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Update: Cathay Pacific Asia Miles transfers are now live.
Bilt Rewards, the first major loyalty program for people who rent their homes or apartments, is bringing on two new instant points transfer partners: United Airlines MileagePlus and Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles. Points in the Bilt program will transfer to:
- Star Alliance Airlines: Air Canada Aeroplan, Turkish Miles & Smiles, United Airlines MileagePlus
- oneworld Airlines: American AAdvantage, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- SkyTeam Airlines: Air France KLM Flying Blue
- Non-alliance Airlines: Emirates Skywards, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
- Hotels: Hyatt, IHG Rewards
United transfers are now live. Cathay Pacific will come in mid-April. Both will be 1:1 transfer partners.
I’m a member of their program, and I have their co-brand credit card, even though I own my home. It’s just that good of a value proposition. Renters earn points paying rent, but even without that you can think of their cobrand as a Sapphire Preferred without the annual fee.
Before this addition I valued Bilt points at 1.7 cents apiece. Already I argued their partners were at least as good as Chase’s transfer partners. Before declaring Bilt Rewards a better program than Chase Ultimate Rewards, though, I’d want to see more longevity from Bilt. They’ve only been launched publicly since last June. Chase has shown a willingness to defend its value proposition losing hundreds of millions of dollars to do so (on Sapphire Reserve, and re-upping their co-brand early with United ensuring continued transfers).
And I’m not sure how much United adds to Bilt for the expert miles collector, since Bilt already had Star Alliance members Aeroplan and Turkish. Aeroplan is probably better overall and Turkish has great sweet spots. United miles give you access to awards on United that aren’t offered to partners (usually for more miles) and the domestic familiarity will be comfortable for some members to use.
Meanwhile Asia Miles is a good distance-based program and generally lower fuel surcharges than many competitors (for instance, redeem British Airways awards for less money than spending BA’s Avios or American AAdvantage miles). However instability in the Hong Kong aviation market gives me pause about the future of Cathay Pacific, and thus about the future of Asia Miles which relies on Cathay as part of oneworld. Since they’re an instant transfer partner that may not matter, you won’t house points there, but making bookings far off into the future could entail some risk.
Cathay Pacific First Class
This makes Bilt the first transferable points program in more than a decade to offer transfers to two of the three largest U.S. airlines. It’s the only generally active program to have ever done so. (In the mid-2000s Diners Club offered transfers to both American AAdvantage and United MileagePlus, boy do I miss pre-2005 Diners Club which offered 60 days to pay your statement.) Some hotel programs of course offer transfers to airline miles and include major U.S. airlines as partners, of course.