Etihad Airlines primarily flies to and from its hub in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t fly it to reach many destinations worldwide. And though Etihad isn’t a member of any of the major airline alliances, it has a heavy-hitting list of airline partners that fly around the world.

Here’s what a strategic points collector needs to know and understand about Etihad Airlines and its loyalty program, Etihad Guest.

About Etihad Airlines

Here’s a quick overview of a few key features of the airline:

  • Fare types: Etihad operates economy class, business class and first class cabins. In economy, you can book Sale, Value, Choice, Choice Plus and Guest Seat fares. In business class, you can choose between Value, Choice, Choice Plus and Guest Seat fares. Flying first class offers two fare types only: First and Guest Seat.

  • Main U.S. routes: Etihad operates a handful of U.S. routes, including cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York City.

  • Points currency and loyalty program: Etihad’s loyalty program is called Etihad Guest, and the program’s currency is simply called Etihad Guest miles. With its excellent partner redemption options, it may be one of the most underrated airline programs.

How to earn Etihad Guest miles

The first step to start earning Etihad miles is to join the Etihad Guest program. Once you’re enrolled, you can earn miles when you fly with Etihad and any of Etihad’s partner airlines.

Earn by flying Etihad

The most straightforward way to earn Etihad Guest miles is by flying on Etihad Airways.

The airline’s fare classes earn different rates of points. Earning rates for economy class tickets range from 25% of Etihad Guest miles for Sale fares to 100% Etihad Guest miles for Choice Plus fares. In business class, Value, Choice and Choice Plus fares earn 130%, 175% and 200% bonus Etihad Guest miles, respectively. First class offers an even bigger bonus: flyers will earn 275% Etihad Guest miles.

Guest fares in business and first class earn a 0% Etihad Guest miles bonus, while Guest seats in economy earn 10%.

Earn by flying partners

Fly any of Etihad’s partners and input your Etihad Guest account number to earn additional miles with its loyalty program. The robust list of partners includes:

Additionally, you will earn miles when you book through Etihad and fly on any codeshare partner, like Aer Lingus, Air Canada and Air France.

Similar to flying Etihad, the number of miles you can earn depends on the fare class you book.

Earn by spending on credit cards

Unfortunately, Etihad doesn’t have a co-branded credit card in the U.S. that allows you to rack up miles with everyday purchases. The good news is that you can easily earn transferable points from other credit cards (more below).

Earn by transferring rewards points

Etihad Guest is a transfer partner of American Express, Citi and Capital One. This means you can still earn Etihad miles with credit card spending, although you will have to make a transfer from the credit card rewards program to Etihad Guest.

Your best option for transferring points to Etihad is through American Express and Citi ThankYou Rewards, which both offer a 1:1 transfer ratio. You’ll get 10,000 Etihad miles when you transfer 10,000 points. This rate is quite an improvement over Capital One’s 2:1.5 transfer ratio. However, the program periodically offers transfer bonuses that make this option more valuable.

Transferrable rewards program

Transfer ratio

American Express Membership Rewards

Citi ThankYou Rewards

Capital One Miles

Marriott Bonvoy Points

Although the transfer ratio between Marriott Bonvoy points and Etihad Guest isn’t ideal, you will get an extra 5,000 Etihad Guest bonus miles every time you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

Other ways to earn

  • Etihad shopping: Earn bonus miles when you shop with Etihad’s partners.

  • Hotels and car rentals: You can earn extra Etihad miles when you book hotels and car rentals through numerous travel partners, such as Booking.com, Marriott and IHG.

  • Buy points: You can purchase extra miles online to top off your account.

How to redeem Etihad Guest for maximum value

There are a few important things to know when redeeming Etihad Guest miles for maximum value.

Etihad flights

For some travelers, it may make the most sense to redeem miles on Etihad flights, but for most, it will make sense to redeem miles for flights with partner airlines.

Partner flights

Etihad isn’t part of the three major airline alliances. However, it does have a long list of partner airlines. This makes it possible to use your miles to fly to almost anywhere in the world.

Etihad Guest is among the remaining airline programs that still uses a fixed-price award chart; however, that doesn’t mean that the program doesn’t have its fair share of quirks. One is the fact that each partner has its own unique award chart, along with its own terms and conditions. While most of Etihad’s award charts are distanced-based, some are region- or city-based.

As you expect, without a region-based award chart, it often takes a bit of legwork to find which partner offers the best value when it comes to award flights. To book an award flight on one of Etihad’s partners, you’ll have to call Etihad’s guest service center. Similar to other airline programs, this can be a hit-or-miss experience.

There are some exceptional sweet spots that you’ll want to be aware of when redeeming Etihad Guest miles. These include:

  • Prague to Seoul in business class for 25,610 miles one way.

  • U.S. East Coast to Brussels in business class for 44,000 miles one way.

  • U.S. East Coast to Morocco (and potentially continue on to Europe) in business class for 44,000 miles one way.

The best of the rest

  • Etihad holidays: Use your miles to book a complete holiday package, in partnership with over 300,000 hotels worldwide.

  • Shopping: You can spend miles through Etihad’s shopping portal, but we generally don’t recommend this as you get less value per mile than if you redeemed miles on flights.

  • Pay for hotels and car rentals: Redeem miles to book a hotel stay or car rental.

Etihad Guest’s elite status program

Similar to other airline loyalty programs, when you frequently fly on Etihad, you can earn status that gives you extra perks and boosts your mile earnings.

Etihad has four status tiers that range from Bronze at the lowest level up to Platinum at the top level. When you join Etihad Guest, you automatically earn Bronze status, which, as you would expect, doesn’t offer many tangible benefits beyond a 10% discount on inflight Wi-Fi.

How to earn elite status

Here’s how you can earn status, broken down by tier:

Elite status level

Attaining a tier

Maintaining a tier

Tier level expiry

Etihad Guest Bronze

Join the program.

No expiry.

No expiry.

Etihad Guest Silver

25,000 tier miles or 20 tier segments.

20,000 tier miles or 15 tier segments.

Etihad Guest Gold

50,000 tier miles or 40 tier segments.

40,000 tier miles or 30 tier segments.

Etihad Guest Platinum

125,000 tier miles or 60 tier segments.

100,000 tier miles or 48 tier segments.

Elite status benefits

Once you’ve earned status with Etihad Guest, you’ll start to enjoy benefits like earning bonus miles, getting upgraded, having lounge access and more.

Below is a comparison of the unique benefits that each status tier level offers. Bronze level gets you none of the benefits listed for the higher levels outside of a 10% Wi-Fi discount and instant upgrades with miles at the airport.

Etihad Guest Miles expire

18 months.

18 months.

No expiry.

Bonus miles earned

Guaranteed economy seat

48 hours in advance.

24 hours in advance.

12 hours in advance.

Instant upgrades with miles at the airport

25% discount.

50% discount.

50% discount.

Lounge access

Status holder can access:

  • Al Reem Lounge and Etihad network lounges at the Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Status holder and guest can access:

  • Business Class Lounges in Etihad network.

  • Premium lounges worldwide.

Status holder and guest can access:

  • First Class Lounges in Etihad network.

  • Premium lounges worldwide.

Priority check-in

Priority boarding

Fast track immigration and baggage

Onboard Wi-Fi discount

25% discount.

75% discount.

100% discount.

Discretionary Gold status nomination

Excess baggage allowance (all cabins)

22 pounds (10 kilograms).

33 pounds (15 kilograms).

44 pounds (22 kilograms).

Excess baggage allowance on routes to/from U.S. and Canada

  • Economy: 1 piece at 50 pounds (23 kilograms).

  • Business/First: 1 piece at 70 pounds (32 kilograms).

  • Economy: 1 piece at 50 pounds (23 kilograms).

  • Business/First: 1 piece at 70 pounds (32 kilograms).

  • Economy: 1 piece at 50 pounds (23 kilograms).

  • Business/First: 1 piece at 70 pounds (32 kilograms).

Avis/Budget status match

If you fly Etihad Airways

Although Etihad Airlines may not be a household name for the average U.S.-based flyer, it’s still worth considering if you’re looking to maximize your credit card rewards points. Given that the program is a transfer partner of three major credit card rewards programs, it’s considerably easy to acquire enough miles to book an award flight.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:

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