The Big Travel Guide to American Express Membership Rewards Points – Part 11: Best Ways to Fly to Asia

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

The Big Travel Guide to American Express Membership Rewards Points – Part 11: Best Ways to Fly to Asia

Million Mile SecretsThe Big Travel Guide to American Express Membership Rewards Points – Part 11: Best Ways to Fly to AsiaMillion Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

You get lots of travel flexibility with AMEX Membership Rewards points.  Because if you don’t have set travel plans for a future trip, these transferable points give you the option to choose from multiple airline and hotel partners when the time comes.

Folks in the miles & points hobby know earning transferable points, like AMEX Membership Rewards points, are the best way to get Big Travel.  This can mean a First Class adventure around-the-world, family trip to Europe, or so many other options!  And it’s easy to earn AMEX Membership Rewards points from some of the best American Express cards.

The AMEX Membership Rewards points program has many direct airline and hotel partners.  

Plus, you’ll get access to other indirect partners, which gives you choices for flights to Asia! 

Or you can keep it simple and use AMEX Pay With Points to book flights through the Membership Rewards travel portal and get a fixed amount per point.

Use Your AMEX Points to Get to Thailand for Cheap!

We’ll show you the best ways to use AMEX Membership Rewards Points for flights to Asia!

The Ultimate Guide to American Express Membership Rewards Points:

Cards That Earn Transferable AMEX Membership Rewards Points

You can earn AMEX Membership Rewards points with the following cards:

AMEX Membership Rewards Points for Flights to Asia

AMEX has several direct airline transfer partners that are great for flights to Asia.

No matter what you’re interested in, there’s a great destination (or many!) for you to visit in Asia.

You Could Visit Tokyo and Enjoy Japanese Food Like Team Member Jasmin and Her Kids Did Earlier This Year

 

When you’re transferring AMEX Membership Rewards points to an airline partner for flights to Asia, consider:

  • Destination you’d like to visit
  • Which airlines fly from your home airport
  • Your airline & alliance preferences

Keep in mind there are a limited number of non-stop flights from the US to Asia, depending on where you are headed.  So you’ll may have to make a connection or two.

If you’re planning a trip to Asia, we recommend setting aside some time to plan your award flights.

These flights typically require a lot of points or miles.  So you’ll want to confirm all the details with the airline partner before transferring AMEX Membership Rewards points.

1.   Air Canada

You can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Air Canada Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio to use for flights to Asia!

Air Canada is part of the Star Alliance.  This means you can redeem Air Canada Aeroplan miles for award flights on partner airlines like:

  • Air China
  • Air India
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Egypt Air
  • EVA Airways
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
  • Singapore Airlines
  • SWISS Air
  • Thai Airways
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines

Keep in mind, you’ll pay fuel surcharges when you redeem Air Canada Aeroplan miles on certain airlines.  These charges can range from ~$50 up to several hundred dollars.

From the US to Asia 1, one-way award flights cost:

  • 37,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in coach
  • 62,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in Premium Economy
  • 75,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in Business Class
  • 105,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in First Class

Asia 1 includes the following countries:

  • China
  • Eastern Russia
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Macau
  • Mongolia
  • North Korea
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan

From the US to Asia 2, one-way award flights cost:

  • 45,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in coach
  • 65,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in Premium Economy
  • 77,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in Business Class
  • 107,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles in First Class

Asia 2 includes the following countries:

  • Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • Indonesia
  • Laos
  • Malaysia
  • Micronesia (including Guam)
  • Myanmar
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
Air Canada Miles Can Get You to Beautiful Singapore in Style – Maybe Even Direct From the US!

If you’re looking for non-stop flight options from the US, your best options are:

  • Singapore Airlines flights to Singapore (SIN)
  • Thai Airways flights to Bangkok (BKK)
  • EVA Air flights to Taipei (TPE)
  • United Airlines flights to a variety of destinations

Keep in mind, it is very unlikely you’ll find Business Class or First Class award seats available on the non-stop flights.

For folks not in the non-stop departure cities, you’ll have to connect.  Or if you’d rather route yourself on a specific airlines that are well known for their service or seat like Thai Airways or Singapore Airlines.

To find available award seats to Asia on Star Alliance partner airlines, we recommend searching the United Airlines website for “Saver” level awards.

One especially exciting thing to note about using Air Canada miles is that you’ll generally have access to EVA Air award seats before other airlines, so snatch those up when you see them!

2.   Delta

Delta does not publish an award chart.  So you’ll need to search specific award flights to find prices.

From our research, we found the cheapest one-way award flights to Asia cost:

  • 30,000 Delta miles in coach 
  • 80,000 Delta miles in Business Class

Delta does occasionally offer award sales with even better prices, so watch out for those!

Keep in mind, you might find limited available Business Class award seats, especially when using Delta miles for partner airline flights.

Check the Delta Award Calendar for Available Award Seats Before Transferring AMEX Membership Rewards Points, Because The Award Prices Might be High!

Delta is part of the SkyTeam Alliance, so the best way to fly to Asia without fuel surcharges is on China Airlines.

You can fly on China Airlines to Taipei from the following US cities:

  • Honolulu
  • Los Angeles
  • New York
  • Ontario
  • San Francisco

You can then connect onward to many other destinations in Asia!

Although redeeming Delta miles is not always the cheapest option for award flights, there are some advantages.

For example, the award calendar is easy to search.  And you can book award flights quickly online.

3.   ANA

ANA is also part of the Star Alliance, which means you can book award flights to Asia on partners like Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines.  You can also book flights right on ANA!

You can NOT book one-way award flights using ANA miles.  And ANA has different prices depending on if you are flying ANA or a partner airline.

ANA Has Different Award Prices Depending on What Airline You Are Flying and Where in Asia You Are Heading.  Make Sure You Are Looking at the Right Prices!

ANA splits Asia up into four different categories, so this is going to get a little complicated. ANA also has low, regular, and high season prices for their own flights.

For round-trip flights to Japan on ANA, you’ll pay (low season, regular season, high season):

  • 45,000, 50,000, or 55,000 ANA miles in coach
  • 75,000, 85,000, or 90,000 ANA miles in Business Class
  • 150,000, 150,000, or 165,000 ANA miles in First Class

For round-trip flights to South Korea or Asia 1 on ANA, you’ll pay (low season, regular season, high season):

  • 45,000, 55,000, or 60,000 ANA miles in coach
  • 80,000, 90,000, or 95,000 ANA miles in Business Class
  • 165,000, 165,000, or 180,000 ANA miles in First Class

Asia 1 is considered to be Guam, Taiwan, Mainland China, the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Macau.

For round-trip flights to Asia 2 on ANA, you’ll pay (low season, regular season, high season):

  • 55,000, 65,000, or 70,000 ANA miles in coach
  • 100,000, 110,000, or 115,000 ANA miles in Business Class
  • 195,000, 195,000, or 210,000 ANA miles in First Class

Asia 2 is considered to be Afghanistan, British Indian Ocean Territory, India, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, East Timor, Bhutan, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar, Maldives, Mongolia, and Laos.

If you’re booking flights on partners, you’ll pay the following prices:

To Japan:

  • 50,000 to 55,000 ANA miles in coach
  • 85,000 to 90,000 ANA miles in Business Class
  • 150,000 to 165,000 ANA miles in First Class

To South Korea and Asia 1:

  • 60,000 ANA miles in coach
  • 95,000 ANA miles in Business Class
  • 180,000 ANA miles in First Class

To Asia 2:

  • 80,000 ANA miles in coach
  • 136,000 ANA miles in Business Class
  • 240,000 ANA miles in First Class

Keep in mind, ANA adds significant fuel surcharges (up to ~$1,000) on certain partner award flights.

For example, we found a sample round-trip itinerary from San Francisco to Kuala Lumpur.  You’ll pay 60,000 ANA miles plus ~$313 in taxes and fees.

These Taxes Aren’t Bad, but Remember to Watch Out For High Taxes With ANA

But remember, ANA has different prices for flights on partner airlines!  If you wanted to fly from San Francisco to Kuala Lumpur on a partner airline, your price would be 80,000 ANA miles and a different amount of taxes depending on the partner airline and route.

Remember, ANA Has Different Prices for Their Own Flights and Partner Flights

But the sweet spot using ANA miles is for flights with partner Etihad.  And unlike other ANA partners, there are no fuel surcharges when you use ANA miles for Etihad award flights.

Use ANA Miles to Book Etihad First Class Award Flights and Pay No Fuel Surcharges!

You can fly non-stop on Etihad to Abu Dhabi from:

  • Chicago
  • Los Angeles
  • New York (JFK)
  • Washington, DC

Then connect from Abu Dhabi to other destinations in Asia.

You’ll need to call ANA at 800-235-9262 to book Etihad award flights.

4.   Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines is another Star Alliance airline.  So you can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Singapore Airlines to book award flights on partner airlines like Air Canada or Thai Airways.

You can also redeem Singapore Airlines miles for award flights directly on the airline.

Redeem Singapore Airlines Miles for Flights to Asia Like Team Member Keith and His Wife

Here are the prices for one-way Star Alliance partner flights using Singapore Airlines miles from North America to South East Asia 1 and 2:

  • 55,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
  • 97,500 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class
  • 135,000 Singapore Airlines miles in First Class

Singapore Airlines considers the following countries to be part of South East Asia 1 and 2:

  • Brunei
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Myanmar
  • Philippines
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

For one-way Star Alliance flights to North Asia 1, you’ll pay:

  • 48,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
  • 105,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class
  • 125,000 Singapore Airlines miles in First Class

And for one-way Star Alliance flights to North Asia 2, you’ll pay:

  • 54,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
  • 105,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class
  • 125,000 Singapore Airlines miles in First Class

Singapore Airlines considers the following countries to be part of North Asia 1 and 2:

  • Hong Kong
  • Macau
  • Taiwan
  • China
  • Guam
  • Japan
  • Micronesia
  • Palau
  • Russia Far East
  • South Korea
Get Off the Beaten Path and Visit Myanmar With Your Singapore Airlines Miles

Singapore Airlines has different prices for their own award flights to different parts of Asia depending if you’re departing the US from the East Coast or West Coast.

From the West Coast to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, one-way saver award flights on Singapore Airlines cost:

  • 38,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
  • 65,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Premium Economy
  • 88,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class
  • 118,000 Singapore Airlines miles in First Class

And from the East Coast to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, one-way saver award flights on Singapore Airlines cost:

  • 40,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
  • 70,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Premium Economy
  • 92,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class
  • 120,000 Singapore Airlines miles in First Class

One-way saver award flights from the West Coast to South China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan on Singapore Airlines cost:

  • 33,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
  • 60,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Premium Economy
  • 82,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class
  • 92,000 Singapore Airlines miles in First Class

For saver award flight prices from the East Coast to South China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan on Singapore Airlines, you’ll pay:

  • 48,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
  • 85,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Premium Economy
  • 100,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class
  • 135,000 Singapore Airlines miles in First Class

One-way saver award flights from the West Coast to North China (Beijing and Shanghai) on Singapore Airlines requiring calling Singapore Airlines to confirm the exact mileage required.

For saver award flight prices from the East Coast to North China (Beijing and Shanghai) on Singapore Airlines, you’ll pay:

  • 55,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
  • 90,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Premium Economy
  • 110,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class
  • 145,000 Singapore Airlines miles in First Class

One-way saver award flights from the West Coast to South Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Bangladesh) on Singapore Airlines cost:

  • 46,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
  • 83,500 Singapore Airlines miles in Premium Economy
  • 98,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class
  • 138,000 Singapore Airlines miles in First Class

For saver award flight prices from the East Coast to South Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Bangladesh) on Singapore Airlines, you’ll pay:

  • 55,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
  • 88,500 Singapore Airlines miles in Premium Economy
  • 110,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class
  • 145,000 Singapore Airlines miles in First Class

One-way saver award flights from the West Coast to Japan and South Korea on Singapore Airlines cost:

  • 35,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
  • 63,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Premium Economy
  • 85,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class
  • 95,000 Singapore Airlines miles in First Class

For saver award flight prices from the East Coast to Japan and South Korea on Singapore Airlines, you’ll pay:

  • 58,000 Singapore Airlines miles in coach
  • 92,500 Singapore Airlines miles in Premium Economy
  • 115,000 Singapore Airlines miles in Business Class
  • 150,000 Singapore Airlines miles in First Class

The good news is Singapore Airlines award flights are usually easy to book online.  But if you plan to fly the airline to Asia, expect a lengthy flight itinerary.  Because you’ll likely be connecting via Singapore to get to your final destination.

For example, we found a one-way Business Class award flight from Los Angeles to Phuket, Thailand.  But you’ll have 2 layovers, including in San Francisco and then in Beijing.  The total travel time is 30+ hours.  There was also a 1-stop option with a 14-hour layover in Beijing, but that still resulted in over 30 hours of travel time!

Keep in mind, you’ll pay high taxes on Singapore Airlines award flights, which can be in the hundreds of dollars.

So it might not be worth redeeming miles for a coach ticket.  But it could make sense to pay taxes for a Business Class or First Class seat, which might otherwise cost thousands of dollars!

5.   Flying Blue

Flying Blue is the frequent flyer program for Air France and KLM.  You can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points directly to the program at a 1:1 ratio.

Visit Bangkok’s Famous Wat Phra Kaew on Your Trip to Thailand

Flying Blue now has an award calculator tool to allow you to see how many miles a flight will cost, but you need to log into your Flying Blue account to get to it.  And keep in mind, the taxes and fees vary by flight, but usually range from ~$200 in coach to ~$500 in Business Class.

For example, when we calculated the prices from Los Angeles to Bangkok, Thailand, we found that prices start at the following:

  • 37,500 Flying Blue miles in coach
  • 68,000 Flying Blue miles in Premium Economy
  • 93,000 Flying Blue miles in Business Class
  • 320,000 Flying Blue miles in First Class

And yes, those prices are each way!

In general, Flying Blue’s rates to Asia aren’t the best, but they sometimes have availability you won’t be able to find with other airlines, so it may be worth a look!

Save Time (and Possibly Points) Using AMEX Pay With Points

If there are no award flights available for your desired travel dates, or you just can’t find an itinerary that meets your requirements, you can always redeem points for airfare using Pay With Points through the Membership Rewards travel portal.

When you use your AMEX Membership Rewards points towards air travel, you’ll get 1 cent per point towards your ticket.  And folks with The Business Platinum® Card from American Express can effectively get ~1.54 cents per point using the Pay With Points perk to get 35% of their points back when they book coach seats on their selected airline, or Business or First Class seats on any airline.

For example, we found a round-trip Delta coach flight from Chicago to Bali, Indonesia.  This flight costs ~$841 or ~84,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points.

If You Find a Cheap Paid Fare It Can Make a LOT More Sense to Use AMEX Pay With Points

You could book this same flight by transferring points to AMEX airline partners Air Canada or ANA.  Assuming award flights are available on the same dates, you’d pay:

  • 80,000 ANA miles if flying with one of ANA’s partners
  • 90,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles

That means that booking through AMEX Travel is cheaper than booking with Air Canada miles AND you can earn frequent flyer miles when you fly!  It might seem like you’ll save by booking with ANA miles, but you also have to consider what the taxes will be on your award ticket.  Always do the math!

Folks with the AMEX Business Platinum can get an amazing deal using Pay With Points if the flight is on their selected airline or for a booking any airline in First or Business Class.  These flights will get 35% of points back!

Bottom Line

For award flights to Asia, you’ll get the most options by transferring AMEX Membership Rewards points to Star Alliance partner airlines like Air Canada, ANA, and Singapore Airlines.

Don’t forget certain airlines add fuel surcharges on partner award flights to Asia.  So run the numbers to make sure you’re getting the best deal!

That said, you can find good deals without any fuel surcharges thanks to certain partnerships.  For example, you can use ANA miles to book Etihad award flights to Abu Dhabi and onward to destinations in Asia.  But you’ll have to call ANA to book these flights.

Or you can always use AMEX Pay With Points through the Membership Rewards travel portal to book cheap coach airfare.  This can be an amazing deal for folks with the AMEX Business Platinum booking a flight their selected airline or any Business or First Class flight because you’ll get 35% of your miles back!

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.†
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • You can also receive 35% points back on all First and Business class flights, with all airlines available through American Express Travel.
  • You can enjoy access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠ offering access to the most lounges across the globe, when compared with other U.S. credit card offerings. As of 11/2017
  • Terms Apply
  • See Rates & Fees

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!