Citibank removed this card for new sign ups in June 2014, being replaced by their new Emirates Citibank World Mastercard. This content is left for reference only.
The Citibank Emirates Skywards Platinum Mastercard is the only Emirates credit card in the Australian market, and up until recently, was the only way to earn Skywards miles from a credit card in Australia. The addition of American Express Membership Rewards as a transfer partner has changed this, however.
Citibank have tried to position this card and it’s benefits as unique to Emirates-heavy flyers, and there have been some recent changes to the earn rate on spend which will take effect in May 2014 that both help and hinder this proposition.
The basics – who the Emirates Mastercard is for, fees, and the points earn rate on spend
The signup bonus is never too lucrative as a result of it’s solo position in the market, and the ongoing earn rate is currently 1.5 Skywards miles per $ – this isn’t too bad, but it’s changing to 1 point per $ on general spend which is less appealing, with 1.5 points per $ on international transactions (with a 3.3% fee incurred for the privilege) and 2 points per $ spent directly with Emirates. These changes kick in on May 1st 2014.
The annual fee is $229, and supplementary cardholders are a slightly extortionate $90 each too. The current minimum income requirement is a low (for this kind of card) $35k pa, and there’s a 150,000 miles cap per year
It’s really a card that will be most appropriate for those who spend heavily on bookings directly with Emirates with the 2 miles per $ on offer. This could work well for business-owners who have a need to book flights directly with Emirates for their staff. The vouchers for lounge access and the limo transfer benefit could also be useful in this context as they can be given to others to use too.
Many people who are looking to earn Skywards miles from day-to-day spend will now be better off with a Membership Rewards card from American Express thanks to their recent partnership with Skywards which allows you to transfer Membership Rewards points to Skywards miles at 1 MR to 0.75 Skywards.
Emirates specific benefits with the Citibank Emirates Skywards Mastercard
The Emirates lounge access voucher is valid for the cardholder and one additional guest travelling on the same, long-haul Emirates flight, for use in Australian lounges. You’ll of course need to be travelling in Economy to make use of the voucher too, as Business and First Class travellers get access to the Emirates lounge by virtue of their ticket. So you’ll be able to use this on departures to Dubai from Australia only.
You’ll get one voucher per year, and you can’t bring any more than one additional guest into the lounge, so using it on a family trip with older kids is a no go. The voucher also isn’t valid for Trans-Tasman flights with Emirates either.
You’ll also get access to an Emirates chauffeur-driven transfer ‘to and from the airport’ in Australia once per year as a cardholder as well. I take this to mean that you’ll get two transfers from and to home on a return flight, but not at either end of the same flight in different cities.
Either way, this is still a valuable benefit if you know you’ll use it, and probably worth in excess of $200 for most people (valuing a one-way transfer at ~$100).
The Citibank Emirates Skywards Mastercard also gains access to the Citibank dining program where you’ll get a bottle of wine at participating restaurants. Anecdotally the execution and value of this program is very mixed, so not something to bank on.
There’s also a set of insurances on offer for purchases made on the card, such as International Travel Insurance and Transit Accident coverage.
This card is definitely not for everyone, and it’s not even for the average Skywards member only given it’s relatively high annual fee for the benefits on offer. If you’re an Australian still working on building your Skywards balance, with the Qantas & Emirates tie-up I would be looking to move over to Qantas Frequent Flyer as in almost all cases you’ll earn more points faster for free redemption flights or upgrades through their partnership with Emirates. I’ve run the numbers on this here.