Last updated on April 7th, 2020
Coronavirus is something about which seemingly everyone is worrying. Just weeks after the initial outbreak in Wuhan Province, concerns have led to deserted city-centers in China, panic in Hong Kong, and the building of a 1,000-bed hospital in under ten days. The fear has also caused air traffic from China to plummet. One of the lesser-explored areas of the Coronavirus outbreak is the effect it may have on airline miles. With Hong Kong on a state of alert, many North American travelers who frequently travel with Cathay Pacific airlines may be hesitant to use their loyalty Asia Miles. While Asia Miles only expire after no account activity for 18 months, their longevity is still finite. What, then, are the best Asia Miles transfers for those wary of the effects of the Coronavirus in China and Hong Kong?
Current Value of Asia Miles
Asia Miles currently has a value of 1.2 cents per mile ($0.012/mi.) for flights. Flying with Cathay Pacific, 12,000 miles is enough for a short journey award flight. Of course, since Cathay’s hub is in Hong Kong, this is unlikely an option for the typical American traveler. A long-haul trip is a more likely option, with journeys between 5,000 and 7,500-miles costing approximately 46,000 Asia Miles. These estimates are for one-way flights with Cathay Pacific.
When redeeming miles with Cathay Pacific for flights, beware of Asia Miles surcharges. Asia Miles is notorious for adding hundreds of dollars to award flights in fuel surcharges. The highest of these fees apply to Cathay flights both to – and from – Hong Kong.
Redeem with Oneworld and Codeshare Partners
Cathay Pacific is also a member of the oneworld airline alliance. This airline member group includes 13 different carriers. Beside Cathay Pacific, those of most interest to North American flyers are:
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
Cathay also has codeshare agreements with several other carriers, the most notable including:
- Aer Lingus
- Air Canada
- Alaska Airlines
The best value with Asia Miles transfers is to oneworld carriers. There are also generous redemption options available with these partners, which may entice some current Asia Miles patrons. Cathay allows, for instance, up to five stopovers and one open-jawed stop on multi-carrier oneworld award flights. This is impressive, as it opens a world of possibilities for those looking to see the world – wherever it may take them.
Redeeming with Both oneworld and codeshare partners requires quite a bit of research, however. Cathay Pacific only offers limited routes with Air Canada and Lufthansa, for example. Additionally, awards vary considerably with each carrier. Before transferring miles, carefully consult the myriad of award charts Cathay features on their site.
Other Transfer Partners
What, though, if a flight isn’t what you had in mind? Fortunately, Asia Miles also transfer to over a dozen other partners.
Transfer Asia Miles to Hotel Programs
Asia Miles transfer to eight hotel loyalty programs at varying values. The current transfer value of Asia Miles to hotel rewards programs is:
|Loyalty Program||Value of 10,000 Asia Miles||Current Reward Program Point Valuation|
|Best Western Rewards||50,000 points||$0.007/pt.|
|Hilton Honors||100,000 points||$0.006/pt.|
|IHG Rewards||50,000 points||$0.005/pt.|
|LeClub Accorhotels||20,000 points||$0.02/pt.|
|Marriott Bonvoy||30,000 points||$0.009/pt.|
|Radisson Rewards||100,000 points||$0.004/pt.|
|World of Hyatt||25,000 points||$0.017/pt.|
The best value comes with both Accor and Hyatt. Turning 10,000 Asia Miles into 25,000 World of Hyatt points is enough for a standard room at several Hyatt properties in Cancun, for instance. Ultimately, however, Asia Miles transfer at a lower rate with hotel partners ($0.007/mi.) than they do with most airlines ($0.012/mi.).
Transfer Asia Miles to Issuer Reward Programs
Another option for expiring Asia Miles is to transfer them directly to participating award programs. Asia Miles transfer one-to-one with American Express Membership Rewards. Amex points have a value of two cents per point ($0.02/pt.), providing enormous opportunities for current Amex and Cathay Pacific rewards members.
Asia Miles also transfers at a 1:1 rate with Citi ThankYou Rewards. These points, however, have a value of $0.017/pt., meaning Amex is the better option. The Cathay Pacific credit card, the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature, is a Synchrony Bank product, meaning current cardholders and Asia Miles members will also need an American Express credit card. Given that the Green Card earns 3X points on travel, comes with a lounge access statement credit, and features a modest $150 annual fee, that may be the best option.
Who’s the Best Value Cathay Pacific Partner for Redeeming Asia Miles?
So, what’s the best redemption option for the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles member who wants to avoid the Coronavirus chaos in Asia? Or, what are the best Asia Miles transfers for those that don’t want to cash in? That depends on what you want out of your miles, however, and how much work you’re willing to do to maximize your value for money.
For those willing to invest the time and energy into research, flying with oneworld carrier is a great option. oneworld operates an extensive route, meaning Asia Miles can quickly get someone anywhere they want to go – without having to visit the Coronavirus epicenters. The healthy stop-over allowances also make this option an excellent choice for those who wish to explore the world.
For those who want to use their points on a quick splurge, transferring to Hyatt is enough for a free stay. This is especially true since the 2.5:1-mile transfer ratio will likely accrue enough points for a basic off-peak stay with a Hyatt brand.
For those that want to transfer frequent flyer miles into something more universally useful, Amex is the best bet. Amex Membership Rewards is one of the most lucrative programs available. The 1:1 point transfer also means there’s additional value for Asia Miles. Amex Rewards also offers a much more varied platform for redemptions – plus the chance to switch miles to another program.
Should You Cash-in Your Asia Miles?
Given the volatility of the Coronavirus outbreak, the desire find Asia Miles transfers is understandable. Fortunately, Cathay Pacific has plenty of partners that offer substantial value. Ultimately, the decision depends on the personal circumstances of the individual and when their miles will expire. It is probably easier, for example, to make a purchase with the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature Card or purchase a small number of miles to keep the account active. For those willing to do the homework, however, there’s a world of possibilities available.
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