A beginner’s guide to Emirates Skywards

Introducing Emirates Skywards, the airline loyalty program tied to Emirates. Since Emirates is one of the standout partners of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, earning Emirates Skywards could offer local travellers an ideal way to take advantage of flight rewards.

Emirates Skywards overview

With over 27 million members around the world, Emirates Skywards belongs to the world’s fourth largest airline and is one of the most popular frequent flyer programs available to Australian travellers.

While Emirates isn’t a member of global alliances such as Oneworld or Star Alliance, there’s a lot to be said for its strong network of international partner airlines where its members can earn and redeem the currency of Skywards miles.

Members are able to earn and spend miles with Qantas, as well as a range of other airline partners including Jetstar, Japan Airlines and Malaysia Airlines.

As well as earning and burning Skywards in the air and on the ground, frequent flyers can also journey to Platinum status by earning Tier Miles and climbing the membership ladder – where perks including complimentary lounge access await.

This guide will get you up to speed with all things Emirates Skywards, including where to start earning miles and how best to redeem them. Now, let’s take off.

How to join Emirates Skywards

Unlike some airline programs, an Emirates Skywards membership doesn’t cost a cent. With just a couple of minutes to spare, you can sign up for free by following the four steps below:

  1. Go to the enrolment page on the Emirates website
  2. Enter your personal details
  3. Create a strong password
  4. Click ‘create-account’
emirates skywards how to join

If you don’t wish to receive offer emails from Emirates Skywards, you can simply opt not to select the marketing boxes when signing up.

Emirates Skywards membership tiers and benefits

There are four status levels that comprise the Emirates Skywards loyalty program: Blue, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Emirates also has a secretive invite-only tier called iO, which we won’t cover for the purposes of this beginner’s guide.

Generally, Emirates Skywards members can obtain status by either meeting the threshold for a certain number of flights, or by accumulating enough Tier Miles. The exception here is the top-tier Platinum status, which can only be achieved via Tier Miles.

emirates skywards 4 tier coins

What are Emirates Skywards Tier Miles and how do they work?

Beyond Skywards miles, members have the ability to earn ‘Tier Miles’, which are the program’s equivalent of Qantas Status Credits.

While Skywards miles can be earned and burned in several ways, Tier Miles purely determine eligibility for elite status and can only be earned by flying on eligible Emirates and Flydubai-marketed flights.

Earning a set threshold of Tier Miles unlocks the following elite membership levels.

Emirates Skywards Blue

emirates skywards blue membership tier

This is the base-level tier, which members automatically adopt upon signing up for Emirates Skywards. Blue status allows members to earn and redeem Skywards miles for flights and other products and services on the ground.

How to earnHow to retain
Join Emirates Skywards for freen/a

Benefits include:

While there’s not much on offer in the way of perks, those who hold Skywards Blue status can access paid inflight WiFi, as well as pay for lounge entry when available.

Emirates Skywards Silver

emirates skywards silver membership tier

Elite perks will kick in when Emirates Skywards members begin to fly and earn enough Tier Miles for Silver status.

How to earnHow to retain
25 flights or earn 25,000 Tier Miles in 12 months25 flights or earn 25,000 Tier Miles in 12 months

Benefits include:

  • 25% bonus Skywards miles when flying Emirates
  • complimentary standard seat selection
  • priority check-in and boarding
  • 12kg additional baggage allowance (on weight-based tickets)
  • instant upgrades onboard (when using Skywards miles)
  • complimentary lounge access to business lounges in Dubai
  • ability to earn an additional 1 Skywards mile per US$1 spent at Marriott Bonvoy properties

Emirates Skywards Gold

emirates skywards gold membership tier

In addition to all the Silver status benefits, Emirates Skywards Gold members can enjoy some more exclusive perks.

How to earnHow to retain
50 flights or earn 50,000 Tier Miles in 12 months50 flights or earn 50,000 Tier Miles in 12 months

Benefits include:

  • 50% bonus Skywards miles when flying Emirates
  • complimentary standard seat selection (including companions)
  • priority phone service
  • 16kg additional baggage allowance (on weight-based tickets)
  • 2 x 23kg baggage allowance (on piece-based tickets)
  • instant upgrades onboard (when using Skywards miles)
  • complimentary airport lounge access (plus one guest) to all Emirates lounges
  • free inflight WiFi on Emirates flights
  • Late checkout, early check-in and free enhanced WiFi at Marriott Bonvoy properties

Emirates Skywards Platinum

emirates skywards platinum membership tier

This is the top-tier status where elite members can expect some generous travel-enhancing benefits on top of access to all the Gold perks. Unlike the lower tiers, Emirates Skywards Platinum can only be obtained by earning Tier Miles.

How to earnHow to retain
Earn 150,000 Tier Miles in 12 monthsEarn 150,000 Tier Miles in 12 months
  • 75% bonus Skywards miles when flying Emirates
  • complimentary extra-legroom seat selection
  • first class check-in and baggage delivery
  • 20kg additional baggage allowance (on weight-based tickets)
  • 2x 23kg baggage allowance (on piece-based tickets)
  • instant upgrades onboard (when using Skywards miles)
  • complimentary Skywards Gold status for a person of your choice
  • complimentary access to first class lounges (plus one guest and two children under 17) at all Emirates lounges
  • no expiry on Skywards miles

How to earn Emirates Skywards miles in Australia

Despite Emirates Skywards not being a local program, there are quite a few ways to easily rack up a healthy miles balance thanks to a range of transfer partners.

emirates skywards earn miles with our partners

Here are our expert tips for maximising miles earn via Emirates Skywards in Australia:

Transfer via American Express Membership Rewards

As far as card issuers go, Emirates Skywards’ partnership with American Express Membership Rewards offers what is one of the easiest ways to earn Skywards miles in Australia.

Amex Membership Rewards members can convert points at a value of 2:1 (where 2 Membership Rewards points equal 1 Skywards mile). This means that transferring the minimum 1,000 Membership Rewards Points will equate to 500 miles.

By this logic, members can earn Skywards miles with an initial card offer, namely by earning and transferring across a credit card sign-up bonus, and then ongoing via everyday spend.

The following American Express cards offer transfers to Emirates Skywards:

Transfer via other bank rewards partners

Other bank rewards programs, including Citi Rewards and CommBank Awards also offer transfers to Emirates Skywards.

Citi Australia offers the only credit card that directly earns Emirates Skywards miles. While the Emirates Citi World Mastercard is the only card capable of earning miles into the Skywards program, Citi Rewards credit cards offer transfers to Skywards at a rate of 1.5:1. This means that 1,500 Citi Rewards Points would convert to 1,000 Skywards miles.

CommBank Rewards offers a less favourable transfer rate of 4:1, where 4,000 CommBank Awards Points are equal to 1,000 Skywards miles.

Flying with Emirates

Taking to the skies with Emirates is a simple way to earn miles, especially now that Australia is once again using Dubai as a stepping stone to the rest of the world.

The number of miles earned on Emirates flights will depend on your Skywards status, the number of miles flown and fare booking class, with more miles on offer for premium cabin tickets.

Emirates has a handy Miles Calculator on its website, which provides a straightforward breakdown of the Skywards miles and Tier Miles that can be earned on flights.

emirates skywards flying with emirates 1

An Emirates Skywards Gold status member flying on a business class flight from Sydney to Los Angeles, for example, would earn between 25,839 and 38,761 miles (depending on the type of business fare purchased), whereas a Platinum member would earn between 29,877 and 42,796 miles for the same flight.

emirates skywards flying with emirates 2
emirates skywards flying with emirates 3

Flying with Qantas and other partner airlines

Though Emirates isn’t part of a global airline alliance, it boasts a network of 15 partner airlines, including Qantas, Jetstar and Air Japan, with most partners allowing Skywards members to earn Skywards miles on eligible flights.

The table below outlines Emirates’ miles-earning airline partners and the earn rate for each.

Airline partnerSkywards miles earn rate (per mile flown)
Air MauritiusUp to 2
Bangkok AirwaysUp to 1.25
Copa AirlinesUp to 1.5
GOL Linhas Aéreas InteligentesUp to 1.5
Japan AirlinesUp to 1.5
JetstarUp to 1.5
Korean AirUp to 2
Malaysia AirlinesUp to 1.5
QantasUp to 1.5
S7 AirlinesUp to 1.25
South African AirwaysUp to 1.5
TAP PortugalUp to 1.5

Earn points from Marriott Bonvoy

Emirates partners with popular hotel program of choice, Marriott Bonvoy. The ‘Your World Rewards’ partnership offers members the unique opportunity to earn Skywards miles from stays at participating Marriott Bonvoy properties.

emirates skywards marriott bonvoy

This tie-up allows elite Skywards members (Silver and above) to earn 1 mile for every US$1 spent at participating hotels.

There’s also the option to transfer Marriott Bonvoy points over to this program at a rate of 3:1, meaning the minimum 3,000 Marriot Bonvoy points will convert to 1,000 Skywards miles.

Transfer via other hotel loyalty programs

Accor Live Limitless offers member transfers to Emirates Skywards at a favourable rate of 2:1. A minimum of 4,000 Reward points must be transferred, delivering a yield of 2,000 miles.

Members of IHG One Rewards and Hilton Honors hotel loyalty programs similarly have the option to transfer their hotel reward points to Skywards miles, albeit at less value than via Marriott Bonvoy

Here are the conversions rates with minimum thresholds:

  • 10,000 IHG One Rewards points = 2,000 miles
  • 10,000 Hilton Honors Points = 1,000 miles

Booking a hotel with Booking.com

Booking.com offers yet another way to earn Emirates Skywards miles on hotel stays. Members who book a stay directly through Booking.com can earn 1 Emirates Skywards mile for every 1 Euro spent at over one and a half million properties around the world.

Note that the booking must be made through Emirates’ website to earn miles via the Skywards program on your booking.

Earn with car rentals

Earning points on eligible car rentals makes it entirely possible to cover even more ground when earning Skywards miles.

Here’s what miles are on offer with popular rental companies:

  • Avis and Budget: Earn up to 8 miles for every US$1 spent (based on membership status)
  • Europcar: Earn up to 1,200 miles per rental
  • Hertz: Earn 5 miles for every US$1 spent
  • Sixt: Earn up to 1,000 miles per eligible rental

Pool miles into a My Family account

Depending on how you look at it, Emirates’ unique family pooling feature offers members a beneficial way to earn or use Skywards miles.

Similar to Virgin Australia’s Family Pooling feature, Skywards members can automatically pool miles (either all or a percentage) of miles earned – from Emirates and partner airlines – to a My Family Account.

This can be a strategic way for one family member to accumulate enough points to redeem reward flights. You can sign up for My Family account here.

Buying Emirates Skywards miles

Buying miles doesn’t usually make sense as a strategy to get maximum value out of frequent flyer programs. Nevertheless, as we’re about to see, Emirates offers some particularly appealing redemption opportunities. Purchasing Skywards miles can occasionally make sense if you’re just short of reaching one of those.

Based on your membership tier, you can purchase a threshold of between 100,000 or 200,000 Skywards miles each year, with 1,000 miles typically fronting a cost of US$30 (around AU$48).

Note that you’ll need to have at least one prior earning activity on your Skywards account to be eligible to buy miles. You can view the full terms and conditions around purchasing miles at the bottom of this page.

How much are Skywards miles worth?

As with most frequent flyer currencies, the value of Emirates Skywards miles depends entirely on what you spend them on.

You’ll usually extract maximum value from your miles when you use them to redeem a reward seat in a premium cabin.

In saying that, Emirates, along with many other airlines has recently hiked its carrier charges right up. Successive price increases now see Emirates front some of the highest carrier charges of any airline in the world.

For example, we are currently seeing carrier charges of well over $2,500 for a one-way business class flight from Sydney to New York.

As such, it’s important to consider the cost of carrier charges when determining the value of your intended flight redemption. In cases where return carrier charges edge closer to the $5,000 mark (as we have seen) it may be smarter to save your miles and purchase a normal cash fare.

How to redeem Emirates Skywards miles

While there are many ways to earn Emirates Skywards miles in Australia, there are also a few particularly strong standouts when it comes to redeeming them.

There are limited opportunities to use Skywards miles to redeem retail rewards in Australia, however, outright flight redemptions certainly offer the best value.

emirates skywards spend miles

Leverage Classic Rewards: Fly with Emirates

Similar to the Qantas Classic Flight Reward, Emirates Skywards members can use their miles to book flights to any Emirates destination in any class – we’d suggest taking advantage of Saver and Flex Plus reward fares wherever possible.

You can redeem a Classic Reward starting from 15,000 Skywards miles (we’ll dig into this a bit deeper in a moment), but it’s the business and first class offerings where the value on offer really shines.

emirates skywards first class

A redemption on Emirates first class is truly a travel-altering experience. In particular, the Emirates A380 aircraft houses one of the world’s most respected first class products, where Emirates offers the opportunity to take a shower (complete with heated floor and spacious surrounds) 35,000 feet in the air – a novel experience like no other.

emirates skywards first class shower
The spacious first class shower onboard Emirates Airbus A380

The Boeing 777 also features a stellar Emirates first class experience, with selected aircraft having undergone refurbishment in recent years.

Travel with Qantas and other partner airlines

Redeeming Emirates Skywards miles for flights on Qantas is another popular travel goal that Australians often aim for. However, if the occasion calls, Emirates has 14 other airline partners that allow you to fly using miles.

The full list of airline partners is as follows:

Air MauritiusBangkok AirwaysCopa Airlines
easy JetGOL Linhas Aéreas InteligentesJapan Airlines
jetBlueJetstarKorean Air
flydubaiMalaysia AirlinesQantas
S7 AirlinesSouth African AirwaysTAP Portugal

Level up with Upgrade Rewards

While the best value lies in outright flight redemptions – and premium cabin fares at that – it is also possible to upgrade on Emirates-operated flights using a stash of Emirates Skywards miles.

Subject to availability, Emirates Skywards members can typically upgrade from:

  • Economy to premium economy
  • Economy to business class
  • Premium economy to business class
  • Business to first class

Note that upgrades will vary depending on the type of fare initially purchased, and the specific cabin availability on your flight. Premium Economy Upgrade Rewards, for example, are currently not available due to the few offerings available across the Emirates network.

Split the fare: Cash+Miles

A ‘points plus pay’ option is available to reduce the cost of an Emirates or flydubai fare. While paying for your flight using a combination of cash and Skywards miles doesn’t necessarily offer the best value, taking advantage of Cash+Miles rates can make sense in certain situations, particularly if you have a chunk of miles that are due to expire.

Enjoy Skywards Exclusives

From soccer matches in Europe, to Formula One, Skywards Exclusives invite members to spend miles on the ground with exclusive tickets to sporting and entertainment events around the world.

While few (if any) of these events we’ve spotted are held in Australia, members still have the option to bid for tickets using a desired number of miles.

How many Skywards miles do I need for a free flight?

We have established that saving your miles for an outright flight redemption typically offers the best value, but how many miles can you expect to use?

While outright flight redemptions start at around 15,000 Skywards miles, the cost of a flight redemption varies according to the fare class, flight distance and travel dates.

Simply log into your Emirates Skywards account and search for your flights. Then, once the results have loaded, switch the ‘would you like to redeem Skywards miles for Classic Rewards’ toggle to ‘on’.

emirates skywards redeem miles 1

For example, a one-way business class Classic Reward redemption from Sydney to New York would cost 222,500 Emirates Skywards miles, plus $2,625.79 AUD in fees, taxes and charges.

emirates skywards redeem miles 2

Meanwhile, an economy class redemption on a flight from Sydney to Dubai would require 82,750 miles plus $337.59 in carrier charges. A business class reward seat on the same flight, however, costs 152,500 miles, plus $1,271.09 in charges.

emirates skywards redeem miles 3

As we’ve seen, there’s also the option to cover part of the fare with miles, using cash to top up the rest. To do this, you’ll need a minimum of 2,000 Skywards miles.

There’s no minimum redemption when using miles to travel with Flydubai, which means members can use any denomination of miles earned via the Emirates Skywards program before covering the rest of the flight with cash.

When do Skywards miles expire?

One of the biggest challenges of being a member of multiple frequent flyer programs is keeping track of when your points or miles expire.

The good news here is that Emirates Skywards’ three-year validity period is one of the longest of any frequent flyer program. The not-so-good news is that it’s a hard expiry, meaning Skywards miles will always expire 36 months at the end of your birthday month from the time they were earned, regardless of account activity.

How can I claim missing Skywards miles?

It’s entirely possible that you may take a flight and not see your Skywards miles touch down in your account. Should this happen, you can log into your Emirates account and submit a missing miles form with these steps:

  1. Log into your account and navigate to ‘Claim Miles’ on the right-hand side
  2. Enter your ticket number, booking reference and the name of the passenger who was on the ticket
  3. Submit your claim form (there’s a link to a separate form for partner airlines below the submit button).

The good news here is that Emirates will usually credit the missing miles immediately, providing the name on the ticket matches the name in your Emirates Skywards profile.

emirates skywards claim missing miles

Handy hint: Not yet a member or have recently joined Emirates Skywards? New joins can claim Skywards miles for Emirates flights flown up to two months before registering for the program.

How to transfer Emirates Skywards miles

As we mentioned earlier, Emirates allows members to combine miles in a family pool with a My Family account, a rare feature amongst frequent flyer programs.

While it isn’t possible to transfer Skywards miles directly to other frequent flyer programs, we now know that members can use them to redeem flights on partner airlines.

However, Skywards members are able to transfer miles to other members at a cost of US$15 per 1,000 miles, with a maximum of 50,000 miles per year.

There’s a minimum of 2,000 miles per transaction, meaning that you’ll be spending a less than-ideal US$30 (about AU$48) each pop – at least!

Emirates Business Rewards program

If you primarily travel for business, then joining Emirates Business Rewards program could be worth joining.

Similar to the business-focused Virgin Australia Business Flyer and Qantas Business Rewards programs, Emirates Business Rewards offers a convenient way for business owners to manage work travel.

Operating separately from the Emirates Skywards program, Emirates Business Rewards attempts to woo business travellers with the promise of rewarding employees and guest travellers with Business Rewards Points each time they fly.

While Skywards miles and Business Rewards Points can’t be combined, there’s the ability to ‘double dip’ by earning to both programs with each flight. In addition to earning the miles you usually would from flying, Emirates Business Rewards members will also earn the business 1 point per US$1 on eligible flights.

It’s worth noting that Business Rewards Points expire two years on the last day of the month when the flight was completed.

How does Emirates Skywards stack up against Qantas Frequent Flyer?

For frequent travellers based in Australia, the most valuable airline partner for Emirates is likely to be Qantas. Boasting over 14 million members, Qantas Frequent Flyer is Australia’s most popular airline loyalty program. As such, the Australian-based frequent flyer program offers more ways to earn and burn points locally.

When choosing between the two programs, it really boils down to how your travel and spending habits align with the program’s offerings.

Though Qantas Points expire in 18 months (without account activity), earning or redeeming just one point through simple avenues such as Qantas Wine or the Qantas Wellbeing App makes it easy to keep points valid.

Conversely, Skywards Miles is limited by a hard three-year expiry policy, creating significant barriers to entry for those who intend to take time in saving for an aspirational business or first class outright flight redemption.

While Emirates has a solid independent network of airline partners, Qantas is part of the global Oneworld alliance (which has over 25 members), offering a wider range of route flexibility for Australians.

When it comes to carrier fees and saver award flight availability, Emirates falls behind, which is something to consider when planning to align with an airline program. While Qantas has also hiked up its carrier fees, the idea of a ‘free flight’ is questionable with the current, very high charges levied by Emirates.

The table below shows how Emirates Skywards stacks up against Qantas Frequent Flyer at a glance:

Program featureEmirates SkywardsQantas Frequent Flyer
CurrencySkywards MilesQantas Points
Membership tiers4 (Blue, Silver, Gold, Platinum)5 excluding Chairman’s Lounge (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum One)
Hard points/miles expiryYes (36 months)No (must register account activity every 18 months)
Airline partners15Oneworld alliance (over 25 partners) plus Emirates
Family poolingYesNo
Direct earn via credit cardYes (but only one in Australia)Yes
Earn points on the groundYes (but limited ability in Australia)Yes

How to contact Emirates Skywards in Australia

There are a few ways to get in contact with Emirates Skywards.

While phoning the call centre on 1300 303 777 (from Australia) or +44 344 800 2777 (from overseas) is usually your best bet, you can also try submitting an online enquiry form or utilising the Live Chat feature on the website.

Conclusion: Is Emirates Skywards a worthy program?

Aspirational redemption opportunities across Emirates’ own flight network, as well as with Qantas and other partner airlines make Emirates Skywards a worthy option for frequent flyers based in Australia.

If that’s not enough, having what is arguably the most attractive first class offering in the sky certainly gives Emirates the extra edge in allowing frequent flyers to shoot for the stars (or in this case, sky showers).

Premium travel goals aside, the fact that Skywards miles can be earned in Australia with certain American Express credit cards also makes it a practical program for enthusiastic travellers in Australia.

While increasing carrier charges have recently made the more aspirational Classic Rewards somewhat less appealing, there is still value to be had for those saving to chase a particular flight reward goal.

FAQ – Emirates Skywards

How do I earn Skywards miles with Emirates?

Emirates Skywards members can earn Skywards miles in the sky by flying with Emirates or partner airlines, as well as via on-the-ground expenses, including car hire and hotel stays.

What are the different status tiers in Emirates Skywards?

The Emirates Skywards program has four status tiers, which are: Blue, Silver, Gold and Platinum. While Blue tier is the base-level status upon joining, Platinum members need to achieve 150,000 tier miles in 12 months.

Do Emirates Skywards miles expire?

Yes – Emirates Skywards miles have a hard expiry of three years. Unlike Qantas and Velocity points, which expire with inactivity, miles earned via the Emirates Skywards program always expire after 36 months.

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1 thought on “A beginner’s guide to Emirates Skywards”

  1. Avatar for Bob Arjie

    This is a wonderfully informative article and I’d like to thank for you the effort you put into writing it. As an Emirates Gold Skywards member, this will serve as my go to article for future reference. Thanks again.

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