We have known that Cathay Pacific is releasing a co-branded credit card for those in the US for some time now, but the details are finally available! The card is now open for application, but I have to say, it’s a pretty underwhelming offering.
The Cathy Pacific credit card is issued by Synchrony Financial, and will come with a $95 annual fee, which is not waived for the first year. Currently, there is a sign up bonus of 25,000 Asia Miles, after you spend $2,500 within 3 months of account opening. Spending on the card will earn Asia Miles, which is the reward program of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon. There are a few bonus categories, as follows:
- 2x miles on Cathay Pacific purchases
- 1.5x miles on dining purchases
- 1.5x miles on international purchases (i.e. transactions outside the US)
For the most part, the bonuses aren’t all that competitive. For example, the Citi ThankYou Premier card will earn 3x ThankYou points on all travel purchases, and 2x points on dining and entertainment. Since Citi ThankYou is a transfer partner with Asia Miles (1:1), you are actually better off using that card even for purchases made directly from Cathay Pacific.
What might be interesting with the Cathay Pacific card, though, is the bonus on purchases made outside the US. Not a lot of credit cards offer a bonus on foreign transactions, so if you are someone who spends a lot of money abroad and are after Asia miles only, this might be something worth considering. However, at just a 1.5x bonus, even if you value Asia Miles at 1.5 cent each, you’d have to spend about $12,670 to offset the annual fee.
Interestingly, Cathay Pacific is also advertising a free Green Tier memebrship in Marco Polo Club (their frequent flyer program) for the first year. However, each subsequent year will require a $100 renewal fee. Alternatively, you keep the tier by earning 100 club points each year. Green tier doesn’t offer a whole lot other than a dedicated check-in counter and priority boarding, and I think it’s somewhat puzzling that this won’t be an ongoing benefit for card holders.
Asia Miles isn’t the greatest program out there, but they do have some pretty sweet spots. Particularly, they are an excellent choice for really complicated itineraries with ultra-long-haul flights. Their distance-based chart and super generous routing rules mean you can derive pretty good value if you are willing to deal with a somewhat annoying booking process. You can see our full guide to redeeming Asia Miles here.
Overall, I am somewhat disappointed by this credit card. However, for those who do collect Asia Miles and might be interested in a nice dose of extra miles from the sign-up bonus, this is worth considering. Just keep in mind that adding a card will count towards the Chase 5/24 guideline, if you are looking to apply for Chase cards (and earn their sign-up bonuses) in the future!