For frequent flyers, travel reward schemes are an extremely useful resource which helps them save money on their travel experience, get nearly free flights and hotel stays, and take on luxury vacations that they would otherwise be unwilling to spend cash on.
In the Middle East, Emirates’ airline miles scheme Skywards is amongst the largest loyalty programs out there, providing members with exclusive benefits and privileges across a global network of partners comprising other airlines, hotels and retailers.
Though commonly, the basic way to earn Skywards Miles is to fly often, members can also earn points by signing up for a Skywards credit card and using it, a strategy which can boost their stash of miles considerably.
For those looking to earn Skywards Miles in bulk and on a daily basis, financial comparison platform Policybazaar has released several reviews of the best and most rewarding air miles credit cards available in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), shedding some light on their costs, requirements and benefits.
Of the eight Skywards credit cards available in the country identified by Policybazaar, four stand out for their perks and benefits, namely Emirates Citibank Ultima Credit Card, Emirates Islamic Skywards Signature Credit Card, RAKBANK Emirates Skywards World Elite Mastercard, and Emirates NBD Skywards Infinite Credit Card.
Emirates Citibank Ultima Credit Card
According to PolicyBazaar, Citibank and Emirates Airlines’ co-branded Emirates Citibank Ultima Credit Card, which has been around since 2009, provides customers with one of the best Skyward Miles earn rates in the UAE.
The card allows customers to earn Skywards Miles on their everyday spends, including grocery and real estate, and utility bill payments, and enjoy additional airport, travel benefits and more.
Customers can earn up to 2.5 Skywards Miles per US$1 spent, and when signing up for the card, they get a 25,000 welcome bonus skywards miles, in addition to 10,000 miles annually upon payment of the annual fee.
Benefits and perks of owning a Emirates Citibank Ultima Credit Card include a complimentary Emirates Skywards Silver membership, giving them a 12kg of extra baggage allowance, priority check in and more, complementary access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide for the customer, their supplementary cardmembers, plus one free guest each per visit, unlimited complimentary golf on weekdays and once a month on weekends at some of the best courses in the UAE, as well as free Marhaba meet and greet twice a year.
Despite the benefits, the Emirates Citibank Ultima Credit Card also has some drawbacks. It has one of the space’s highest minimum salary requirements at AED 36,750 (US$10,005) per month, and is amongst the most expensive Skywards Miles credit cards in the UAE with an annual fee of AED 3,000 (US$817).
Emirates Islamic Skywards Signature Credit Card
Launched in 2017, the Emirates Islamic Skywards Signature Credit Card aims to combine banking and travel benefits, providing cardholders with one of the market’s highest Skywards Miles earn rates with up to 1.5 Skywards Miles for every US$1 spent on the card.
Apart from the rewards, cardholders benefit from one complementary valet parking service per month, two rounds of complimentary golf any day of the week, unlimited complimentary access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide, multi-trip travel insurance coverage, automatic purchase protection for all purchases made with the card, complimentary movie tickets each month, and benefits at various partner outlets in the UAE.
The Emirates Islamic Bank Skywards Signature Credit Card is one of the most affordable and accessible air miles credit cards in the UAE, requiring a minimum monthly salary of AED 10,000 (US$2,700) and costing AED 700 (US$190) per year.
Emirates NBD Skywards Infinite Credit Card
Introduced in 2009, the co-branded Emirates NBD Skywards Infinite Credit Card offers one of the industry’s largest sign-up bonuses, awarding new customers with up to 100,000 bonus Skywards Miles. This comprises 35,000 Skywards Miles on payment of the joining fee, 40,000 Skywards Miles for spending a minimum of US$25,000 within the first three billing statements, and 25,000 Skywards Miles for spending a minimum US$7,500 on Emirates.com or at any Emirates sales offices in the UAE within the first 12 billing statements.
The card allows customers to earn up to 2 Skywards Miles for every US$1 spent. Applicants receive a Silver Skywards membership which includes perks such as business class check-ins, a 12kg excess in checked baggage allowance and complimentary access to over 1,000 lounges worldwide. They also receive a complimentary Rotana Reward Exclusive Club Membership worth AED 1,050 (US$286).
In addition, numerous lifestyle and financial benefits are included, such as concierge services, gold privileges, valet parking, insurance coverage for job loss and hospitalization, as well as discounts and offers in 3,100 locations.
The Emirates NBD Skywards Infinite Credit Card costs AED 1,500 (US$408) a year, and requires a minimum monthly salary of at least AED 30,000 (US$8,168), according to PolicyBazaar.
RAKBANK Emirates Skywards World Elite Mastercard
RAKBANK Emirates Skywards World Elite Mastercard is a newer air miles credit cards, having been launched just last year in the UAE. The card offers customers the opportunity to earn up to 160,000 bonus Skywards Miles.
New cardholders can earn bonus Skywards Miles from three main ways: receive 20,000 bonus Miles when signing up and paying the annual fee; get up to 80,000 bonus Miles upon transfer of outstanding balances from other non-RAKBANK cards; and earn 50% bonus Miles on spends in their first three statements.
Cardholders are also entitled to Emirates Skywards Silver tier membership throughout the life of the card, and can fast track to Emirates Skywards Gold tier membership by placing a deposit of AED 500,000 (US$136,124) in RAKBANK Emirates Skywards Savings Account. Any balance that exceeds AED 500,000 will also earn them Skywards Miles.
Other benefits and perks include unlimited complimentary access for the cardholder and one accompanying guest (per visit) to over 1,000 airport lounges in more than 450 cities in over 135 countries, worldwide, complimentary airport pick-up and drop-off services, exclusive hotel discounts, entertainment benefits at cinemas, and more.
The RAKBANK Emirates Skywards World Elite Mastercard is one of the most affordable and accessible air miles credit cards in the UAE, costing AED 1,500 (US$408) a year, and requiring a minimum monthly salary of at least AED 25,000 (US$6,806).