Cathay Pacific Visa Signup Bonus Doubled to 50,000 AsiaMiles

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.

Cathay Pacific let me know that they’re now running a limited-time offer of 50,000 points after $2500 spend within 90 days. The nice thing is the bounty goes up without a concomitant increase in spend required to earn it.

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
  • $95 annual fee

Cathay Pacific First Class

The signup bonus is worth well more than the annual fee. However you’ll earn more miles — even more Cathay Pacific miles — with cards that earn transferable bank points.

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 like Singapore Airlines, 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 Business 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 (airberlin, American, British Airways). 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, 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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  1. Cathay Pacific and JAL are the 2 OW Airlines that still have this Oneworld Award Chart, very similar in price to the old AA Oneworld Explorer Award that AA decided to discontinue overnight without any notification in April 8 2014. I think it was the first “cut” that AA did after Parker became CEO.

    A lot of options if you learn how to maximize those stopovers. I was able to do MIA-BOS-NRT(stopover)-SYD(stopover)-AKL(open jaw)-PPT-IPC(stopover)-SCL(stopover)-MIA for 150K AA miles in Business + 30K for AKL-PPT (in J too) with TN on a separate award since they were not OW airline but AA partner.

  2. How many of these cards can one get in a three-year span?

    50,000 Asia miles is next to worthless for someone who books awards in premium cabins. But, 5-6x that amount could mean a lavish RTW trip.

  3. You say “Business class between New York and London is 6903 miles roundtrip. ”

    How far is it in economy?

  4. @Doaln – consider that you can transfer in MR and TYP. 50k here, and another 35k TYP and you’ve got yourself a solid trip. Built a city hopper for a friend from NY to 3 different EU cities for around 85k RT, all in J. With Citi’s current AsiaMiles transfer bonus, that’s a pretty easy get.

  5. Does Cathay Pacific open up more first and business class award seats to their own members (like Singapore) or is it the same availability you’d get with AA

  6. SFO – BKK in Cathay in business class takes only 50, 000 non expiring Alaska miles one way as compared to 70,000 Asia Miles that expire in three years . I was considering the Cathay card until I looked at the award chart .
    Thanks for the information Gary

  7. @Dalo – Strength of the CX awards, IMO, lies in multi-stopover EU, or South America trips. I haven’t yet tried, but I believe RT to EU from NYC (my home) with 5 stopovers can be done for 100k in J

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