You learn something new every day… For me it was about Emirates

I was at a wedding recently and got chatting to someone on my table about travelling. This always excites me as I love to hear about other people’s plans – you never know where it might inspire you to go next!

We got on to the topic of miles and points so I suggested that they take a look at this blog as there might be some helpful tips. We also spoke about credit cards, which ended up in me referring them for the American Express Gold Card, which should seem them on their way to a hefty 22,000 miles in short order. (I have already spent the referral bonus – thank you!)

The main redemption goal for my new-found miles and points friend was Australia on Emirates which is, I have to confess, not an area that I know too much about. Needless to say, it has given me the desire to find out a little more. I dont think that it is something that I am going to be able to take advantage of with miles, as I have too much invested in OneWorld, and most of my travelling is covered by them. I do, however, think that it could be a good option in a sale.

I had a message from my intrepid friend asking about the benefits of using the AmEx Gold to pay for flights through the American Express Travel portal and whether I had used it before. I had only used it for a car hire booking a couple of years ago and I have to confess it had dropped off my radar. On looking into it, it seemed worthy of mentioning.

The standard AmEx deal is 1 point per pound which you can then convert 1:1 to a number of airlines, Emirates included. What I had forgotten was that if you book direct with an airline, you get a bonus point for every £1 spent. I book mainly British Airways, and use my BA Premium Plus AmEx for that, giving 3 Avios per £1, so it never crossed my mind. However, it would be useful if trying to delay the 2for1 voucher or booking with another airline. The final icing on the cake is that if you book through American Express Travel you get another bonus point, making it 3 points per £1.

Lets use London to Sydney via Dubai as an example, travelling 8-22 November 2016.

An economy ticket booking direct with Emirates comes up as £715.

EK LHR-SYD

Pay for this using the free Emirates Skywards AmEx card and you would earn 1,430 miles, which is 2 miles per £1. This would be the same if using the AmEx Gold.

Booking with American Express actually works out marginally cheaper at £712.

AmEx LHR-DUB

Pay using the Emirates Skywards AmEx card and you would earn 712 miles, because it is only 1 miles per £1 on non-Emirates transactions. However, use the AmEx Gold and you would earn 2,136 miles.

Both of these examples would earn 7,700 miles for the flights themselves. (N.B. In both these examples, the flight codes are coming up as EKxxx – this is important if you want to earn Skywards Miles. Emirates codeshare with Qantas now who are part of the OneWorld Alliance, along with British Airways. You can actually earn Avios on Emirates flights, but you must book them with a QF flight number)

I would also recommend using the AmEx Gold as the spend will count towards the treshold, triggering another 22,000 miles. The Emirates card just needs a transaction for the 5,000 bonus miles – there is no limit so it could be a £1 coffee in Starbucks!

But what if they were more expensive with AmEx? This depends on how much more they are and how much they are in the first place. Lets say they were £20 more from AmEx than direct with Emirates on a base fare of £200. You would earn 400 miles using your Emirates card direct and 660 using your AmEx through their portal, so your additional £20 gets you 260 miles. That is effectively you paying 7.7p/mile so not worth it. However, it it was a base fare of £2000, then your bonus for paying £2020 through AmEx would be 2060 miles which, at 0.97p/mile is worth while. I would only be prepared to pay a little more if I was very close to a redemption and would have to buy a few miles anyway, or was able to trigger a bonus on a credit card.

As you can see, there is no simple yes/no answer as to what is best, but do the maths and you will able to come to a logical conclusion.

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