Why savvy points people should know about Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program – here’s our intro guide

An introduction to Asia Miles - redeeming and earning Asia Miles in Australia

GUIDE: Program Guide
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
TIME TO READ: 4 minutes
POSTED: August 3, 2018
UPDATED: August 3, 2018
LOYALTY PROGRAMS: Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
STATUS: Updated after changes to the Asia Miles program came into effect on 22 June 2018.

Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles is a frequent flyer program that all Australians should know about. Here’s why…

  • Cathay Pacific is a oneworld alliance partner alongside Qantas, meaning that Asia Miles members can redeem their miles for Qantas and oneworld flights
  • In many cases, redeeming Asia Miles for Qantas and oneworld flights represents better value than redeeming Qantas points through the Qantas Frequent Flyer program for the same flight
  • Asia Miles is a transfer partner of several bank rewards programs in Australia

This guide explores these benefits in more detail and provides some examples of where Asia Miles redemptions can be maximised. The guide also incorporates the recent Asia Miles’ June 2018 program changes, which came into effect 22 June 2018.

Why savvy points people should know about Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program – here’s our intro guide was last modified: August 3rd, 2018 by Keith

How useful is Asia Miles for travellers from Australia?

The Asia Miles program is useful for travellers in Australia. Cathay Pacific and Qantas are both members of the oneworld alliance, meaning that Asia Miles members based in Australia can redeem their miles for both domestic flights on Qantas, as well as international flights on any oneworld or Cathay Pacific partner airline. This provides ample opportunities for members to use their miles.

While it’s harder to accrue Asia Miles from a wide range of sources in Australia, earning points from credit card spend is very doable with a number of card programs offering transfers to Asia Miles.

Asia Miles redemptions generally represent better value when compared to other oneworld frequent flyer programs, and therefore it’s worth considering the program seriously, especially for Business and First class travel on Cathay Pacific and other oneworld and partner airlines.

Also worth considering is whether Asia Miles can be thought of as a usable substitute for Qantas Frequent Flyer redemptions. This is especially relevant for those who don’t want to participate in Qantas Frequent Flyer, say if you prefer to hold your points in American Express Membership Rewards or Westpac Altitude, allowing for more flexibility in their future use.

Earning Asia Miles

Through credit card spend

The most available method to earn Asia Miles is from credit card spend, followed by flights from oneworld partners. We have a list of the highest-earning Asia Miles credit cards.

There are a few different ways to earn miles into the Asia Miles program from credit card spend in Australia. While there’s no dedicated Asia Miles card in Australia, there are a few schemes with Asia Miles as a transfer partner:

Through flying and hotel stays

Earning points from flights, including from Qantas flights, is as simple as including your Asia Miles number in your reservation. Asia Miles also has a wide array of partnerships from hotel loyalty programs.

By shopping online

Asia Miles’ iShop allows you to earn points by shopping with their online retail partners after clicking through from the iShop. Find out more about the Asia Miles iShop in our guide here.

Redeeming Asia Miles

Asia Miles has followed in the footsteps of Qantas since the recent changes to their program, with redemptions on other oneworld airlines now costing more than when flying with Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon. Prior to the changes, Asia Miles charged the same for all oneworld airlines that flew a particular route.

However, if we take Sydney or Melbourne to Hong Kong as an example, Asia Miles still charge less, outright, for making a redemption on this particular route. As an example, Asia Miles charges 50,000 Asia Miles one-way when flying Qantas and 45,000 Asia Miles one-way when flying Cathay Pacific. Compare this to 60,000 Qantas Points one-way when flying Qantas and 65,000 Qantas points one-way when flying Cathay Pacific. Return costs are simply double the one-way cost.

The full award chart is here.

Maximising value from Asia Miles redemptions

Here are examples of some common redemption opportunities from Australia:

  • Any Australian city to Hong Kong operated by Cathay Pacific: 90,000/60,000 points return in Business/Premium Economy
  • Sydney to Tokyo on Qantas or Japan Airlines: 90,000/60,000 points return in Business/Premium Economy
  • Sydney or Brisbane to Los Angeles on Qantas: 150,000/240,000 points return in Business/First Class

Some more examples are taken from the analysis of Membership Rewards options for using points on oneworld airlines:

  Asia Miles(MR 1:1)Qantas FF
one wayreturnone way
Cathay PacificFirst Class
Hong KongTaipei25,00050,00026,000
Hong KongTokyo40,00080,00056,000
Hong KongBangkok40,00080,00038,000
Hong KongNew York125,000250,000144,000
QantasFirst Class
SydneyLos Angeles120,000240,000144,000
MelbourneSingapore70,000140,00090,000
British AirwaysFirst Class
LondonNew York70,000140,00078,000
LondonTokyo110,000220,000126,000
LondonSydney125,000250,000192,000
Cathay PacificBusiness Class
SydneyNew York85,000170,000
QantasBusiness Class
SydneyLos Angeles75,000150,00096,000
MelbourneSingapore45,00090,00060,000
SydneyNew York85,000170,000
SydneyLondon85,000170,000128,000
Qantas 'Domestic'Business Class
SydneyPerth30,00060,00036,000
MelbourneAuckland30,00060,00036,000
PerthAuckland (via SYD)45,00090,00050,000

How to redeem

Redemptions using Asia Miles generally need to be made over the phone, however Asia Miles also offer simpler bookings on Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Qatar, Finnair and British Airways without having to call the Asia Miles call centre. Read our tips for booking flights using Asia Miles here.

You might also be interested in checking out our guide to the best uses of 100,000 Asia Miles.

What’s the difference between Asia Miles and the Marco Polo Club?

It’s actually quite easy: Asia Miles is Cathay Pacific’s points currency, whilst elite status is earned through Marco Polo Club. Most other loyalty programs, like Qantas Frequent Flyer and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, have them together, but Asia Miles separates them.

Through Asia Miles, you earn and redeem points to use on flights with Cathay Pacific and all of its airline partners, whether part of the oneworld alliance or not. However, you’ll only earn ‘club points’ (the same as ‘status credits’ with Qantas) through Marco Polo for travel with oneworld airlines.

Status with Marco Polo will give you benefits like lounge access, upgrades, priority boarding, etc. when travelling on Cathay Pacific and oneworld airlines.

In terms of membership, Asia Miles is free to join for anyone aged two years or older and your miles expire after three years. Conversely, Marco Polo Club charges $100 USD/year to join, but that’s waived if you earn 100 club points each year.

Summing up: why consider Asia Miles?

With the recent changes to the program now behind us, Asia Miles continues to represent great value for Australian travellers looking to earn and redeem frequent flyer points for Qantas and oneworld flights.

If you have the right credit card in your wallet or purse, there are many opportunities to earn Asia Miles from your everyday spend. Coupling this with the ability to make significant points savings on point-to-point and around the world flight redemptions when compared to other oneworld programs, any savvy traveller should make a serious effort to get to know the Asia Miles program.

Why savvy points people should know about Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program – here’s our intro guide was last modified: August 3rd, 2018 by Keith