad also has family accounts.  If you could arrange for a relative to take out a card as well, a one-way First Class trip to Abu Dhabi should be easily within reach.

If you are starting from scratch, this promotion is probably best if you are a solo traveller and have access to some Amex Membership Rewards points to top up your account:

A one-way Economy ticket from Heathrow to / from Abu Dhabi is 31,071 miles

Business is 44,107 miles one-way

First is 55,357 miles one-way

For comparison, BA would ask 20,000 / 40,000 / 60,000 Avios, with higher taxes.

If you are already in the Middle East, it is more interesting.  From Abu Dhabi to Istanbul for example, a one-way Business seat is just 24,079 and a one-way First Class seat is just 30,312 miles.  And that is for a five hour flight.

Remember that Etihad has very nice First Class private suites:

Etihad 2

Some other points to think about:

Remember that Business Class and First Class redemptions come with free chauffeur transfers in Abu Dhabi (they will take you to Dubai if you want) and at 25 of their other outstations, including London.

Etihad does not charge fuel surcharges – the First Class ticket I booked from Dubai to Istanbul last year required just £13 to be paid

Etihad is a partner with airberlin, although the redemption rates are higher than if you use Avios on airberlin

Etihad is also a redemption partner with Air Seychelles and Etihad Regional.  You should soon be able to redeem on Jet (India) and Air Serbia as part of the new Etihad Airways Partners alliance.

You can use American Airlines miles to book Etihad flights. If you got enough miles via this promotion for one ticket, you could potentially use any AA miles you have for a second person or to come back.

Etihad has PointsPay. If you can’t redeem for a flight, you can transfer them to a ‘virtual’ (or indeed physical) Visa card at the rate of 0.41p per mile. Not great, but you are effectively trading them for cash, making the sign-up bonus worth £82.

The miles will expire after two years – this will happen even if you have further activity on your account.  (EDIT: I corrected this statement which was originally wrong.)

This clearly isn’t the card for everyone. Take a look at my original May 2013 post again before applying as this discusses the pros and cons of the other benefits of the card. However, the required spend is not huge and the miles could be handy.

If you decide to apply, I recommend you join Etihad Guest first via this link and put your number on the application form.  If you don’t, Etihad will open an account for you and it may take you a lot of telephone calls to find out the number and PIN.

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.

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  1. “The miles will expire after two years if you have no activity at all on your Etihad Guest account. This should not be a problem as you can easily reset the two years by crediting a hotel stay or car rental or moving 1000 American Express Membership Rewards points or 250 Heathrow Rewards points across.”

    A Big Mac at McDonald’s, paid with your Etihad CC, would do the job as well, wouldn’t it? Or am I missing something?

    • sandgrounder says:

      Always get the meal, it’s much better value. You can get a salad if you don’t like fries. 🙂

      • I do, don’t worry, but as we have just learnt even a feast with your friends wouldn’t prevent the miles from expiring 🙁

  2. Phillip says:

    Unless something has changed recently, no activity can extend the lifespan of miles earned. It is very much like Krisflyer on this front:

    6.1.12. The validity period of Etihad Guest Miles is based upon your Etihad Guest Tier Status as follows: Etihad Guest Miles are valid for 2 years from the date they are earned for Etihad Guest Members; Etihad Guest Miles are valid for 2.5 years from the date they are earned for Etihad Guest Silver Members; and Etihad Guest Miles are valid for 3 years from the date they are earned for Etihad Guest Gold Members and Etihad Guest Gold Elite Members.
    Unused Etihad Guest Miles will expire on the last date of the month in which they are due to expire.

  3. Phillip says:

    In terms of use of miles, my best use has been on two one way tickets between Abu Dhabi and Muscat. We got picked up from Liwa Oasis (2.5 hours from Abu Dhabi airport, a transfer which would have otherwise cost over £100) and although they do not offer chauffeur service in Muscat, it was still excellent value for money at 6,655 per person plus £14.

    I also used Etihad Miles on Oman Air direct from Muscat back to London. An excellent hard product in Business (although let down by mediocre service). Plenty of availability in Business on their A380s to and from London as well.

    • Hey Phillip, Do you remember roughly how long it took to transfer these points across to Oman’s Sindbad?

      Is it possible to earn both Eithad guest miles (25%) & full Sindbad miles on an Oman air flight?

  4. Euflyer Tom says:

    You can also reset the two year expiry date on Etihad Guest miles by posting a hotel review on holidaycheck.com – and you’ll get 150 miles for doing so.

  5. It’s not exactly related, but is there anyway to keep the American Express Membership Rewards active if I cancel the Amex Gold, which I will because the year free is about to expire?


    • You get a grace period to use them up.

      Alternatively, downgrade to the Green card. This also has a fee but it is more modest.

      Remember that the Amex Gold fee is refundable pro-rata so if the £125 is charged it is not ‘lost’ as you will get a partial refund whenever you have used your points up.

      • Thanks Raffles. I just wanted some way of keeping it active while I decide to where to transfer them. I haven’t quite set my plans for travel next year.. But by downgrading to the green card means that if I want to reapply to the Gold card in a year or so I won’t get the bonus, right?

        • Correct.

        • Apply for the gold credit card then cancel PRG. That’s how I kept ours active for some time.

        • Great if it works but in theory you have to cancel the Gold Credit when you cancel Gold Charge. Seems to depend what agent you get when you call to cancel.

        • Cancelled PRG in July, still have gold cc ongoing and getting Amex offers. The guy I talked to even said points will transfer to it, so he knew we hadn’t cancelled it. I stressed I don’t want to loose my points and he said theydo it all the time.

  6. can you transfer these points over to your Amex Membership Rewards account? Or an Aadvantage account?

  7. Presumably with Etihad code sharing it would be possible to use these miles to book flights with codeshare partners?


    E.G using the above is it possible to use Etihad miles to hop between US cities on AA?

    • Wouldn’t bet on it. You cannot use Avios to book a lot of BA codeshares, eg Bangkok Airways, airBaltic, Brunei.

      • Wouldn’t bet on it. You cannot use Avios to book a lot of BA codeshares, eg Bangkok Airways

        Which is a real shame, especially on the over priced BKK-USM route.

  8. It’s worth remembering that you can earn a Etihad points from Viceroy hotels too – until recently it was 4 points per $1 spent on “best available rate” bookings, but there is the standard $1=1 point offer. on any published rate too.

    Or at least, you could earn points from Viceroy stays if the staff at Viceroy were in any way competent or even aware of this offer. I asked for my points months ago and I’m still waiting! If they ever do post the points then I’ll be getting this credit card as I’d then have enough for a one-way first class to Dubai. Using the AA card promotion to come the other way, that’s a first class return! (God knows how the wife is going to get there, though)

  9. sprout7 says:

    Sorry this is off topic but not really sure how to raise it otherwise.
    I’m looking to get the Hilton Honours card and want to time the voucher redemption for next August. I understand the voucher has a validity period of only 6 months but I’m unclear if you have to book and stay in the 6 months or just book.
    Any help would be much appreciated

    • You need to have stayed by the end of the validity period as that’s when the reward certificate underlying your reservation expires (the date is clearly stated on the email) – of course individual properties may not be that good at checking expiry, but I’d be a bit wary of not having a valid reward certificate for my stay. A few properties are also excluded, see HHonors.com/weekendcertificate

  10. Seems like most MBNA credit cards are offering a bonus at the moment, noticed there is 15,000 miles on the United one for a £1,800 spend in the first 90 days.

  11. What's the Point says:

    I was tempted to start collecting Etihad miles on the back of this credit bonus. But the strict expiry dates unfortunately make it an unattractive rewards programme for my use.

  12. If one had the Etihad credit card previously, does that mean we can’t get the bonus points if we apply for this offer?

  13. pazza2000 says:

    Hold on…. the Indivual miles expire two years after being earned? How did I miss this! What a poor policy. Means that miles I earned 18 months ago have 6 months to be redeemed, though I have no plans for an EY redemption within this period. Sadly I might have to take up the pointspay option.
    I wonder what would happen if cancelling a redemption purchased with miles that were now past there expiration?

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