Photo of Emirates a380 flying

There’s always been plenty of reasons to earn Emirates Skyward Miles, but now that they’re the only way to book Emirates dreamy first class suites, it’s kind of a “must”, if you want to experience one of the greatest cabins in the sky. That, and upgrades, free flights and all the rest are always nice too.

Earning Emirates Skyward miles just got a lot easier, and you don’t even need to fly Emirates to earn big. You just need to go shopping, and ideally, to spend big. Shouldn’t be too much of a problem, right? And no, this isn’t a credit card.

There’s even 5,001 miles per milestone up for grabs as an early bonus.

Emirates and tech company, utu, have created a world first solution for “easy” tax refunds on goods purchased while traveling, allowing passengers to bypass the boring airport queues and earn more back in miles, or cash.

Emirates First Class Champagne

Emirates Skyward Miles for VAT Refunds

All around the world, millions of travelers miss out on meaningful money, every day. Goods purchased abroad while traveling are typically eligible for VAT tax refunds, and that can account for up to 20% of each item. It’s not true in every country, but in most it actually is.

If you’re buying stuff abroad, refunds can go into the hundreds of dollars and can be received for most things purchased during travels. I’ve received significant money back in Australia, Dubai, South Africa and many more.

You just keep your receipts from purchases, and prove you actually have the item you bought. Once you do, you receive your refund of tax, which is typically 10-20%.

a close up of a credit card reader

But people miss out because they either don’t know they can get a refund, or just refuse to show up at the airport early enough to go through the arduous process of getting their tax refund. It can take hours, or require pulling things out of luggage. utu is one of the companies changing that, with a digital solution.

utu allows travelers to bypass these bureaucratic and lengthy physical queues, and instead process most VAT transactions on their phone, via the utu app. As a world’s first, utu is offering either a 5% cash bonus, or a 25% bonus if you accept Skyward miles as payment, rather than cash. According to utu, here’s how the system works…

How to earn Skywards Miles while shopping tax-free:

Download the utu app

Register for a free utu Tax Free Card

Select Frequent Flyer Miles and Emirates Skywards as the preferred refund method

Shop at any store across 50 countries and on any VAT refund form, input the 16-digit utu Tax Free Card number in the credit card refund field. Follow customs formalities as instructed by the VAT refund operator

Once the refund is processed by the VAT refund operator, utu will inform the member about the number of Skywards Miles to be credited

Skywards Miles will be credited within 10 working days of the VAT refund having been processed

Impressively, utu and Emirates Skyward are offering 5,001 bonus miles for every $100 of VAT earned back via the app. The offer is valid through March 31st, 2022, so it could well be worth flying to a VAT eligible country to do your holiday shopping! The offer is valid in more than 50 countries, so go forth!

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. This is great, I don’t bother with the queues normally for VAT refunds due to the time involved Vs the reward.

  2. I just pull out the paper with the QR code and scan it at the airport and it automatically goes to my credit card………’s never been a hassle……..

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