The complete guide to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Jun 25, 2020

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Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program is one of the best programs to use for booking premium Oneworld flights. It offers the most award space for Cathay Pacific’s own flights and has some interesting sweet spots for partner flights.

Better yet, you can use the mileage currency to book mini round-the-world trips in business or first class at an excellent price, something that can help you book the ultimate post-coronavirus outbreak trip around the world.

New to Asia Miles? Don’t fret — we’ll take you through everything you need to know about Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program. We’ll start by discussing how to earn miles and then dive into redeeming miles. Let’s get started!

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In This Post

Asia Miles program overview

Cathay Pacific is a Hong Kong-based airline that offers service to major cities around the world. Its loyalty program — Asia Miles — is operated as a subsidiary of the company and has partnerships with a variety of airlines, including all Oneworld carriers, Air Canada and more.

You can earn and redeem miles with all of the airline’s partners. Further, you can earn Asia Miles with financial partners like American Express, hotels, car rental companies, retail partners and with the program’s own cobranded credit card. This makes Asia Miles relatively easy to earn, even for those based in the U.S.

There are tons of ways to redeem your miles too, but we generally recommend sticking with flight rewards. These will give you the best value for your miles, especially when you redeem for tickets in first and business class.

Earning Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific A350
(Photo by JIMMOYHT/Shutterstock)

You can earn Asia Miles both on and off the plane — here’s a look at all the best ways you can stock up on Asia Miles.

Earn Asia Miles by flying on Cathay Pacific

When you fly with Cathay Pacific, you’ll earn Asia Miles based on the fare class you’re booked in and the zone you’re flying to — not on how much you spend. This means that longer flights in premium cabins will earn more miles and vice versa.

  • Economy class earnings: 330-8,700 miles
  • Premium economy class earnings: 650-10,010 miles
  • Business-class earnings: 810-11,750 miles
  • First-class earnings: 1,140-15,230 miles

You can view all earning rates on the Asia Miles website and use the program’s earning calculator to price out specific flights. For example, I priced out a ticket from New York-JFK to Hong Kong (HKG) in W fare premium economy — this ticket earns 10,010 Asia Miles one-way.

Mileage Earnings for JFK to HKG in Cathay Pacific W Fare Premium Economy

The same goes for earning miles with Cathay Dragon, Cathay Pacific’s regional carrier within Asia. You can calculate your mileage earning using the same mileage calculator — just make sure to select Cathay Dragon as the operating carrier.

Mileage Earnings BKK to HKG with Cathay Dragin in M L or V Class Economy

Earn Asia Miles by flying on partner airlines

Other airline partners earn miles based on distance flown and fare class. You can view the earning rates for each airline on the Asia Miles website — just find your airline on the list, click on it and select your cabin class at the center of the screen. A set of fare classes will then appear under your cabin class.

Asia Miles Earning Rates for Cathay Pacific Premium Economy

Find your fare class on the list and multiply your flight distance by the percentage shown to find how many redeemable miles you’ll earn on your flight. For example, you’d earn 8,551 Asia Miles if you flew American Airlines from Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) to Seoul (ICN) in D fare business class, as this fare earns 125% miles flown.

Do note that some partners will only earn Asia Miles on certain routes. For example, you can only earn Asia Miles on domestic Air Canada flights departing from or returning to Toronto (YYZ) and Vancouver (YVR). Make sure to check the “important notes” section of your partner’s earning page for these restrictions before you add your Asia Miles number to your reservation.

Related: The best airline award chart sweet spots

Earn Asia Miles when you stay at hotels

You can earn Asia Miles in lieu of hotel points at thousands of hotels around the world. Here’s a look at earning rates:

Hotel group Earning rate
Accor Automatically convert 2 ALL Rewards points to 1 mile
Best Western 250 miles per stay
Hyatt 500 miles per stay
Marriott Up to 2 miles per dollar spent
Intercontinental Hotels Group 500 miles per stay
Regal Hotels 500-1,000 miles per stay
Shangri-La 500 miles per stay
Sino Hotels 300-500 miles per stay

Make sure to look closely at these earning rates before you opt to earn Asia Miles instead of hotel points. In some cases, you may find that you’re better off earning hotel points if you can redeem them for high-end hotel stays.

Converting hotel points to Asia Miles

If you already have a stash of hotel points that you want to unload, you do have the option of transferring them to Asia Miles. Again, make sure that the transfer ratio makes sense for your specific redemption.

Hotel group Transfer ratio
Accor Live Limitless 2:1
Best Western Rewards 5:1
Hilton Honors 10:01
IHG Rewards Club 5:1
Marriott Bonvoy 3:1, with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred
Regal Rewards 15:1
Shangri-La Golden Circle 1:1
World of Hyatt  2.5:1

Earn Asia Miles with your favorite rental car company

BMW i3 Car
(Photo by Gabriel Nica/Shutterstock)

Asia Miles has partnerships with a number of rental car companies around the world, including some of the biggest names like Alamo, Hertz and National. Each partner earns miles differently — here’s a look:

Rental company Earning rate
Alamo 500 miles per rental in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Germany, France and Spain
Avis 500 points per rental, with an additional 100 miles awarded for rentals booked through the Asia Miles Avis portal
Budget Up to 500 miles per rental
Europcar 500 miles per rental outside of the U.S., Canada and Japan
Hertz Up to 500 miles per rental
National 500 miles per rental in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, Germany, France and Spain
Sixt 500 miles per rental

Just note that you likely won’t earn rental car points if you opt to earn Asia Miles on your car rental. Make sure to assess which points you value more before you book your car.

Shop with Asia Miles partners

While Asia Miles doesn’t have a traditional shopping portal, it does have a number of retail partners. These are mostly located in Greater China, but you should keep them in mind if you live in this region or visit frequently. You may be leaving points on the table if you already shop at these merchants.

There are a handful of merchants located outside of these regions too. For example, you can convert Heathrow Rewards — points earned when shopping at London-Heathrow (LHR) airport — to Asia Miles at a 1:1 ratio, with the minimum conversion being just 250 points.

Another interesting earning option is Pinkoi, an online design store. You can convert P Coins to Asia Miles at a rate of 130:10 starting in July, 2020. This can be a good option if you don’t plan on using your coins for another redemption.

The Asia Miles credit card

Cathay Pacific offers a cobranded Asia Miles credit card in the U.S. in partnership with Synchrony Bank. The Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® Card earns 2x miles per dollar on Cathay Pacific purchases, 1.5x miles on dining and purchases charged in a foreign currency and 1x mile per dollar everywhere else.

Additionally, the card is currently offering 40,000 bonus miles as a welcome bonus after you make $2,000 with your card in the first three months of account opening. You’ll also have access to a free Marco Polo Club membership and priority award redemption for award tickets.

Related: When does it make sense to spend on a cobranded credit card?

Transfer miles from American Express

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)

Alternatively, you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Asia Miles at a 1:1 transfer ratio, so 10,000 Membership Rewards points equals 10,000 Asia Miles. Points transfer instantly and transfers start at 1,000 points.

You’ll often find that it’s more rewarding to put purchases on an American Express card instead of the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature Card. For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express earns 5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked direct with the airline or through American Express Travel. Further, the American Express® Gold Card earns 4x points per dollar on dining and at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchases per year; then 1x) — a whole 2.5x miles more than the Cathay Pacific Visa card.

Redeeming Asia Miles

Cathay Pacific First Class (Photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy)
Cathay Pacific First Class (Photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy)

You have a couple of different options when it comes to redeeming your Asia Miles. Generally speaking, though, your best option is to redeem your miles for flights on Cathay Pacific or one of its partner airlines — this will get you the best redemption value in nearly all cases.

Related: Best websites for searching Oneworld award availability

Redeeming Asia Miles for flight rewards

Unlike many U.S. carriers, Cathay Pacific has opted to continue pricing award tickets based on a standard award chart. This means that you’re not subject to Delta-style dynamic pricing, and awards on both Cathay Pacific and its partners can be redeemed at a predictable rate so long as there’s open award space.

That said, redeeming your miles can be a bit confusing. The loyalty program has three different award charts that cover different types of redemptions — here’s a quick overview:

  • Asia Miles Award Chart: Prices award tickets on Cathay Pacific-operated flights around the world
  • Airline Partners Award Chart: Prices award tickets on Oneworld and non-alliance partner carriers
  • Oneworld Multi-Carrier Award Chart: Prices multi-stop award tickets that are operated by two or more Oneworld partners — you can use this to build round-the-world award tickets

Booking Cathay Pacific flights with the Asia Miles Award Chart

As discussed, the Asia Miles Award Chart covers flights operated by Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon. There are two different award charts for award tickets: one for Standard awards and one for Choice awards.

In short, Choice awards are more expensive but have more plentiful award space. Standard awards, on the other hand, are cheaper but the award space can be harder to come by. So with that in mind, we recommend sticking with the Standard award chart if possible.

Here’s a look at the Standard award chart. This information is current as of the time of publishing, but you’ll want to check Cathay Pacific’s website for the most up to date numbers.

Asia Miles Standard Award Chart for Cathay Pacific Awards

This award chart is pretty reasonable, especially for long-haul flights in premium cabins. Under this award chart, you’d be able to book a one-way ticket from New York-JFK to Hong Kong for 85,000 miles in business class. On the other hand, flights departing from Los Angeles (LAX) to Hong Kong would cost 70,000 miles.

There are better options for redeeming these awards though — for example, American charges 70,000 AAdvantage miles to fly from anywhere in the U.S. to anywhere in Asia on Cathay Pacific. Likewise, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan charges just 50,000 miles.

That said, though, Asia Miles offers more award space at the saver (equivalent to Standard) to its own elites. You can also transfer in points from American Express Membership Rewards, while AAdvantage and Mileage Plan don’t have credit card transfer partners.

Choice Asia Miles award pricing

Things get a little more expensive on the Choice award chart. Again, it’s easier to find these awards as Asia Miles generally opens up more award space at this level, but you’ll save miles if you can book Standard awards instead.

Asia Miles Choice Award Chart for Cathay Pacific Awards

As you can see, the 85,000 mile New York to Hong Kong business class ticket is now 127,500 miles — a 33% increase in price. That said, it can still be a good deal if you need to fly on a date where standard award space isn’t available.

Booking Cathay Pacific award tickets online

Booking award tickets operated wholly by Cathay Pacific can be done online. Just head to the award redemption page and sign in. Enter your search criteria at the center of the screen and click the yellow Search Flights button to initiate your search. We highly recommend keeping the Flexible Dates option selected so you can easily view award space surrounding the date you search.

Redeem Flight Rewards Page

You’ll be presented with all bookable flights at the center of the screen. You filter out Choice or Standard flights by toggling their respective buttons at the top of the screen. Click on the flight you’d like to book and follow the on-screen instructions to finalize your flight.

Viewing Award Options on the Asia Miles Website

Related: The ultimate guide to Cathay Pacific first class

Booking partner flights with the Airline Partners Award Chart

(Photo by Liam Spencer/The Points Guy)
You can book tickets on Qatar Airways with your Asia Miles. (Photo by Liam Spencer/The Points Guy)

Here’s where things get weird. Asia Miles doesn’t officially publish an Airline Partners Award chart, with all partner awards having a mileage surcharge on top of Cathay Pacific awards that are of the same length.

Cathay Pacific Partner Award Calculator

You can find the price of your partner award using the award calculator tool on the Asia Miles website — just enter your origin, destination and airline and you’ll be shown the pricing for all available cabins.

For example, a business class flight from New York-JFK to Doha (DOH) clocks in at 6,704 miles. A Cathay Pacific flight of the same distance would cost 70,000 miles, but the route costs 75,000 miles as it’s operated by Oneworld partner Qatar Airways.

JFK to DOH Qatar Airways Asia Miles Pricing

We also checked an economy flight from Newark (EWR) to London (LHR) on British Airways. The flight distance is 3,451 miles, but costs 27,000 miles in economy on British Airways. This is also 5,000 miles more than the 22,000 required for a Cathay Pacific flight between 2,751 and 5,000 miles.

EWR to LHR Asia Miles Pricing

Unfortunately, you will pay more than 5,000 extra miles for some partner redemptions. from New York-JFK to Amman (AMM) costs 40,000 when operated by either British Airways (with a stop in London) or Royal Jordanian (direct). A direct flight between the cities is 5,738 miles in length, so you’re paying 10,000 miles over the Cathay Pacific award chart.

The same goes for Royal Jordanian business class — a 5,738-mile flight costs 65,000 miles on Cathay Pacific, but the Royal Jordanian route is pricing at 75,000 miles.

JFK to AMM Asia Miles Pricing Business Class

Finally, an ultra-long-haul flight from New York-JFK to Perth (PER) via Doha is 12,493 miles in length but costs 90,000 miles in Qatar Airways business class. This is a mere 5,000 miles more than a Cathay Pacific flight above 7,001 miles, proving that there’s really no rhyme or reason to these surcharges.

JFK to PER Asia Miles Pricing

The moral of the story is to always use the Asia Miles calculator to price out partner award tickets before you start planning. In most cases, you’ll pay just 5,000 to 10,000 miles more than the Cathay Pacific award chart, but it’s worth double-checking before you plan.

Stopovers and open-jaws

Unfortunately, Asia Miles has some of the most confusing stopover and open-jaw rules in the points and miles space, so we’ll attempt to make some sense of it here.

The loyalty program recently removed the ability to add stopovers to one-way tickets, but you can still add a single stopover to round-trip tickets in some cases. That said, there are some tough restrictions in place.

For instance, on a single round-trip ticket, you’re allowed a maximum of four sectors and a single stopover. A maximum of two sectors only is allowed in each direction of a round-trip flight, so you’re effectively allowed to make one connection each way. That said, your stopover counts as one of these sectors too.

Unfortunately, you cannot add a stopover if you have an open-jaw at your turnaround point. If you do go this route, your open-jaw can be anywhere within the same region as the turnaround point itself.

Trips without an open-jaw or trips with an open jaw at the point of origin — for example, if you depart from New York and return to Chicago — can have a single stopover. But since there’s a restriction on sectors and you’re limited to a single airline, you’ll have to route creatively to make your itinerary work.

In practice, this means you could book something like Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) to Charlotte (CLT), Charlotte to Frankfurt (FRA) and Frankfurt to Chicago (ORD) via Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) with an outbound stopover in Charlotte on American Airlines.

Asia Miles Stopover Example
(Image courtesy of Great Circle Map)

Note that you must call Asia Miles to book a ticket with a stopover as they cannot be booked online. While these restrictions are pretty intense on paper, your mileage may vary based on the phone representative you’re linked with. In our experience, they’re likely to be lenient on the actual enforcement of these rules and may be able to make exceptions.

Related: The ultimate guide to airline stopover programs

A note on fuel surcharges

While Asia Miles does pass on fuel surcharges for most Oneworld carriers, Cathay Pacific recently stopped charging them on their own tickets. Likewise, the airline actually charges lower surcharges on British Airways flights than if you were to book with British Airways Avios.

For example, a one-way flight from New York-JFK to London in business class costs 61,000 Asia Miles and $204.26 after conversion from Hong Kong Dollars. British Airways charges 50,000 Avios off-peak but adds $556.43 in taxes and fees. Depending on how much you value miles, this can be an excellent deal due to the surcharge savings.

British Airways Pricing with Asia Miles

That said, Asia Miles does pass on high fuel surcharges for other carriers. A good example of this Qatar Airways — you’ll pay 75,000 miles and $666.47 in taxes and fees after conversion for a one-way business class ticket from New York-JFK to Doha.

JFK to Doha Pricing with Surcharges Asia Miles

How to book partner award tickets with Asia Miles

The process for actually booking these tickets is also a little bit complicated. You can only book tickets for a handful of partners online. The following airlines show award space and are bookable on the Asia Miles website:

  • Alaska Airlines (non-alliance)
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Cathay Dragon
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • LATAM (non-alliance)
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines

If you’re hoping to book one of these airlines, follow the directions above for booking a Cathay Pacific award ticket. If not, follow our guide on searching for Oneworld award space to find the award ticket you’d like to book. Then, call Asia Miles to actually book the ticket.

Related: How to avoid fuel surcharges on award travel

Book a round-the-world ticket with the Oneworld Multi-Carrier Award Chart

(Photo by Samantha Rosen / The Points Guy)
Add Japan Airlines first class leg to your Oneworld Multi-Carrier award. (Photo by Samantha Rosen / The Points Guy)

Now for the real fun: the Oneworld Multi-Carrier Award Chart. Using this chart, you can book a mini-round-the-world ticket for relatively few points. It may not have as many stops as ANA Mileage Club’s round-the-world offering, but it’s a good choice for those wanting to visit a few cities and experience multiple carriers.

These awards are priced based on distance flown and your cabin of travel. You can book these awards in any class you’d like, including first class. Here’s a look at pricing:

Asia Miles Oneworld Multi-Carrier Award Chart

The routing rules — unlike the stopover rules discussed earlier — are actually pretty straightforward. Here’s a look at what you have to work with:

  • You’re allowed a maximum of five stopovers
  • You can fly a up to 50,000 miles
  • You must return to the original point of departure
  • You must fly at least two Oneworld partners, not including Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon
  • You can book mixed-cabin flights but will be charged at the rate of the highest cabin booked
  • Air China and S7 flights cannot be included on an itinerary with a Cathay Pacific-operated flight. Further, non-alliance partners like Aer Lingus, Air China, Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Alaska Airlines, Bangkok Airways, and Gulf Air can’t be added to a multi-carrier award.

Use a tool like GCmap to plan out your round-the-world trip and look for award space using your favorite Oneworld award search tool. So long as you stay within the above restrictions, it’s actually pretty easy to book one of these tickets.

Here’s an example of a bookable round-the-world ticket with the Oneworld multi-carrier award chart:

  • Stopover 1: New York-JFK to London – American Airlines
  • Stopover 2: London to Doha – Qatar Airways
  • Stopover 3: Doha to Hong Kong – Cathay Pacific
  • Stopover 4: Hong Kong to Tokyo-Haneda – Cathay Pacific
  • Stopover 5: Tokyo to Los Angeles – Japan Airlines
  • Stopover 5: Los Angeles to New York-JFK – American Airlines
Asia Miles Round The World Example
(Image courtesy of Great Circle Map)

This ticket clocks in at 20,394 miles flown, so a business class ticket would cost just 185,000 miles plus the cost of taxes, fees and fuel surcharges. We think that this is an excellent use of Asia Miles, and makes it one of the most cost-effective ways to book round-the-world trips in a premium cabin.

To book one of these tickets, find award space and ensure that your ticket meets all the restrictions we discussed. Then, call Asia Miles to book.

A look at upgrade and companion awards

You can also use your Asia Miles to upgrade paid Cathay Pacific flights and take a companion with you on your journey. The upgrade award chart is also split up by distance and priced based on a one-way upgrade. Upgrades starting at just 6,000 miles — here’s a look:

Upgrade Award Chart

There are a couple of restrictions to keep in mind with upgrade awards. The first is that you can only upgrade from economy to business class if there’s no premium economy cabin on your flight. The second is that only certain fare classes are upgradeable for upgrades:

  • J, C, D, P, I — Business to first
  • W, R — Premium economy to business
  • Y, B, H, K, M, L, V — Economy to premium economy
  • Y, B, H, K, M, L, V — Economy to business (for flights without premium economy class)

Companion rewards are another interesting touch to the Asia Miles program. If you’re flying in select business and first-class fares, you can bring a companion with you using your miles. Here’s a quick look at pricing — note that these are priced based on the cost of a round-trip ticket.

Companion Ticket Awards

While this may look like an excellent deal on paper, you can only use these awards when your paid ticket is in certain fare classes. F and A fare first-class tickets and J, C, D and I business class tickets are eligible. These fare classes are generally the most expensive, so always do a cost-comparison to see if a Companion Ticket is a good deal for your travel plans.

Related: A guide to airline credit card companion tickets

Bottom line

In this article, we showed you the ins and outs of Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program. While not perfect, there are some excellent deals to be had. You’ll get the best deals when redeeming for Cathay Pacific flights and multi-carrier round-the-world tickets, especially if you book in premium cabins.

All screenshots courtesy of Asia Miles

Featured photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy

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