Is Emirates Skywards cash and miles worth considering?

8 Sep 2016 by Tom Otley
Emirates A380 Economy

Emirates now allows cash and miles redemptions for Skywards members.

In contrast to many airline loyalty programmes, Emirates says that every time you book a flight you will have the option to pay in this way (though only on Emirates marketed and operated flights only, and applies to the base ticket fare).

The explanation on the Emirates website:

About Cash Plus Miles

shows you how to make a cash and miles booking, as does the video on that page, with instructions showing you how to go about booking a flight and paying for it using a combination of cash and miles.

But is it worth it?

To determine that, you have to determine the value of the miles you have, and whether it would be better “value” for you to spend them in another way.

Emirates lists the options here:

Spending your miles

As you can see from the screen grab below, you can either use your miles for cash and miles (on the left), or you can use them in the “traditional” way to make a classic reward booking (eg: all in miles).

Emirates Skywards

For those people who don’t have many miles, the choice is a simple one – either continue to save up your miles until you can make a complete booking using miles only, or use them as you earn them by making cash and miles bookings.

Classic Rewards

This is where you use your Skywards Miles to book flights to any destination across our network, in any class, paying for the full cost of your ticket using your Skywards Miles. Redemptions start from 15,000 Skywards Miles, so you need at least that many, though in reality, you’ll probably need a lot more to book the flight you want. Saver and Flex Plus reward fares are available, and one-way rewards are available on Flex Plus fares.

You could also use the miles at the online shop that Emirates has:

Emirates High Street

Or you could wait and see if it’s possible to use your miles to upgrade a booking.

Upgrades are available from 9,000 Skywards Miles upwards, and can be used for instant upgrades at check-in and on board, though note that special tickets are not eligible for reward upgrades and while business class saver fare tickets can be upgraded at any time up to six hours before departure, economy class saver tickets can only be upgraded at the time of online check-in, at the airport or on board.

Of course, all of this depends on availability as well as the value you would get for using the miles in this way.

Personal preferences aside (and also bearing in mind that miles expire after three years if you don’t do any flying with Emirates), various calculations seem to suggest that for a cash and miles redemption, the conversion rate (eg: what 1000 miles would be worth in real, dollar terms) isn’t particularly good when compared with some of these other options.

Emirates says (in its promotional materials):

“All you need to do is choose the number of Miles you’d like to put towards your flight, from as little as 2,000. If you convert 5,000 Skywards Miles, your fare will cost USD 40 less. And you’ll even earn Miles on the part that you pay for using cash”

This suggests that one Skyward mile = 0.008 dollar, or looking at it another way, one dollar = 125 Skyward Miles.

Is this a “good” conversion rate? The answer depends on a number of factors including how much you spent to get them (you might have enjoyed a promotion and received extra miles); how close to expiry they are; what else you plan to use them for (maybe use them on an Easyjet flight for instance) which is one of 14 airline partners.

The details of the Emirates Skywards programme are on the Emirates website here.

See below for the current popularity of the Skywards programme, and look into our archive about changes to the programme.

Emirates Skywards changes designed to reward most valuable customers

Emirates Skywards infographic
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