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How to fly Qantas with American Express Membership Rewards

When it comes to rewards programs, Australians are spoilt for choice. But with each program offering different earn rates and redemption opportunities, it can be confusing to know where to start.

For many savvy points collectors, the versatility to access redemptions across multiple programs, when they want them, is key.

American Express Membership Rewards® is a program of choice for many seasoned travellers, offering a range of leading airline and hotel transfer partners.

As a flexible points currency, Membership Rewards offers versatility and value – so long as your Account is in good standing, there’s no expiry, and you’re not locked into spending your points with a single program.

In my opinion, one of the very best ways to use Membership Rewards points is to use them for Qantas and oneworld-operated award flight redemptions via Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.

Simply put, by booking Qantas-operated award flights through Asia Miles, you could save significantly on the number of points required.

Earning Cathay Pacific Asia Miles with American Express

With Membership Rewards, it's surprisingly easy for Australians to earn into the Asia Miles loyalty program.

In fact, while there is currently no direct Asia Miles earning card in Australia, points can be obtained via a number of rewards Credit and Charge Cards available through American Express.

Once you've earned your stack of Membership Rewards Points, simply transfer them to Asia Miles via your online American Express Account and redeem them for Qantas-operated award flights via the Asia Miles website.

American Express Membership Rewards Points transfer across to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles at a 2:1 rate. In my opinion, that’s a substantially more generous transfer rate than many other programs that operate in Australia.

Where could a stash of Asia Miles take you on Qantas?

We’ve crunched the numbers on four popular award redemption options, all operated by Qantas.

The table below provides a comparison of the points and miles needed for Cathay Pacific Asia Miles vs Qantas Frequent Flyer at current redemption rates (excluding applicable taxes/carrier fees):

Route (flying Qantas)CabinMiles (Asia Miles)Points (Qantas)Airline Points savedAmex Membership Rewards points saved
Sydney / Brisbane to Los Angeles (one way)Business Class75,000108,40033,40066,800
Sydney / Brisbane to Los Angeles (return)Premium Economy100,000162,60062,600125,200
Syd / Mel to Hong Kong (return)Premium Economy70,000102,60032,60065,200
Mel / Syd / Bris to Auckland (return)Business Class60,00083,00023,00046,000
Sydney to Singapore (one-way)First Class75,000102,60027,60055,200

As highlighted above, the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles program offers competitive redemption costs across all routes we’ve showcased.

In fact, travellers looking to snag a return premium economy seat on a Qantas-operated direct flight from Sydney or Brisbane to Los Angeles will be able to save a huge 125,200 Membership Rewards points (or 62,600 airline points, almost 40%) by redeeming via Asia Miles instead of booking direct with Qantas.

And, booking a one-way lie-flat business class seat on the same route via Asia Miles as opposed to booking with Qantas Frequent Flyer is no slouch either – you'll save 66,800 Membership Rewards points (or 33,400 airline points).

Or, for the ultimate travel experience, why not redeem Asia Miles for a trip in Qantas First Class on the A380, complete with your own private suite, a pre-departure visit to the Qantas First Lounge, and Neil Perry tasting menu?

On several occasions, I’ve been lucky enough to lock in a first-class Qantas award flight from Melbourne to Singapore using just 75,000 Asia Miles (compared with 102,600 Qantas points).

It’s worth noting that selected award seats for Qantas flights might only be available via the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, and not via external partners such as Asia Miles, and that there are very limited redemption seats on offer at present, due to unprecedented demand. Searching for award flights as soon as they are loaded into the system (up to eleven months out) will give you the best chance of snagging a dream redemption on your preferred dates.

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Redeeming Asia Miles for other airline partners

Of course, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles isn't just redeemable for Qantas flights. Via Membership Rewards, it’s possible to unlock Asia Miles redemptions on other highly regarded oneworld airline partners including Qatar Airways, Finnair, and Japan Airlines.

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It’s possible to redeem Membership Rewards Points for a jaunt in Qatar Airways QSuites business class via Asia Miles

Another option for redeeming Asia Miles is flying on Cathay Pacific itself.

While Cathay Pacific flights and access to Hong Kong have been restricted during the pandemic, Cathay Pacific has historically operated flights from a number of Australian cities to Hong Kong and beyond.

Cathay Pacific operates exceptional business class and first-class products, and their Lounges in Hong Kong are of an excellent standard.

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American Express Card Members Jennifer and Andrew have used their Membership Rewards Points to unlock Cathay Pacific First Class redemptions

Joining Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and linking to American Express

It’s simple and there’s no fee to join the Asia Miles program from Australia – you can sign up instantly on the Cathay Pacific website here.

Once your Asia Miles account is up and running, you can easily link it to your American Express Membership Rewards account and start transferring points across.

Asia Miles has recently upgraded its website flight search functionality, and flights for Qantas and most oneworld partners are bookable online. Flights for selected airline partners may need to be booked via the call centre.

Bottom line

Through American Express Membership Rewards, the Cathay Pacific Asia Miles airline program offers compelling value for savvy frequent flyers seeking award redemptions on Qantas and other oneworld partner-operated flights.

The analysis covered in this article includes just a small number of the routes that you could book via Asia Miles at competitive rates.

Since Asia Miles are able to be indirectly earned via a range of American Express Membership Rewards-linked credit and charge cards, the program is very accessible to Australian travellers.

Which American Express Cards are linked to Membership Rewards?

American Express offers a range of Membership Rewards Cards that count Asia Miles as a transfer partner and provide a generous (uncapped) earn rate on everyday spend. Top picks include:

  • American Express Platinum Card: Receive up to 200,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points – that’s 150,000 Bonus Membership Rewards Points when you apply online, are approved, and spend $5,000 on your new Card within the first 3 months. Plus, an additional 50,000 Bonus Membership Rewards Points in Year 2 upon fee renewal. T&Cs apply. New Card Members only.
  • American Express Explorer Credit Card: Receive 100,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points when you apply, are approved, and spend $4,000 on your new Card within the first 3 months. T&Cs apply. New Card Members only.
  • American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card: Enjoy 30,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points with the American Express Platinum Edge Card. This offer is available when you apply and are approved by Wednesday 27th July 2022. T&Cs apply. New Card Members only.

Browse the full list of American Express Membership Rewards Credit Cards here.

This article is sponsored by American Express. Opinions expressed in this article solely belong to The Champagne Mile. Points redemption rates we’ve published here are correct as at 26 April 2022 and subject to airline T&Cs and availability. Fees and charges are payable in addition to the points redeemed.

The earning and redemption of Membership Rewards points is subject to the terms and conditions of the American Express Membership Rewards program. To transfer Membership Rewards points into an airline rewards or frequent guest partner program you must be a member of the partner program. Membership of the partner program is the Card Member’s responsibility and is subject to the Terms and Conditions of the applicable program. A joining fee may apply.

Cards are offered, issued, and administered by American Express Australia Limited ABN 92 108 952 085, Australian Credit Licence No. 291313

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