Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with the latest information.
Etihad Guest was once home to many partner sweet spots, like American Airlines Flagship First to Australia for 62,500 miles and Brussels Airlines business class to Europe for 44,000 miles.
But on March 10, the loyalty program introduced a new, consolidated award chart for partner flights. With all partners following a single award chart, the sweet spots we loved instantly disappeared.
In theory, Etihad Guest partner redemptions should follow this new award chart. In reality, both Etihad and partner airline redemptions often require many more miles.
Let’s look at what you need to know about Etihad Guest to decide if it’s a program worthy of your hard-earned transferable points.
Earning Etihad Guest miles
There are many ways to earn Etihad Guest miles. Here are some popular options.
Earn with a credit card
Etihad doesn’t have a U.S.-based cobranded credit card. For a quick influx of Etihad Guest miles, you can transfer rewards from the following programs at a 1:1 ratio:
In our tests, transfers from these programs to Etihad Guest are generally instantaneous.
Remember, for fully transferable Capital One miles and Citi ThankYou Rewards points, you’ll need to have select credit cards, like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, Citi Premier® Card and Citi Prestige® Card.
Check out our guide to the best travel credit cards for more options.
The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Earn by flying
You can earn Etihad Guest miles by flying Etihad or any of its 22 partner airlines. Its North American partners include Air Canada and American Airlines. If you elect to earn Etihad Guest miles on a partner flight, you won’t be able to earn other frequent flyer miles for that ticket.
Earn by staying in hotels or renting cars
You’ll earn at least 1,000 miles per night at over 300,000 hotels. A three-night weekend stay in July at the Kimpton George Hotel earns 8,900 miles.
If you book this way, be prepared not to receive IHG elite status benefits or earn points/elite nights. We generally don’t recommend booking this way.
On the car rental side, you’ll earn at least 250 miles per rental day, but don’t expect to earn rental car rewards or elite benefits if you book this way. Compare rental car prices to ensure you’re getting a competitive rate.
For example, the least expensive rental car for a given week at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) comes to just under $500. Meanwhile, booking directly with Avis saves you around 15%.
You can also convert Marriott Bonvoy points to Etihad Guest miles at a 3:1 ratio. Marriott gives you 5,000 bonus miles for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred.
Earn by buying miles
You can buy up to 100,000 Etihad Guest miles per calendar year at 2 cents apiece. Platinum members can buy up to 150,000 miles per year. Last year, Etihad offered a limited-time promotion on miles purchases, dropping the cost to just 1.38 cents apiece.
Redeeming Etihad Guest miles
Now that we’ve discussed ways to earn Etihad Guest miles, let’s explore ways to redeem your miles.
The loyalty program has an award calculator for Eithad, American Airlines and Virgin Australia flights. Often, the award rates shown on the calculator are far less than what you’ll actually need to spend for an award flight.
Redeeming on Etihad
Here’s a look at Etihad’s published award chart with introductory rates:
|Distance (in miles)||Miles needed in economy||Miles needed in business class||Miles needed in first class|
One-way flights from the United States to Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) routinely cost around 70,000 miles in economy, nearly 500,000 miles in business and over 1 million miles in first class.
On Etihad’s less popular routes, you can sometimes find more reasonable award rates, like this flight from Rome Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport (FCO) to Abu Dhabi for 27,002 miles in economy class and 60,003 miles in business class.
That said, you could also book this flight for 20,000 AAdvantage miles and around $50 in taxes and fees in economy, or 42,500 miles in business class. You would need to call American’s AAdvantage customer service line to book it.
Redeeming on partner airlines
Etihad now uses a single partner chart for all partner flight redemptions. Here’s a look at the starting award rates for partner redemptions:
|Distance (in miles)||Miles needed in economy||Miles needed in premium economy||Miles needed in business class||Miles needed in first class|
You can book American Airlines and Virgin Australia redemptions on Etihad’s website. For all other partner award bookings, you’ll need to call Etihad at 877-690-0767.
Again, the rates above are just starting rates. A 2,586-mile American Airlines first-class ticket from San Francisco to New York requires 90,001 miles on a given day in May.
You’ll want to confirm award space and pricing before transferring points to Etihad Guest.
Other redemption activities
You can redeem Etihad miles for hotels and car rentals. While your redemption rate may vary, expect around 0.7 cents per mile if you use this option. That’s significantly below TPG’s valuation of Etihad miles at 1.4 cents apiece.
For instance, The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square is going for 32,800 miles on the Etihad hotel portal. If you pay with cash, it would cost around $227. In this scenario, you would get just 0.69 cents per mile.
Depending on the day of travel, you can redeem your miles for access to the Etihad business-class or first-class lounge at Abu Dhabi International Airport, though you’ll have to speak with the lounge staff for pricing and availability.
Lastly, you may be able to pool up to 50,000 miles each year at no cost. This can be helpful when you have multiple family members with Etihad Guest miles and want to consolidate miles into one account for an award ticket.
With the changes Etihad made to its program earlier this month, many partner flights cost significantly more miles than they used to. Unfortunately, this makes it harder to maximize Etihad miles.
Still, Etihad’s dynamic pricing model may be useful for travelers with large sums of credit card points during peak travel. Put differently: Be ready to spend lots of Etihad Guest miles for its world-famous product and hospitality.
Additional reporting by Richard Kerr and Sarah Hostetler.