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If you’re looking to take some amazing trips using miles and points, Turkish Airlines should be on your radar — even if you don’t want to visit Turkey. The airline is part of the Star Alliance, which has 26 member airlines including United Airlines, Air Canada, ANA and Air China.
Through this partnership, you can use your Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles miles on the Turkish Airlines website to book flights on partner airlines. And if you know the sweet spots, you can find some great deals that will stretch your miles even further.
Based on our most recent analysis, NerdWallet values Turkish Airlines miles at 1.4 cents each.
Here’s a quick look at how you can get Turkish Airlines miles, followed by the top five sweet spots for redeeming them.
How do you get Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles miles?
As with every other frequent flyer program, the simplest way to get Turkish Airlines miles is by flying the airline. But if you’re not flying on Turkish Airlines, your secret weapon is the Citi ThankYou Rewards program, which lets you earn points by using certain credit cards.
For example, the Citi Premier® Card pays you 3 Citi ThankYou points for every dollar you spend at restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, and on hotels and airfare, plus 1 point per dollar on other purchases. New cardmembers can earn welcome bonus points: Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. The annual fee is $95.
The Citi ThankYou points you earn can be converted into the miles of more than a dozen frequent flyer programs. Choose Turkish Airlines and you’ll get 1 Miles&Smiles mile for every Citi ThankYou point you transfer. Points transfer in increments of 1,000.
» Learn more: Citi ThankYou Points: How to earn and use them
Where to find sweet spots using your Turkish Airlines miles
Shopping for plane tickets is like shopping for groceries: Some stores charge different prices for the exact same product, and sometimes there’s a sale or a special price.
The same is true when you’re paying with miles. Turkish Airlines has many routes that cost fewer miles to fly on a partner, like United, than you’d pay if you actually booked with miles through United. Here are a few of the great deals you can find.
1. Fly to Hawaii for 10,000 miles in economy, 15,000 in business class each way
One of the best deals for your Miles&Smiles miles is flying to Hawaii. Unlike a lot of other airlines that put Hawaii in its own separate price category, Turkish Airlines classifies Hawaii as part of the U.S. This means that if you want to fly from Washington, D.C., to Honolulu, it’s going to cost you a mere 10,000 in economy class and 15,000 in business and first class. These coveted first class seats are hard to come by, so if you see one, book it. Plus, despite what the award chart says, you may even see routes for as low as 7,500 miles in economy each way for an even better deal.
Depending on what city you’re leaving from, your Turkish Miles&Smiles miles could get you one of United Airlines’ lie-flat seats for first class or business flyers. The flights out of San Francisco are typically flown by United Airlines 777 aircraft, which offer lie-flat in business class. If you connect on many Newark flights, you could have lie-flat seats on both legs of your flight: first from Newark to San Francisco, and the second from San Francisco to Honolulu.
Pricing is more than double on United for the same flights, costing 22,500 in economy and 40,000 in business/first class.
» Learn more: The best award flights to Hawaii
2. U.S. to Europe: 45,000 miles each way in business class
Further, your Turkish Airlines miles can get you a business class seat on a United flight from Chicago, or other places in the U.S., to Europe for just 45,000 miles each way. That same flight booked through United would cost you 60,000 miles. You’re saving 25% by using Turkish Miles&Smiles instead of United MileagePlus miles.
3. Europe to Middle East: 17,000 miles each way in economy or 24,500 miles in business class
Flying from London to Dubai, with a stopover in Istanbul, is over 14 hours of travel time. But it costs just 17,000 Miles&Smiles miles in economy or 24,500 in business class.
Compare that to booking with United miles: The same London to Dubai flight will cost you 27,500 United miles one way in economy and 55,000 miles in business class.
4. Europe to the Far East: 30,000 miles each way in economy or 45,000 in business
Another great deal is to head from Europe to the Far East for 30,000 or 45,000 miles, depending on the class of service you choose.
Since the Star Alliance has plenty of partners in Europe and Asia, you can travel between many destinations with only one stop, or in many cases, nonstop — often for a rate much lower than you’d pay booking with the partner directly.
For example, using your United miles, this flight from Paris to Tokyo would set you back 49,500 miles in economy or 82,500 miles in business class. Those same flights with Turkish Airlines miles cost just 30,000 in economy or 45,000 miles in business class.
5. Periodic special offers
Check the Special Offers page under the Discover tab on the Turkish Airlines website regularly. The airline occasionally runs sales, allowing buyers to save 25% or even 50% off the price of an award ticket.
The bottom line
Turkish Airlines offers phenomenal value for you to redeem points and miles for flights all around the world. Often, you can save tens of thousands of miles over their U.S. partner, United Airlines, and earning is easy with the Citi family of credit cards.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card