Looking for a cheap way to fly to Europe? Fly in business class for the price of economy? Or how about flying to Hawaii and back? Want to fly business class to Mexico? You can do it all — and more — when using Turkish miles to book your flights.
In reality, that's just the tip of the iceberg with Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles, the oddly named mileage program from Turkey's flag carrier. Whether you're flying Turkish itself or booking one of countless partner airlines, you'll often find some of the lowest redemption rates through Turkish Miles and Smiles – a fraction of what other airlines charge for the exact same flights.
When United wants 45,000 miles for a roundtrip to Hawaii, you can book those flights for just 15,000 Turkish miles total. You can get almost anywhere in Europe flying business class for just 45,000 Turkish miles – or 47,000 miles to head deep into the Middle East. We could go on and on … and we will.
Combined with the fact that these miles have gotten much easier to earn thanks to instant transfers from Capital One cards like the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card as well as Citi ThankYou points and Bilt Rewards, it's time to put Turkish Miles & Smiles program on your radar and explore just how far they can get you for fewer miles.
The Basics of Turkish Miles & Smiles
Where You Can Fly Turkish
Turkish Airlines flies to more than 120 countries across the globe. That's more than any other airline in the world. And while you don't need to fly Turkish Airlines to use its Miles & Smiles program, flying Turkish Airlines itself is one of the best ways to use Turkish miles.
In the U.S. and Canada, you'll find Turkish Airlines flights to its hub in Istanbul (IST) from 16 gateways and counting.
- Atlanta (ATL)
- Boston (BOS)
- Chicago-O'Hare (ORD)
- Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)
- Detroit (DTW)
- Houston (IAH)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Miami (MIA)
- New York City (JFK)
- Newark (EWR)
- Montreal (YUL)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Seattle (SEA)
- Toronto (YYZ)
- Vancouver (YVR)
- Washington D.C.-Dulles (IAD)
Detroit (DTW) service starts November 15, 2023, and Denver (DEN) is expected to join this list soon. Beyond Turkey and the airline's gleaming Istanbul (IST) hub airport, you can connect on Turkish to countless destinations throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Turkish Airlines Partners: Airlines You Can Fly
Beyond Turkish itself, you can also use Turkish miles to fly on one of its many Star Alliance airline partners. In total, there are 26 Star Alliance airlines, which include Air Canada, United, ANA, EVA Air, SAS, Air New Zealand, and several others.
This means you'll be able to use Turkish miles to fly all over the world, whether it's a trip on United to Hawaii, flying Turkish itself over to Europe, or flying Air Canada all the way to India. Booking some of these partner carriers can be more complicated than flying Turkish itself – especially when it comes to finding award availability. Turkish's wonky IT system for these partner award tickets doesn't help, either.
But at the end of the day, your options are nearly endless. So, how do you get started?
Sign Up for a Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles Account
Creating a Turkish Miles & Smiles frequent flyer account is free. But it’s not as simple as other airlines. Follow these directions carefully.
Start by downloading the Turkish Airlines mobile app to sign up for a new account, which you can then use to log in on your desktop or laptop after you’ve registered. This is a much smoother process than registering on Turkish’s website.
Here’s what to do:
- Download the Turkish Airlines mobile app.
- Register for a new account on your phone. (☰→ Sign in → scroll to bottom → Sign up)
- You’ll need to choose a city from a dropdown menu. If your city isn’t listed, just choose the closest city. It won’t matter in the end since you enter a zip code.
- Your password for Turkish is more like a PIN: It can only contain numbers and must be 6 digits (Cannot contain date of birth, cannot have three consecutive digits, and the same number cannot be repeated more than twice).
- Find your membership number in the app or in your confirmation email.
- Head back to the Turkish Airlines homepage and log in to your new account using your membership number without the “TK” at the beginning.
- You can then go to your account settings and choose to have your mobile number and email as log-in options so you don’t have to memorize your membership number.
After all that, you should be able to log in from any web browser using your credentials.
Why should you go through all this trouble to get signed up with a Turkish mileage account? Keep reading to find out just how powerful Turkish miles can be and where they can take you…
Why Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles Are So Powerful
If you're wondering why you should care about Turkish miles, here's a breakdown of some of the top reasons you should consider using this valuable frequent flyer program for your next points and miles trip.
- Amazing sweet spots: 45,000 miles one-way for business class to Europe, 47,000 miles for business class to the Middle East, 15,000 miles roundtrip to Hawaii, and much more.
- Easy-to-earn miles: Turkish Airlines is now a 1:1 transfer partner with Capital One, Citi ThankYou points, and Bilt Rewards. This means if you've racked up a bunch of miles from a sign-up bonus, such as the current 75,000-mile offer on the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card or Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, you'd have at least 75,000 Turkish miles at your disposal. Plus, transfers are almost always instant.
- Great business class products: Turkish business class on the 787 is a treat. But your options go beyond flying Turkish. You'll also have the opportunity to book ANA business class, United Polaris business class, and EVA Air business class, just to name a few.
- Improved customer service: Many people shy away from using Turkish miles because it is more complicated than other mileage programs. And to be honest, the website can be a bit cumbersome to use. But we've noticed improved customer service with Turkish phone agents lately, which is good news since you'll sometimes need to complete your booking over the phone.
Overall, your opportunities for cheap flight redemptions using Turkish miles can often outweigh the hurdles you may have to jump through in order to get your tickets booked. Before we get into the sweet spots when booking with Turkish miles, let's go over some of the quirks involved.
Read our full review of Turkish Airlines business class!
A Few Cons With Turkish Miles
Website and Booking Awards Has Some Quirks
The IT department at Turkish Airlines could use a few pointers. It doesn't start great, with an error-ridden sign-up process that all but requires you to sign up using the mobile app.
Unfortunately, the quirks don't end there. You'll need to use a separate online search tool depending on whether you want to redeem miles for flights on Turkish Airlines itself or a Star Alliance partner airline such as United.
Furthermore, you'll often find that the Star Alliance award search tool doesn't display all flight options — even when the award space is there. This means you may need to book your award ticket with Turkish miles over the phone or by email. On top of that, you'll only be able to book tickets for yourself online. If you need to book a travel companion as well, you may need to call to complete the booking for a second passenger – especially if it's the first time you're booking a Miles and Smiles award ticket.
Fuel Surcharges Mean You'll Want to Avoid Flying Certain Airlines
One caveat to the amazing award rates is that fuel surcharges will be passed on when booking with Turkish miles. This means you may need to pay higher cash fees on your award ticket depending on which airline you're actually flying.
If you're flying Turkish Airlines itself, the fees are reasonable and less than what you'd pay when booking Turkish Airlines flights with ANA Mileage Club, for example … but more than if you were to book with other Star Alliance programs that don't pass along fuel surcharges, such as Air Canada's Aeroplan, Avianca LifeMiles, or United MileagePlus.
Here's a quick look at the fuel surcharges and what the total taxes and fees come to when flying certain airlines on an award ticket booked with Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles. You may want to choose your airline wisely.
- USA to Istanbul (IST) in business class flying Turkish Airlines: ~$470 total fees roundtrip ($380 fuel surcharge) Not too shabby.
- USA to Frankfurt (FRA) in business class flying United: ~$140 total fees roundtrip (no fuel surcharge) Woohoo!
- USA to Frankfurt (FRA) in business class flying Lufthansa: ~$1,700 total fees roundtrip ($1,600 fuel surcharge) Ouch!
In short, avoid flying Lufthansa Group airlines on long-haul flights when redeeming Turkish miles, including Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, and SWISS. It will cost an arm and a leg in fees to fly these airlines across the pond when using Turkish miles. If you're dead set on flying these airlines, book with one of the programs mentioned above that don't pass along fuel surcharges.
For other airlines that do have fuel surcharges, the fees are fairly reasonable when booking with Turkish miles when you consider the fantastic redemption rates. About those amazing redemption rates …
Turkish Airlines Miles Award Chart & Sweet Spots
Finding the best way to book a flight using miles is all about finding sweet spots. And the Turkish Airlines award chart is absolutely chock full of them.
If you expand the “Promotional award ticket table” once you've landed on Turkish's award chart page, you'll be able to see the number of miles required to book roundtrip flights between different regions at the saver award level. Unlike some other programs, you can book one-way flights for half that cost.
If you follow the business class row for Turkey, Europe 1, or Europe 2 over to the North America column, you'll see that it's 90,000 miles roundtrip. That means you can book one-way flights to Europe for just 45,000 miles.
Scroll down a little more and you'll see more sweet spots around the world, like business class flights to the Middle East for 94,000 miles roundtrip – 47,000 miles one-way. Just expand the “Award region table” to find out which countries belong in each region.
For the purpose of this post, you can disregard the standard “Award ticket table” and the “Companion ticket” tables. The standard award ticket table is for Turkish Airlines flights that are not available at the saver level and the rates are quite high. To get the best value out of your Turkish miles, you'll want to focus on booking flights that are available at the saver award rates.
Now, let's dive into some of the best sweet spots in the Turkish Airlines award chart.
Business Class to Europe for 45K Miles One-Way
If you're looking to fly over to Europe, it doesn't get much better than this deal. You can fly one way for just 45,000 miles from every corner of North America. It's the same rate whether you're flying nonstop from New York City or on a connecting flight from the West Coast.
You can fly United Polaris business class nonstop from Newark (EWR) to Frankfurt (FRA) for 45,000 miles plus just $5.60 in taxes and fees one-way.
Or, you can fly Turkish Airlines business class from Seattle (SEA) to Athens (ATH) via Istanbul (IST) for the same 45,000 miles one-way. Taxes and fees will be higher when flying Turkish Airlines aircraft due to some fuel surcharges. For this flight, it amounts to around $212 total – not too bad when you're flying to Greece in a lie-flat bed across the pond and a proper business class seat between Istanbul and Athens.
One thing to note is that you cannot book mixed cabin awards when booking with Turkish miles. That means you need to find award space in business class for all legs in order to book this sweet deal, which can make pulling off connecting flights tougher.
Fly to Hawaii for 15K Miles Roundtrip
While business class flights tend to get the most praise when it comes to redeeming points and miles, this deal to fly United in main cabin economy to Hawaii and back for just 15,000 Turkish miles roundtrip may trump them all.
The availability isn't too hard to come by but the booking process is not for the faint of heart. It may require a phone call or an email since flights from many cities may not be bookable online. Still, the extra legwork could be worth it when you can fly from anywhere in the U.S. to Hawaii for 7,500 miles one-way or 15,000 miles roundtrip, such as this one-stop trip from Boston (BOS) to Honolulu (HNL).
When you compare that to the typical $600+ price of a cash ticket — or even over $1,000 from some smaller markets — it's an amazing deal that you won't find with any other mileage program. If Hawaii is in your travel plans, you may want to earn some Turkish miles and study up.
Read our complete guide on how to book Hawaii flights for just 15,000 miles!
Business Class to the Middle East for 47K Miles
Flying to the Middle East is a long journey, especially when departing from the West Coast. Believe it or not, it's just 2,000 more Turkish Miles and Smiles miles to continue onward from Europe to the Middle East when departing from anywhere in North America. In total, you'll only need to shell out 47,000 miles for a one-way business class flight to destinations like Dubai (DXB), Muscat (MCT), and Tel Aviv (TLV).
For example, this Turkish Airlines flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Muscat (MCT) via Istanbul (IST) is just 47,000 miles plus around $233 in taxes and fees one-way.
Theoretically, you could also book United Polaris business class nonstop to Tel Aviv (TLV) from one of the U.S. gateways in Chicago-O'Hare (ORD), Newark (EWR), San Francisco (SFO), or Washington D.C.-Dulles (IAD) for the same rate plus minimal taxes and fees. Finding award space on these routes can be tough, but it's an incredible deal if you can find it.
Fly to India for 34K Miles in Economy or 52.5K in Business Class One-Way
You don't need to fly business class to get a great deal using Turkish miles. Case in point: It's just 34,000 miles one-way to fly economy between North America and India.
Sure, it's an even sweeter deal to bump up to business class for only 52,500 miles one-way but you may have a harder time finding the availability in business class. Looking at flights from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), I was able to find economy seats flying United to New Delhi (DEL) for just 34,000 miles plus around $6 in taxes and fees one-way.
You may sometimes need to get creative in order to make a roundtrip itinerary work, but that's the beauty of being able to book one-way flights with Turkish miles. In this particular case, I couldn't find any return flights from New Delhi, but there were seats available returning from Mumbai (BOM) to Minneapolis a few weeks later. This could give you time to explore more of India between these major capitals and simply return from Mumbai without needing to backtrack.
All in, flying to India and back for just 68,000 Turkish miles plus around $56 in taxes and fees is a pretty incredible deal considering these flights usually go for over $1,000. And if you can score availability with business class seats, you'll be sitting pretty for just 105,000 miles roundtrip.
Biz Class to Mexico for 15K Miles One-Way or 30K Roundtrip
Turkish miles can also be used for international flights to visit our friendly neighbors south of the border. In fact, we think it's one of the best ways to fly to Mexico using points and miles.
You can fly Air Canada or United business class down to Mexico for just 15,000 Turkish miles one-way or 30,000 roundtrip — that's half the number of miles most other frequent flyer programs charge. You may get lucky finding flights bookable online, such as this nonstop flight from Denver (DEN) to Cancun (CUN) in business class for only 30,000 miles plus around $93 in taxes and fees, roundtrip!
However, this is another award that will most likely require booking with an agent over the phone or email once you've found available saver award space. But if you want to fly fancy down to Mexico, you may want to put in the extra work to get a comfortable seat for less.
Biz Class within Europe for 15K Miles
Want to hop around within Europe? Turkish miles can also help you fly between two international countries.
One of the best sweet spots in its award chart that doesn't involve North America is to fly business class within Europe for just 15,000 miles each way … and that includes some fairly long flights across the entire continent.
Say you're exploring France and want to hop over to Turkey to check out the crossroads of Europe and Asia before heading back home. You could book a nonstop flight from Paris-Charles de Gaulle (CDG) to Istanbul (IST) for 15,000 Turkish miles one-way in business class.
Sure, that cash fee in euros converts to around $170 USD, but that's a small price to pay to fly in a proper business class seat within Europe considering it's only going to set you back 15,000 miles. Most other airlines simply block the middle seat of an economy row and call it business class when flying within Europe so flying Turkish Airlines is the way to go if you want a true business class seat. On some major routes, Turkish even flies Airbus A330s or Boeing 777s with lie-flat seats.
Fly From Europe to the Middle East for 17K Miles … Or Less!
Looking for a flight between Europe and the Middle East? Turkish Airlines provides excellent routing and amazing redemption rates. It's just 17,000 miles one-way in economy or 24,500 miles in business class.
In this example from Munich (MUC) to Amman, Jordan (AMM), you'd have your pick between either economy or business class flying Turkish Airlines via Istanbul (IST). We'd say it's well worth it to fork over the extra 7,500 miles for a business class seat.
It's even fewer miles if you're flying from Eastern Europe: 15,000 miles each way in economy or 21,500 miles for business class. The best deal of all comes flying between Turkey and the Middle East, on which you can book for just 12,500 miles in economy or 17,500 miles in business class.
How to Book Flights Using Miles & Smiles
Now that you know some of the amazing places you can go for affordable rates using Turkish miles, how exactly do you get these flights booked?
That part can be a little bit tricky and while I'll go over a few of the basics here, you may want to consult our step-by-step guide on booking Hawaii flights with Turkish miles for more details. Those instructions will serve you right no matter where you're heading.
Unlike those programs which allow you to book any flight — even if it means shelling out a ridiculous number of miles — you'll only be able to book award flights that have available award space when redeeming Turkish miles.
Find Award Space on United's Website
Our favorite tool to use in order to pinpoint saver award space on Star Alliance airlines – the critical ingredient to making these redemptions happen – is United’s old advanced search tool.
It will be easiest to search for one-way flights separately. Make sure to select “flexible dates,” and choose the exact number of passengers traveling. Once you complete your search, expand to “view 30-day calendar” to maximize your view of travel dates.
Also, make sure you are not logged in to your United account as certain elite members and credit cardholders may see award space that can’t be booked by Turkish.
In order to find the space that can be booked by Turkish at the saver award level, you’ll want to check dates that have the lowest rates showing on United’s site, expand the details, and look for the following saver award fare codes in parentheses: Economy (X), Business (I), and First (O).
United will stamp “Saver Award” on top of the economy column but not for business or first class, so you’ll need to expand the details to check each individual flight. It’s also important to check the operating airline to ensure it’s a Turkish Airlines partner. If you’re trying to avoid those high fuel surcharges, disregard results for Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian, and Brussels Airlines.
Once you’ve found flights with saver award space, write down the flight information and plug it into the respective award search tool on Turkish's website or feed the information to a Turkish Airlines agent if booking over the phone.
Turkish Airlines Flights
If you're trying to book flights operated by Turkish Airlines, you're in luck: It tends to be quite easy.
Once you've found the flights you want, just head to Turkishairlines.com and click the checkbox on the homepage next to “Award ticket – Buy a ticket with Miles.” That will bring you to the award search tool for Turkish Airlines flights only.
Thrifty Tip: Turkish also sells “standard-level” award seats on its own flights at much higher rates (and with more availability) than “saver-level” seats. Search the exact dates you found when searching United's website to find those “saver” award rates when booking with Turkish.
This search tool will not work for flights operated by Star Alliance partner airlines such as United or Air Canada. For those flights, you'll need to navigate to a different search tool.
Star Alliance Award Tickets
If you're trying to book a Star Alliance award ticket with your Turkish Miles and Smiles, log in to your Turkish account, click on your name in the top-right corner, then click “Miles Transactions.”
On the following screen, you’ll see the option for a Star Alliance award ticket. Click “Book now.”
If you see the words “Star Award Ticket” at the top of the page, you’ve made it to the correct spot.
With these partner award bookings, in particular, you may not see the same results you found through United. In that case, you may need to resort to other methods to book. That may not be such a bad thing.
Book by Phone or Email
Finally, if it comes down to it and you can't find the flights you want bookable online, you can try completing the booking over the phone by calling a Turkish Airlines agent at 1-800-874-8875.
You'll want to have all the details of the flights you found with saver award space to give to the agent. In our experience, this is a fairly painless experience. We've had no problem booking three recent flights with Turkish miles – the entire process from start to finish took about 10 minutes in each case.
Another option is to email one of the 10 ticket offices in the U.S. and three in Canada. You can find the email address for any office on its website. Scroll to the bottom of the page for call center details.
Once again, for a more in-depth look at booking flights with Turkish miles, read our step-by-step guide for booking Hawaii flights and swap out your destination when searching.
Turkish Airlines Change & Cancellation Policy
Turkish Airlines has recently updated its change and cancellation policy for award tickets. If you change or cancel before check-in, there is a $70 fee to get your miles back. After check-in or if you simply don’t show up for your flight, there is a $150 fee. You can change or cancel over the phone and miles will be redeposited into your account after paying the fee.
How to Earn Turkish Miles
While you can earn Turkish miles by flying Turkish Airlines itself, you don’t need to in order to rack up a bunch of miles. Since you can transfer points earned with credit cards like the Capital One Venture X or the Citi Premier® Card, it’s super easy to earn enough Turkish miles for your next trip.
We can’t say enough good things about the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. It’s the bank’s very first premium card and it is loaded with benefits such access to Capital One Lounges and Priority Pass lounges, a $300 annual travel credit, a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, great travel and rental car insurance protection, and more. The annual fee clocks in at $395 a year, but the benefits can easily outweigh that.
The best part is that you can currently earn 75,000 Venture Miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Considering you earn at least 2x for every dollar you spend on the Venture X Card, you’ll earn a total of at least 83,000 Venture Miles, which can be transferred instantly to 83,000 Turkish miles.
Click Here to learn more about the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.
Don’t want a high annual fee? The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has been a fan favorite among travelers for years – and for good reason. It’s truly one of the best travel credit cards for beginners. You earn 2x points on every purchase and even get a credit that covers the cost of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck – all for a card with a $95 annual fee.
Capital One currently offers a welcome bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within three months from account opening, which gets you enough Turkish miles for a one-way flight to Europe in business class — or nearly enough for a roundtrip.
Click Here to learn more about current offers for the Capital One Venture Rewards Card.
The Citi Premier® Card is another great way to earn points that can be transferred to Turkish miles. You’ll earn 3x points at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, and for travel booked with the card. Plus, there is a 60,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 within the first three months.
Click Here to learn more about the Citi Premier Card.
If you’re earning points on rent with Bilt Rewards, you can also transfer points to Turkish miles at a 1:1 ratio. And finally, Marriott Bonvoy points can be transferred to Turkish Miles & Smiles at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred.
If you have a ton of Capital One miles or Citi ThankYou points and haven't thought about Turkish Miles & Smiles before, you should put this valuable frequent flyer program on your radar. Not only is it great for flying Turkish Airlines around the world, but it's also the cheapest way to get to Hawaii and back using points and miles. And there's plenty more you can do with Turkish miles as well.
Sure, there are some extra steps involved to get certain flights booked. But for those willing to put in the extra legwork, you'll be rewarded with some of the cheapest redemption rates of any mileage program. Give Turkish miles a shot and you might end up reading our next guide while sipping some Turkish coffee in Istanbul.