Updated: Mar 13
For some of us, we may be familiar with booking an Award Ticket with a major frequent-flyer loyalty program—like United MileagePlus® or American AAdvantage®. However, one of the best and often overlooked loyalty programs to fly domestic routes within the United States is Turkish Miles&Smiles.
How good of a deal can be found? 7,500 miles from the United States mainland to Hawaii! That's right! You can travel from New York to Hawaii for only 7,500 miles—or 15,000 miles roundtrip—in economy. Let's now dive deeper into this program to learn how we can take advantage of some amazing redemptions.
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Getting Started With Turkish Miles&Smiles
Turkish Airlines is a major Turkish airline that operates domestic and international routes; it serves more destinations non-stop from a single airport than any other airline in the world. The airline's main base is Istanbul Airport in Arnavutkoy; there are secondary hubs at Ankara Esenboga Airport and Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport. Turkish Airlines is part of the largest airline alliance in the world—the Star Alliance. This means you do not need to fly Turkish Airlines within the United States; you may redeem an Award Ticket through one of its partners. (E.g. United Airlines, etc.)
Star Alliance airline partners:
Air New Zealand
South African Airways
Getting started with the Turkish Miles&Smiles loyalty program is a simple process that can be done online. When you create your account, be sure to enter your name and date of birth exactly as they appear on your government-issued ID. (E.g. driver's license, passport, etc.) When you create your "Password," do not use any letters; only use numerical digits. There is a problem with using letters in your "Password" that prevents you from being able to access your account.
After you create your account, you will receive an email from Turkish Airlines with your Miles&Smiles membership number. You will need this number when logging into your account, booking an Award Ticket, or earning miles while flying on Turkish Airlines or other partner airlines.
When you log in to your Miles&Smiles account, be sure to omit the first 2 letters of your Membership number; only enter the numerical digits. Similar to the "Password" issue, trying to enter the first 2 letters of your Membership number will prevent you from accessing your account. This will prevent you from experiencing a headache and back and forth "I forgot my password" resets.
Turkish Airlines has a published region-based Award Chart that lists its award prices. There are Promotional and "Standard" award charts; the Promotional means there are fewer seats available but the redemption price requires fewer miles than the "Standard" award ticket.
It is also noteworthy that roundtrip flights within the same region cost: 15,000 miles for economy; 25,000 miles for business; and 40,000 miles for first class.
With Award Travel, flexibility is the key! In order to get outsized value out of your Miles&Smiles, book at the Promotional level. You may need to be a little more flexible with your departure/ arrival dates & times. The Promotional award ticket prices make Turkish Miles&Smiles a loyalty program where you can get outsized value!
Credit Cards to Earn Turkish Miles&Smiles
There are a number of ways to amass a plethora of Turkish Miles&Smiles that can be redeemed for an Award Ticket. One of the easiest ways for most of us is by selecting the right credit card(s). Specifically, selecting a credit card that offers a large welcome bonus!
Of course, not all credit cards earn miles or points that can be redeemed for an Award Ticket through Miles&Smiles. Fortunately, Turkish Airlines is a transfer partner of Citi and Capital One—two big players when it comes to the ecosystem of Flexible Points Currencies. This is great news! Any Citi ThankYou® Points-earning card or Capital One Miles-earning card can earn you miles & points that can be transferred to a transferrable partner—provided you have a qualifying Citi or Capital One card that opens this "door."
Citi is a 1:1 point transfer partner of Turkish Airlines. This makes it relatively easy to amass Miles&Smiles. The following Citi credit cards earn ThankYou® Points: Citi Premier® Card; Citi Prestige® Card (not currently available to new applicants); Citi Custom Cash℠ Card; Citi® Double Cash Card; and Citi Rewards+® Card. Perhaps the best ThankYou® Points-earning card is the Citi Premier® Card with an 80,000 ThankYou® Points welcome bonus! You can also learn more about this card in the following post: Citi Premier Card—Don't Underestimate This Workhorse! This welcome bonus could be redeemed for five roundtrip tickets from the United States mainland to Hawaii—with over 5,000 miles leftover! You can apply for this card here!
Another "must-have" credit card product of Citi is the Citi Custom Cash℠ Card. With a 20,000 ThankYou® Points welcome bonus, 5X rewards on your highest eligible spend category each month up to the first $500 spent, and no annual fee, this card shines brightly, and supplements your ability to earn Miles&Smiles. You can learn more about this card in the following post: Citi Custom Cash Card—How to Use It & How to Not Use it. You can apply for this card here!
You do need to have the Citi Premier® Card or the Citi Prestige® Card in order to transfer your ThankYou® Points to Turkish Miles&Smiles.
Capital One recently upped their game with most of their transfer partners. Capital One is now a 1:1 point transfer partner of Turkish Airlines! Capital One credit cards that earn transferable miles include: Venture X Rewards; Venture Rewards; and VentureOne Rewards. The Venture Rewards has a 60,000 welcome bonus with only a $3,000 minimum spend within the first 3 months. In addition, it earns 2X unlimited on all non-category purchases making this a great card to accumulate miles on categories that don't typically earn good rewards. You can apply for this card here!
Marriott is a transfer partner with Turkish Airlines at a transfer rate of 3:1. In addition, for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred to Turkish Airlines, you'll receive an extra 5,000 Miles&Smiles. For example, 60,000 Marriott points can be converted into 25,000 Miles&Smiles. Although this may not be the best way to use your Marriott points, it does give you additional options when redeeming an award ticket.
Marriott has several co-branded credit cards through Chase and American Express. These include: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card; Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card; Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card; and Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card.
Strategically Working to Increase Your Turkish Miles&Smiles
There are a number of strategies you can use to increase your supply of Turkish Miles&Smiles. This includes opening multiple credit cards—those that earn Citi ThankYou® Points, Capital One Miles, or Marriott points. Turkish Airlines does offer co-branded credit cards but there are limitations, including being a Turkish citizen.
Families can work together in "two-player mode." This is a way for two individuals to work together to increase their credit card rewards which can then be redeemed for Award Travel. To learn more about this strategy, please see the following post: Getting Approved for a Credit Card While Unemployed—Why You Don't Want to Miss Out!
Let the Award Booking Begin!
Let's assume that you applied for the Citi Premier® Card and received the 80,000 ThankYou® Points welcome bonus—along with the points earned by meeting the minimum spend amount—and are ready to book your first Award Ticket! Your origin is Newark, New Jersey. Your destination is Honolulu, Hawaii. Your date of departure is Wednesday, March 2, 2022, and your date of return is Wednesday, March 9, 2022.
Your first step is to determine the cash price of these routes. Using Google Flights, we are able to find the cheapest cash price for the economy roundtrip at $427 between EWR and HNL. Below are the departure and return flights:
The departure and return flights are with JetBlue and Hawaiian.
Now, let's see how we could book a similar itinerary using only 15,000 Turkish Miles&Smiles, and compare it to the cash fare. Our first step would be to go to Turkish's website and sign in. It is important to understand that Turkish has two different award booking engines—one to book with a flight operated only by Turkish Airlines and one to book a Star Alliance partner award flight.
In this instance, we will be using the booking engine to book a Star Alliance partner award flight. After you sign in, click the option underneath your name that states "Miles Transactions."
Next, select "Book now" underneath the "Star Alliance award ticket" column:
You will now be able to select your trip details. Be sure to select the "One way" box:
Here is a pro tip: When booking an Award Ticket, it generally is better to book one way as opposed to roundtrip or multi-city. This gives you more control and flexibility when booking your ticket.
After you select the red search icon, the following itinerary is available on March 2, 2022, for only 7,500 Turkish Miles&Smiles and $5.60 in fees!
Next, we will repeat the same process for our return flight. The following itinerary is also available on March 9, 2022, for only 7,500 Turkish Miles&Smiles and $5.60 in fees!
The aforementioned example is an amazing sweet spot within Turkish Miles&Smiles—15,000 Miles&Smiles to fly roundtrip from New Jersey to Hawaii! This is incredible when you factor in the distance between EWR to HNL is 4,962 miles!
In this instance, using your Turkish Miles&Smiles to book your Award Ticket would give you a value of 2.77 cents per point! In other words, 15,000 Miles&Smiles would have a cash value of ~$415! This is an outstanding value when redeeming your miles & points for an Award Ticket through Turkish Airlines.
Let's take this logic a step further—a family of 5 could fly roundtrip to Hawaii from the United States mainland with just the 80,000 ThankYou® Points welcome bonus from the Citi Premier® Card—and still have over 5,000 ThankYou® Points leftover!! The 75,000 ThankYou® Points transferred to Turkish Miles&Miles would have a value of ~$2,077! You can apply for this card here!
When credit cards are used responsibly and intelligently, tremendous value can be had—especially when used for Award Travel. With loyalty programs constantly devaluing their miles & points, an "earn and burn" approach is one that you want to adopt—especially when you are able to redeem an Award Ticket for outsized value. We do not know how long Turkish Airlines will keep it's published Award Chart intact.
"Turkish Miles&Smiles is one of the best loyalty programs when looking to redeem award flights within the United States."
The key ingredients to being successful at Award Travel involve (1) strategically earning miles & points and (2) redeeming those miles & points for outsized value. You can learn more about this topic and receive assistance to get started by contacting a Credit Card Miles & Points Consultant. You can also learn more at the following post: Why Should I Consider Using a Credit Card Miles & Points Consultant?
Are you unsure of what credit card you should select? At AwardYourMiles, we have created various tools designed to help you in the Award Travel space. This includes our Miles & Points Calculator and our Credit Card Selector Calculator. The Miles & Points Calculator determines the value of the selected credit card in your first and second year of use based on your spending habits. The Credit Card Selector Calculator will provide you with the first-year value of all our credit cards contained within our database based on your spending habits. Try it out for FREE!
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