Cathay Pacific Asia Miles offering up to 15% transfer bonus from credit card points

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From 28 Dec 20 to 31 Jan 21, get a 10-15% bonus when you transfer credit card points to Cathay Pacific's Asia Miles program, with no cap.

In what’s probably a calculated move to keep Singapore Airlines from hogging the limelight, Cathay Pacific has announced a transfer bonus of up to 15% for its Asia Miles program, which starts on 28 December 2020, the minute KrisFlyer’s 15% transfer bonus ends. 

This presents some intriguing redemption possibilities, and may affect how many credit card points you end up deciding to transfer to KrisFlyer. 

Asia Miles 10-15% transfer bonus

There are two different bonuses available- some members are targeted for a 10% bonus, others 15%. There is no minimum amount you need to transfer to earn the bonus, and no cap on the maximum bonus you can receive. 

Registration is required for this offer, and can be done from 28 December 2020 to 31 January 2021. The link has not yet been provided; I’ll update this article when it’s live. 

Once registered, you’ll receive an email confirmation and have until 31 January 2021 to complete your transfer. Note how that’s “complete”, not initiate. Banks will require a certain amount of lead time to process credit card points transfers, and it’s best practice to give yourself at least a week (or two, if you’re paranoid) of breathing space. 

Unlike the ongoing KrisFlyer transfer promotion, bonus miles will not credit immediately. Instead, they will be credited within 8-10 weeks after the end of the promotion, which means you should expect to see them no later than 11 April 2021. 

The full T&C of this offer can be found here.

How does this compare to previous transfer bonuses?

Cathay Pacific B77W First Class

For context, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen an Asia Miles transfer bonus. In fact, they seem to happen at least once a year, based on past trends:

A 10-15% bonus par the course for what we’ve seen over the past 2 years, but not as generous as the offers in 2017/2018. That said, we need to remember that Asia Miles did a devaluation back in May 2018, so there’s a kind of double whammy effect (smaller bonuses now with higher award prices). 

Which banks offer transfers to Asia Miles?

This offer is open to all global credit cards that support Asia Miles transfers (with the exception of Asia Miles cobrand cards). In the Singapore context, this includes:

Bank Min. Conversion Transfer Fee
450 MR Points*
(250 miles)
None
60K BOC Points
(10K miles)
S$30
10K Citi Miles (10K miles)
25K TY Points (10K miles)
S$26.75
5K DBS Points
(10K miles)
S$26.75
25K HSBC Points
(10K miles)
S$42.80
(annual)
5K TREATS
(2K miles)
S$26.75
5K UNI$
(10 K miles)
S$25
*Conversion rate for AMEX Platinum Charge and Centurion is 400 points= 250 miles

What can you do with Asia Miles?

Cathay Pacific uses distance-based award charts to determine pricing. If you need to calculate the distance for a given route, try using the GCMap tool.  

(1) For award travel on Cathay Pacific & Cathay Dragon

Standard Awards on Cathay Pacific & Cathay Dragon
(in ‘000s of miles)
  Y PY J F
1-750 7.5 11 16 25
751-2,750 10 18 25 40
2,751-5,000 22 30 45 70
5,001-7,500 30 40 65 100
5,001-7,500
(to/from USA)
30 45 70 110
7,501+ 42 60 85 125
The table above reflects “Standard” award prices. Asia Miles also has “Choice” and “Tailored” awards which have greater availability, but higher costs

(2) For award travel on Partner Airlines

Awards on Partner Airlines
(in ‘000s of miles)
  Y PY J F
1-750 10 14 20 30
751-2,750 15 22 30 45
2,751-5,000 27 43 61 87
5,001-7,500 35 45 70 110
5,001-7,500
(to/from USA)
40 50 75 120
7,501+ 47 65 90 135
Asia  Miles does not publish this chart on their website, but it’s been pieced together from searching

(3) oneworld Multi-Carrier Award Chart

Distance in miles Required miles (in ‘000s)
Economy Class Business Class First Class
0 – 1,000 30 55 70
1,001 – 1,500 30 60 80
1,501 – 2,000 35 65 90
2,001 – 4,000 35 70 95
4,001 – 7,500 60 90 140
7,501 – 9,000 65 100 150
9,001 – 10,000 70 110 160
10,001 – 14,000 90 135 220
14,001 – 18,000 100 155 250
18,001 – 20,000 105 165 260
20,001 – 25,000 115 185 280
25,001 – 35,000 130 210 300
35,001 – 50,000 150 240 345

What’s great is that Cathay Pacific stopped imposing fuel surcharges in May this year, which means you’ll only pay airport taxes when redeeming Asia Miles for Cathay flights. 

This means we can do straight up comparisons between KrisFlyer redemptions on Singapore Airlines and Asia Miles redemptions on Cathay Pacific, and Asia Miles actually comes off quite favorably in certain situations:

  (Singapore Airlines) (Cathay Pacific)
One-way Prices J F J F
New York JFK 99K 132K 85K 125K
San Francisco|
Los Angeles
95K 130K 85K 125K
Barcelona | London | Manchester | Paris 92K 125K 85K 125K
Amsterdam | Brussels| Frankfurt | Milan| Rome | Zurich 92K 125K 65K 100K
Dubai 49K 75K  65K 100K
Tokyo 47K 70K 45K 70K
Beijing 39K 53K 45K 70K
Shanghai  39K 53K 25K 40K
Hong Kong | Taipei 30.5K 40.5K 25K 40K
First Class may not be available on all routes. I’ve excluded Australia & New Zealand because it doesn’t make sense to fly 3.5 hours north to Hong Kong, then all the way back down south.

The sweet spot for me is Europe, at least the destinations that just fall into the 5,001-7,500 miles band. Business Class redemptions on Asia Miles save up to 54,000 miles on a round-trip ticket, compared to KrisFlyer.

As the diagram below shows, the 7,500 mile line is an important one for Cathay Pacific awards to Europe. Slip to the wrong side of that line, and you’ll pay up to 50,000 miles more on a round-trip Cathay Pacific award.

Qatar Airways Privilege Club charges 70-75,000 Qmiles for one-way Business Class awards from Singapore to Europe, so that’s an alternative you can consider too (Privilege Club members do not pay fuel surcharges on Qatar Airways redemptions)

Cathay Pacific also serves some major cities that Singapore Airlines does not, such as Vancouver, Boston, Washington D.C, and Madrid. If you were flying on Singapore Airlines, you’d still need to make at least one stop, so you should be mostly indifferent between SQ and CX on these routes.

Cities served by Cathay Pacific but not Singapore Airlines (at least pre-COVID)
  (Star Alliance award) (Cathay Pacific)
Round-trip Prices J F J F
Boston | Chicago | Toronto | Vancouver | Washington 211K 297K 170K 250K
Dublin | Madrid 184K 281K 170K 250K
Manama | Tel Aviv 142K 182K 130K 200K
First Class may not be available on all routes.
When comparing the amounts above, remember that KrisFlyer Star Alliance awards may have fuel surcharges, while Asia Miles awards on Cathay won’t.

So if you don’t mind making a stop in Hong Kong, there’s actually some very good use cases for Asia Miles- all the more so when you’re getting a 10-15% transfer bonus. 

Don’t forget about Asia Miles round-the-world awards too, which are cheaper and better than their KrisFlyer equivalent. For more details on Asia Miles sweet spots, check out this post. 

Asia Miles no longer expire (with activity)

In December 2019, Cathay Pacific changed the expiry policy for Asia Miles earned on or after 1 January 2020. These miles would no longer expire, provided you earned or redeemed at least one mile every 18 months.

All miles earned before 1 January 2020 follow the old policy; i.e they expire after 3-years. Therefore, transferring Asia Miles under the current promotion will help extend any miles you earned on or after 1 January 2020, but it won’t do anything for miles earned before that. 

Conclusion

Cathay Pacific A350-1000 Business Class

While I’ve already transferred a good number of credit card points to KrisFlyer with their 15% bonus, this Asia Miles one could come in handy. Asia Miles is my secondary FFP, and a useful hedge in case something unexpected happens with KrisFlyer. The absence of fuel surcharges on Cathay Pacific flights is helpful, and a Hong Kong stopover doesn’t add an inordinate amount of time to flights to the USA. 

Once again, registration is required and hasn’t started yet. Wait for the link to be sent out closer to 28 December 2020, and decide whether it’s worth investing in a secondary FFP. 

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion with the intention of helping people travel better for less and impressing chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Warung Buffet

Is the only direct flight destination on CX from Changi, Bangkok?

William

Hi Aaron, is it applicable for credit cards from Malaysia?

Jacq

HK sovereignty in 3 years is questionable. Have to factor that in when deciding to lock up points with HK national airline.

Zhong

Cathay has not released new award flights for awhile now, would be cautious for people planning to make a trip.

Alex

IAD has been axed.

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