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The Emirates Skywards credit cards won’t earn bonuses large enough to cover a one-way trip in one of the airline’s coveted first-class suites, but they’ll at least get you part of the way there. You’ll also get Emirates elite status for the first year, with the ability to keep that status if you reach an annual spending minimum.
If you’re loyal to Emirates, the airline’s co-branded credit cards issued by Barclays can be a way to earn rewards at a faster pace. Here are five things to know about the Emirates Skywards credit cards.
» MORE: Guide to Emirates Skywards
1. There are 2 Emirates credit cards
Depending on which benefits you’re looking for, and your willingness to pay a high annual fee, you can take your pick of two Emirates cards.
The Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card has a $99 annual fee and this sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus Skywards Miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
The Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card has a $499 annual fee and this sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 bonus Skywards Miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
2. Both earn the same ongoing rewards
With both Emirates credit cards, you’ll earn:
3 Skywards Miles per $1 spent on eligible Emirates purchases, which includes purchases on emirates.com or at the Emirates sales office.
2 Skywards Miles per $1 spent on airfare, hotels and rental cars.
1 Skywards Mile per $1 spent on all other purchases.
NerdWallet values Emirates Skywards Miles at 1 cent each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 1 cent or more in value from your Emirates Skywards Miles.
3. You’ll get instant status, but keeping it long-term is pricey
Both cards come with automatic elite status, but the level varies.
The Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card gives new cardholders Emirates Silver tier membership during their first year. This membership tier entitles you to:
Complimentary seat selection.
A 26.5-pound excess baggage allowance.
Priority check-in and boarding.
A 25% bonus on miles earned by flying on Emirates or Flydubai.
Free access to Emirates Business Class lounges in Dubai.
To retain Emirates Silver tier membership after the first year, you must spend $20,000 on the card per year.
The Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card comes with Emirates Gold tier membership for the first year. It includes the features of Silver, but with:
A higher excess baggage allowance (35 pounds).
Priority customer service and baggage delivery.
Guaranteed economy class seats even on full flights.
Free access for you and a guest to Emirates Business Class lounges in Dubai and at lounges throughout the Emirates network.
A 50% bonus on miles earned by flying on Emirates or Flydubai.
To keep Emirates Gold tier membership beyond the first year, you need to spend $40,000 per year on the card.
4. The premium card offers additional perks
Befitting its significantly higher annual fee, the Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card provides a few more benefits compared with its modest counterpart:
An anniversary bonus of 10,000 Skywards Miles when you spend $30,000 each year.
A credit toward TSA PreCheck or Global Entry up to $100 every five years.
Access to Priority Pass lounges.
5. A general travel rewards card is better for most
Unless you're an Emirates loyalist and want to visit the Emirates Business Class lounges in Dubai, a general travel credit card will probably make more sense for your needs. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for example, earns 5x points for travel booked through Chase, 3x points on dining, 3x points on streaming services and online grocery purchases, 2x points on travel and 1x points on all other purchases, and comes with perks like an annual hotel credit and anniversary points. The Chase Ultimate Rewards® points earned from the card can be transferred 1:1 to Emirates Skywards, but they also have flexible uses so you're not locked into one airline.