Emirates Citi World MasterCard (Citibank)

Review: Emirates Citi World MasterCard (Citibank)

What's Hot

  • 2x visits to Emirates' Australian airport lounges each year
  • Fast track to SPG Gold status after just one night
  • Earn up to 1.5 Skywards miles per dollar spent

What's Not

  • Reduced points earned on domestic spend above $3,000

X-Factor

  • Emirates Chauffeur Drive once per year, even when flying economy

Introduction

As Australia's only direct-earning Emirates Skywards frequent flyer credit card, the Emirates Citi World MasterCard from Citibank offers both Skywards miles and a range of Emirates-related perks to go with them.

Among the list, access to Emirates Chauffeur Drive and the airline's Australian airport lounges even when travelling in economy, free international travel insurance and even a fast track to Gold status in the Starwood Preferred Guest hotel loyalty program.

Emirates Citi World MasterCard: fast facts

  • Grade/tier: Above-platinum
  • Card type: World MasterCard
  • Loyalty program: Emirates Skywards
  • Skywards miles earned per $1 (domestic spend): 1.0 up to $3,000 per statement period; 0.5 from $3,001-$10,000; none thereafter until new statement period begins
  • Skywards miles earned per $1 (overseas): 1.25
  • Skywards miles earned per $1 (Emirates flights): 1.5, when booked via emirates.com
  • Points capping: Applies only to domestic spend as above

Fees, charges and interest: 3.5/5

  • Annual fee: $149 in the first year, $299 thereafter
  • Supplementary cardholder fee: $0
  • Interest rate on purchases: 20.99% p.a.
  • Interest-free days on purchases: Up to 55
  • Interest rate on cash advances: 21.74% p.a.
  • International transaction fee: 3.4%
  • Minimum income requirement: $75,000 p.a.
  • Minimum credit limit: $15,000

Earning points for free flights: 4.5/5

As Australia's only direct-earning credit card linked to the Emirates Skywards frequent flyer program, every point you earn is automatically added to your Skywards tally every month.

Although you can use Skywards miles to book flights with Qantas, you'll find the best value in using these to book or upgrade directly with Emirates, either to New Zealand, across Asia, to Dubai or onwards to Europe.

On the shortest journey between Sydney and Auckland you'd need at least 18,000 Skywards miles for a one-way hop in economy; 36,000 miles for business class or 54,000 miles for first class, including on the airline's flagship Airbus A380 – complete with shower spas for high flyers.

Shower up in the clouds in Emirates' Airbus A380 first class...

AusBT review: Emirates Airbus A380 first class 'shower spa'

Upgrades may present even better value depending on the type of ticket you usually book, with bumps from economy to business class and from business class to first class currently priced from just 5,000 miles on the same route.

In addition, you'll also receive a one-off Emirates discount code after you first spend on the card (with any business), offering a 10% saving on the highest-level business class and economy flexible tickets; 8% off regular flexible fares and 5% off Saver-class tickets in the same cabins.

Just watch the monthly points-earning limits on transactions made within Australia, which could see very heavy spenders earning no points at all on some payments.

Free insurance coverage: 4.5/5

Insurance is much the same as you'll find across Citibank's higher-end credit cards with international travel insurance covering you on return journeys of up to six months or on trips of up to 31 days when departing Australia on a one-way ticket.

Simply book your international flights using your Emirates Citi World MasterCard to activate this cover, or use Emirates Skywards miles to book your flight – provided you've earned at least 15,000 Skywards miles via this card in the 12 months before you book.

Also thrown in: interstate flight inconvenience insurance, transit accident cover, purchase protection insurance and access to a 'guaranteed pricing scheme', covering you for the difference less any excess when a product you buy on the card is later advertised at a lower price.

Airport lounge access and other perks: 4.5/5

Every year you'll receive two invitations to Emirates' Australian airport lounges (located in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth) which you can use for access prior to Emirates flights paid for using your Citi World MasterCard and booked under an EK (not Qantas QF) flight number.

There's no access in Dubai or elsewhere across the globe, so be sure to use your invitation before you depart. You're free to use the second voucher on a later journey or to bring in a guest on the same flight, which covers your partner, a friend or a colleague.

Also for your enjoyment, complimentary return chauffeur-driven airport transfers once a year in Australia (as you depart and again when you return) when booked in economy using this card, again on an Emirates EK flight number – a perk the airline usually reserves for business and first class flyers.

Rounding out the deal, the World MasterCard unlocks a fast track to Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status after just one stay at hotels like W, Sheraton and Westin within the Asia Pacific region, bringing about perks like room upgrades, more Starpoints and welcome gifts across the globe.

Read: Get SPG Gold status after staying for just one night

Emirates Citi World MasterCard: the verdict

With free airport lounge access, chauffeur-driven airport transfers, international travel insurance on journeys booked with Skywards miles and more, the Emirates Citi World MasterCard packs a punch for frequent Emirates jetsetters.

Certainly, the number of miles earned per dollar spent has taken a dip in the last 12 months, but at a cost of just $149 in the first year and $299 thereafter, it remains a solid all-around performer and one that can still easily pay for itself.

That's especially so when you consider what you'd otherwise pay for lounge access or meals at the airport, the cost of getting there, a travel insurance policy and also in the value of the perks you'll enjoy when staying at Starwood hotels after reaching SPG Gold.

But if earning frequent flyer points is more important than enjoying arrange of other perks, consider the Citi Prestige Visa Infinite card, which earns Citibank Rewards points that can later be converted into Emirates Skywards miles.

Crunching the numbers, you could earn the equivalent of 0.8 Skywards miles per dollar spent in Australia and two Skywards miles per dollar spent abroad, both without any tiering or capping limits.

Also read: Citi Prestige Visa Infinite credit card review

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Chris Chamberlin
Australian Business Traveller journalist Chris Chamberlin lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

2 Comments

  • hossein_au

    hossein_au

    29 Jun, 2016 08:12 pm

    4.5 star out of 5 for earning points? Really? Such a low cap and $299 annual fee? Seriously? There are other (Aussie) cards that can transfer points to a number of airlines including Emirates, with lower annual fees and higher caps (some without any cap). Earn rate on some of those cards is higher, even for spends of less than $10k per month.  I had this card since its introduction a few years ago but cancelled it when they devalued the earn rate recently.

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    29 Jun, 2016 09:12 pm

    In the current marketplace, indeed – one Skywards mile per dollar spent in Australia is nothing to be sniffed at for a Visa/MC. The 0.5/$1 rate after hitting $3,000 per month is less impressive, granted, but offset by 1.25/$1 when abroad for this card's target market of international travellers.

    And of course, many high-end customers are likely to have an American Express or even Diners Club card for use in Australia to earn even more points where accepted.

    It's not a card for everybody and not the highest earner in the market (highlighted in the final paragraph), but for the annual fee and considering this card has been recently corrected following the first round of interchange cuts versus other cards which are yet to do the same, it's a fair score in our books.

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  • Tjlwheeler

    Tjlwheeler

    30 Jun, 2016 12:22 pm

    I cant see the value of this card, low earning rate, low capping amount, high annual fee. 

    Also with Emirates changing their Skywards points system has amde this card redundant. It cost me 46,000 points to upgrade one way from Syd to Akl the other month, (albeit economy to bus), 2 years ago the same upgrade was 16,000pts. 

    That made me change to Velocity for Etihad and Singapore, unless others have better systems to earn those pts? I already have Qantas....

    No member give thanks

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24 Oct, 2017 12:55 pm

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