Maximize Amex Transfer Bonus for Solid Award Redemptions to Asia and Europe

Mar 6, 2019

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When you think of American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners, you’re likely to think about British Airways Avios, Delta SkyMiles, Etihad Guest or Singapore KrisFlyer. With a transfer bonus that just popped up, you might want to get to know Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program a little better.

American Express and Asia Miles are teaming up to offer a targeted transfer bonus when transferring Membership Rewards points to Asia Miles. It seems that 30% is the maximum targeted bonus, although some card members are being targeted for 10% or 20%.

I was one of the lucky ones that was targeted for a 30% bonus:

Image retrieved on March 4, 2019.
Image retrieved on March 4, 2019.

Before you log in to check your offer, we have a warning: Once you view this transfer bonus, it may not appear again. This happened to me. I logged in Monday to see the 30% bonus in the screenshot above. However, when I logged back in Tuesday to check if it was still available, there was no bonus showing:

Image retrieved on March 5, 2019.

With that caution out of the way, let’s explain why you might want to give Asia Miles a closer look because of this transfer bonus. Asia Miles has a mileage-based redemption program that bases the award price on the distance of the flight. For example, here’s the Asia Miles award chart for flights operated by Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon:

That’s a bunch to take in, so let break it down for routes to/from the US while factoring in the 30% transfer bonus and the requirement to transfer Membership Rewards points in increments of 1,000:

Route Premium Economy Business First
To/From HKG Asia Miles Amex MR points Asia Miles Amex MR points Asia Miles Amex MR points
Los Angeles 45,000 35,000 70,000 54,000 110,000 85,000
San Francisco 45,000 35,000 70,000 54,000 110,000 85,000
Boston 60,000 47,000 85,000 66,000 125,000 97,000
Chicago 60,000 47,000 85,000 66,000 125,000 97,000
New York 60,000 47,000 85,000 66,000 125,000 97,000

For an idea of how those prices compare, American Airlines AAdvantage program is going to charge 70,000 miles each way in business class or 110,000 miles each way in first class. With the transfer bonus, Asia Miles is notably better.

That said, if you have the ability to generate Alaska Mileage Plan miles, that airline requires just 50,000 miles one-way in business class or 70,000 miles one-way in first class. And Alaska allows a free stopover even on one-way awards.

For flights on non-Cathay Pacific flights, Asia Miles has a different distance-based award chart:

There’s plenty of potential in there for huge multi-stop itineraries, utilizing stopovers and open-jaws that Asia Miles allows on its partner awards.

For example, you can use ta 30% transfer bonus to transfer just 39,000 Membership Rewards points to get 50,700 Asia Miles, then book an award flight to London on British Airways with much lower fuel surcharges than British Airways to American Airlines would charge for the same flight. Here’s one example that TPG’s Richard Kerr highlighted recently:

This one-way award is available for:

  • 50,000 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles — just 39,000 Membership Rewards points with a 30% transfer bonus — and US$341 in surcharges
  • 57,500 American Airlines AAdvantage miles plus $581 in surcharges
  • 62,500 British Airways Avios plus $581 in surcharges

Another example of how Asia Miles can outperform partner airlines is British Airways’ fascinating all-business class A318 flight between New York City and London City — which TPG’s Zach Honig reviewed. An award flight on this AvGeek dream will cost you:

  • 50,000 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles — just 39,000 Membership Rewards points with a 30% transfer bonus — and US$304 in surcharges
  • 50,000 British Airways Avios plus $582 in surcharges
  • 57,500 American Airlines AAdvantage miles plus $582 in surcharges

H/T: One Mile At A Time

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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