New Emirates Credit Card Comes With 50,000 Mile Elite Status

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It’s difficult for a new airline credit card to compete with bank cards whose points transfer to a variety of different mileage programs. To be worthwhile the airline card has to earn more miles than competitors, and has to offer better benefits.

Back in February, when Barclays announced it would be introducing an Emirates credit card in the United States I highlighted this problem because Emirates was a transfer partner of American Express, Chase, and Capital One. In April Emirates even became a Citibank transfer partner too.

Why spend money on an Emirates credit card if you can earn more points with a Chase Sapphire Reserve® or American Express® Gold Card and transfer those points to Emirates?

Barclays has an interesting take on this challenge: the new cards come with elite status, and spending on the card lets you keep your status.

  • The $99 annual fee Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard® comes with Silver status for a year, and $20,000 spend each year continues to earn that status. There’s an initial bonus of 30,000 miles after $3000 spend within 90 days.

  • The $499 annual fee Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard® comes with Gold status (the 50,000 mile tier) for a year, and $40,000 spend each year continues to earn that status. There’s an initial bonus of 40,000 miles after $3000 spend within 90 days, and each year you spend $30,000 on the card you’ll earn an additional 10,000 miles. The card comes with Priority Pass Select (unlimited visits) and TSA PreCheck or Global Entry reimbursement (up to $100, every 5 years – so you may need to wait for benefits to expire to re-apply and get the credit).

Earning on both cards is a rather uninspired ‘3-2-1′: 3 miles on Emirates spend; 2 miles on air, hotel and car rental; 1 mile on everything else.

Cardmembers’ miles don’t expire, and receive a 25% bonus when buying miles from Emirates. The pause on expiration is useful, since miles in the program expire 3 years after being earned normally, with new activity not extending expiration.

Ultimately the cards are valuable for preserving the life of miles, and for those who value Emirates status. They aren’t good for spending money on outside of earning elite status. And Emirates status has modest value.

  • Silvers get complimentary seat selection and priority check-in and boarding, plus business class lounge access for themselves in Dubai.

  • Golds can bring a guest with them into any Emirates business lounge.

Sadly there’s no opportunity for progress towards status from the credit card to count towards higher levels of status, including the Platinum tier or iO status.

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.



  1. Yeah, it’s hard to see the total value of either of these two offerings being that great. Elite status is an attention-grabber and sounds fantastic – but when you drill down, the opportunity cost of the continual spending requirements is simply too high to justify diverting from other better cc products on the US market. “3-2-1” would need to be “5-4-3” AND the points convertible in order to make this offering even close to competitive.

    And the EK miles shouldn’t have a hard expiration to begin with, so the “perk” of waiving that expiry is simply a patch on a self-inflicted wound of their mileage program.

    That said, I always appreciate Mr. Leff’s coverage and analyses – thank you!

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