The frequent flyer program, Asia Miles, made a significant change to its expiry policy this year. This change has increased the value of its program and I think it’s worth a deeper look. Furthermore, it’s been a while since I last updated this post, so it was due for one.
In the past, Asia Miles has a frustrating expiry policy whereby your miles expire within 36 months after they are deposited, regardless of activity. Effective January 1, 2020, there is a new expiry policy, but there is a transition period.
- Miles credited before January 1, 2020 will continue to follow the existing time-based rule and continue to expire on a 3-year basis.
- Miles credited on or after January 1, 2020 will fall under the activity-based rule, which is miles never expire as there is an activity once every 18 months
This is a game changer for me, as I have not taken Asia Miles as seriously before because of the expiry policy. So I shifted more energy towards their Oneworld partners such as American Airlines and British Airways. But now I am going to take a deeper look at Asia Miles.
Relationship with Cathay Pacific
Cathay Pacific is an airline based out of Hong Kong, which has two loyalty programs: The Marco Polo Club (The Club), the loyalty program, and Asia Miles, the travel reward program. Members of The Club are automatically enrolled as Asia Miles members.
Basically, with The Club, you earn elite status which offers travel benefits and perks. Furthermore, it cost $100 USD annual to join and stay in the club. If you earn at least 20 points per year, the fee is waived.
With Asia Miles, you earn miles that you can redeem for rewards, such as a free flight, which is what this post is focusing on. It may look into another post for the Marco Polo Club in the future.
First of all, there are several ways for Canadians to earn miles, in addition to the regular ways (i.e. what worldwide members can do). This is because Asia Miles has several partnerships with Canadian institutions.
First off, let’s mention the airline partners, which include alliance and non-alliance partners. Below is a list of all its current airline partners, including Oneworld alliance members (marked with a *). Note that there are several changes from last time.
- Air Canada
- Air China
- Air New Zealand
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines*
- Austrian Airlines
- Bangkok Airways
- British Airways*
- Cathay Pacific*
- Gulf Air
- Japan Airlines*
- Jet Airways
- Malaysia Airlines*
- Qantas Airways*
- Qatar Airways *
- Royal Jordanian Airlines*
- S7 Airlines*
- Shenzen Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines*
- Swiss International Air Lines
Asia Miles has an extensive list of car rental and hotel partners, that you can earn Asia miles with, instead of their respective points programs. Especially if you happen to be in Asia, there are many retail options that allow you to earn miles with.
Credit Cards Companies
RBC offers a co-branded credit card called the Cathay Pacific Visa Platinum. Below are the highlights of the credit card:
- $120 annual fee
- $50 annual fee for a supplementary cardholder
- Earn 35,000 sign up bonus miles (earn 15,000 after the first purchase and earn 10,000 after spending $6,000 in the first 3 months, earn 10,000 after the first year anniversary)
- Earn 2 miles for every $1 CAD spent on Cathay Pacific purchases online
- Earn 1.25 mile for every $1 CAD spent on all foreign currency purchases
- Earn 1 mile for every $1 CAD spent on all other purchases
- Receive 1-year complimentary Green Tier membership in the Marco Polo Club
This card has seen many changes over the years. Most notably, it used to be a $150 annual fee for the primary cardholder and a $75 annual fee for the supplementary cardholder. Rarely do we see annual fees drop. Furthermore, the regular (non-promotional) sign up bonus has increased as well. It used to be 15,000 miles only.
I also like how they offer 10,000 of the bonus miles after holding the card for 1 year. It gives us more incentive to retain the credit card beyond the first year. I would have liked to see such offer year after year, but tie it to a spending bonus requirement so that it is more win/win.
Canadians are also fortunate enough to have multiple transfer partner options to top up their Asia Miles account. There are currently 3 conversion options. These are some amazing ways to rack up the miles quickly.
- American Express Membership Rewards – converts at a 4:3 ratio (minimum of 1,000 Membership Reward points for 750 Asia Miles)
- HSBC – convert at a 25:8 ratio (minimum of 25,000 HSBC points for 8,000 Asia Miles)
- RBC Avion convert at a 1:1 ratio (minimum of 10,000 RBC points for 10,000 Asia Miles)
In the case of HSBC and RBC, you should always watch for transfer bonuses to get more out of your points. I do not believe I ever saw an American Express transfer bonus yet.
List of Cathay Pacific Flights
Currently there are 3 direct Cathay Pacific flights that operate out of Canadian airports, with one ending soon.
Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
- Cathay Pacific: Hong Kong
Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
- Cathay Pacific: Hong Kong, New York-JFK (5th Freedom flight ending March 28, 2020)
I am actually quite impressed with how strong Asia Miles’ relationship is with Canada, considering it is based out of one city, so there are only so many direct flights that we can expect to see to Hong Kong.
That being said, what makes Asia Miles so valuable is that it is part of Oneworld alliance, so you can redeem their miles with many other partner airlines. I believe that the new expiry policy is a game changer for them. I hope that Asia Miles continues to improve their products offered in Canada.
At the moment, American Airlines AAdvantage and British Airways Executive Club have been my go-to Oneworld frequent flyer programs. I may need to replace one of them, or better yet, add to my portfolio!
How do you feel about Asia Miles’ presence in Canada? Please let us know in the comment section below.