What is the best credit card for Skywards miles?

Analysing the fees and requirements behind the three most popular choices
What is the best credit card for Skywards miles?
By Salma Awwad
Wed 23 Jul 2014 01:54 PM

It only makes sense to get something back every time you swipe your credit card at a counter till, and we’re not just talking about your purchased items.

Credit cards in the UAE can give you free access to one of the world’s best airline, without having to pay for your trips or wait to accumulate enough flights. We’re talking about the Emirates Skywards program of course, and the three banks that offer Skywards credit cards for frequent flyers are Emirates Islamic, Emirates NBD and Citibank.

But which of these three should you choose? And which of their cards yield the highest benefits?

Although this may vary depending on your income bracket, calculations can still be made to address these questions. To simplify the analysis, credit cards with a minimum salary requirement of AED 25,000 ($6,800) or higher have been excluded due to their unnecessarily high annual fees, which can go up to AED 3000 ($820).

Emirates Islamic: Out of the three credit cards that the bank offers with a Skywards rewards program, we analysed two: Emirates Islamic Skywards Gold Card and Emirates Islamic Skywards Platinum Card. For the former, the annual fee is AED400 ($109) and the maximum number of miles you could earn is 3,200 if you spend AED7000 ($1,905) per month.

As for the Emirates Skywards Platinum Card, the minimum you could earn is 3200 miles for spending AED6000 ($1,633) a month and the maximum you can earn is 10,000 miles for AED23,000 ($6,262). An annual fee of AED700 ($191) applies on the Platinum card and both cards only grant your reward miles once you have reached the minimum required spend.

For both cards the minimum salary requirement is AED5000 ($1360) and the monthly rate depends on the chosen credit limit, which starts at AED200 ($55) for AED8000 ($2180) maximum spend.

Emirates NBD: Emirates NBD offers the Skywards Signature Card (formerly the Skywards Platinum Card) and the Skywards Infinite Card. In our analysis, we looked at the Skywards Signature card which requires a minimum salary of AED15,000 ($4,080), a joining fee of AED 1,499 ($408) and an annual fee of AED 700 ($190), plus a 2.99 percent monthly rate.

Cardholders earn 0.75 Skywards miles per $1 spent in the UAE, and 1 Skywards miles per $1.5 spent internationally and 1.5 Skywards miles per $2 spent on the bank’s website.

Citibank: Citibank offers four credit cards with Skywards miles. For our analysis, we look into the following three: Emirates-Citibank Silver card (Minimum salary AED5,000 and Annual fee of AED250); Emirates-Citibank Titanium/Gold  card (Minimum salary AED8,000 and Annual fee of AED400); and Emirates-Citibank Ultimate card (Minimum salary AED18,000 and Annual fee of AED800).

All three cards have a monthly rate of 2.99 percent and provide between 0.5 Skywards Miles to 1 Skywards Mile per $1 spent in the UAE, and 0.75 Skywards Miles to 1.25 Skywards Miles per $1 spent internationally.

The best deal: Taking into consideration the annual fees, monthly rates and return on spending, Emirates Islamic Skywards Platinum Card is the most cost effective solution for acquiring Skywards miles. The only drawback with the Emirates Islamic credit cards, is that cardholders must reach a monthly spending minimum to earn the miles and therefore quite a bit of planning and caution has to be taken on their part.

The best return on spending achieved is through subscribing to the Emirates Islamic Skywards Platinum Card with a credit limit of AED8000 ($2,178) so that your monthly fee remains at a low AED200 ($55) and a spending allowance of AED6000 ($1634) per month. The final calculation will render a cost of AED1.95 ($.5) per mile which is currently the lowest rate available by far.

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