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.
The card has a representative APR of 18.9% variable.
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.
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:
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.