Cathay Pacific has unveiled a credit card for US residents. The card is issued by Synchrony Bank and it offers 25K miles after $2,500 spend. It gives first year cardholders free green tier membership in the Marco Polo Club (after the first 12 months you can pay $100 per year to keep that status). The benefits of green tier are pretty weak: priority boarding for yourself only, and the ability to use Cathay Pacific Asia Miles to buy your way into extra-legroom seats, extra baggage allowance, and business class lounges.
Are the miles worth much?
I added Cathay Pacific Asia Miles to my Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs) page, with a current value of 1.17 cents per mile. That means that it is reasonable to expect to get 1.17 cents x 25,000 miles = $292.50 or more in travel value from the 25K signup bonus. That’s OK as far as signup bonuses go, but hardly remarkable.
Cathay Pacific has a confusing set of award charts (found here), but they also offer a simple tool (found here) to help you estimate the number of miles you’ll need for an award. As pointed out by Travel Is Free, they offer good values for certain premium cabin flights. See: Best Use of Asia Miles (Cathay).
If you have the miles, many awards can be booked online. You can book “Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia Airlines, Qantas Airways and Qatar Airways directly at Asia Miles Travel Services Limited online booking website.”
Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest all offer 1 to 1 point transfers to Cathay Pacific. Of course, Starwood also offers a 25% bonus when you transfer 20,000 points at a time.
Please note that Asia Miles expire after 3 years even if you have account activity. Boo.
Weird bonus categories
Airline cards often offer double points for purchases with that airline, and this card is no exception. It also offers 1.5X for dining. Dining is a common category for bonus points with bank cards, but it is unusual with airline cards. The weirdest category bonus this card has is for international purchases. As long as you use the card outside of the US, you get 1.5X everywhere, and no foreign transaction fees. I could see this being useful for those who spend a lot of money outside of the US on things other than travel and dining. Those who spend mostly on travel and dining would do better with the Citi Premier Card (3X travel and gas, 2X dining and entertainment) or the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (3X travel & dining).
Annual Fee: $95
Whaaat? Yep. This card has an annual fee of $95 and it is not waived the first year.
This isn’t a bad choice to rack up a few Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, but I wouldn’t even consider keeping the card past the first year. I don’t think the card’s wimpy benefits warrant any annual fee let alone $95.