Cathay Pacific Credit Card Increases Bonus, Adds First Year Fee Waiver for Limited Time

Cathay Pacific launched its new US credit card back in February. It’s issued by Synchrony Bank.

Initially the signup bonus on the card was 25,000 points after $2500 spend within 90 days for this $95 annual fee card. In late summer they ran a 50,000 point signup offer.

Today they launched a new offer for the card: 35,000 miles after $2500 spend within 90 days and a $0 annual fee the first year.

Key details:

  • 2 AsiaMiles per dollar spent on CX purchases
  • 1.5 AsiaMiles per dollar on dining
  • 1.5 AsiaMiles per dollar on foreign transactions
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Entry level Green in Marco Polo Club (Cathay Pacific’s elite status program) for one year


Cathay Pacific First Class

The signup bonus is stronger than usual and paired with a $0 fee the first year almost as good as the summer offer. However you’ll earn more miles — even more Cathay Pacific miles — with cards that earn transferable bank points (Amex and Citi points both transfer to Asia Miles, and both issuers have cards which earn points more quickly.)

There are two unique things about the card:

  1. The one area where spending is really interesting is the 1.5x for foreign transactions. That’s because while there are cards which can earn 1.5x airline miles on otherwise-unbonused spend, they don’t waive foreign transaction fees. So this may be a great niche card for people who travel internationally a lot (and who are spending on things other than travel or dining because those are well-bonused by other cards waiving foreign transaction fees already). It’s the only product I know that bonuses foreign spend across the board.

  2. The other interesting feature is access to Cathay’s pay-in elite program.

One caution is that Asia Miles expire three years after you’ve earned them. You can extend miles for a fee (that isn’t generally worth it). But mere activity in an account doesn’t keep your miles active.

Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club Green Tier

The card comes with Marco Polo Club Green tier for one year (renewing the base Green tier costs $100). This is potentially useful.


Cathay Pacific First Class

You Can Top Off an AsiaMiles Account Easily

You can top off an AsiaMiles account by transferring points 1:1 from American Express Membership Rewards and from Citi ThankYou Rewards.

In fact, earning on those cards will in most cases be greater than with the Cathay Pacific card. That’s why the new Cathay Pacific card isn’t going to be the best for most of your spending. You earn more Cathay Pacific miles with American Express or Citibank, and still have the option of transferring points to other airlines of your choice.

Using AsiaMiles

Cathay Pacific has multiple award charts. For simplicity in this post the ones I’ll focus on here are their chart for their own flights (where you fly Cathay Pacific and up to one partner) and their oneworld award chart (for 2 or more oneworld airlines not including Cathay Pacific).

Their award charts are distance-based. Flying on Cathay Pacific, you can include a partner airline to reach the Cathey Pacific international gateway (eg include an American flight to get to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc).

Los Angeles – Hong Kong is under 7500 miles one-way, so costs 120,000 miles roundtrip in business class. One-way awards cost more than half the price of a roundtrip. Since New York, Chicago, and Boston are more than 7500 miles each way to Hong Kong, those roundtrips cost 145,000 miles.

First class long haul gets pretty expensive (though less expensive on some routes than American AAdvantage). Business class remains reasonable. And while AsiaMiles adds fuel surcharges to awards, fuel surcharges to and from Asian destinations Hong Kong and to the North have fallen substantially.

Their oneworld award chart is distance-based as well. This is what you’ll use, for instance, if you want to fly between the US and Europe on oneworld airlines (American, British Airways, Iberia). The longer the trip the more expensive it is, but there are some real values as well.

Business class between New York and London is 6903 miles roundtrip. Fly British Airways one way and American the other direction for just 80,000 miles in business class or 105,000 miles in first class.

You can do up to 10,000 miles of roundtrip flying for 95,000 AsiaMiles in business class or 130,000 in first. This is useful because of their routing rules:

You can make a maximum of five stopovers, two transfers and two open-jaws at either origin, en-route or turnaround point, subject to airline partners’ terms and conditions.

Partners will need to update their mileage-earning charts once American introduces premium economy, so we may see some of these charts renegotiated.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. got in on the 50K this summer, and man they ding you the $95 fee before you can sneeze. spent $3k and got 53k on my 1st statement.

    Went to pay via my Citi acct and Citi didnt recognize the CC acct #, came back does not exist please check and resubmit. Called the Gold line she tried and came back saying theres a problem on the issuers end where they seemed to have used a # before the 1st # on your card and thusly you wont be able to Bill Pay it. Sent in a check , called up and CXed the CC and the csr refunded me the $95 fee

    I’ll transfer some pts from some different cards to top off for an award. Gonna sick to BA for my OW tkts

  2. Some people don’t realize the good value of Asia Miles, they have the oneworld award chart that is similar to the old AA Explorer Award that was killed overnight by Doug Parker.

    You can do a around the world on oneworld partners in business for 160~190K, (5)stopovers and (2)openjaw are allowed. With the actual AA based on zones and no stopover, USA to Africa/ME/Asia/Oceania will cost you 140~160K r/t, while for the same price you can the same destinations and a couple of stopover on other countries.

    @Gary, keep in mind Airberlin is not longer an option

  3. For people who are running out of ways to top an Asia Miles acct., this may be the only way to do it fast and cheap, without buying miles. While other cards/points systems transfer to Asia Miles, I think that many of the easy miles/points opportunities have been used by most people. I’ll wait awhile before I bite. But at least, it is there.

  4. @anon What is most important to remember is that CX usually doesn’t release ANY partner availability in premium cabins in advance, while asia miles has “normal” access several months out, when most people are planning trips.

    @waleed Yes, absolutely. But, these vary greatly by region and airline. For example, AA surcharges right now to north asia are ~$180 but at least double this to Europe. BA often has minimal base fares, such that award tickets are best thought of as a “discount” rather than “free travel”

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