Video Sunday Reader Question: Using Amex For Cathay to Hong Kong

Apr 29, 2012

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TPG reader Mike wants to use miles for one of my favorite purposes: helping a family member take charge of their points for a great travel redemption. Mike’s issue is that he’s in Hong Kong and his dad doesn’t have quite enough points or miles to get himself there in business class. Here’s his question:

“In the next month or so I will be moving to Hong Kong for work.  My father has roughly 80k AMEX miles and would like to optimize his points to get a free trip to HK (I doubt business class is in the picture with that amount of miles). My thoughts were for him to switch his points to BA with their current 50% bonus.  I wanted to get your thoughts.”

Hope is not lost, Mike! You might just be able to get your dad to Hong Kong in business class on Cathay after all. First of all, great thought on transferring those Amex points to Avios. His 80,000 Membership Rewards points will become 120,000 Avios. Still 20,000 Avios short of the 140,000 necessary to get from New York to Hong Kong in business class (I’m just assuming it’s from the east coast since you didn’t mention your father’s point of origin). So you’d need 14,000 extra Amex points to hit the 140,000 award redemption level.

So how do you get those extra points? There are two easy ways:

-Get Amex to advance you the points. This is a little-known feature of Membership Rewards, but the program will advance you up to 15,000 points (60,000 for Platinum and Centurion) for free if you can spend your way to that within a year. It’s a great way to score a few extra points in a pinch. You’d only need 14,000 to make your 20,000 threshold.

Buy the points. Amex will sell you points for 2.5 cents apiece, which would just cost you $350. Not too bad considering a business class ticket is upwards of $6,000.

British Airways will still levy taxes and fees in the neighborhood of $300, but even if you bought those extra points for $350, you’d basically be paying under $700 for a business class ticket on Cathay’s great product. Sounds worth it to me!

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