Back in May 2017, Etihad Airways joined the likes of American Airlines, Alaska, United and Avianca in selling miles for their frequent flyer program, Etihad Guest.

In this promotional offer, you can earn an up to 20% bonus on purchases of Etihad Guest miles until 31 August.

In this guide, I outline what you can use Etihad Guest miles for, how to make a purchase, and why you should only ever buy 75% of the Etihad Guest miles you need for an Etihad flight redemption.

Buy Etihad Guest miles with a 20% bonus: useful for Virgin Australia Business Class flights was last modified: August 20th, 2019 by Matt Moffitt

Current offer

  • Bonus: 20% on purchases of 5,000+ miles
  • Valid until: 31 August
  • Best-value redemption: domestic and short-haul international Virgin Australia Business Class flights priced at 13,800 miles
  • Book awards online: for Etihad flights
  • Book awards over the phone: for other partners, including Virgin Australia (phone number here)
  • Link: buy Etihad Guest miles

Compared to the regular purchase price of 2 US cents per mile, this promotion offers a price of 1.67 US cents per mile with the bonus:

  • Buy 1,000-5,000 miles = no bonus
  • Buy 5,000-60,000 miles = 20% bonus

The bonus is below average, with higher bonuses of up 30% having been offered in the past.

Offer history

DateBonus (%)Price per point (US cents)
August 2019201.67
February-March 2019201.67
December 2018301.54
November 2018251.6
November 2017201.67
Average23.00%1.63

What can I use Etihad Guest miles for?

Redeeming Etihad Guest miles on Virgin Australia flights

Redeeming your Etihad Guest Miles for travel on Virgin Australia is often a low-fuel-surcharge option for domestic flights within Australia. However, note that the booking process is not straightforward, requiring a phone call.

Virgin A330 Business Cabin | Point Hacks

You will see in the table below that it generally makes more sense to buy Economy Class tickets on Virgin Australia with cash and Business and Premium Economy Class tickets with miles.

The sweet spot in this table is Virgin Australia Business Class redemptions priced at 13,800 Etihad Guest miles and you can access the full list of those routes here.

RouteCabinAirlineEtihad Guest miles requiredCost buying miles (USD)*Average cash fare (USD)
Canberra - Sydney/MelbourneEconomyVirgin Australia6900$115.23$75
Perth - Adelaide/MelbourneEconomyVirgin Australia10900$182.03$130
Cairns - SydneyBusinessVirgin Australia13800$230.46$630
Sydney - QueenstownBusinessVirgin Australia13800$230.46$660
Hobart - BrisbaneBusinessVirgin Australia13800$230.46$600
Brisbane - Port VilaBusinessVirgin Australia21800$364.06$510
Melbourne - NadiBusinessVirgin Australia33800$564.46$580
Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane - Los AngelesPremium EconomyVirgin Australia90000$1503$2200
BusinessVirgin Australia120000$2004$6500
Melbourne - ParisBusinessEtihad162501$2713.7667$4500
Brisbane - JohannesburgBusinessEtihad166253$2776.4251$3000
Sydney - LondonFirst ApartmentEtihad223999$3740.7833$7500

*All redemption prices are in USD, one-way, and do not include booking fees, taxes and other charges

However, if you have got access to both points currencies, it is worth comparing Etihad Guest miles vs Velocity Points for your next Virgin Australia flight redemption.

Some readers have shared issues with booking international Virgin Australia flights with Etihad Guest miles. It seems that the Manchester call centre (+44 3456 081225) is the most helpful and it may require special permission from a supervisor to book one of these flights.

Redeeming Etihad Guest miles on Etihad flights

Etihad Guest miles can, of course, be used on Etihad flights. Again, it is the premium cabins that you will get the most value out of.

Redeeming Etihad Guest miles on Etihad partners

Etihad Guest miles can also be redeemed for travel on 20+ airline partners, including American Airlines, ANA and Hainan Airlines.

Important notes

  • You can buy a maximum of 60,000 miles (excluding the bonus) per transaction and 100,000 in a calendar year
  • Points post within 24 hours
  • The regular cost is 2 US cents per mile
  • Points purchases are managed by points.com, meaning this will not qualify as a travel purchase for credit cards with bonus points categories

How to buy Etihad Guest more cheaply if you already have some in your account

A method to make your Etihad points stretch further—at least when booking online—is to use the option to pay in part miles and part cash, meaning you can ‘buy’ miles for as low as 0.9 US cents each, which is much better value than buying them outright at up to 2 US cents a pop.

But that is only if you already have at least 75% of the required miles for the redemption and it is only for Etihad-operated flights.

Frequently asked questions

Can you buy Etihad Guest miles?

Yes, you can buy up to 100,000 Etihad Guest miles per calendar year. Miles cost 2 US cents each, however, you can get a cheaper price by buying them during promotions. These promotions tend to run twice a year.

How long are Etihad Guest miles valid?

Etihad Guest miles expire after 24 to 36 months from the time the miles are earned depending on your membership status. You cannot extend the expiry of miles already in your account by taking another flight or earning miles through another partner.

How else can I get Etihad Guest miles?

You can earn Etihad Guest miles with a credit card, including through American Express Membership Rewards and Citi Rewards (for Citi Prestige Visa cardholders only). Here is a list of the highest-earning Etihad Guest cards in Australia.

Summing up

My take is that it is not worth buying Etihad Guest miles speculatively. However, if you are looking using cash for a Business Class seat on a domestic or Trans-Tasman Virgin Australia or a long-haul Etihad flight, it is probable that you can save money by exploring this route.

This buy miles option can also be useful when needing to top up for a specific redemption but if you already have 75% of the required miles and are looking at an Etihad flight, then make sure to use the part-miles, part-cash trick to buy the miles more cheaply.

Have you had any wins buying Etihad Guest miles? Share in the comments below!

Buy Etihad Guest miles with a 20% bonus: useful for Virgin Australia Business Class flights was last modified: August 20th, 2019 by Matt Moffitt