The Hidden Value of the Asiana Award Chart and Asiana American Express

In my extensive post discussing the best rewards credit cards, I briefly mention the Asiana American Express card from Bank of America (which earns 2 miles per dollar spent!).

I posted my credit card commentary on Flyertalk this morning, and Flyertalk member Guava went into extensive detail on why he values the Asiana Amex more than I was giving it credit for in my post.

Because this advice is rather unique I will quote at great length. Bottom-line the card is useful especially to those who earn their miles predominantly from credit card spend and who want to redeem in particular from the Eastern U.S. to Europe or for upgrading from full fare coach or paid business class on Star Alliance partners.

Not my redemption pattern, but it does match that of some readers, so have a close read:

The Asiana award charts, as others have pointed out in other MilesBuzz thread is it gives you a US-Europe award ticket in *A Business class for only 70K miles provided the total distance is within 10K miles. And it comes with 4 stopovers. Given how popular transatlantic C class ticket is and are frequently redeemed and used by FTers, can you really say this is a narrow or limited use of miles? I mean if you spend $35K on purchases, say Presidential $1 coins and you get 1 free award ticket to/from Europe with up to 4 stopovers and your taxes/fees paid for by B of A so long as it’s within $100. No other CC in the U.S. gives you that kind of ability to get free Business class awards to Europe so cheaply, it simply doesn’t exist. If you want to fly First Class to Europe, the cost is only 100K miles but then again, opportunity cost is only $50K of spending, still much stronger than SPG AMEX, and then transfer it to desirable airline such as AC or US.

Plus, the one-way award option on Asiana metal is very desirable for some people as well. Many FTers like to buy their First/Business class RTW tickets from Asia where it’s cheaper. So when they depart the U.S., a return award ticket is rather difficult to deal with. This is another very useful feature, plus it makes the 10K miles annual discount much more worthwhile as well, reducing the cost of a one-way First Class award from US to Asia to as low as only 60K miles or an opportunity cost of $30K in spending/purchases due to the 1$ = 2 miles proposition.

Another important aspect not covered about about this card and Asiana FFP is the lower cost *A mileage upgrade. I know that UA withdrew from that program a while ago and then heard they returned not sure what’s happening right now with UA. In any case, most UA flyers will probably not appreciate the benefit of this *A cross airline upgrade using miles because they tend to buy deeply discounted economy class and seeking to upgrade to C; however, many FTers who fly paid C class fare often moan about the high cost of mileage upgrade from C to F, whether it’s LH, SQ or NH.

Transatlantic upgrade on SQ (JFK-FRA), LX, LH from Business to First class starts only at 25K miles and factoring the annual 10K mileage discount, you can have it for merely 15K miles or an opportunity cost of buying $7,500 worth Presidential coins which many people can do in just a month. Tell that to the German Lufty forum flyers and they will probably die of envy because this CC is not available to Germans. Or alternatively, let’s take a route you are familiar with: IAD-NRT-IAD on NH First. We know the First Class has gone on this route recently, but during the time that NH did fly First on this route, the cost of upgrade is actually cheaper than using NH miles itself due to the 10K mileage discount and OZ and NH FFPs ask the same amount of miles for upgrade on this route.

Then you are going to ask: “But isn’t the discount only useable once per year?” Yes, that’s technically correct. But the beauty about the Asiana program is the Family Mileage Plan. Not only you can pool miles with your relatives or people in your household, this allows you to pool the 10K mileage discount as well so in fact you earn many discounts within one year and use them for youserlves, with the consent of the said members of course, for example, your wife.

The bottom line is the Asiana AMEX is a fairly unique animal, it sure isn’t for your average joe American FTer especially having to deal with a foreign FFP. Although they have dedicated call center here in the U.S. (Los Angeles specifically), the staff seems to be all Korean and English skill is rather poor for some of them but they are friendly, patient in the stereotypical Asian way as you’d expect on most quality Asian carriers. However, if you use it right, you’ll find that it contains some unique features and not-so-narrow usage (e.g. Transatlantic C class award to Europe) that are of great value.

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. I just looked at the Asiana star alliance chart, and it said that a r/t in C up to 10K miles requires 80K miles. Is there a 10K mile discount somewhere? Thanks!

  2. The Cathay Pacific AMEX is terrific if you live, work or trsvel to Hong Kong, the local spend bonus would seem to impossible for a US resident who wants to use the miles to travel to HK.

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