In an attempt to get you to choose it for your future bookings, Etihad has announced it is offering a 50% bonus when you buy a gift voucher.
This means that you would be getting a 33% discount on whatever flights you buy with it.
A 50% bonus is significantly more than the uplift we have seen on coronavirus refund vouchers offered by various airlines, which typically only offer a 10% bonus. And, of course, those vouchers were not for open sale. The Etihad vouchers can be bought by anyone.
The vouchers are on sale for a limited time only – between now and 24th June – and will be valid for two years. It will be implemented as ‘Travel Bank account’ credit on your Etihad Guest account. If you do not already have Etihad Guest membership you can sign up here.
The voucher can be used on flights, upgrades and other ancillaries from 1st August 2020. They are available in increments of $250, up to a maximum $65,000.
Weirdly, you must call Etihad to purchase a travel voucher. It is NOT available on the website. This page has a list of phone numbers for various countries as well as the full terms and conditions.
What are the terms and conditions?
There are not very onerous. Here is the FULL list of terms and conditions taken from the Etihad site:
- Bonus credit applicable to all Etihad Travel Vouchers purchased between 10 – 24 June 2020
- This offer can only be purchased through our Contact Center
- You must be an Etihad Guest member to be eligible
- Valid for a period of two years, for travel from 1 August 2020
- Minimum voucher value US $250
- Maximum voucher value US $65,000
- Vouchers are non-refundable and non-transferable
There are a couple of questions:
Do you have to book by 1 August 2022 or complete your travel by then?
Can the credit be used to pay the taxes on Etihad Guest redemptions?
Can the credit be used if you part pay for an Etihad Guest redemption with cash, which can be excellent value?
Edit: Etihad appears to have added answers to a lot of these questions on its new ‘Travel Bank’ page which you can see here.
Because the ability to use your ‘Travel Bank’ credit is apparently going to be baked in to the etihad.com payment system, I would guess that the answer to the last two points is ‘Yes’.
The good news is that, since the credit can be used online, it can be used against ‘web special’ fares. We have seen cases in the past with other airlines where vouchers can only be redeemed by telephone and this means paying more for your ticket than you would pay online.
Is the Etihad Travel Voucher good value?
On the face of it, yes. A 50% uplift is not something to be sniffed at and could provide exceptional value.
It is also very flexible, being less of a voucher and more of a credit on your account that you can use how you please. This suggests it can be used over multiple purchases if required..
Since it works as an account credit, there are also no blackout dates or restrictions for use on specific booking classes. From the sounds of it, it is as flexible as cash, except that it can only be used on Etihad purchases. The FAQ confirm that you can also use the credit to pay for flights for someone else, should you decide against travelling.
This means that a voucher could be seriously good value if there is an aggressive price war in the next 12-18 months.
The cynical take is that Etihad is using this as bait to raise prices in the medium term. However, given the small window of availability this is relatively unlikely. I imagine the vast majority of travellers will not be aware of this offer and will be booking flights in the coming months based on the cash price. Etihad will still have to compete for these customers and, since the voucher acts as credit, it cannot discriminate against those who have it.
The only word of warning is that, if Etihad went bust – which is unlikely given that it is under Government control – you would lose your money if your voucher was not redeeemed in time. You would not be covered by your credit card as your purchase was for a gift voucher, which was provided to you, rather than a flight.
How to earn Etihad Guest miles via UK credit cards
As a reminder, Etihad no longer has its own UK credit card. However, you can earn Etihad Guest miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards. These are:
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – 10,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus
The Platinum Card from American Express – 30,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus
American Express Rewards credit card – 5,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus
Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Etihad Guest miles. The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Etihad Guest mile.
Etihad Guest is also a partner with the HSBC Premier Mastercard (0.5 miles per £1 spent, HSBC Premier Mastercard reviewed here) and HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard (1 mile per £1 spent, HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard reviewed here).