You’re fully excused if the loyalty program fo Turkish Airlines, known as ‘Miles & Smiles’ has eluded you. It’s not a first linear thought for most US based travelers, or many in Europe and elsewhere, either.
With that said, you might want to make yourself more aware. It’s a gem of a loyalty program, with some real value left to be had, like 45,000 points for a long-haul one way business class flight between the US and Europe. As the program gains credit card transfer partners, it’s only getting easier to take part.
Here are a few sweet spots of the Turkish Miles & Miles program worth knowing about, and how to earn lots of Turkish Miles without actually flying a lot.
Ways To Earn Turkish Miles & Smiles Miles!
Over the last few years, Turkish went from a relatively obscure program (at least to most people), to a widely accepted airline loyalty program which can be accessed via a variety of credit card and hotel points, in addition to actually flying with a Star Alliance airline.
The most obvious way to earn miles with Turkish Airlines is by creating a Miles & Smiles account, and crediting any flights on Turkish or other Star Alliance airlines, like United, TAP or Lufthansa to your account. You can also earn elite status this way.
For earning Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles without flying, there are now a variety of credit cards which allow you to transfer points into the program, instantly creating a bunch of miles, whether you’ve ever flown Turkish or not. You should, they’re pretty good!
- Citi Thank You Points convert into Turkish Miles & Smiles at a 1:1 ratio.
- Capital One Venture Miles convert into Turkish Miles & Smiles at 2:1.5 ratio.
You can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy Points at a 3:1 ratio, so 3 Bonvoy Points equals 1 Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles mile. This isn’t the most optimal way to create Turkish Miles & Smiles, but it can be useful in a pinch. Ok enough of that, time for the exciting stuff.
Turkish Airlines Points Sweet Spots
When thinking about using points with Turkish Miles & Smiles, don’t just think Turkish Airlines. Instead, think of all the airlines in Star Alliance, and most usefully – think about United Airlines.
You can book United flights via Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles for a fraction of what United charges, without surcharges! Other options like Swiss, Lufthansa and ANA can be great too, if you don’t mind paying a few hundred in surcharges for a business class trip.
USA – Europe For 45,000 Points In Business Class
A one way flight in business class between the USA and Europe is just 45,000 points. If you fly on United, which could include a Polaris flight, you don’t even pay surcharges. A round trip in the flat beds of business class costs 90,000 points, which is extremely low given how much most airlines charge these days.
If you do book a round trip, and fly Turkish, you can also include a free stopover in Istanbul, giving you a chance to check off at least two cities in one trip. You can stop for anywhere between a few hours and a few days in Istanbul on your outbound or return and then carry on to your final destination elsewhere.
Transcontinental USA In Business Class For 12,500 Points
The USA is rather large. A flight across the country can take just over 6 hours, meaning a long trip can rival one to Europe. Turkish allows you to book United Airlines flights at smile worthy prices, such as 12,500 points one way in business class. 25,000 round trip is simply outstanding.
Searching for non-stop award seats on United.com is an easy way to narrow the search down, and these aren’t always common to find. Given that travel is still largely in a rut, they can be easier than usual right now.
First Class Between Brazil & Europe For 80,500 Points
Lufthansa First Class is a right of passage for points enthusiasts and all aspirational travelers alike. Maybe its the private car transfer from the private terminal to the plane or the huge bed? Using Turkish Miles & Smiles, you can unlock this opportunity on a nice long flight for 80,500 miles one way in first class, to most of Western Europe.
Lufthansa typically only releases seats within 2 weeks of departure, so this is a YOLO spontaneous thing. Having said that being spontaneous can be a great thing in travel and if you’re going to spend 12 hours on a plane, there are few better seats to be in. A round trip would require just 161,000 points.
Mainland USA – Hawaii For 15,000 Points Round Trip
Who cares if you’re flying economy when you’re flying for “free” and you hardly used any points to do so. Turkish considers Hawaii to be in the same region as the USA, so a round trip flight is only 15,000 miles round trip!
One ways can be booked for 7,500 miles and have no fuel surcharges, so you can expect to pay between $5-$20 for the joy of Hawaii. United can be stingy with seats to Hawaii using points, but shoulder season often provides great opportunity. Business class is just double the points – 25,000 round trip – but very hard to find.
India – North America In Business Class For 52,500 Miles
India can be a hot ticket from the USA and Canada and an expensive one too. Same in reverse. But Turkish charges just 52,500 miles for a one way business class flight, so a mere 105,000 round trip. It’s a long trip, so business makes a huge difference.
These flights can be routed via Europe, including cities like London, Istanbul and more and represent extreme value, considering most airlines charge more just for the USA to Europe part.
How To Book Turkish Award Tickets With miles & Ticket Rules
Once you’ve created a free Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles account, the rest is pretty easy. When searching at Turkish Airlines, just select ‘Award Ticket – Book A Ticket With Miles’ in the top right corner of the search box, if you plan to fly on a Turkish Airlines plane. This will display prices in points rather than cash.
If you’d like to fly on another Star Alliance airline, like United, you’ll need to login to your account and do the following…
- Select the drop down menu where your name is displayed.
- Select ‘Mileage Transactions’.
- Look for the ‘Star Alliance Award Ticket’ box, and select “Book Here”.
Like all points tickets, seats are subject to availability, so it’s good to brush up on how to search for seats and use tools to find availability with ease. You might get lucky on your first search, but you might need to try a few dates to find seats.
Turkish Airlines has a few rules which are worth noting, in regards to points bookings. Many of them actually make booking with points more flexible than cash.
- Miles expire 3 years from the time they’re earned/created.
- It costs $25 to change or cancel a booking made with points.
- Open jaw flights are allowed, but only one per reservation.
- Stopovers in Istanbul (more than 24 hours) are allowed on round trips.
- You can hold a reservation for up to 72 hours with no points.
- No fuel surcharges on United or Turkish, but may be charged on others.
Yep, Turkish Miles & Miles really is a great program, with some niche, but excellent uses for points. You can’t beat 12,500 points for a flat bed across the USA and you’d really struggle to beat 45,000 points between the USA and Europe in business class each way.
I was actually looking today at what star alliance program to subscribe to, living in France where credit cards basically don’t exist….this could be a useful program for France-US or France-Asia/Africa
For sure! Glad it was timely, Jeremy!
Great article! Good to know this sweet spots, the USA to Europe biz class for 45k points, that’s real sweet! Can transfer my Citi points to Turkish Miles and redeem biz class ticket to Europe…Thanks!
Please as always, Andrea!
I’ve been a TK Elite+ member for about 5 years now, and there’s a lot to like about TK (and a lot NOT to like), and while I’m not criticizing your article since I know what you have here is accurate as per the award chart, it’s important to note that there is a big caveat in that (in my experience) while theoretically LH first class is a sweet spot, the ability to actually book it is next to impossible.
Leave a comment