An introduction to the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles program

GUIDE: Program Guide
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
TIME TO READ: 3 minutes
POSTED: June 6, 2017
UPDATED: June 19, 2017
LOYALTY PROGRAMS: Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program is a useful frequent flyer program for New Zealand travellers. With Cathay Pacific a member of oneworld, Asia Miles partners with Qantas for points earn and redemptions. Asia Miles is a transfer partner of the American Express Membership Rewards program in New Zealand.

It’s harder to earn Asia Miles from day-to-day activities outside of credit card spend in New Zealand, but Asia Miles redemption rates are cheaper than Qantas Frequent Flyer, and as such it deserves your attention.

Read the full list of Point Hacks Asia Miles guides here →

How useful is Asia Miles for travellers from New Zealand?

The Asia Miles program from Cathay Pacific is actually potentially far better value for redemptions, point-for-point, than Qantas and, as a result, it’s in the top four frequent flyer programs that Kiwi travellers need to be aware of.

While it’s harder to accrue Asia Miles from a wide range of sources in New Zealand, earning points from credit card spend is very doable if you have an American Express Platinum Edge or Platinum Charge.

Redemptions are sufficiently cheaper that it’s worth considering the scheme seriously when it comes to redeeming for Business and First Class travel on Cathay Pacific and oneworld airlines.

What’s also worth thinking through is whether Asia Miles can be thought of as a usable substitute for Qantas Frequent Flyer redemptions for those who don’t want to participate in Qantas Frequent Flyer, say if you prefer to hold your points in Amex Membership Rewards, allowing for more flexibility in their future use.

What’s the difference between Asia Miles and the Marco Polo Club?

It’s actually quite easy: Asia Miles is Cathay Pacific’s points currency, while elite status is earned through Marco Polo Club. Most other loyalty programs, like Air New Zealand Airpoints and Qantas Frequent Flyer, have them together, but Asia Miles separates them.

Through Asia Miles, you earn and redeem points to use on flights with Cathay Pacific and all of its airline partners, whether part of the oneworld alliance or not. However, you’ll only earn ‘club points’ (the same as ‘status points’ with Air New Zealand) through Marco Polo for travel with oneworld airlines.

Status with Marco Polo will give you benefits like lounge access, upgrades, priority boarding, etc. when travelling on Cathay Pacific and oneworld airlines – and even some benefits with Air New Zealand.

In terms of membership, Asia Miles is free to join for anyone aged two years or older and your miles expire after three years. Conversely, Marco Polo Club charges $100 USD/year to join, but that’s waived if you earn 100 club points each year.

This video from Cathay explains the differences in a little more detail:

Earning Asia Miles

The most available method to earn Asia Miles is from credit card spend, followed by flights from oneworld partners. In New Zealand, this will mean having either an American Express Platinum Edge or Platinum Charge card.

Through flying

Earning points from flights, including from Qantas flights, is as simple as including your Asia Miles number in your reservation.

Redeeming Asia Miles

Asia Miles don’t charge any more for flying with a oneworld partner airline versus Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon, unlike Qantas which has an increased points price for flying with certain partners. Flying with Cathay Pacific from Auckland and Christchurch to Hong Kong in Business Class for example, would be 70,000 points, vs 78,000 and 92,000 respectively with Qantas.

Adding to Asia Miles’ favour, a return ticket is less than twice the one way cost, and would be 120,000 Asia Miles, vs 156,000 and 184,000 respectively with Qantas.

The full award chart is here.

Maximising value from Asia Miles redemptions

Here are examples of some good-value redemption opportunities from New Zealand:

  • Auckland and Christchurch to Hong Kong operated by Cathay Pacific: 120,000/72,000 points return in Business/Premium Economy
  • Auckland to Melbourne/Sydney on Qantas: 30,000 points one-way/50,000 points return in Business
  • Auckland to Los Angeles on American Airlines: 70,000 points one-way/120,000 points return in Business

Some more extensive examples below:

  Asia Miles(MR 1:0.5)AA Miles (via SPG with bonus @ 1:0.4)Qantas FF (MR 1:0.5)
one wayreturnone way (AA Miles)one way
Cathay PacificBusiness Class
AucklandHong Kong140,000 (70,000)240,000 (120,000)97,561 (40,000)156,000 (78,000)
AucklandTokyo170,000 (85,000)290,000 (145,000)97,561 (40,000)208,000 (104,000)
AucklandShanghai140,000 (70,000)240,000 (120,000)97,561 (40,000)184,000 (92,000)
AucklandSeoul140,000 (70,000)240,000 (120,000)97,561 (40,000)184,000 (92,000)
QantasFirst Class
SydneyLos Angeles210,000 (105,000)360,000 (180,000)268,293 (110,000)288,000 (144,000)
SydneyNew York260,000 (130,000)440,000 (220,000)268,293 (110,000)384,000 (192,000)
British AirwaysFirst Class
LondonNew York140,000 (70,000)240,000 (120,000)207,318 (85,000)156,000 (78,000)
LondonTokyo210,000 (105,000)360,000 (180,000)219,513 (90,000)268,000 (134,000)
LondonSydney320,000 (160,000)520,000 (260,000)280,488 (115,000)406,000 (203,000)
QantasBusiness Class
AucklandHong Kong140,000 (70,000)240,000 (120,000)97,561 (40,000)168,000 (84,000)
AucklandSingapore140,000 (70,000)240,000 (120,000)97,561 (40,000)144,000 (72,000)
AucklandLondon220,000 (110,000)350,000 (175,000)207,318 (85,000)256,000 (128,000)
Qantas Trans-TasmanBusiness Class
AucklandSydney60,000 (30,000)100,000 (50,000)60,976 (25,000)72,000 (36,000)
ChristchurchMelbourne60,000 (30,000)100,000 (50,000)60,976 (25,000)72,000 (36,000)
QueenstownSydney60,000 (30,000)100,000 (50,000)60,976 (25,000)72,000 (36,000)
American AirlinesBusiness Class
AucklandLos Angeles140,000 (70,000)240,000 (120,000)195,122 (80,000)168,000 (84,000)
AucklandNew York170,000 (85,000)290,000 (145,000)195,122 (80,000)224,000 (112,000)

Read more: How to get the most out of Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program

Things to be aware of when redeeming

The current gotchas are:

  • It is not simple or quick to book partner awards outside of British Airways or Qantas, needing a phone call
  • Cathay Pacific have explicitly flagged that they are looking at the value proposition of Asia Miles and will rejig earn and redemption rates in the future

For now, Asia Miles transfers from credit card programs should only be made for immediate travel plans.

Summing up: why consider Asia Miles?

Asia Miles has been around for a while and has historically been a fairly stable program, however, this is likely to change in the near future. The extent to which redemptions will be affected is uncertain though.

There is at least a limited time opportunity to use Amex Membership Rewards points or airline travel for good redemption rates on Cathay Pacific and oneworld partners, so it’s worth being aware of the opportunities Asia Miles offer and keeping your eye out for future changes.

An introduction to the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles program was last modified: June 19th, 2017 by Keith