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Is the Great Wall of China or the Taj Mahal on your bucket list? Or perhaps you dream of eating dumplings in Hong Kong or sushi in Japan? Asia may be thousands of miles away, but the other side of the world might seem a lot closer when you have a travel rewards credit card that can help you get there.
One such card is the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card, issued by Synchrony Bank on behalf of Cathay Pacific Airways, a Hong Kong-based airline that serves approximately 250 destinations in 54 countries and territories, including the United States.
The Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card caters to international travelers, and it can be especially attractive to anyone who either frequents Asia or has put it at the top of their travel destination list.
In exchange for a $95 annual fee, the card offers numerous benefits, including the ability to receive Asia Miles, the airline’s mileage currency. For instance, cardholders receive 2 Asia Miles per $1 spent on eligible travel and in-flight purchases with Cathay Pacific, 1.5 Asia Miles per $1 spent on purchases outside the United States, 1 Asia Mile per $1 spent inside the United States and 1.5 Asia Miles per $1 spent on dining purchases, whether they take place at home or abroad.
In this post:
- Where the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card stands out
- Where the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card falls short
- Compare it to the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
- The bottom line
The Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card also offers a signup bonus — earn 40,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days of opening an account. (offer ends Dec. 31, 2019) — and myriad reward redemption options, including not only flights, but also hotels, car rentals, gift cards, merchandise, event tickets and more.
But is the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card the best travel rewards card for you? In this review, we’ll break down the pros and cons of the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card and show how it compares to another popular travel card: the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.
Where the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card stands out
International travel rewards. If you’re a frequent international traveler, the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card rewards you handsomely for your globetrotting — especially if you do it aboard Cathay Pacific. That’s because cardholders earn 2 Asia Miles per $1 spent on eligible Cathay Pacific travel and in-flight purchases, 1.5 Asia Miles per $1 spent on dining in the US or abroad and $1 spent on purchases outside the US, and 1 Asia Mile per $1 spent on all other purchases made in the US. As for foreign transaction fees? There are none.
For example, if you spend a week in Hong Kong for business, flying out of Los Angeles to Hong Kong in an economy class seat will cost approximately $1,600, but you’ll earn 12,640 Asia Miles just for being an Asia Miles member. If you purchase your ticket using your Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card, you’ll earn another 3,200 Asia Miles. If you then charge another $5,000 to your card while in Hong Kong — on hotel, meals, transportation and sundries — you’ll earn another 7,500 Asia Miles. That amounts to more than 23,000 Asia Miles for a single trip.
According to Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles award chart, which is distance-based, you’ll need 60,000 miles in economy class, or 140,000 miles in business class, for a round-trip ticket between L.A. and Hong Kong. If you factor in the sign-up bonus, you’ll qualify for an economy class ticket after just one trip abroad, and for a business class ticket after just four trips abroad — and for frequent international travelers, that might take less than a year.
Marco Polo Club membership. Marco Polo Club is Cathay Pacific’s loyalty program. There are four tiers of membership — Green, Silver, Gold and Diamond — that offer various privileges and benefits. When you are approved for the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card, you receive complimentary Marco Polo Club membership for one year at the Green level, which affords you priority boarding and up to two pieces of free checked baggage, among other benefits. Membership typically costs $100.
Although not super valuable, these small perks can make a big difference in convenience if you’re a frequent flier aboard Cathay Pacific.
Award partners. Travelers who don’t frequent Cathay Pacific should have no trouble redeeming miles, as Cathay Pacific is a member of the oneworld alliance: this partnership includes American Airlines, Qantas, Finnair, Iberia, Qatar Airways, Alaska Airlines and British Airways, among others.
When you earn Asia Miles with your Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card, you can redeem them for travel with any oneworld partner. Furthermore, those who redeem Asia Miles for travel with either Cathay Pacific or other oneworld airlines typically are allowed one or more stopovers and/or open jaws, which could make it possible to plan complex itineraries that involve multiple stops, carriers and modes of transit. (An open-jaw flight is a round-trip flight that has different origin/destination pairs. For example, if you fly from New York to London, take the train from London to Paris, then fly home to New York from Paris, your round-trip flight — New York/London one way, Paris/New York the other way — is an open-jaw flight.)
One note of caution: Asia Miles passes on fuel surcharges to travelers when they book awards. Because they can be significant, depending on your destination and carrier, it’s important to scrutinize such charges before redeeming your rewards.
Redemption options. Even if you’re not a frequent international traveler, the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card has numerous and diverse options for redeeming travel rewards. Options include redemption offers and opportunities for travel (including hotels, rental cars, experiences), dining (restaurants), lifestyle (fashion, merchandise, restaurants) and entertainment (concerts, events). You can even donate your miles to charitable causes.
- A 10% discount on Asia Miles Gift Miles™, Mileage Renewal and Mileage Transfer Fees online
- A 10% redemption discount on hotel, car rental and experiences awards purchased through travel.asiamiles.com
- Occasional two-day priority redemption for discount flight award booking tickets online
- Visa Signature concierge
- Warranty Manager Service
- Travel and emergency assistance services
- Lost luggage reimbursement (maximum $3,000, carry-on and checked baggage)
- Trip cancellation/interruption (maximum $2,000)
- Travel accident insurance (maximum $250,000)
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
- Cardholder Inquiry Service
- Emergency card replacement
- Emergency cash disbursement
- Lost and stolen card reporting service
- Roadside dispatch
Where the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card card falls short
Sign-up bonus. Through Dec. 31, 2019, the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card is offering a welcome bonus: earn 40,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days of opening an account. Although not insignificant, the sign-up bonus is inferior to that offered by many other competing travel cards. Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Citi Premier℠ Card, for example, offer a more generous sign-up bonus, although you do have to spend slightly more to receive it.
Annual fee. The Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card comes with a $95 annual fee. Although that’s on par with comparable travel cards, many of those cards waive the annual fee for new cardholders in the first year. The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, for example, charges an identical $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.
Domestic rewards. With the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card, you earn just a single Asia Mile per $1 spent in the United States. If you do most of your spending domestically — as most Americans do — that’s leaving a lot of rewards on the table relative to other cards.
With the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card, for example, you receive 50% extra points as long as you swipe it 30 or more times in a billing period. That’s like 1.5x points on everything you spend. Plus, it earns 3x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x); 2x points at US gas stations; 1x points on other purchases.
60,000 bonus points
2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That's 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
See additional details for Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Earn 3X Points on Travel, Including Gas Stations, Earn 2X Points on Dining Out & Entertainment, Earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases
Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
No Foreign Transaction Fees*
- Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- Earn 3 points per $1 spent on travel including gas stations
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent at restaurants and on entertainment
- Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- 60,000 Points are redeemable for $750 in airfare on any airline, anytime with no blackout dates when booked through the ThankYou® Travel Center, or $600 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
- No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
- Points Transfer allows you to transfer points to participating airline loyalty programs
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
See additional details for Citi Premier℠ Card
Earn 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets and 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
Check your 1st bag free on every Delta flight*
- Earn 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free and Main Cabin 1 Priority Boarding on Delta flights.
- NEW! Get ready for your next trip - spend $10,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year and receive a $100 Delta Flight Credit to get you there sooner.
- Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
- Enjoy a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Compare it to the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card card
If your goal is earning rewards that you can apply toward bucket-list travel — to Asia or anywhere else in the world — the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card could potentially be a better option.
See how the cards compare side-by-side in the table below:
|Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card||Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card|
|Annual fee||$95||$0 intro for first year; $95 after that|
|Signup bonus||Earn 40,000 miles when you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days of opening an account.||One-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel|
|Rewards||2 Asia Miles per $1 spent on eligible Cathay Pacific travel and in-flight purchases, 1.5 Asia Miles per $1 spent on dining in the US or abroad and $1 spent on purchases outside the US, and 1 Asia Mile per $1 spent on all other purchases made in the US||2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day|
|Purchase APR||17.74% or 20.74% variable||17.24% - 24.49% (variable)|
|Foreign transaction fees||None||None|
In exchange for an annual fee of $0 intro for first year; $95 after that, it offers a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel, plus an unlimited 2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day spent on your card, regardless of where you spend it or on what.
Miles can be redeemed for travel that’s booked on any site or through any service, as well as for statement credit, gift cards and even Amazon.com purchases. Or, you can transfer miles to the mileage programs of any of 15 Capital One airline partners — including Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program.
Although neither card charges foreign transaction fees, the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers a popular travel perk that the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card doesn’t: up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.
The bottom line
If you’re an aspiring traveler who’s looking for a rewards card to help you make your travel dreams come true, the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card is a poor choice compared to alternatives like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. The latter provides a better welcome bonus and a more generous — not to mention simpler — rewards structure that will make accumulating and using miles both faster and easier for the average traveler.
If you’re already an avid traveler, the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® card certainly has benefits — especially if you’re someone who travels abroad regularly, and prefers to do so aboard Cathay Pacific. In that case, you might enjoy the card’s complimentary Marco Polo Club membership and the fact that rewards are automatically earned and accumulated in your mileage currency of choice: Asia Miles.
The information related to the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card has been independently collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.