The default frequent flyer programme for 99% of Singaporean travellers is Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer. That’s partly due to national pride and SQ’s strong branding, but largely because SQ serves the most destinations from Singapore (duh).
However, Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles programme is actually a pretty strong runner-up to KrisFlyer. Look at most credit cards rewards catalogues, and you’ll see conversion to Asia Miles as an option alongside KrisFlyer miles.
So if you’re
a traitor to the nation not particularly loyal to our national carrier, you might be wondering if it’s worth it to switch to Asia Miles instead. The short answer is yes, Asia Miles is a good choice if you like travelling to Hong Kong, China and Japan.
In this article, we’ll have a look at the differences between Asia Miles vs KrisFlyer, and explain how you can earn and redeem Asia Miles effectively.
How does Asia Miles membership work?
Asia Miles is Cathay Pacific’s frequent flyer programme, and it allows you to redeem flights on Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon (CX’s regional airline) and over 20 partner airlines.
Since it’s essentially a rewards programme, the default way for members to earn Asia Miles is by flying with CX and their partner airlines.
Signing up for Asia Miles makes total sense if you frequently fly on Cathay Pacific and/or OneWorld alliance – for example, if you often shuttle between Singapore and Hong Kong. This Asia Miles calculator shows you how many miles you can earn with your flights.
More importantly, you can earn Asia Miles with your regular spending through credit cards and redeem flights for free.
By the way, you shouldn’t mix up Asia Miles with the other Cathay Pacific loyalty programme, Marco Polo Club. This is CX’s VIP membership programme and it has a US$100 enrolment fee. Flight redemptions are still done through Asia Miles.
Becoming an Asia Miles member, on the other hand, is totally free. You just need to fill in this form to join the club.
Which are the Asia Miles airlines?
The obvious Asia Miles airlines are Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon. Most Singaporeans would be happy with just these alone, because Cathay Pacific flies to many of our favourite destinations in East Asia: Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Japan and Korea.
CX also flies to several destinations in the US and Europe. You can see a full list of Cathay Pacific destinations from Singapore here. Note that most involve a stop in Hong Kong.
Apart from the Cathay airlines, Asia Miles can also be used on the other airlines in the OneWorld alliance:
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Japan Airlines
- Latam Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Jordanian
- S7 Airlines
- Sri Lankan Airlines
There are also a few other CX partner airlines that are also on the Asia Miles programme:
- Aer Lingus
- Air Canada
- Air China
- Air New Zealand
- Alaskan Airlines
- Austrian Airlines
- Bangkok Airways
- Gulf Air
- Jet Airways
- Shenzhen Airlines
KrisFlyer has a similar number of airlines to this. Apart from the main airline (CX vs SQ), the other big difference is that KrisFlyer serves Star Alliance instead of OneWorld. You can compare this list against the KrisFlyer airlines here.
Which are the best credit cards for earning Asia Miles?
While KrisFlyer miles are ubiquitous in all Singapore credit card rewards catalogues, Asia Miles isn’t available from all banks. OCBC and Standard Chartered do NOT offer Asia Miles.
That said, you can earn Asia Miles with pretty much every other bank, including DBS, UOB, Citibank and so on. Here are the banks that let you convert points to Asia Miles.
|UOB||5,000 points = 10,000 Asia Miles|
|DBS||5,000 points = 10,000 Asia Miles|
|Citibank||25,000 points = 10,000 Asia Miles|
|Bank of China||36,000 points = 6,000 Asia Miles|
|HSBC||5,000 points = 2,000 Asia Miles|
|Maybank||5,000 points = 2,000 Asia Miles|
|American Express||450 points = 250 Asia Miles|
Some of the best credit cards in Singapore for earning Asia Miles are…
BOC Elite Miles Card: Currently the best miles card for overseas spending, giving you 3 miles per $1 spent overseas, the highest among the miles cards in Singapore.
UOB Preferred Platinum Card: A totally underrated card for earning miles fast with your local spending. You get 4 miles per $1 spent locally online and via contactless payment. Which is practically everything.
Citibank Rewards Card: Shopaholics should love this credit card as it gives you 4 miles per $1 spent on shoes, bags and clothes, or at department stores. This applies both locally or overseas, online and offline.
If you’re expecting to spend a bomb in the coming months, it’s worthwhile to also check out which cards have welcome miles promotions for hitting a significant minimum spend. Just make sure it’s a bank that lets you change points to Asia Miles.
Are there other ways to earn Asia Miles?
As you’d know if you read my previous article on KrisFlyer miles, playing this miles game can be damn nerdy.
You know you’re turning into a serious miles chaser if you start doing the following “optimisations” to maximise your chances of earning miles…
Travel booking: You quote your Asia Miles membership number before booking hotels on Agoda, Booking.com, Hotels.com, Trip.com and other Asia Miles travel partners.
NTUC LinkPoints: You sign up for NTUC membership and start earning rewards points, not because you like fighting over fruits with the aunties at NTUC FairPrice, but because NTUC LinkPoints can be exchanged for Asia Miles.
Asia Miles iShop: Before you put anything in your shopping cart, you check the Asia Miles e-commerce site to see if your purchase is eligible for miles. Some of the best ways to earn miles are by shopping on StrawberryNet (US$1 = 5 Asia Miles), iHerb (US$1 = 3.5 Asia Miles) and Zalora (US$1 = 2.5 miles).
However, this is nowhere near as extreme as KrisFlyer miles chasing can get (earning miles on your insurance and all). The primary form of collecting Asia Miles will still be through your credit card(s).
How many Asia Miles do you need to fly?
If you’ve been kinda unimpressed with Asia Miles so far, here’s one redeeming feature it has for Singaporeans: for certain destinations, it can actually be “cheaper” to fly using Asia Miles rather than KrisFlyer miles.
I ran a few favourite destinations through the Asia Miles redemption calculator. The “prices” are for return tickets on Economy Standard (i.e. the cheapest option), with KrisFlyer miles side by side for comparison:
|Return flights||Asia Miles needed||KrisFlyer miles needed|
|Singapore to Bangkok||20,000||25,000|
|Singapore to Hong Kong||20,000||30,000|
|Singapore to Beijing||50,000||40,000|
|Singapore to Tokyo||50,000||50,000|
|Singapore to Melbourne||50,000||56,000|
|Singapore to London / Paris||70,000||76,000|
|Singapore to New York||N/A||80,000|
As you can see, it’s quite a bit cheaper to use Asia Miles to fly from Singapore to Bangkok and Singapore to Hong Kong. (Singapore to Melbourne, London or Paris are also cheaper in Asia Miles, but the difference isn’t quite as dramatic.)
If you like the idea of doing a transit in Hong Kong, it’s a good idea to also explore destinations you can fly to from there. You get a lot more options from HKG, especially destinations in Japan and China. Some highlights:
|Return flights||Asia Miles needed|
|Hong Kong to Taipei / Kaohsiung||15,000|
|Hong Kong to Tokyo / Nagoya / Osaka / Seoul / Shanghai||20,000|
|Hong Kong to Maldives||44,000|
|Hong Kong to London / San Francisco / Los Angeles||60,000|
|Hong Kong to New York||84,000|
In some cases, this works out even “cheaper” than flying direct. For example, Hong Kong to Tokyo return is only 20,000 Asia Miles. Add that to the 20,000 Asia Miles spent on your return flights from Singapore to Hong Kong, and you only need 40,000 miles for a multi-city trip.
That’s actually less than the 50,000 miles it takes to fly from Singapore to Tokyo return with either Asia Miles or KrisFlyer.
What’s the Asia Miles redemption process?
If you have a particular goal destination in mind already, you should first check out the feasible flight routes using the Asia Miles redemption calculator.
(Or, if you’ve already got a bunch of miles are just want to know how you can spend them, click on the “Inspire Me” tab to see where your miles can take you.)
Either way, you’ll need to have some kind of number in mind before you convert your credit card rewards points to miles. Try to get “exact change” by only changing the denominations you need. You will also need to factor in a conversion fee (typically $25) and lead time (around a week).
After they’re credited to your account, Asia Miles expire within 3 years. So you need to use them up by redeeming an award flight before then. The flight date cannot be after the expiry date.
Flights on Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon and some partner airlines can be redeemed online instantly. If the flight you want can’t be done online, you need to submit a Flight Award request or call the Asia Miles Singapore hotline at 800 852 3747 (24 hours).
There are 3 types of award tickets available:
- Standard (cheapest but fewest seats, available for CX and all partner airlines)
- Choice (more expensive but more seating options, only for Cathay Pacific/Dragon)
- Tailored (most expensive with the most options, only for Cathay Pacific/Dragon)
You can also use your Asia Miles to redeem flight upgrades, extra baggage/legroom, or companion tickets (if you paid for a Business/First class ticket).
Award tickets are valid for 1 year from the date of issue. But think carefully before you commit, because it’ll cost you either money or miles to change anything. Yikes.
|Change travel dates (online form)||US$25 / 1,000 Asia Miles|
|Change travel dates (other channels)||US$40 / 4,000 Asia Miles|
|Change flight destination||US$100 / 10,000 Asia Miles|
|Cancel unused ticket||US$120 / 12,000 Asia Miles|
Did we miss out any important things you need to know about Asia Miles? Tell us in the comments!