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Million Mile Secrets reader, Ebene, commented:
Can you transfer United Airlines miles to Etihad? What are the best cards to earn miles to fly Etihad?
For Etihad award flights, you can transfer points directly to the airline from 3 flexible programs – American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Starwood Preferred Guest. You can also use American Airlines miles or ANA miles to fly Etihad.
Etihad miles are also valuable for folks looking to book award seats on any of its 26 airline partners. For example, using Etihad miles for a Brussels Airlines award flight is one of the cheapest ways to get to Europe!
I’ll share 5 cards that can earn you miles for Etihad award flights.
Different Ways to Book Etihad Award Flights
Etihad flies from North America to the Middle East, India, and the Maldives.
Etihad doesn’t publish an award chart for their flights. But you can use the Etihad mileage calculator to quickly find out how many miles you’ll need to fly in coach, Business Class, and First Class.
It’s relatively easy to use the Etihad website to find available award seats. And you can book award flights online.
But keep in mind certain booking rules. For example, you can only book a round-trip flight with ANA miles. And you can’t mix airlines.
To book an Etihad award flight using American Airlines miles, you’ll have to call American Airlines at 800-882-8880. And if you’re redeeming ANA miles, you can book by calling ANA at 800-235-9262.
Earn Flexible Points for Etihad Award Flights
If you’re looking to earn flexible points to transfer directly to Etihad, here are 5 cards that can help!
1. AMEX Business Platinum
You’ll earn 50,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. And an extra 25,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after you spend an additional $10,000 on qualifying purchases within the same timeframe.
That’s a substantial amount for a spending requirement! So don’t forget to check out my post about ways to meet high spending requirements.
You can also earn 5X AMEX Membership Rewards points when you book airfare or hotels through the AMEX travel portal.
The AMEX Business Platinum card is good for folks making large purchases. Because you can earn 1.5X AMEX Membership Rewards points on single purchases of $5,000+.
And with this card, you can get 50% of your points back for ALL First Class or Business Class flights booked through the AMEX travel portal using Pay With Points. This perk also works with certain airlines for coach flights, but NOT with Etihad.
The card has a $450 annual fee, which is NOT waived the first year. But you get a $200 airline incidental credit each calendar year, which helps offset the annual fee.
You can check out my post about using AMEX Membership Rewards points for Etihad award flights to the Middle East and Africa. Or how you can transfer points to ANA for Etihad award flights with no fuel surcharges!
2. AMEX EveryDay
With the no annual fee AMEX EveryDay card, you can earn 10,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
You’ll also earn:
- 2 AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 at US supermarkets up to $6,000 a year; (then 1x)
And, if you use the card to make 20 or more purchases within a billing cycle, you will earn an extra 20% Membership Rewards points, less returns and credits.
This is the only no annual fee AMEX card that earns AMEX Membership Rewards points, which you can transfer directly to airline partners.
3. Citi ThankYou Premier
Link: My Review of the Citi ThankYou Premier Card
You can earn 30,000 Citi ThankYou points with the Citi ThankYou Premier card after spending $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of opening your account.
With this card, you’ll also get:
- 3 Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent on travel
- 2 Citi ThankYou points per $1 spent on dining and entertainment (amusement parks, sporting events, movies)
The card’s $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.
4. Citi Prestige
Link: Citi Prestige® Card
With the Citi Prestige card, you can earn 40,000 ThankYou points when you sign-up and spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months of opening your account.
Other perks include:
- 3 Citi ThankYou points per $1 you spend at airlines, hotels, and travel agencies
- 2 Citi ThankYou points per $1 you spend at restaurants and select entertainment (includes movie theaters, amusement parks, tourist attractions)
The $450 annual fee is NOT waived for the first year. But you can earn $250 statement credit for airline fees such as airfare every year, which effectively makes the annual fee $200 ($450 annual fee – $250 statement credit).
5. AMEX Starwood
You can earn up to 35,000 Starwood points after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements with the limited time AMEX Starwood offers available until April 5, 2017.
You’ll earn 1 Starwood point per $1 you spend on everyday purchases.
But when you transfer Starwood points to partner airlines like Etihad, you get a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer.
Use Etihad Miles for Big Travel on Partner Airlines
Sometimes, you’ll get a better deal using Etihad miles to book award seats on one of its 26 airline partners.
For example, you can book a round-trip award flight from New York (JFK) to Brussels on Brussels Airlines for:
- 21,972 Etihad miles in coach
- 36,620 Etihad miles in Business Class
For example, you can use:
- 37,500 Etihad miles for a one-way coach flight to Australia
- 50,000 Etihad Miles for a one-way First Class flight within the Continental US
- 62,500 Etihad miles for a one-way First Class flight to Europe
All of these examples require fewer miles than if you booked directly with American Airlines.
To book, you must call Etihad at 877-690-0767.
Keep in mind, available award seats can be limited. But here’s my step-by-step guide to finding and booking award seats using Etihad miles.
To earn Etihad miles for award flights, I recommend collecting flexible transferable points with American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou, and Starwood Preferred Guest. Because you can transfer these points directly to the airline at a 1:1 ratio.
Folks looking for cards to earn these points can do well with cards like:
- AMEX EveryDay
- AMEX Starwood personal and small business
- Citi Prestige® Card
- Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Remember, Etihad miles are valuable because you can book award flights on partner airlines, like Brussels Airlines. This can be a terrific option for cheap award flights to Europe.
Thanks for the questions, Ebene!