Several Australian credit card issuers are removing the ability to convert loyalty points into Emirates Skywards miles from later this month.

Customers with credit cards attached to Citi Rewards, Diners Club Rewards, Suncorp Credit Card Rewards and Card Services Rewards are affected. New applications for the co-branded Emirates Citi World Mastercard are also currently unavailable.

These programs are all under the umbrella of Citigroup, which recently sold its Australian operations to NAB. NAB runs its own-brand NAB Rewards program, which doesn’t currently count Skywards as a partner. Based on this move, the prospect of a NAB/Skywards partnership seems unlikely any time soon.

Please note, we will be removing Emirates Skywards as a Points Transfer partner on the 31st January 2023. You can transfer Points up until this date.

– Citi Rewards website, 9 January 2023

Last chance to convert points from Citi and co to Skywards

If you’re sitting on a pile of Citi, Diners Club, Suncorp or Card Services points, act fast. Points transfers from all these programs to Emirates Skywards will be unavailable from 31 January 2023.

This means the last date to safely convert points into Skywards miles from these programs is 30 January. Conversion rates vary between cards and programs, but these remain unchanged, as below.

Credit card programSkywards conversion rate
Citi Rewards (entry-level cards)3:1
Citi Rewards (Citi Premier and Citi Prestige)2.5:1
Diners Club Rewards2.5:1
Suncorp Credit Card Rewards3:1
Card Services Rewards3:1

Each rewards program website now features a message similar to that below, advising cardholders of the change. Points transfers to all other partner programs, including Velocity and KrisFlyer, are unaffected.

Screenshot of Citi Rewards website showing points transfers to Emirates Skywards being withdrawn
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Your alternatives for earning Skywards miles via credit card spend

While these changes certainly make it harder to earn Skywards miles via Australian credit card spend, there are still alternatives available.

The most rewarding path will be via the American Express Membership Rewards (MR) program. Eligible cardholders can convert points from MR to Skywards at a 2:1 rate. This covers many popular cards such as the Amex Platinum Card, Platinum Business Card, Explorer Card, Business Explorer Card, Platinum Edge Card, Essential Card and more.

Another option is CommBank Awards, which offers a 4:1 points conversion rate to Skywards. This covers the bank’s Ultimate Awards, Diamond Awards, Platinum Awards and entry-level Awards credit cards.

There’s also Marriott Bonvoy, with a 3:1 transfer rate to Skywards. However, Marriott Bonvoy is only partnered with Amex Membership Rewards and CommBank Awards in Australia, from which points can already be directly converted into Skywards miles. It’s still an option to keep up your sleeve if you can easily earn Marriott points in other ways, though.

Eligible Marriott Bonvoy members can also earn additional Skywards miles on hotel stays via the Marriott/Emirates Your World Rewards tie-up.

Summing up

The main appeal of bank loyalty programs is their flexibility. That is, being able to earn points up front and convert them into frequent flyer points later on. The more transfer partners each program has, and the better the conversion rates, the more attractive that program will be.

By removing Emirates Skywards as a points transfer option, several flexible points programs get less versatile. Whether it’s a significant impact or a minor inconvenience will be down to each cardholder, and how they’d hoped to use their hard-earned points.

It should be said, the conversion rates to Skywards from these programs were already less generous than transfers to alternatives like Velocity. Given the high carrier charges levied by Emirates on its own reward flights, Skywards miles often provide the best value when used on Emirates’ partner airlines such as Korean Air instead.

With this month’s change, those great value sweet spots get harder to access for many Australian spenders.

Also read: How to book Emirates flights using Qantas Points

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Citi, Diners Club and Suncorp end points transfers to Emirates Skywards was last modified: August 24th, 2023 by Chris Chamberlin