To kickstart the new year, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is offering a 10% bonus whenever you convert your credit card points into Asia Miles under their “New Year • More Miles” promotion in January 2020.
This is a pretty unique promotion – we typically see these types of bonuses being offered by the originating credit card or bank, but this is a blanket promotion by Asia Miles on all incoming points conversions.
Until recently, a technical glitch has been around for quite some time preventing Amex MR transfers to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles from being executed properly. Now that those issues seem to have been resolved, it’s time to take a closer look at the “New Year • More Miles” promotion and all the sweet spots, which are now 10% sweeter than usual, that you can benefit from.
Register for the Promotion
In order to benefit from the 10% bonus, you’ll need to register beforehand. Simply head to this page on the Asia Miles website, enter your last name and membership number, and you’re all set.
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles Conversion Ratios
As it concerns Canadians, the major points programs and optimal transfer ratios that allow you to earn Asia Miles are as follows:
Amex MR: 1,000 MR points = 750 Asia Miles
Amex US MR: 1,000 US MR points = 1,000 Asia Miles
RBC Avion: 1,000 RBC Avion points = 1,000 Asia Miles (must convert a minimum of 10,000 RBC Avion points)
HSBC Rewards: 25,000 HSBC Rewards points = 8,000 Asia Miles
With the 10% bonus in place, these ratios are therefore boosted to the following levels until January 31, 2019:
Amex MR: 1,000 MR points = 825 Asia Miles
Amex US MR: 1,000 US MR points = 1,100 Asia Miles
RBC Avion: 1,000 RBC Avion points = 1,100 Asia Miles
HSBC Rewards: 25,000 HSBC Rewards points = 8,800 Asia Miles
Among the Canadian financial partners, I’d consider RBC Avion to be the “best” way to accumulate Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, followed by Amex MR (mainly because MR points can also be transferred to other programs at a better 1:1 ratio) and then HSBC Rewards (mainly because there aren’t too many ways to rack up large quantities of HSBC Rewards points quickly).
If you have US credit cards issued by Citi or Capital One, then those points conversions would also be eligible for this 10% Asia Miles bonus. Meanwhile, as I understand it, the scope of this promotion only includes transfers from credit card partners and not hotel partners, so it doesn’t seem like Marriott Bonvoy conversions to Asia Miles would be eligible.
Note that the promotion is explicitly limited to converting credit card points to Asia Miles, and excludes the miles you might earn as part of a signup bonus or on regular purchases on the RBC Cathay Pacific Visa Platinum. Incidentally, this also makes it strictly optimal to use the RBC Avion Visa Infinite over the RBC Cathay Pacific card on your purchases this month, since you’re effectively earning 1.1 Asia Miles per dollar spent by doing so with this promotion in place.
In my experience, points transfers from Amex US MR to Asia Miles have been instantaneous; meanwhile, transferring from the Canadian currencies has always resulted in a delay of 3–5 business days. Ideally, you’ll also want to make sure that the names and addresses on both the sending and receiving accounts match with each other, as there have been several data points on RBC Avion transfers, in particular, being held up due to mismatches in the systems.
The promotion page specifies that the bonus miles would be credited to your Asia Miles account within 8–10 weeks of the transfer. In practice, I expect it to take less time than that, but this likely means that you wouldn’t be able to make a booking with your bonus miles immediately after initiating the transfer.
What Are the Best Sweet Spots?
I’ve written a detailed post on the best sweet-spot redemptions via Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, and the 10% bonus only makes them even more compelling.
As a reminder, here is the Asia Miles award chart for standard one-way awards. Importantly, a one-way award may consist of at most two segments with a stopover at the intermediate point, thus somewhat limiting your ability to customize the routing and restricting your journey to the major Oneworld hubs.
As a result, many of Asia Miles’s sweet spots are largely concentrated on flying in premium cabins with Oneworld airlines, some of which happen to be among the world’s best.
If your journey solely involves Cathay Pacific flights, then it’ll be subject to the award chart above; meanwhile, if there is a single partner airline involved, you’ll get charged 5,000 more Asia Miles than the above chart for economy, premium economy, and business, and 10,000 more Asia Miles than the above chart for First Class (the exception is the Medium distance zone for partners, which now requires 61,000 and 82,000 miles for business and First Class respectively).
My preferred use of Asia Miles would be to redeem them for business class or First Class flights on Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines, both of which come with reasonable fuel surcharges and allow for generous routings.
For example, you could fly from Toronto to Hong Kong to Australia in Cathay Pacific business class for 85,000 Asia Miles, which is equivalent to either 103,100 Amex MR points, 77,300 Amex US MR points, or 77,300 RBC Avion points (or a mixed portfolio of the above) under the current 10% promotion.
77,300 Avion points for business class all the way to Australia? Sign me up immediately – especially considering the fact that a program like Aeroplan, as a point of comparison, would charge you 80,000 miles for the same journey.
You could also route from Canada to Europe via Hong Kong and make it two-thirds of the way around the world for the same price.
And as the cherry on top, Asia Miles members generally have access to a much wider range of Cathay Pacific First Class and business class availability than other partners like Alaska Mileage Plan, and I’ve found that as long as you’re somewhat flexible within the span of a few days, you’re quite likely to find a few seats in at least business class from most of the North American gateways.
If your one-way itinerary consists of mixed cabins, Asia Miles will “split the difference” and charge you a price point somewhere between the two classes of service (seemingly based on the respective distances of the two flights).
So you could, for example, fly to Hong Kong in First Class, followed by somewhere else in Cathay Pacific’s route network in business class, for somewhere in the region of 105,000 Asia Miles, or 95,500 Avion points under the 10% promotion.
Replace the above examples with the ever-excellent Japan Airlines for only 5,000–10,000 Asia Miles more. Qatar Airways Qsuites could also be on the cards, but their fuel surcharges are generally hefty (think $500+), so you’d want to originate in one of the low-surcharge countries to make it worth your while.
Then we have the Asia Miles multi-carrier award, which can be incredibly lucrative for extensive round-the-world travel with an allowance of five stopovers and two open-jaws. A comprehensive world trip to all six continents, involving almost 35,000 miles in distance flown, would cost you 130,000 Asia Miles in economy class or 210,000 Asia Miles in business class; from the perspective of RBC Avion collectors, that corresponds to 118,200 Avion points or 191,000 Avion points under the 10% bonus, respectively.
As I’ve said before, there are some even more compelling sweet spots hidden within the Asia Miles program, so I encourage you to play around with the search engine and figure out what kinds of creative routings may be booked.
Asia Miles has recently loosened their mileage expiry policy – whereas in the past, your miles would expire within 36 months of earning them, nowadays they’ll be safe as long as you have activity in your account within a rolling 18-month period. It therefore makes sense to transfer over some Asia Miles under this 10% promotion as long as you can see yourself taking aim for one of the sweet spots we discussed sometime in the foreseeable future.
We haven’t seen many promotions similar to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles’s “New Year • More Miles” campaign before, in which the loyalty program itself, rather than the financial partners, is offering a blanket 10% bonus on all incoming credit card points transfers.
With three financial partners in Canada (and even more in the US) allowing you to earn Asia Miles, this promotion is a great opportunity to top-up your balance and accelerate your progress towards booking a memorable trip using one of the program’s many sweet spots.
(featured image by OneMoreWeekToGo)