Offering an extensive flight network and competitive award redemptions for Australians, discover why it makes sense to join Cathay Pacific’s Cathay program
Cathay Pacific is a Hong Kong-based airline with an extensive flight network that covers many cities in Asia, Australia, North America and Europe. The fact that Cathay Pacific is so well-connected makes the emerald and white-tailed carrier a popular choice for many travellers flying between Australia and beyond.
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Cathay program overview
Cathay is the frequent flyer loyalty program tied to Cathay Pacific.
You may know Cathay as the former Asia Miles program, which has recently merged with the previously paid status program ‘Marco Polo Club’, to become the current Cathay rewards program.
While the program is headquartered in Hong Kong, there are many ways for travellers based in Australia to benefit from membership in this program.
It’s surprisingly easy for Australians to earn and redeem Asia Miles.
While there is currently no direct Asia Miles earning card in Australia, Cathay is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards. This offers many ways for local members to collect and redeem miles.
Once earned, a stash of Asia Miles can then be redeemed at competitive rates for Cathay Pacific and an extensive global network of partner airline flights.
In fact, Australian travellers will be pleased to know that Cathay Pacific Asia Miles provide access to Qantas-operated flights – usually at much cheaper rates than Qantas Frequent Flyer levies for the same redemption.
New to Cathay? We’ve compiled this guide to take you through the Cathay program and help you to start earning miles. Let’s dive in.
How to join Cathay in Australia
You don’t have to live in Asia to join Cathay. This free program is easy to join from anywhere in the world by following these simple steps:
- visit the sign up page on Cathay’s website
- enter your personal details (name, DOB, email address)
- select your email preferences
- create a strong password
Once you’re all signed up, you’ll just need to verify your phone number and email address to get your account underway.
Cathay membership tiers and benefits
There are four membership levels in the Cathay program: Green, Silver, Gold and Diamond.
Cathay members can also earn status by accumulating Status Points (we’ll cover how to do this further on).
First, let’s run through the Cathay membership levels, what benefits they offer and how many Status Points are required to reach each tier.
Green members can access a host of benefits immediately upon signing up to Cathay. From priority check-in to flight offers, the perks start straight away.
To earn/retain: Automatic upon joining and no flying required.
- Priority online check-in (up to 48 hours before departure)
- Extra baggage redemption
- Use miles to reserve extra legroom seats
- 24-hour worldwide phone and live chat support.
When members reach Silver status, the program unlocks a range of mid-tier benefits, as well as access to all the benefits of a Cathay Green membership.
How to earn/retain: 300 Status Points and a minimum of one Cathay Pacific flight.
- Ability to use miles to access lounge redemptions or purchase lounge passes for travel companions (selected lounges)
- Unlimited access to Cathay Pacific business class lounges
- Air New Zealand Business class lounge access (Auckland and Hong Kong airports)
- Advance seat reservation
- Priority baggage handling
- 10kg special cabin allowance
- Business class counter check-in and boarding
- Preferred seating on Air New Zealand-operated flights.
From lounge access to guaranteed seats, Cathay Gold members have more reach when it comes to exclusive frequent flyer perks.
How to earn/retain: 600 Status Points and a minimum of one Cathay Pacific flight.
- Additional checked baggage allowance (one piece per trip)
- Guest lounge access for one person (children under 2 will be admitted without being counted as a guest)
- Priority redemption on experiences and travel packages.
If you’re planning to make use of first class lounge access, especially when travelling with your family, then aiming for the lofty heights of a Cathay Diamond membership could be well worth your while.
How to earn/retain: 1,200 Status Points and a minimum of one Cathay Pacific flight.
- First class counter check-in and boarding for the primary traveller and travel companions (regardless of fare type)
- 15kg special cabin baggage allowance
- Guaranteed economy (fare class Y), premium economy (fare class W) or business (fare class J) up to 24 hours before departure
- Cathay Pacific first class lounge access for the primary traveller and up to two guests when flying with Cathay or any oneworld member airline
- Redeem a first or business class lounge pass using Asia Miles for travel companions
- Special rates on flight redemptions when paying with ‘Miles Plus Cash’ option.
Cathay status explained
Formerly, Asia Miles members needed to pay for membership to the Marco Polo Club to be eligible to earn status. The recent program overhaul brings Cathay in line with most other airline programs, offering the ability for Cathay members to both earn miles and collect Status Points free of charge.
New members who join Cathay will automatically adopt Green status. It’s then possible to upgrade status as soon as enough Status Points are earned to upgrade to the next membership threshold.
Status will last 12 months from the date a member enrolled, renewed, upgraded or downgraded into a current membership level. Then, any time a status is retained, upgraded or downgraded, Status Points will automatically reset to zero.
Bear in mind that Cathay does not allow multiple status upgrades, so you can only progress through one membership status at a time.
How to earn Status Points
The only way to earn Cathay Status Points in Australia is to fly with Cathay Pacific or any oneworld partner airlines.
The number of points that can be earned will depend on various factors: the airline, cabin, fare class and distance travelled.
For example, should you find yourself in Asia for business, a J or C fare class (business) flight from Hong Kong to Beijing would earn 40 points each way.
Cathay has a handy Status Points calculator that allows you to work out the number of points that can be earned from each eligible flight sector.
Closer to home, a business class (J or C fare) flight from Sydney to Hong Kong would earn 85 Status Points each way. Make that trip twice in one membership year and you’ll have earned Silver status.
You can also use the calculator to search for flights on partner airlines.
A Qantas-operated flight from Hong Kong to Melbourne in economy class (Y), for example, would accrue 25 Status Points.
While Cathay members can earn Status Points by flying with partner airlines, you’ll notice that these flights earn at a reduced rate when compared with Cathay-marketed flights.
How to earn Asia Miles in Australia
Asia Miles is a surprisingly accessible currency for Australian-based travellers to earn.
There are various streams through which to rack up Cathay Asia Miles, and members in Australia aren’t at all limited when it comes to earning miles through an everyday spend (which is the easiest way to earn Asia Miles in Australia).
Transfer via American Express Membership Rewards
American Express Membership Rewards members certainly have a leg up in the Asia Miles-earning department.
It is possible to transfer Membership Rewards Points to Asia Miles at a rate of 2:1, meaning that the minimum transfer amount of 5,000 Membership Rewards Points would convert to 2,500 Asia Miles.
To complete a transfer, simply log in to your Amex account and navigate to ‘Travel Rewards & Accessories’ and then ‘Frequent Traveller Partners’. Then, select Asia Miles and complete your transfer.
Transfer via other bank rewards programs
NAB Rewards members can transfer a minimum of 3,000 NAB Rewards Points, which would equal 1,000 Asia Miles.
Similarly, 1,500 ANZ Reward Points convert to 500 Asia Miles, meaning that the minimum 3,000 Reward Points redemption would also convert to 1,000 Asia Miles.
Cathay is also a key transfer partner of several other Australian credit card rewards programs, including Citi and HSBC.
Flying with Cathay Pacific
Next in line with the easiest ways to earn Asia Miles comes flying. Taking a flight with Cathay Pacific can earn you a chunk of Asia Miles depending on the distance you travel.
As with Status Points, the number of miles earned will also depend on your fare booking class (also known as the letter preceding your flight number). As you’d expect, premium cabin tickets offer a higher yield of Asia Miles.
According to the Asia Miles Standard Award chart, an ultra-short flight of under 750 miles in distance in economy would earn 7,500 Asia Miles, while a first class seat on an ultra-long haul flight over 7,501 miles in distance would earn 125,000 Asia Miles.
It’s possible to use the mileage calculator to work out the number of miles you’ll earn on a planned flight. For example, this trip flying business class on a ‘J or C’ fare from Hong Kong to London would earn 10,500 Asia Miles, however a ‘D, P or I’ fare would earn 9,000 miles.
Be sure to provide your membership number at the time of booking to ensure you earn miles on your flight.
Flying with oneworld and other partner airlines
Asia Miles can also be earned by flying on Qantas as well as all the other oneworld airlines. Plus, Cathay also partners with a number of non-alliance airlines, including Air Canada and Lufthansa.
The table below lists all of Cathay Pacific’s current airline partners:
|Air New Zealand
|Royal Air Maroc
|Sri Lankan Airlines
It’s worth noting that miles are only earned for bookings in eligible fare classes, meaning that some Qantas sale fares in economy class won’t count.
Book a stay through booking.com
Booking.com offers yet another way to earn Asia Miles on hotel stays. Members who book a stay directly through Booking.com can earn 2 Asia Miles for every HKD10 at over one and a half million properties around the world.
Note that the booking must be made through Cathay’s website to earn miles on your booking.
Hire a car with Avis or Budget
Cathay members can take advantage of miles-earn on eligible car rentals worldwide. This means you could earn points on an open-jaw itinerary flying into one city, hiring a car and driving to another to fly out of. Here’s how many miles you could drive away with:
- At least 500 Asia Miles on car rental services (non-contracted rates)
- At least 250 Asia Miles on car rental services (contracted rates)
- 500 Asia Miles on car rental services at participating locations worldwide.
Points or miles earned on car rentals are often confined to certain regions, so the ability to earn Asia Miles on car rentals worldwide certainly adds some value to the program.
Top-up your miles
Once you have reached 70% of the Asia Miles required for your desired award, you can purchase top-up miles in blocks of 2,000 Asia Miles, which cost USD60 a pop.
This option doesn’t offer very good value. However, it may occasionally make sense if you’re chasing a particular award and need that extra boost to get you there.
How to redeem Asia Miles
So, you’ve amassed a stack of Asia Miles and now you want to use them – great! There are a few ways to do this: Flight Awards, Upgrades Awards and Lifestyle Awards.
Let’s get stuck into a rundown of each of these redemption options.
Take advantage of Flight Awards: Fly with Cathay Pacific
Taking to the skies with Cathay Pacific is a straightforward and worthwhile way to extract maximum value from Asia Miles; simply log into your account, navigate to the home page and select ‘Redeem flights’.
A Flight Award redemption starts from 7,500 Asia Miles (we’ll dig into this a bit deeper in a moment), but it’s the business and first class offerings where the value on offer really shines.
A one-way business class award seat flying from Hong Kong to Sydney, for example, can be found for 61,000 Asia Miles.
The reason why redeeming your Asia Miles for a Flight Award is so appealing is because Cathay offers very competitive reward pricing.
Qantas Frequent Flyers looking for a business class Classic Flight Reward on the same route are looking at 82,000 Qantas Points plus a pretty AUD811 in carrier charges.
Bear in mind that it can take up to six weeks for Status Points and miles to be credited to your Cathay account after your flight departure, so you may not want to bet on this for a fast redemption.
Travel with partner airlines
Redeeming Asia Miles for flights on Qantas and other oneworld alliance airline members is another popular way to get good value out of your miles. Plus, as we know, Cathay Pacific also partners with a range of non-alliance airlines, so the travel opportunities are quite extensive here.
For example, Cathay Pacific’s frequent flyer program provides access to Qantas-operated flights – usually at much cheaper rates than you’d pay if you were to use Qantas Frequent Flyer points.
Here is the current points and miles pricing for selected popular routes, valid from 18 September 2019:
|Route (flying Qantas)
|Miles (Asia Miles)
|Points (Qantas, 18 Sep onwards)
|Points difference (18 Sep onwards)
|Sydney / Brisbane to Los Angeles (one way)
|Sydney / Brisbane to Los Angeles (return)
|Syd / Mel to Hong Kong (return)
|Mel / Syd / Bris to Auckland (return)
As highlighted above, the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles scheme offers extremely favourable redemption costs when compared to Qantas – and the value is now even stronger with the Qantas increases to points needed for premium award seats.
Consequently, travellers looking to snag a return premium economy seat on a Qantas-operated flight from Sydney or Brisbane to Los Angeles will be able to save a huge 62,600 points (almost 40%) by redeeming via Asia Miles instead of Qantas.
Or, for the ultimate travel experience, why not redeem Asia Miles for a trip in Qantas First Class? A first-class Qantas award flight from Melbourne to Singapore comes in at just 75,000 Asia Miles (compared with 102,600 Qantas points).
If you wish to redeem flight awards with flight partners, you can complete a Flights Award request form online.
oneworld multi-carrier awards
In terms of award sweet spots, Cathay members can book a oneworld multi-carrier award with Asia Miles. This award allows you to fly around the world on a round-trip at incredible value and is a real gem in any frequent flyer program’s crown (if you can jag it)!
How to book: Log into your Cathay account and select ‘Redeem flights’. Then, select ‘Multi-city/stopover’ and choose your travel dates.
While the multi-city/stopover tool lets you compile an itinerary on points, the tricky part is finding flights for preferred dates. For example, a trip from Singapore to New York may be straightforward enough, but pile on a flight from New York to Los Angeles, then to Vancouver and back to Singapore and you’re pushing your luck, but it is possible and very worth it!
Since locating availability for oneworld multi-carrier awards is quite complex, it might make sense to call the airline here for support booking this redemption. Keep reading for details on how to contact Cathay Pacific from Australia.
Another worthwhile use of miles is to redeem an Upgrade Award, with the value on offer here typically higher for longer flights.
Upgrading from premium economy to business class on a flight from Hong Kong to Sydney, for example, would require 28,000 miles. Bear in mind that you would have already paid for the premium economy fare, so it’s worth crunching the numbers for the sake of ensuring good value here.
Cabin class upgrades typically work as follows:
- economy to premium economy
- premium economy to business
- economy to business (only when the flight has no premium economy class)
- business to first
You can find more information about how many miles needed for a specific upgrade on the Upgrade Award chart located on the Cathay website.
Unlike some other overseas frequent flyer programs, Cathay makes it entirely possible to redeem miles on products from Australia.
Through Cathay’s Lifestyle Awards, members can redeem a minimum of 5,000 miles across a series of 10 shopping categories including:
- fashion and beauty
To shop from this platform, simply visit Cathay Lifestyle Awards and peruse well-known brands such as Apple, Fitbit, Logitech and Samsung – note that some international delivery arrangements may affect certain purchases.
At the time of writing, Cathay members can redeem a Fitbit Sense 2 Smart Watch for 66,410 Asia Miles, however we can currently find the same product online for around AUD440.
When it comes to Lifestyle Awards, it’s best to remember that you’ll usually extract maximum value from your miles when you use them to redeem a reward seat in a premium cabin.
As such, we wouldn’t typically recommend using miles to redeem products as it almost always offers a poor value proposition.
How many Asia Miles do I need for a free flight?
The number of miles needed to redeem a flight award will depend on the distance zone and cabin; flying longer distances up the pointy end will require more miles than a short-haul flight in economy class.
Standard Cathay Pacific Flight Awards start at 7,500 miles for an ultra-short flight (under 750 miles in distance). The chart below shows how many points you will need for a Cathay Standard Award.
This means a flight from Sydney to Hong Kong in business class would cost 70,000 Asia Miles, while a short flight from Hong Kong to Beijing in economy class requires a much smaller outlay (10,000 miles).
These figures differ again for each airline partner and can be found on the airline partners award chart via the Cathay website.
Stay active, stay rewarded: When do Asia Miles expire?
Previously, Asia Miles was subject to a limiting hard expiry of three years. However, since 2020, miles will not expire as long as there is qualifying account activity.
Essentially, the updated miles expiry policy means that Asia Miles won’t expire as long as you earn or redeem at least one mile every 18 months – just like we see with the Qantas Points expiry policy.
Keeping track of your miles can prove tricky, especially when you’re a member of multiple frequent flyer programs. Check out our guide to frequent flyer points expiry for tips and tricks on how to stop your miles from expiring.
How to transfer Asia Miles
As a Cathay member, you can transfer Asia Miles to any nominee in a chosen redemption group who is also Cathay member.
Simply log in to your Cathay account, navigate to ‘manage your miles’ and select ‘transfer your Asia Miles.’ Note that you will need to have the recipient’s membership number handy.
Cathay also has a Gift Miles option, where members can spread their love by purchasing a minimum of 1,000 Asia Miles at USD32.50 to gift to a loved one.
The purchased miles will be credited to the recipient’s account within 24 hours. However, purchasing miles doesn’t typically represent good value and we wouldn’t advise it.
It’s worth noting that to do this, you and the Gift Miles recipient must have made at least one valid Asia Miles transaction in the last 12 months.
How to claim missing Asia Miles
In the event that you’ve completed a flight and haven’t seen your miles touch down, you’ll need to submit an online form with your flight details to claim missing Status Points and/or Asia Miles.
It’s worth getting onto this quickly, as claims submitted six months after the flight departure date will not be accepted.
Note that if you are successful, miles may still take up to eight weeks to appear in your transaction history.
Cathay Pacific Business Plus: A business rewards program
Do you travel for work? Cathay Pacific business Plus program could make more sense for those who travel mostly for business.
Like the business-focused Qantas Business Rewards and Virgin Australia Business Flyer, Cathay Pacific Business Plus operates separately from the Cathay program to reward business travellers each time they fly.
Aside from earning miles, the business program offers booking management tools, which could prove helpful for business owners who want to keep track of employee travel.
It’s free to sign up for Cathay Pacific Business Plus, you’ll just need to supply an active ABN and upload a company registration document.
How to contact Cathay from Australia
There are a number of ways to contact Cathay from Australia. As we mentioned, Cathay members have access to a 24-hour worldwide phone and live chat support via WhatsApp. To chat, message +852 2747 2747 or click here.
Alternatively, you can also call +61 131 747 to make flight reservations from Australia.
Summing up: Do we rate Cathay?
Though Cathay is a Hong Kong-based program, it can certainly offer value for those based down under, especially since Cathay Pacific offers good award availability with some seriously competitive pricing, which can at times be almost half the price of an equivalent Qantas award booking. This in itself makes Cathay a useful and compelling program!
Flights aside, the fact that Cathay is a key transfer partner of many Australian rewards programs – including American Express Membership Rewards – is a big win for Australian-based travellers who can amass Asia Miles via a daily credit card spend.
While Cathay Pacific may not have the outstanding business and first class offerings we see onboard Qatar and Emirates, the airline’s extensive flight network means a Cathay membership may make sense for travellers who frequently fly to Asia and Europe.
Do you collect Asia Miles?
FAQ – Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
How do I redeem my Asia Miles for awards?
Cathay members can redeem Asia Miles on Flight Awards with Cathay or any of its oneworld or other partner airlines. Redeeming miles by booking business or first class award seats usually offers the best value, however, you can also use miles for flight upgrades through Upgrade Awards or products via Lifestyle Awards.
What is the difference between Cathay and Asia Miles?
Cathay is the points loyalty program tied to Cathay Pacific’s Cathay loyalty program, through which you can earn Asia Miles. While customers can earn and redeem Asia Miles on Cathay Pacific flights, it is also possible to do so with a variety of airline partners, including Qantas and Qatar Airways.
Does Cathay Pacific have any partnerships?
Cathay Pacific is one of 13 members of the oneworld alliance. On top of this, Cathay Pacific also boasts additional partnerships with ten other airlines including Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, and Bangkok Airways.
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