Emirates Skywards is a powerful yet often-overlooked frequent flyer program for Australian travellers, unlocking business class and first class flights and upgrades with Emirates, and other travel opportunities with its web of partners including Qantas, Japan Airlines and Korean Air.
Australian Business Traveller highlights five of the best credit cards for maximising the Emirates Skywards miles you can earn on your everyday spends, along with what you'll pay in annual fees to earn those points plus a few tempting sign-up deals which can grow your Skywards balance even faster.
1. American Express Explorer Card
Pop an American Express Explorer Card in your pocket and you can earn two Membership Rewards Gateway points per dollar spent on most charges, equal to 1.5 Skywards miles and with no points cap. An annual fee of $395 applies but is more than offset by a supplied $400 travel credit every year that you can use towards flights and hotel stays.
Apply by October 2 2017 and spend at least $1,500 within the first three months and you can also score 100,000 bonus Gateway points: worth 75,000 Skywards miles! Cardholders also enjoy two visits to the American Express Lounge at Sydney Airport every year, whether flying with Emirates or any other airline.
2. American Express Business Accelerator Card
ABN holders can reel in up to two Membership Rewards Ascent points per dollar spent on the American Express Business Accelerator Card – equal to 1.5 Skywards miles – against a $160 annual fee.
That applies to the first 100,000 Ascent points you earn per year (or after $50,000 spent on most purchases), after which you'll instead earn the equivalent of 0.75 Skywards miles per dollar until the new calendar year begins, except on insurance, utility and government payments which always earn the equivalent of 0.375 Skywards miles per dollar spent.
3. Diners Club personal charge card with World MasterCard
There's no denying that Diners Club isn’t as widely welcome as American Express, but if you do happen to shop where Diners is accepted you can net three Diners Club Rewards points per dollar spent, uncapped: equal to 1.2 Skywards miles via the Diners Club personal charge card with an attached World MasterCard.
Everywhere else, that MasterCard delivers 1.25 Diners Club Rewards points per dollar – equal to 0.5 Skywards miles – with both cards covered by a single $389 annual fee.
4. American Express Platinum Charge Card
AMEX's top-of-the-line Platinum Charge Card instead churns out the equivalent of one Skywards mile per dollar spent on regular, everyday purchases – delivered as one Membership Rewards Ascent Premium point – but boosts that to two Skywards miles per dollar spent on all airline, hotel, travel and overseas spend with a $1,200 annual fee.
Dining out at most Australian restaurants also attracts three Ascent Premium points per dollar spent (equal to three Skywards miles) and new charge card customers can receive up to 100,000 bonus Ascent Premium points (worth 100,000 Skywards miles), although payments to government bodies, insurers and utilities instead attract 0.5 Ascent Premium points per dollar (0.5 Skywards miles).
5. Citi Prestige Visa Infinite card / Emirates Citi World MasterCard
Fifth place finds a tie between two premium Citibank Skywards-earning cards – that which is best for you will depend on how much you spend and also whether you typically spend that money in Australia or abroad.
On one hand, the Citi Prestige Visa Infinite card promises two Citibank Rewards points per dollar charged in Australia wherever Visa is accepted – equal to 0.8 Skywards miles – plus five Citibank Rewards points per dollar on all overseas charges, equal to two Skywards miles.
A $700 annual fee applies, but with no limit to the number of points you can earn and up to 70,000 bonus Citibank Rewards points on the table for eligible new customers, equal to 28,000 Skywards miles.
Others might instead find the Emirates Citi World MasterCard more appealing, priced at $149 in the first year ($299 thereafter) and delivering a higher one Skywards mile per dollar on the first $3,000 of charges per monthly statement period, reduced to 0.5 Skywards miles per dollar on spend between $3,001-$10,000 with no Skywards miles earned on transactions thereafter.
There's an exception for overseas spend which always earns 1.25 Skywards miles per dollar and which doesn't contribute to those spending tallies, while using the card to book Emirates flights directly with Emirates online returns 1.5 Skywards miles per dollar spent: again uncapped and excluded from the spending brackets above. New cardholders are also poised to pocket up to 50,000 bonus Skywards miles, subject to Citibank's terms and conditions.