Etihad Guest is back with another buy miles promotion, giving you an easy path to discounted flights on airlines like American Airlines, ANA and Royal Air Maroc. Etihad is based in Abu Dhabi, but its unique partnerships make Etihad miles extremely valuable no matter your destination.
As reported by Traveling for Miles, this new promotion offers up to a 40% bonus on purchased miles, dropping the cost of Etihad Guest miles to as little as 1.43 cents per mile.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at the data and discuss whether you should take advantage of it. Further, we’ll also show you a handful of ways you can redeem Etihad miles for maximum value — let’s dive in!
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Buying Etihad Guest miles with a 20% bonus
Through Mar. 31, 2021, you can buy Etihad miles with up to a 40% bonus. You’ll get the highest bonus when you purchase at least 61,000 miles — here’s a look at the breakdown:
- Buy 6,000-20,000 miles and get a 10% bonus
- Buy 21,000-60,000 miles and get a 20% bonus
- Buy 61,000-100,000 miles and get a 20% bonus
You must buy miles in increments of 1,000 but can purchase up to 100,000 miles per year not including the bonus (or 150,000 miles for Platinum members).
Etihad normally sells miles at 2 cents apiece, but this promotion will drop your effective price to 1.43 cents per mile at the 40% bonus tier. TPG values Etihad Guest miles at 1.4 cents each, but you may be able to get a good value from this sale if you know how to maximize them.
Related: Etihad Guest miles continue to fly under the radar
Should you buy Etihad miles?
While the world is making its way through the coronavirus pandemic, international travel is still largely at a standstill. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about when the airline industry will bounce back, but we’ve seen progress be made with more countries opening borders to tourism. This includes the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is the home country of Etihad Airways.
That said, we typically don’t recommend purchasing miles speculatively. This is because loyalty program currencies are not a good long-term investment. There’s nothing to stop a program from changing its award charts without notice, which could leave you with a balance of points or miles you can no longer use.
Related: Guide to earning transferable points and why they’re so valuable
It’s also important to note that you can earn Etihad miles by transferring points from most flexible points currencies:
- American Express Membership Rewards (1:1 transfer ratio)
- Citi ThankYou Rewards (1:1 transfer ratio)
- Capital One (2:1.5 transfer ratio)
- Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 transfer ratio)
You can quickly earn Etihad miles by transferring points from cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express. If you have a large balance in any of these programs, you want to save your money and transfer points to Etihad Guest instead.
Related: Best ways to maximize Capital One miles
However, if you’ve got a particular flight in mind, purchasing miles can be a great way to effectively book your flight at a discount. This method is most useful if you’re eyeing premium-cabin awards like a fancy international business-class seat.
For example, you can reserve a one-way flight from Washington-Dulles (IAD) or New York-JFK to Casablanca, Morocco (CMN) in Royal Air Maroc business class for 44,000 miles. This is a pretty excellent deal as the flight often costs more than $1,500 one-way.
By purchasing miles at 1.43 cents each, you’d pay roughly $630 for this flight. By purchasing points, you’re flying for roughly half of what you’d normally pay. Just note you won’t earn redeemable or elite qualifying miles on award flights.
You may also consider reserving a premium-class flight to Europe on American Airlines. Etihad’s American award chart essentially maintains the award rates from before the 2016 AAdvantage devaluation, so you can book the following flights:
- Business class: 50,000 miles one-way ($715 with the current promotion)
- Flagship First class: 62,500 miles one-way ($900 with the current promotion, since you’d need to purchase 63,000 miles)
These flights regularly cost thousands of dollars, so this could represent a spectacular value. During normal travel times, it can be tough to find available premium-class award seats on American. The pandemic has made it a lot easier, though, so you can use your newly purchased miles to book late-2021 post-pandemic travel now.
Further, you can travel from the West Coast to Japan in ANA business class for 54,000 Etihad miles one way. At a rate of 1.43 cents each, you’ll spend $772 on the miles you need for this flight. Business-class flights to Japan routinely cost $2,000 or more, so you’re securing a 50%+ discount by purchasing miles.
Make sure to check out our full guide to Etihad Guest partners for more inspiration. Other interesting partners include Air Canada, Brussels Airlines and GOL. Regardless of the booking you pick, make sure to compare the cost of your award ticket with other partners to ensure you’re getting the best deal. For example, you may be able to get a better deal on Air Canada flights using the airline’s own Aeroplan loyalty program.
One last thing: you’re generally better off booking Etihad award tickets using American Airlines AAdvantage miles. You’ll spend 99,885 Etihad Guest miles and roughly $30 in taxes and fees for a one-way business class flight from New York-JFK to Abu Dhabi (AUH). This is roughly $1,430 when you purchase miles during this promotion, which is still better than paying cash. On the other hand, you can use just 70,000 American miles to book the same ticket.
Related: No, American and Etihad’s partnership is not ending
Use the right credit card
When you buy Etihad miles, your purchase is handled by Points.com, not Etihad. Transactions with Points.com don’t code as travel, so you won’t earn bonus rewards for using a card with airline spending as a bonus category.
Instead, consider using one of the best credit cards for everyday spending, such as The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Each of these cards earns more than 1 point/mile per dollar spent on all purchases, which gives you a better return than most cards.
Related: The best credit cards for everyday spending
Etihad Guest miles can bring massive value when you use them for partner flights. While this isn’t the best deal we’ve seen for Etihad miles, it can be worthwhile if you value Etihad status and want to book discounted travel later in the year. We’ve seen Etihad sell miles for as low as 1.2 cents apiece in the past, so you may be able to get a better deal by waiting.
Feature photo by Zou Zheng/Xinhua via Getty
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And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free.
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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