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Similar to Disney’s “Big Hero 6” film, Turkish Miles&Smiles is easily one of the most underrated loyalty programs out there. In my opinion, the movie flew under the radar and deserves far more love from the masses, and so does Turkish Airlines’ frequent-flyer program.

It’s true that these miles weren’t easy to earn in the past, but now Miles&Smiles partners with a few flexible currencies, which makes them easier to obtain.

On the redemption side, the process could be easier for certain award flights, but the program’s sweet spots make jumping through a few hoops worth the low redemption rates.

How to Earn Turkish Miles&Smiles Miles

Turkish Airlines is a member of Star Alliance, which means crediting partner flights to the Miles&Smiles program is one of the ways to earn these miles.

The second option, and by far the best one, is to convert transferable bank points to Turkish miles.

Turkish Miles&Smiles partners with three flexible points programs:

Unfortunately, when you transfer Capital One Venture to Turkish Miles&Smiles at a rate of 2:1.5, they lose their value. Citi ThankYou Points, on the other hand, transfer at a 1:1 ratio and are a better choice if you have access to both of these currencies.

At the moment, you can earn 80,000 ThankYou Points by applying for the Citi Premier® Card and spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. These points will result in 80,000 Turkish miles if you were to transfer them to Miles&Smiles.

You can also earn 60,000 Venture Miles by applying for the Capital One® Venture® Card and spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of becoming a cardmember. These miles can be converted to 45,000 Turkish Miles&Smiles miles.

It’s also possible to transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to Turkish Miles&Smiles at a ratio of 3:1. You receive a 5,000-point bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points converted, which gets you to 25,000 miles. Use this method only as a last-resort option of topping up your Miles&Smiles account.

Citi Premier® Card

Earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

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Best Ways to Use Turkish Miles&Smiles for Award Flights

Now for the fun part. You get to learn why exactly the Miles&Smiles program is so underrated and how you can utilize its sweet spots to your advantage. Let’s get to it.

U.S. to Turkey for 45,000 Miles in Business Class

Turkish Miles&Smiles is a zone-based program, which means that redemption rates are set for specific city pairs located in specific zones, also called regions.

The program offers competitive redemption rates on many routes, including on Turkish Airlines-operated flights between the United States and Turkey. You can book a one-way flight in economy class for 30,000 miles and in business class for 45,000 miles.

Outbound trip from Houston to Istanbul

The trick to being successful here is to find a direct flight from/to one of the U.S. cities that Turkish services, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas (begins Sept. 24), Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark, San Francisco and Washington.

Forty-five thousand miles is an outstanding rate on these routes. To put things in perspective, you’d need to redeem 63,000 Avianca LifeMiles or 77,000 United MileagePlus miles to book the same flight using other programs’ miles.

U.S. to Europe for 45,000 Miles in Business Class

The 45,000-mile redemption rate for a one-way business-class seat also extends to other European destinations serviced by Turkish, even if you have a layover in Istanbul.

Let’s take a look at the following flight from Houston (IAH) to Zurich (ZRH) with a stop in Istanbul (IST). As you can see, it requires the same 45,000 Miles&Smiles miles as it does for a nonstop flight to Istanbul.

Flight from Houston to Zurich

If you book a round-trip journey with Turkish miles, you can add a stopover in Istanbul without spending any extra rewards. For 90,000 miles, you can see both Switzerland and Turkey and fly in business class the whole way.

And if you’re unable to locate any award availability on Turkish-operated flights, try searching for a trip with Star Alliance partners. You’ll see the same rate of 45,000 miles for a Swiss International Air Lines flight to Zurich.

Swiss International Airlines

However, keep in mind that you’ll be on the hook for taxes and surcharges of about $725 on the Swiss flight. In comparison, Turkish will charge you about $225 on its own one-way flight to Zurich.

Mainland U.S. to Hawaii for 7,500 Miles in Economy

Perhaps the most intriguing sweet spot of the Turkish Miles&Smiles program is its jaw-dropping rate of just 7,500 miles for economy flights from the contiguous U.S. to Hawaii on United Airlines.

Nope, there aren’t any extra digits missing in there—you need just 7,500 miles to book a one-way flight to Hawaii.

Just so you understand how low this is, the next best redemption rate for a one-way flight to the Aloha State is 13,000 British Airways Avios for flights on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines, and even then, this rate is available only from select West Coast airports.

So, the option to redeem just 7,500 Turkish miles to enjoy tropical cocktails in a tropical setting is appealing. The trick is to find Saver space availability with United.

You might want to play around with flexible dates. Go to United.com and search the award calendar without logging in to your MileagePlus account. Consult with ExpertFlyer and search for a range of dates at once. Do whatever it takes, because this is too good not to take advantage of immediately.

Related: How to Use ExpertFlyer to Find Award Space

If you see open space on ExpertFlyer but it’s not showing up on Turkish Airlines website, don’t panic. You can still book the flights, but it’ll take a bit more work. Write down the dates and times of your preferred flights and call an agent at 1-800-874-8875 to help you complete the booking. Trust us the mileage savings will be worth it in the end.

Domestic Flights Within the U.S. for 7,500 Miles in Economy

Hawaii isn’t the only place you can reach using 7,500 Turkish miles. In fact, you can fly anywhere in the United States where its Star Alliance partner United goes using that many miles.

Here’s an example of a United flight from Los Angeles to Newark, and it’s pricing out at the same 7,500 miles.

Flight from Los Angeles to Newark

Availability might be a little difficult to find, so this option might not work out if your dates are fixed, but it’s worth searching for sure. Make sure United has a flight you want listed at Saver rate for it to be available with Turkish miles. ExperFlyer can help as well.

U.S. to Central Asia for 52,500 Miles in Business Class

Most of my family members live in Kazakhstan where I visit every now and again. It’s also not super easy or cheap to reach. Luckily, at 52,500 miles each way, Turkish has some of the best redemption rates on business-class awards to Central Asia.

Turkish Airlines includes the following countries in its Central Asia region: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.

Can you imagine redeeming just 52,500 miles and flying all the way from the U.S. to India or Pakistan in business class? These redemption rates are basically unheard of, and I’m only sharing this sweet spot with you out of the goodness of my heart.

Europe to Southern Africa for 55,000 Miles in Business Class

Say you find yourself spending time in Istanbul or somewhere else in Europe before deciding to book a separate flight and continue your journey south.

A one-way flight from Istanbul to the Southern Africa region, which includes the Republic of South Africa, Union of Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Zambia, will set you back 55,000 miles.

Flight from Istanbul to Port Louis

A flight from Istanbul to Port Louis, Mauritius, is almost 10 hours long, and you can redeem just 55,000 miles + about $175 to spend that 10 hours in the air comfortably.

Expect to pay the same rate on partner flights from Europe to Southern Africa. Here’s a Lufthansa business-class flight from Frankfurt, Germany (FRA), to Cape Town, South Africa (CPT), going for 55,000 Turkish miles as well. Taxes and surcharges are about $395.

You might have noticed a trend here. Turkish Miles&Smiles is a good program to book Turkish-operated flights. In most cases, airline loyalty programs are best used when booking partner awards, but Miles&Smiles has some solid redemption rates for flights on its own carrier.

Final Thoughts

If you were skeptical earlier, you must be convinced now that Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles is a compelling loyalty program.

Not only does the airline fly to a lot of destinations, but the redemption rates are some of the most attractive in the market, and the miles are attainable through a couple of transfer programs. If I were you, I’d start looking at all the ways to earn Citi ThankYou Points and Capital One Venture Miles as soon as possible to be able to access Turkish miles quickly.

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