Cathay Pacific Credit card review

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See breakdown of this card’s rating

Until recently, a co-branded credit card for Cathay Pacific was a possibility only for Hong Kong or Macau residents. But a U.S. Visa Signature card (issued by Synchrony Bank) became available in February 2017. The card has a $95 annual fee.

Cathay Pacific is known for luxury (its first-class and business cabins come highly recommended), and rewards bloggers frequently mention the airline as a less-obvious place to look for reward-seat availability to Asia. But is the co-branded card the best way to rack up miles for this airline? Our review will help you decide.

The rewards

This card helps you earn Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific’s rewards currency). You’ll get:

  • 2 Asia Miles per $1 on eligible Cathay Pacific travel and in-flight purchases
  • 1.5 Asia Miles per $1 on dining
  • 1.5 Asia Miles per $1 on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • 1 Asia Mile per $1 spent on all other U.S. purchases

Getting 2 miles per dollar on airline purchases is pretty standard for airline co-branded cards. But this card offers some non-airline bonus categories as well. Most notable is the “foreign purchases” category. This is a rare bonus category and an interesting one, considering it can be difficult to earn bonus rewards on foreign purchases. Other cards that reward bonus points for dining may not give you those bonus points for restaurants abroad, as their dining bonus category may be limited to U.S. restaurants only. This card guarantees bonus miles for every purchase made abroad.

Currently, the card is also offering a sign-up bonus of 25,000 Asia miles after you spend $2,500 within 90 days of opening your account.

The perks

The Cathay Pacific Visa Signature card also rewards your loyalty with perks when you fly the airline, including:

  • Complimentary Green tier membership in the Marco Polo Club (Cathay Pacific’s loyalty program) for a year. Green membership gives you priority boarding, a more generous checked-baggage allowance and the ability to redeem miles for extra-legroom seats and lounge access. Note that this complimentary status is available for just the first year. You’ll need to pay $100 per year to maintain it after that.
  • Visa Signature benefits. These include roadside assistance and concierge service. For exact details, you’ll need to review your card benefits when you receive your card.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

Should you get the card?

As with all airline rewards cards, the answer depends on your travel habits and needs. But consider the following points while making your decision:

  • You can get Asia Miles with other credit cards (with broader appeal): You can transfer reward points to Asia Miles from the Membership Rewards program from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner), Citi’s ThankYou rewards program and the Starwood Preferred Guest program. That means you could get a credit card (with a comparable annual fee) that earns flexible points, transferable to not only Asia miles, but other frequent-flier programs. Translation: The Cathay Pacific card isn’t the only way to earn Asia Miles.

  • The perks may not be that exciting: Green-level status may not be that much of a money-saver for you. As Cathay Pacific is a foreign carrier, you generally will get the first checked bag free anyway. Free-bag benefits are much more exciting on domestic carriers that nickel and dime your, starting from the first checked bag. Plus, you get Green status for just first year – after that, you’ll need to pay for it.

Disclaimers aside, if you fly Cathay Pacific frequently (perhaps you travel to Asia a lot on business) and make a lot of purchases abroad, this could be the card for you. Buying business class tickets at 2 miles per dollar will help you rack up Asia Miles, and the unique foreign-purchases category would help you earn even more.

For most travelers, though, a flexible travel-rewards card would likely pay off more in the long run.

Why we gave it 3 out of 5 stars

This card was rated based on our standards for co-branded airline cards. While the card does have some benefits to consider, it doesn’t provide an extraordinary value for most fliers.

Bonus-earning opportunities: This card offers both a sign-up bonus and non-airline bonus categories.
Rewards flexibility/simplicity: Miles do expire, but, with a shelf life of 3 years, Cathay Pacific’s policy is more lax than that of most airlines. Miles can also be redeemed with partners in the Oneworld alliance.
Unique perks: This card automatically gives low-level elite status the first year and has a unique bonus category (foreign purchases).
Companion benefits: No companion-ticket benefits offered.
Fair fees: The monetary value of the perks does not meet our standard of offsetting the annual fee with three or fewer round trips per year.

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