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From its hub in Istanbul, Turkey, Turkish Airlines flies to more countries than any airline in the world. And because Turkish Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, you can redeem its miles to fly on partner airlines all over the globe — unlocking an incredible amount of opportunities to spend Turkish Airlines miles. That fact alone makes Turkish Airlines miles pretty valuable.
But then there's their actual value, which is impressively high. Based on our most recent analysis, NerdWallet values Turkish Airlines miles at 1.4 cents each.
The airline's loyalty program, Miles&Smiles, might be more accessible than you think. Here's how to earn and use those miles, plus an outline of some of the experiences you can expect onboard a Turkish Airlines flight.
About Turkish Airlines
Offering both economy class and long-haul business class fares, Turkish Airlines serves Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York-JFK, Boston, Miami, Atlanta and Houston airports.
On average, flights to Turkey from the U.S. take 11 to 14 hours, depending on your departure location.
Economy class tickets on Turkish Airlines come with entertainment at every seat and in-seat power. Flyers also get food with local Turkish flair, plus an amenity kit including masks, earplugs, socks, toothbrush and lip balm on economy flights of more than five hours.
Business class seats come with a massage function and lie fully flat to allow travelers maximum rest. Turkish also has a “flying chef” who will make your meals to order. Expect your food to be prepared in the Turkish culinary tradition using international flavors.
How to earn Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles miles
There are many ways to earn miles in Turkish Airlines’ loyalty program, Miles&Smiles. You can:
Fly Turkish Airlines.
Fly on one of its partner airlines and specify Miles&Smiles as your miles-earning preference.
Transfer points from hotel rewards programs (There are a few transfer partners, but the best is Marriott Bonvoy, where you can transfer miles at a 3:1 transfer ratio).
Book a rental car or hotel with a Miles&Smiles partner.
Here's how each earning method works:
Earn by flying on Turkish Airlines
The airline's award chart makes it easy to figure out how many miles you can accrue on specific Turkish Airlines flights.
If your flight is within Turkey, you’ll earn a fixed number of miles. When you travel internationally, there’s a formula based on the physical distance flown, your elite status level and the type of fare purchased. The cheaper the fare, the fewer miles you’ll earn.
Earn by flying on Turkish Airlines' partners
When you fly a Star Alliance or other partner airline, the Turkish Airlines website offers a handy guide for determining the number of Miles&Smiles miles you can collect. Simply click on your airline’s logo to pull up a chart showing how many miles you can earn by flying.
For example, when you fly United Airlines, the number of Miles&Smiles miles you can earn is a percentage of the physical miles your flight covers.
If you purchase the most restrictive and cheapest economy fares on United, you’ll earn 50% mileage credit. Fly in business or first class, and the Miles&Smiles miles you earn will be equal to 100% or 150% of the physical miles flown.
Earn miles using a credit card
If you’re not living in Turkey, Israel or Azerbaijan, you can’t get a Turkish Airlines credit card. But if you have a Citi Prestige® Card or Citi Premier® Card, you can transfer your credit card points to Miles&Smiles at a 1:1 ratio.
Convert hotel points into Turkish Airlines miles
Marriott offers two ways to earn Miles&Smiles miles. You can opt to earn miles when you stay at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, or you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points into Miles&Smiles in 1,000-mile increments.
This works in two ways:
If you choose to earn Miles&Smiles miles for your hotel stay, you’ll get 1 or 2 miles for every qualifying $1 you spend with the hotel, depending on the brand you’re staying at.
Alternatively, you can choose to earn Bonvoy points for your stay, and then transfer them to Miles&Smiles at a ratio of 3 points for 1 Miles&Smiles mile.
The math works out better if you choose to earn Bonvoy points and transfer them rather than earn Miles&Smiles miles for Marriott stays. As an example, if you spent $1,500 at a Sheraton and opted to earn Miles&Smiles miles, you’d get 3,000 miles for the stay. Alternatively, if you spent $1,500 at a Sheraton and chose to earn Bonvoy points, you’d get at least 10 points per dollar, for a total of 15,000 Bonvoy points on that same spend. You could then transfer those 15,000 Bonvoy points to Miles&Smiles at a 3:1 ratio to end up with 5,000 Turkish Airlines miles (instead of 3,000).
Marriott Bonvoy members with elite status earn even more when they stay.
Plus, for every 60,000 Bonvoy points you transfer, you’ll get a bonus of 5,000 Turkish Miles&Smiles miles.
If you have Hilton Honors points, you can convert them into Miles&Smiles miles at a 10:1 ratio by transferring them in increments of 10,000 points.
» Learn more: The guide to Hilton transfer partners
To earn Miles&Smiles miles on your IHG stays, make sure to have that preference set in your IHG Rewards Club account. At most brands, every eligible $1 spent earns 2 miles. At Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites, you'll get 1 mile per dollar instead.
You can convert your Radisson Rewards points into miles at a rate of 10:1. Transferring 2,000 Radisson points gets you 200 Miles&Smiles miles.
Other ways to earn Turkish Airlines miles
If you’re renting a car from Avis or Enterprise, you can earn 500 Miles&Smiles miles on each qualifying rental. And if you book a hotel through Booking.com, you can earn 5 miles per about $1 (1 Euro) for your stay.
» Learn more: How to choose a travel credit card
How to redeem Turkish Airlines miles for maximum value
You can find exceptional value when redeeming your Miles&Smiles miles.
Fly on Turkish Airlines
Redeem your miles for economy, business or first class award tickets with Turkish Airlines. Use its region-based award chart to determine the number of miles you'll need to redeem a flight. Putting in the effort required to find Miles&Smiles sweet spots can get you some seriously valuable redemptions. The best Turkish Airlines sweet spots include award flights to Hawaii for 7,500 Miles&Smiles milesm and 45,000-mile business class awards to Europe. Given the incredible value from its low-cost award flights, Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles is frequently featured in NerdWallet's Partner Award Booking Tool.
You can also use miles to issue award tickets to family and friends, as well as upgrade your ticket to a higher-class fare.
Fly on partner airlines
Turkish Airlines flights tend to be the best way to use your miles. But sometimes you're not flying to those destinations, and sometmes you just find an even sweeter spot on another airline. Because Turkish Airlines is a Star Alliance member, you can use your miles to book flights on partner airlines to destinations all over the world.
Some partner airlines deliver more value than others for your miles, so learn to use partner bookings for maximum benefit. Great one-way redemptions include:
Fly United business class from North America to Europe for 45,000 miles.
Fly Swiss Air from Europe to the Middle East for 17,000 miles in economy or 24,500 miles in business class.
Fly United Airlines from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii for 10,000 miles in economy or 15,000 miles in business class.
» Learn more: Sweet spots for Turkish Airlines miles
Other ways to spend your Miles&Smiles miles
The below redemptions are typically a poor deal. But, they can at least offer an outlet to redeem Miles&Smiles miles if you're not planning on flying anywhere anytime soon.
Shop at Shop&Miles. Browse deals at the airline's dedicated online shopping portal to redeem miles for items like clothes, water bottles, coffee makers and more.
Use miles for fuel. The airline has partnered with Shell and Petrol Ofisi so members can redeem miles for gasoline.
Miles&Smiles elite status program
Frequent flyers on Turkish Airlines can earn elite status in the Miles&Smiles program. The higher your elite status level, the better the perks. Here are the four elite tiers and some benefits of each.
This entry-level membership tier allows flyers to collect Miles&Smiles as you fly with Turkish Airlines and Star Alliance Program partners. As a member, you can book award flights, redeem miles for upgrades and potentially earn miles from credit card transactions. All members receive 1,000 welcome miles after their first flight in the program.
Classic Plus level membership is earned by accumulating 25,000 status miles. You get Classic privileges, plus:
Access to business class check-in counters.
Lounge access for domestic flights in Turkey.
About 22 pounds (10 kilograms) extra baggage allowance.
Star Alliance Silver card privileges.
Earn Elite level membership by accumulating 40,000 status miles. At this level, you get all of the Classic and Classic Plus perks, as well as:
Lounge use on domestic and international flights for you and a guest (or spouse and children).
Private telephone assistance.
About 44 pounds (20 kilograms) extra baggage allowance or one extra piece.
Private entrances and passport control at Istanbul Airport.
Star Alliance Gold card benefits.
Elite Plus is the highest Miles&Smiles level, which you can earn by accumulating 80,000 status miles. Added perks at this level include:
Two free cabin upgrades on Turkish Airlines flights.
Upgrade privilege for reward tickets for companions.
Guaranteed seat for certain classes.
Elite gift card for up to three loved ones.
About 55 pounds (25 kilograms) extra baggage allowance or one extra piece.
» Learn more: Is airline status worth pursuing this year?
What makes Turkish Airlines unique?
While most any airline can get you to where you want to go, Turkish has a couple of features that put them a step above.
Free layover hotel in Istanbul
Economy passengers with a 12-hour or more layover in Istanbul (and business class passengers with at least nine hours of layover time) can avail themselves of a free hotel, courtesy of Turkish Airlines. The airline will put business class travelers in a five-star hotel for up to two days and economy class travelers in a four-star hotel for one day, free of charge, making for an excellent way to have an ultra-long layover in Turkey and get a bonus mini-trip on your way elsewhere.
To get the free hotel stay, head to the Turkish Airlines hotel desk in the international arrivals section (where you pick up your luggage) at Istanbul Airport. Their, an employee will confirm your eligibility and give you a hotel voucher.
While some airlines provide similar benefits for upper class flyers, Turkish is unique in offering the perk to economy class passengers transiting through Istanbul’s airport on Turkish Airlines flights.
Free Istanbul tour
If you have an international flight with a layover in Istanbul Airport for more than six hours (and less than 24), you can take advantage of TourISTanbul. This service is offered at no cost to travelers with international Turkish itineraries, and the tour takes you to sights like the Yedikule Fortress, Walls of Constantine, Golden Horn and the Aqueduct of Valens — all while killing time between flights.
To qualify, sign up at the hotel desk in the international arrivals terminal of the airport. You should get an e-visa beforehand if you need one.
Passengers with qualifying disabilities can get a 20% discount on domestic flights and a 25% discount for international flights by uploading documentation of their disability to their Miles&Smiles account. Companions on the same booking are also eligible for the discount.
For the types of documentation accepted and how to upload, visit the Turkish Airlines website.
Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles, recapped
If you live in the U.S., Turkish Airlines can be your gateway to travel in the Middle East. Economy class passengers enjoy perks like authentic Turkish cuisine and amenity kits. Business class is even better, with luxuries like fully lie-flat seats with massage functions.
But even if you don’t plan to fly to the region, Turkish Airlines’ Miles&Smiles program could have unexpected benefits for your travels. You can use miles to book flights on more than two dozen partners including United, Air China and Air Canada. And there are lots of ways to earn miles, including through hotel stays and car rentals.
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