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?
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:
- September 2017: 18% from HSBC
- November 2017: 25% from Maybank
- May 2018: 20% from UOB
- November 2018: 10% from DBS
- January 2019: 15% bonus from all banks
- January 2020: 10% bonus from all banks
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*|
|60K BOC Points|
|10K Citi Miles (10K miles)|
25K TY Points (10K miles)
|5K DBS Points|
|25K HSBC Points|
(10 K miles)
|*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)
|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)
|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:
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.
|(Star Alliance award)||(Cathay Pacific)|
|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.
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.