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Cathay Pacific now has a credit card for US residents from Synchrony Bank.
The Cathay Pacific Visa Signature® earns full value Asia Miles with a $95 upfront annual fee. Asia Miles is the mileage currency of Cathay Pacific, and you can use Asia Miles to fly Cathay or any of its oneworld partners, including American Airlines.
Is this a good deal?
That’s not a very big bonus and there are some hurdles to get the full bonus, but Asia Miles can be useful if you’re planning to get to Asia in Business Class. Asia Miles charges for award tickets based on how far you fly, and a flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong is about 7,260 in distance. So using the Asia Miles award chart below, you’ll pay 60,000 miles in Economy Class and 120,000 miles in Business Class roundtrip.
Asia Miles are also useful because you get two stopovers on Cathay awards, letting you stay over in a city along the way, and if you’re on a complex two or three carrier award you can work in up to five stopovers.
Asia Miles passes on fuel surcharges when you book awards, but most flights to Asia have reasonable or no surcharges. Where you get socked is if you’re headed to Europe, so avoid using Asia Miles on British Airways flights across the Atlantic, though if you’re traveling within Europe, like London to Barcelona, surcharges aren’t astronomical.
What does the card offer?
The card is pretty basic, but has a couple of twists.
The most interesting is that you earn 1.5x miles on all international purchases, and with no foreign transaction fees that makes it tempting for spending when you’re abroad.
The card also earns 1.5x miles on all dining and 2x miles on Cathay Pacific in-flight purchases.
The only other benefit of note is Green level Marco Polo Club membership.
Normally this costs $100 a year, but with the card you get one year of membership free. It doesn’t get you much more than priority boarding on Cathay Pacific flights and priority check-in at the airport, so it’s pretty hard to justify the fee just for that.
The card is a basic Visa Signature, with limited to no trip protection like trip delay coverage.
Who should get the card?
If you fly Cathay a lot, and want to top off your account to get to you next reward, it’s an OK deal.
And if you fly Cathay a lot, you’re probably doing plenty of spending while abroad, so you can take advantage of the 1.5x miles per dollar on international spending.
But there are other ways to earn Asia Miles with a credit card.
You can convert Amex Membership Rewards® points and Citi ThankYou® points into Asia Miles anytime.
The bonuses on Amex and Citi cards are more generous upfront.
And you can earn more on spending while in the U.S. For example, the Citi ThankYou® Premier earns 3 ThankYou® points on travel and 2 ThankYou® on dining with a $95 annual fee (waived for the first 12 months).
And the Amex Everyday® Preferred Credit Card earns a 50% bonus on all the points you earn each month as long as you swipe it at least 30 times in a billing cycle. That’s like 1.5x points on everything you spend. Plus it earns 3x points at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1x, which works out to 4.5x when you add the 50% bonus, and 2x points on gas, which works out to 3x with the 50% bonus.
Amex points and Citi points are a lot more flexible than plain Asia Miles, since you can transfer them to other airline programs, and with the Cathay card benefits so limited there’s not much upside to using the Cathay Pacific Visa for base spending.
But if you do a lot of spending outside the country, and really want more Asia Miles, the Cathay Pacific Visa has a niche role for your foreign spending.