Review: Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo

The Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo is the only credit card in Canada that directly earns Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.

This card also comes with a generous welcome bonus and additional benefits; however, when compared to different airline co-branded credit cards in Canada, the Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo consistently comes up short.

In fact, the Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo isn’t even the best credit card for earning Asia Miles, as we’ll explore later in this article.

Let’s take a look at the reasons why you might consider the Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo, and the other reasons why you should probably skip it.

At a Glance

Annual fee:

$180

Supplementary cardholders:

$10

Minimum annual income:

$80,000 (personal), $150,000 (household)

Estimated credit score:

Good to excellent

Rating:

2.4/5

What we love: strong welcome bonus, 10% discount on Cathay Pacific flights, World Elite Mastercard benefits. What we’d change: introduce category earning rates, lower the annual fee, include airline-specific benefits.

Welcome Bonus

Starting with a positive feature, the Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo has a welcome bonus of up to 30,000 Asia Miles.

You earn the first 15,000 Asia Miles after your first purchase, and the second 15,000 Asia Miles after spending $3,000 within three months of activating the card.

We value Asia Miles at 1.6 cents per mile, and using this valuation, we value a welcome bonus of 30,000 Asia Miles at $480.

Depending on how you choose to redeem these miles, the value could end up being worth more or less than this.

Earning Rates

To be frank, the earning rates for the Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo are rather weak.

With the card, you earn Asia Miles at the following rates:

  • 2 Asia Miles per dollar spent on eligible Cathay Pacific purchases
  • 2 Asia Miles per dollar spent on all eligible foreign currency purchases
  • 1 Asia Mile per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases

The elevated Asia Miles you receive on foreign currency purchases outside Canada is negated by the 2.5% foreign transaction fee you have to pay on those same expenses. For out-of-country expenses, you’re much better off using a no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card.

In addition to the above earning rates, the Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo has exclusive partners through which you earn significantly higher Asia Miles per dollar spent.

If you shop at one of Neo’s many partners, the Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo immediately becomes more valuable.

Unfortunately, the list of partners isn’t made public until after you’ve applied for the card, and the partners list is fairly limited and comes with spending restrictions.

Redeeming Points

You can redeem your Asia Miles for award flights with Cathay Pacific and its partner airlines.

The 30,000 Asia Mile welcome bonus is enough to cover a one-way economy flight between Vancouver and Hong Kong, not including the approximate $225 for taxes and fees.

You typically get the most value out of your Asia Miles when you book long-haul flights in premium cabins; however, these Cathay Pacific business class and First Class awards are notoriously difficult to come by.

When Asia Miles relaunched in Fall 2023, Cathay Pacific promised to offer more award seats, albeit at higher rates compared to before.

For example, if you book far in advance, you can find a one-way flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong for 84,000 miles in business class.

You may even be able to find First Class award availability between Hong Kong and Los Angeles, which costs 125,000 Asia Miles.

Luckily for travellers who are not able to take advantage of these premium options, booking short-haul flights within Asia is much easier to do and still provides great value.

For example, one-way flights in economy between Hong Kong and Beijing, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, or Singapore can be booked for 10,000 Asia Miles each.

Insurance Coverage

With the Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo, you receive the following insurance benefits:

  • Emergency medical insurance: up to $1 million for trips of up to 14 days for those aged 60 and younger
  • Trip interruption insurance: up to $1,000 per person, up to $5,000 per trip
  • Trip cancellation insurance: up to $1,000 per person, up to $5,000 per trip
  • Flight delay insurance: up to $500 ($250 per day for reasonable and necessary expenses for a missed connection, denied boarding, or flight departure delay).
  • Lost/delayed baggage insurance: up to $1,000 for delays of six hours or longer
  • Auto rental collision/damage insurance: for up to 48 consecutive days on vehicles with an MSRP of up to $65,000
  • Hotel/motel burglary insurance: up to $1,000 to cover the damage to or the loss of personal items resulting from the burglary at your hotel or motel room
  • Purchase protection: for up 90 days from date of purchase
  • Extended warranty: doubling the manufacturer’s warranty, up to one additional year

For a travel credit card with a $180 annual fee, the travel and retail insurance coverage on the Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo isn’t as strong as we’d like.

For example, ‌the emergency medical insurance of up to $1 million only covers cardholders aged 60 and younger for 14 days.

There are other credit cards with lower annual fees that offer more protection, longer coverage, and include benefits for those up to 65 years of age.

The Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo also doesn’t provide mobile device insurance, which is typically seen on similar travel cards with an equivalent, or even a slightly lower, annual fee.

Finally, a lot of co-branded airline credit cards will cover you for flight-related insurance coverage on award bookings with the airline. The Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo does not.

Generally speaking, when you pay for an award booking with a co-branded credit card that earns the points/miles you earn with the card, the insurance coverage applies.

For example, if you pay for an Aeroplan booking with an Aeroplan co-branded credit card, or a Flying Blue booking with the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard®, you’re covered the same as if you’d booked the flight with cash.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with the Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo.

You’re better off paying for the taxes and fees on an Asia Miles booking with a different credit card, such as the National Bank® World Elite® Mastercard®, since you are then covered for insurance on your trip.

All of the other travel insurance benefits provided by the card are fairly typical for a World Elite Mastercard.

Other Features

The only real Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo benefit worth mentioning is the offer of 10% off the base fare when you book a cash flight through the Cathay Pacific website and use your Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo to make the purchase.

This benefit is only available until December 31, 2024, and only covers one-way or round-trip flights departing from Canada.

With the Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo, you also receive standard World Elite® Mastercard® perks, including:

Otherwise, the Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo has a notable lack of airline-specific benefits.

Most noticeably, there are no unique benefits for Cathay Pacific flights offered to cardholders.

While Neo advertises this card as coming with priority check-in, extra baggage redemption, and Cathay Pacific business class lounge redemption access, these are simply benefits enjoyed by all base-level Asia Miles members.

At the very least, one free checked bag when flying with Cathay Pacific should be an ongoing benefit as it is with other similar co-branded airline credit cards.

Other Cards to Consider

The Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo is worth getting if you want the welcome bonus, you can make use of the 10% discount, or you shop at one of the partners that earns elevated Asia Miles with this card.

However, if you just want a credit card that earns airline miles, there are better choices.

In fact, even if you still want to earn Asia Miles, there are also better credit card options.

For general airline miles, the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card is worth considering. This card earns Aeroplan points, which tend to be more valuable than Asia Miles if you’re a Canadian traveller.

TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card
Welcome Bonus
Up to 50,000 Aeroplan points†
Annual Fee
$139
First-Year Value
$617

Compared to the Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo, the ​​TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card comes with a lower annual fee at $139,† higher earning rates at 1.5 Aeroplan points per dollar spent on gas and groceries,† and the following airline-specific perks:

  • Free first checked bag on Air Canada flights, for the primary and supplementary cardholders†
  • Preferred pricing when redeeming Aeroplan points for Air Canada flights†
  • Ability to earn 1,000 Status Qualifying Miles (SQM) and 1 Status Qualifying Segment (SQS) for every $10,000 you spend on the card†

If you still want to earn Asia Miles, you could use the American Express Cobalt Card which earns American Express Membership Rewards (MR) points that can easily be converted to Asia Miles. Each MR point can be exchanged for 0.75 Asia Miles.

American Express Cobalt Card
Welcome Bonus
15,000 MR points
Annual Fee
$156
First-Year Value
$372

With the American Express Cobalt Card, you earn the following rates on your purchases:

  • 5 MR points per dollar spent on groceries and dining in Canada (up to $2,500 per month)
  • 3 MR points per dollar spent on eligible streaming services
  • 2 MR points per dollar spent on travel purchases, transit, and transportation
  • 1 MR point per dollar spent on all other purchases

There’s a lot of flexibility with Membership Rewards points, but if you intend to convert all your points to Asia Miles at the rate of 1:0.75, the earning rates on the Amex Cobalt are essentially:

  • 3.75 Asia Miles per dollar spent on groceries and dining in Canada (up to $2,500 per month)
  • 2.25 Asia Miles per dollar spent on eligible streaming services
  • 1.5 Asia Miles per dollar spent on travel purchases, transit, and transportation
  • 0.75 Asia Miles per dollar spent on all other purchases

As you can see, in most spending categories, you could end up earning almost four times as many Asia Miles by using your American Express Cobalt Card instead of your Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo.

Conclusion

The Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo offers a solid welcome bonus and the unique limited-time benefit of 10% off Cathay Pacific flights.

Aside from this, the card otherwise lacks enough benefits to justify paying the annual fee on an ongoing basis.

Despite being the only co-branded Cathay Pacific Asia Miles credit card in Canada, the card doesn’t offer any additional Cathay Pacific perks and the earning rates are surprisingly low for a World Elite Mastercard.

If you can make use of the limited benefits that do exist, or you want to add to your Asia Miles balance with the welcome bonus, then the Cathay World Elite® Mastercard® – powered by Neo deserves consideration.

If this doesn’t suit your travel desires, there are certainly other credit cards worth exploring instead.

6 Comments
  1. David Hosey

    I couldn’t agree more with the review but the real disappointment is Neo’s customer service. That is speaking from first hand experience. Not sure Cathay aligned themselves with a company that values service so differently. Same as I like travelling with Cathay too.

  2. Jian

    Wondering if Neo Financial pull Equifax or TransUnion?

    1. steven

      TransUnion – yes. Equifax – unsure.

  3. Srecko

    Thanks Chrustopher!

  4. Srecko

    Main benefit of this card, the way I see it, is to earn miles on Costco purchases. Not sure if anyone is aware of any other Mastercard that earns more?

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