Update: Cathay Pacific has extended the transfer bonus until February 28, 2017!
In this post, Million Mile Secrets contributor Andy digs into the limited-time 30% transfer bonus from hotel points to Cathay Pacific!
Asia Miles is a unique and almost too-good-to-be-true program. If you have only used US frequent flyer programs until now, you’ll be pleased to learn about its relaxed routing rules that allow backtracking and up to 5 free stopovers on one award ticket.
This 30% hotel transfer bonus is a great chance to stock up on Asia Miles.
Here are 2 examples of Big Travel:
- 72,000 Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific miles) round-trip in Premium Economy from the West Coast to Hong Kong
- 80,000 Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific miles) round-trip in Business Class from the East Coast to Europe
I’ll show you when transferring points is a good idea and help you decide if Asia Miles is a good program for you.
Which Hotels Qualify?
Most major hotel chains are participating in the promotion. Here are their transfer ratios including the 30% bonus:
- Best Western – 5,000 Best Western points to 1,300 Cathay Pacific miles
- Club Carlson – 10 Club Carlson points to 1.3 Cathay Pacific miles
- Hilton – 10,000 Hilton points to 1,300 Cathay Pacific miles
- Hyatt – 2.5 Hyatt points to 1.3 Cathay Pacific miles
- IHG – 5 IHG points to 1.3 Cathay Pacific miles
- Marriott – 10,000 Marriott points to 1,950 Cathay Pacific miles
- Starwood – 1 Starwood point to 1.3 Cathay Pacific miles
Many of these don’t offer good conversion rates to airlines.
Only 2 options on this list look good:
- Starwood and,
- To a lesser degree, Hyatt.
I’m cringing at the idea of “wasting” my Hyatt points on a hotel transfer. Hyatt points are super valuable, and I love using them for Hyatt stays.
You can transfer points to Hyatt from several credit cards, like Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Ink Plus, Ink Bold, and Ink Business Preferred. Then you can transfer Hyatt points to Asia Miles. But you’ll do better transferring Chase points to Chase’s own airline partners at a 1:1 ratio.
I love Starwood points, too, but it appears to be the only solid transfer option for this deal. Although, if you have Marriott points, you can earn more than the Cathay Pacific official exchange rate. I’ll show you how to get the best value for both options.
Transfer Starwood Points to Cathay Pacific Miles
You can transfer Starwood points to 35 airlines. And when you transfer your points in 20,000-point increments, you get an extra 5,000 mile bonus.
So, for example:
- 20,000 Starwood points gets you 25,000 Cathay Pacific miles
- 40,000 Starwood points gets you 50,000 Cathay Pacific miles
- 60,000 Starwood points gets you 75,000 Cathay Pacific miles
This is a great deal, but the Cathay Pacific 30% bonus makes it even better. From now until December 31, 2016, your 20,000 points are worth 32,500 Cathay Pacific miles. So, you eventually get a 62.5% total bonus instead of 25%.
It works like this:
- 20,000 Starwood points x 1.25 = 25,000 Cathay Pacific miles
- 25,000 Cathay Pacific miles x 1.3 (30% bonus) = 32,500 Cathay Pacific miles
Loophole: Transfer Marriott Points to Cathay Pacific Miles
The official exchange rate between Marriott and Cathay Pacific is pretty bad: 10,000 Marriott points to 1,950 Cathay Pacific miles. And that’s including the 30% bonus.
That’s a 5.2 to 1 ratio, which I can’t recommend. It gets better with the larger number of Marriott points, so if you transfer 140,000 Marriott points you get 45,500 Asia Miles (35,000 regular miles plus the 30% bonus).
But we can do better. If you link your Starwood and Marriott accounts and transfer your Marriott points to Starwood first, things start looking up.
You can get 1 Starwood point for 3 Marriott points, and 20,000 Starwood points equal 32,500 Cathay Pacific miles. So, you can transfer 60,000 Marriott points to 20,000 Starwood points to 32,500 Cathay Pacific miles.
This way, you get a much better ratio: ~1.85 Marriott points for 1 Cathay Pacific mile.
When Transferring Marriott Points via Starwood Is Not a Good Idea
Some folks will find a better value in the Marriott Hotel + Air Packages. 270,000 Marriott points normally get you 85,000 Cathay Pacific miles and a 7-day stay at a Category 1 to 5 Marriott hotel.
But with the 30% bonus you will get 110,500 Cathay Pacific miles.
So, 270,000 Marriott points can get you:
- 90,000 Starwood points that you can transfer to 143,000 Cathay Pacific miles
- Or 110,500 Cathay Pacific miles and a 1-week vacation at a Category 1 to 5 Marriott hotel
So, is a 1-week hotel stay worth an extra 35,750 Cathay Pacific miles? It depends on what type of traveler you are.
If you like to stay for a week in one place, you can earn a lot of Cathay Pacific miles and still have a great vacation at some fabulous hotels.
Or you could stay at the ultra-luxurious JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa in India and explore the Himalayas.
But you might prefer to transfer to Starwood, then Cathay Pacific if:
- You don’t like to stay long at the same place
- You don’t have 270,000 Marriott points
- You value Business or First Class flying more than hotels
Keep in mind that you won’t get your miles right away. So, folks who want to plan their bookings soon, won’t be able to do so.
… the regular miles must be credited to the member’s account on or before 28 February 2017).
… The Bonus Asia Miles will be credited to member’s Asia Miles account in one go with the description “30% Hotel Points Conversion Bonus (2016)” on or before 31 March 2017, separately from the regular miles.
But if your goal is to collect Cathay Pacific miles long-term, this can be a great opportunity.
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is a distance-based program. And there are a lot of sweet spots in it, like 72,000 Cathay Pacific miles in Premium Economy from the West Coast to Hong Kong. Or 80,000 Cathay Pacific miles in Business Class from the East Coast to Europe per round-trip.
Asia Miles has 2 different award charts, and we’ll talk in detail about them in our next installment, where I’ll show you how to get up to 5 free stopovers on 1 Cathay Pacific award ticket!
Until December 31, 2016, you can convert hotel points from various programs to Cathay Pacific miles with a 30% bonus. This is an especially valuable option for converting Starwood points. Because if you transfer Starwood points in 20,000-point increments, you already receive a regular 25% bonus.
So, the Cathay Pacific 30% bonus can increase your transfer ratio from 1.25X to 1.625X. But do NOT transfer more than 60,000 Starwood points in any 24-hour period, or you will miss out on one of the 25% bonuses.
You can also transfer Marriott points to Cathay Pacific miles, but to get the most of this promotion, you need to transfer them to Starwood first. This way you will get ~1.85 Marriott points for 1 Cathay Pacific mile.
But for some folks, using the Marriott Hotel + Air Package could be a better deal. It all depends on your travel patterns.
Check out my other posts on how to get a great value out of Cathay Pacific miles with 5 free stopovers & 2 open jaws allowed on Cathay Pacific award flights. And secret ways to book Cathay Pacific award flights.