Asia Miles: A Different Way To Travel

March 30, 2020
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Asia Miles is a loyalty program by Cathay Pacific. It’s not exactly the easiest program to wrap one’s head around, which is why it’s recommended for people who’re already flight savvy. Asia Miles offers a lot of earning flexibility, as well as great redemption options too.

It’s not a perfect service, of course. The customer service could clearly use an upgrade and there are tons of itineraries that won’t pan out due to partnered airlines being unavailable for some trips. With that being said, it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a frequent flyer.

Let’s Talk About Asia Miles

Asia Miles is the travel loyalty program of Hong Kong’s signature airline: Cathay Pacific. Just like with every other travel loyalty program, it has its fair share of offers, features, strengths, and weaknesses.

How Travel Loyalty Programs Work

yoreoyster asia miles cathay pacific

There are plenty of intricacies to how loyalty programs work, but we’ll stick to the basics to give you an overall idea. 

As its name implies, Airlines have loyalty programs to encourage customer retention. They also sometimes partner up with other airlines to make their loyalty program more versatile and useful. These programs are designed to make flying more lucrative and give incentives to customers to keep coming back to the same airlines in the future.

First off, they let you earn ‘miles’. What are miles, you ask? Well, they’re just a type of currency that airlines and credit cards use. They can hold any value that the airline wants them to.

You can earn them in any way that the airlines choose, the most popular is using their airlines to travel. Other than that, you can also earn them through shopping with certain credit cards or staying at certain hotels.

In terms of redemption… well, you can get free flights by exchanging miles. Or you can upgrade your flight class along with any other benefits your loyalty program might offer. Miles can also serve to acquire products and gift cards, one loyalty program that does this is Aeroplan.

Did you know: A good portion of flyers don’t even bother to use their loyalty ‘miles’, which results in missed opportunities and the loss of many free flights. If you’re part of a loyalty program, take advantage and reap the benefits.

How You Can Get Asia Miles

There are a plethora of ways for you to get Asia Miles. The first step is to sign up with them, it simply takes a few minutes and requires a minimum of data to fill in, so there’s nothing to worry about. After that, you can start accruing miles in various ways, such as:

#1 Flying Through Partnered Airlines

Asia Miles has partnerships with 25 other airlines, including of course its parent company, Cathay Pacific. The list includes some of the most popular ones like Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways, Qantas, and Qatar Airways. They cover pretty much every inch of the planet, so you can travel anywhere and still rack up those miles.

Here’s how much you can earn with a round trip from Toronto to Hong Kong:

#2 Staying At Partnered Hotels

With 130 hotels to choose from, you’re never going to run out of luxurious rooms to stay at. Included in the list Asia Miles partnered ones are Marriott and InterContinental.

#3 Using Partnered Car Rentals

You’ll likely have to rent a car when you’re away overseas for a long time, and Asia Miles is partnered with 16 brands that’ll help you get around while getting extra value from your purchase.

#4 Using The Cathay Pacific Visa Credit Card

Cathay Pacific partnered up with the Royal Bank of Canada to bring you a credit card that earns you Asia Miles. Here’s a summary of the key details you need to know:

Annual Fee$120
Welcome OfferUpon Purchase: 15,000 Miles
Spending $6,000 in the first 3 months: 10,000 Miles
After a year: 10,000 Miles
RewardsLocal spending (all categories): 1 Mile per $1.00
Foreign currency purchases: 1.25 Miles per $1.00
Cathay Pacific purchases: 2 Miles per $1.00

#5 Topping Up Your Asia Miles

There’s an option to get Asia Miles using cash. If you’ve acquired 70% of the Asia Miles you need for a specific reward, you can get the remaining 30% through cash. It’s a tedious process, however, and you’re able to get 2,000 Miles at a time for $60 USD. You can only do this to get exactly the amount of Miles you need to get a specific redemption.

#6 Converting Points From Other Loyalty Programs Into Miles

Converting From Credit Cards

Card TitleConversion Rate
RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege1 Point = 1 Mile
RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege for Private Banking 1 Point = 1 Mile
RBC Visa Business Platinum Avion 1 Point = 1 Mile
RBC Visa Infinite Avion 1 Point = 1 Mile
RBC Visa Platinum Avion 1 Point = 1 Mile
All Partnered AMEX Cards1,000 Points = 750 Miles
HSBC Premier Mastercard10,000 Points = 8,000 Miles
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard25,000 Points = 8,000 Miles
HSBC World Elite Mastercard 25,000 Points = 8,000 Miles

Converting From Hotel Reward Points

HotelConversion Rate
Shangri-La1,000 Points = 1,300 Miles
Le Club Accor Hotels2,000 Points = 1,300 Miles
World of Hyatt5,000 Points = 2,600 Miles
Hilton10,000 Points = 1,300 Miles
Anantara Vacation Club1,000 Points = 3,250 Miles
Radisson 10,000 Points = 1,300 Miles
Best Western5,000 Points = 1,300 Miles
New Century1,600 Points = 390 Miles
Wanda800 Points = 260 Miles
Jingling Hotels & Resorts3,200 Points = 650 Miles
Marriott Bonvoy3,000 Points = 1,000 Miles
IHG Rewards Club10,000 Points = 2,000 Miles
Regal Hotels 15,000 Points = 1,000 Miles

#7 Buying At Partnered Stores

Shopping at stores like Net-A-Porter on Asia Miles’ online store can get you a whopping 6 Miles for every dollar spent. There are plenty of merchants to choose from, and they’ll certainly let you stack up those miles pretty quickly.

How You Can Spend Your Asia Miles

yoreoyster asia miles flights

What Are Asia Miles Worth?

You may be thinking just how much an Asia Mile costs. On average, each Asia Miles mile is worth around 1.7 to 1.8 cents. That’s not the best value out there, but it’s certainly better than many. It’s certainly a huge step up from not having a loyalty program at all.

#1 Flights

Flying is probably where most of your Asia Miles will go. Here’s how many Miles you’ll need for a round-trip to Hong Kong from Toronto:

You also have the option to upgrade your flight class by using your Asia Miles: 

Keep in mind that it’s not always possible to redeem your Miles through the airline company of your choice, even if it’s partnered with Asia Miles. Your best bet, if you really want to reach your destination, is to use Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon, as they’re available for almost all types of flights and class upgrades. 

Here’s an example of how many Asia Miles you’d have to spend for a round trip from Toronto to Hong Kong via Cathay Pacific:

#2 Hotels And Car Rentals

The amount that you spend on these vary from company to company, but you can expect to spend upwards of 8,000 Miles per night on your hotel room. Car rentals fall in the same ballpark. 

#3 Other Stuff

You can also donate your Miles to a charity if you’d like. In addition to that, you also have the choice to purchase various items and tickets to events. 

The Benefits That Asia Miles Brings

#1 A Multitude Of Partners

There aren’t many loyalty programs with such a vast amount of partners, especially in the Asian market. Asia Miles makes it easy to use the airlines and hotels of your choosing. Besides that, Asia Miles also grants flexibility when it comes to converting other loyalty points into Miles. It’s great that airlines like Alaska Airlines, Air China, and Bangkok Airways, along with many others, are partnered with Asia Miles.

#2 It’s Free To Join! 

You won’t have to pay a penny to join Asia Miles. All that’s needed is a little non-sensitive information. Once you check out the service for yourself, you’ll be able to decide whether you want to stick with it or not. 

#3 Allows You To Mix 3 Carriers On Your Itinerary 

If Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon is part of your travel plan, you’re able to mix in 2 more airlines in your itinerary. If none of your airlines are one of the two mentioned, you’re allowed to have 2 airlines in your itinerary. Using Cathay Pacific as part of your travel will allow you to choose the cheapest combinations of airlines to reach your destination. This makes redeeming miles all the more rewarding.

#4 Your Asia Miles Don’t Expire (Kind Of)

This isn’t true, technically speaking, but the average Asia Miles user won’t need to worry about their Miles expiring. The expiry date of your Miles is typically 3 years, but if you earn or redeem miles at least once in 18 months, the expiry date of your earned miles will be extended by 3 more years.

What this means is that as long as you keep your Asia Miles account active at least once every 3 years, you won’t have to worry about your Miles going the way of the Dodo. 

What Asia Miles Is Lacking

#1 The System Is Excruciatingly Complex

Since Asia Miles is distance-based, you’ll really have to sit yourself down and figure out if a certain flight is worth spending your Asia Miles on. It might take a lot of practice to understand what really works for you and what doesn’t. 

#2 Partners Don’t Always Work Out

This is part of what makes the redeeming system complex. You’ll feel like you have the perfect opportunity to travel, only to realize that the partnered airlines won’t be available for your journey. 

#3 Booking Through Agents Can Be A Nightmare

There are some airlines which you can book on Asia Miles’ own website. Cathay Pacific, Qantas Airways, Qatar Airways, Finnair, Dragonair, and British Airways can all be booked through the website itself, but other than that, you’ll have to book over the phone with travel agents. Time zone differences, among various barriers like communications gaps, will make it more difficult to book your flights this way. 

#5 Get Ready For Some Painful Customer Service

Hours upon hours of waiting for a customer service representative could end in vain if they’re not able to help you. Asia Miles isn’t known for its customer service; although there are often cases of representatives leaving customers satisfied, the expected result is tons of frustration.

#6 It’s A Distance-Based Program

You won’t get any benefits based on the region you’re traveling in. The costs are based purely on the distance you cover, making the service less versatile. 

Related: Check out the British Airways Avios and our handpicked Aeroplan Credit Cards for more frequent flyer loyalty programs!

The Bottom Line: Should You Use Asia Miles? 

yoreoyster asia miles

It really depends on the sort of person you are. 

Do you travel once a year for a decent vacation? Then stay as far away from this service as you possibly can. It’s clunky to work around and pretty time consuming as well. 

Asia Miles is designed for savvy flyers who’re always on the lookout for deals that could end up saving them money and it takes a lot of time and patience to get it right.

For the right person, however, Asia Miles can be a goldmine since you’ll get upgrades and flight deals that are hard to come by otherwise. If you find yourself constantly flying – perhaps more than 4-5 times a year, then this service will definitely prove to be worth the trouble. 

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