Cathay Pacific Credit Card Now at 50K

Via DOC, the sign-up bonus for Cathay Pacific’s new co-branded credit card just went up from 25,000 to 50,000 points. This is a large leap and I think the increased bonus means a lot of people should at least consider this card since Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program has some very lucrative awards options.

Card at a Glance

  • 50,000 Asia miles after spending $2,500
  • $95 annual fee that is NOT waived
  • 2X on Cathay Pacific purchases
  • 1.5X on dining in the US or abroad
  • 1.5X on foreign purchases
  • 1X on all other domestic purchases
  • Complimentary green tier membership in the Marco Polo Club
  • Issued by Synchrony
  • Points expire after 3 years (very expensive to renew them)

Sign-up Bonus

  • 50,000 Asia miles after spending $2,500

50,000 miles isn’t a bad offer at all. This is especially true since Cathay Pacific is a travel partner of American Express and Citi so it’s not difficult to supplement this sign-up bonus with points transferred over from those programs. 50,000 miles can get you a roundtrip in business class to South America from some destinations in the US and can be used toward many other valuable redemptions. Read below for more on sweet spots with Cathay Pacific.

Do keep in mind that your points will expire after 3 years unless you pay very expensive renewal fees. 

Annual Fee

This card comes with a $95 annual fee that is NOT waived.

Bonus Categories

The card earns the following bonus categories:

  • 2X on Cathay Pacific purchases
  • 1.5X on dining in the US or abroad
  • 1.5X on foreign purchases
  • 1X on all other domestic purchases

I think the bonus categories of 1.5X on dining abroad and on all foreign purchases are interesting (there are no foreign transaction fees on this card). There aren’t many other cards out there that will give you 1.5X on all foreign purchases, so there’s some value there for those who spend quite a lot of time and money abroad.

However, like with any co-branded card, if you’re going to be putting a significant chunk of your spend on a card to make the earnings worthwhile, you need to have at least tentative plans to use Cathay Pacific or one of its partners. If you have no foreseeable plans of using Asia Miles to fly with a OneWorld partner , I would caution against putting a lot of focus on the bonus categories, since you’ll likely be better off putting spend on Amex or Citi cards.

Other Perks

Complimentary green tier membership in the Marco Polo Club

New members will enjoy a complimentary first year green tier membership in the Marco Polo Club, which is the loyalty program of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon. Of course, this is the lowest level in their loyalty program.

When I looked up the benefits, it looks like this status allows you to use your points for things like lounge access (requiring 9,000 Asia Miles), extra leg-room, extra baggage, etc. It does provide up to two free checked bags when flying economy and up to business (3 for first class) and priority boarding which is nice. You can also renew your status for $100 after a year.

Visa Signature

You’ll receive all of the Visa Signature benefits (if you get approved for the Signature version)

The Cathay Pacific Asia Miles Program

I think it’s impossible to make a sound decision on this card with out at least knowing a little bit about the Asia Miles Program. So I”m going to touch on some of the major points of the program without getting bogged down in the details.

Transfer partners

Cathay Pacific is one of the few programs that offer transferability from more than one major rewards program. You can transfer points to Asia Miles from both American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points (and SPG).   

OneWorld Alliance

Cathay Pacific is a member of the OneWorld Alliance so you can use Asia Miles to book flights on partners like British Airways, American Airlines, Qatar, etc.

Distance-based award system

Cathay Pacific operates on a distance-based award system (award chart here). They have two separate charts.

One chart called the “Asia Miles Award Chart” is for:

  • Cathay Pacific/Dragon flights
  • Flights including one OneWorld partner
  • Flights including one OneWorld partner and a Cathay Pacific/Dragon flight

Then there’s another award chart called the “OneWorld Multi-Carrier Awards Chart” for:

  • Flights involving two OneWorld partners
  • Flights involving Cathay Pacific/Dragon flights and 2 or more OneWorld partners

One Way Awards and stopovers

One of the beauties of this program is that it’s extremely flexible. You can book one way awards using the Asia Miles Award Chart, though you save miles by booking roundtrips. And if you’re booking on the OneWorld award chart, you can have up to five stopovers! Thus, there’s a lot of value to be had with this program if you can take advantage of their lax routing policies.

Sweet Spots

This distance-based award system has a few pretty good sweet spots in it. You can get a roundtrip ticket to Europe for only 80,000 miles and with some partner airlines like Aer Lingus, fees will only run you around $80. That’s one of the best redemptions offered by any program. Other great sweet spots are for routes to South America, Australia, and certain intra-continental flights.

Cathay Pacific Surcharges

Cathay Pacific will make you pay fuel surcharges on many airlines. There are some exceptions, such as Air Berlin, American Airlines (on non-Europe routes), Qantas, JAL, etc., and there are very little fees when you fly on Cathay’s own metal, so it’s definitely possible to put together itineraries while avoiding or greatly minimizing surcharges.

Finding Award Seats

I usually use the British Airways Avios website to search for Cathay Pacific awards but you may also want to search with Qantas as well.

Expiring Miles

These miles will expire after 3 years.

Booking Awards

You can book awards online for Cathay Pacific or you might have to submit an airline award request form to book with a partner.

Final Word

Asia Miles can be a valuable program, when you take the time to familiarize yourself with all of the possibilities the program has to offer. Since it’s a transfer partner of both American Express and Citi, it’s not hard to rack up tons of miles and thus this 50K offer can give you a nice head start in reaching your next goal.

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