By Marcy Bialeschki


5 Min. To Read

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One reason people are attracted to travel credit cards is the points or miles they can accumulate for additional trips. And anyone who flies frequently knows acquiring elite status offers some pretty remarkable benefits. The problem with some travel credit cards is it takes so long to achieve the elite level.

However, the Emirates Skywards MasterCard offers immediate elite status for one year upon card enrollment with no initial spending or flying required. To retain your Emirates Skywards elite status, you’ll need to hit a threshold of spending each year.

The Emirates Skyward MasterCard is actually two different cards: the Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard and the Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard. Let’s take a look and see if these new travel credit cards have what it takes to be competitive in the travel credit card arena.

Emirates Skywards Rewards World Elite Mastercard

The entry-level Emirates Skywards card gives 30,000 bonus Skywards miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. It also provides immediate Silver tier Skywards status that brings some pretty notable perks to the table. With a $99 annual fee, the Emirates Skywards Rewards card seems to be in line with similar cards in its class.

Usually, cardholders must earn elite status by accumulating miles or flights. Automatic acceptance is a real draw considering it gives the following perks:

Priority check-in and boarding

Complimentary access to Emirates Business Class lounges in Dubai

Free economy seat selection

25% bonus Skywards Miles on Emirates flights

Receive 25% savings when you buy or gift miles

To retain Silver status after the first year, cardholders will have to spend $20,000 per membership year.

Emirates Skywards Premium World Elite Mastercard

The premium version of the Emirates Skywards card bumps its perks a bit and requires more from the cardholder to receive these bonuses. The Premium card gives 40,000 bonus Skywards miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days and offers Gold tier Skywards status instead of Silver.

Typically, to earn Gold tier status, members must earn 50,000 miles or fly 50 flight segments. For a $499 annual fee, Premium cardholders get even more perks in addition to the Silver status benefits. Gold status provides the following extras:

Priority check-in and boarding

Complimentary access to Emirates Business Class lounges in Dubai

Free economy seat selection

25% bonus Skywards Miles on Emirates flights

Receive 25% savings when you Buy or Gift Miles.

Complimentary access to Emirates Business Class lounges worldwide for the cardmember and a guest

50% bonus Skywards Miles on Emirates flights

Priority baggage delivery

After the first year, Premium cardholders must spend $40,000 per membership year to retain Gold status.

Earning rewards

The category bonuses on both Emirates Skyward MasterCards are the usual for this type of card, offering nothing special. The 2x miles on travel is above the average reward amount yet might seem underwhelming for an elite card. However, the travel category is quite broad, allowing many different types of purchases.

The following is a full rundown of rewards categories:

3x the miles on eligible Emirates purchases

2x the miles on eligible travel purchases, including airfare, hotel stays, and car rentals

1x the miles on all other purchases

If you are up for paying the hefty annual fee of the Premium card, in addition to the perks above, you will also enjoy a $100 credit on either Global Entry or TSA Pre-check. And both levels of cards have no foreign transaction fee on international purchases.

As expected, you will need an excellent credit score of 720 - 850 to obtain either of the Emirates Skywards MasterCards. The APR is pretty typical at 15.99% - 24.99% variable. And if you want a cash advance, the APR jumps to 25.24%. As a balance transfer card, the Emirates Skywards MasterCards charge a minimum of $5 or 3% of the balance you wish to transfer.

Finally, your Skywards Miles won’t expire while your account is open, and there's no limit to the number of miles you can earn.

When you analyze most travel cards’ perks, they are about the same, with a few giving an exclusive offer unique to their card, such as 0% financing for an introductory period. Additionally, some other travel cards offer much more in the way of rewards points, with categories paying up to 6x the points. Neither of the Emirates Skyward cards offer a sign-up bonus with special financing, and they also cannot compete with 6x the points.

The Emirates Skyward Premium card’s annual fee is high but not out of line because other premium cards charge the same. The Emirates Skyward Rewards card’s $99 annual fee is more in line with the competition, but some other cards waive the fee the first year, and the Emirates Skyward MasterCards do not.

The one perk these cards have going for them is the immediate Silver or Gold tier status. Not having to earn this bonus is a huge ‘win’ for the Emirates cards. For people who want this access, these cards are worth their weight in gold -- and silver. With all other aspects reasonably comparable, the Emirates Skyward Rewards and Premium MasterCard offer something unique. And consumers just might find this perk essential after experiencing the luxuries of lounge access on the very first trip purchased with their card.

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