How To Use New Tap Air Portugal Card For Star Alliance Elite Status, Better Award Availability

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Cardless has launched the brand new TAP Miles&Go American Express® Credit Card and it’s an intriguing tool for elite status that’s recognized on Star Alliance partner airlines (like United and Air Canada) and for earning miles that can be used for improved award availability across the Atlantic and for good value awards on partners like Emirates.

Key card details:

  • Initial bonus: Limited-time offer of 60,000 points after $2,500 spend within 90 days, if you are approved before November 30th. If you joined the wait list for this card then you would have been eligible for an additional 5,000 bonus miles and status miles.

  • Earning: A standard “3, 2, 1” of 3 points per dollar on TAP Air Portugal spend; 2 points per dollar on rideshare, car rental and hotel spend, and 1 point on other spend.

  • Elite status-earning: 20% of points earned on the card count towards status, up to 10,000 status miles. (Points earned from the card’s initial bonus don’t count, but card spend on purchases will – even TAP Air Portugal spend at 3x.)

  • Benefits: 2 free bags per year, 2 passes per year for use at TAP’s Lisbon airport lounge, preferred boarding

  • Annual fee: $79 (see rates and fees)

Earning Star Alliance Status With The TAP Miles&Go Amex

The TAP Miles&Go American Express® Credit Card offers some status-like benefits just for having the card, like preferred boarding, free checked bags, and lounge passes. However, it actually helps you earn status, too: 20% of points from spending on the card count towards status, up to 10,000 status miles.

There are three things you should know.

  • TAP lets you redeem miles for status miles
  • That stacks with earning status miles on the card
  • It takes fewer status miles to keep status than to earn it initially

Several readers have earned status with TAP Miles&Go in the past through status match offers like ‘buy a mileage purchase subscription and get status’ (here, here), here). An offer like that lets you earn status quickly, and then it’s easier to keep.

An existing Silver member needs 20,000 status miles to keep their status. They could convert 10,000 bonus miles into 5,000 status miles and earn 10,000 status miles through spending on this card. They would only need to earn 5,000 status miles through flying to keep Silver!

An existing Gold member needs 50,000 status miles to keep their status. They could convert 10,000 bonus miles into 5,000 status miles and earn 10,000 status miles through spending on this card. They could only need 35,000 status miles through flying to keep Gold.

And members can convert more bonus miles into status miles when first trying to earn a status level. Gold status is, of course, Star Alliance Gold status as well – providing benefits and lounge access when flying any Star Alliance airline (such as United).

TAP Miles&Go has also just recently made public the details of their previously unpublished ‘Navigator’ level. Earning it for the first time requires 125,000 status miles (or 70 TAP flights, 10 of which have to be on higher fare types) and renewing it requires 100,000 status miles (or 70 TAP flights with the same fare requirement). Some folks will like the ability to earn and keep this new top tier of status with the help of earning some qualifying miles via card.

Using TAP Miles&Go Miles

There are some real sweet spots in the TAP Miles&Go program for redemptions. Probably my favorite has been Emirates redemptions.

TAP Air Portugal partners with Emirates and doesn’t impose fuel surcharges on these tickets. What’s more, their pricing is more reasonable than you’ll find through most programs, listed at U.S. to Europe for 100,000 miles and to the Mideast for 115,000 miles each way in business class. The program’s access to economy award seats has been consistent, however for the past couple of years access to business class inventory hasn’t always been available.

Emirates Airbus A380 Business Class Bar

It’s worth flagging that TAP Air Portugal moved to flexible redemption pricing on its own flights, that this means more often than not it’s possible to find award space between the U.S. and Europe, and that their pricing for doing so can be lower than what U.S. airlines will charge for their own flights. That’s not something you can redeem for using partner miles – you need TAP’s own miles for this.

My favorite approach with TAP Air Portugal for Europe is redeeming miles to Europe and buying the ticket coming back. While we can’t be guaranteed what their future fares look like, they’ve been one of the best discounters across the Atlantic even in business class over the past several years. Whether flying from Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York JFK, Newark, San Francisco or Washington Dulles they’ve had inexpensive coach fares and business class deals connecting through Lisbon to their myriad destinations across Europe.

They’ve had incredible one-way deals from Europe too, where it makes sense to redeem points for travel to Europe and buy the ticket coming back. This also means you need fewer miles for your travel, and earn miles in the process too.

Finally, I’d note that flights within mainland Portugal start at just 3,250 miles one-way, while intra-Europe travel starts at just 7,500 miles.

TAP Miles&Go American Express® Credit Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

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