Reviews Cathay Pacific Visa Signature card review
Cathay Pacific Visa Signature card review

Cathay Pacific Visa Signature card review

Published: March 16, 2017
Ratings Policy
Airline Rating:
2.1 rating
2.1 rating
2.1 / 5
Rewards Value: 0.0
Annual Percentage Rate: 3.6
Rewards Flexibility: 3.9
Flight Options: 4.8
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

With a high annual fee, a subpar sign-up bonus and some disappointing airline benefits, the appeal of the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature card is mostly limited to cardholders looking for additional ways to get bonuses on Asia Miles.

Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 eligible Cathay Pacific travel and in-flight purchases
  • 5:1 dining in the U.S. or abroad
  • 5:1 international purchases
  • 1:1 all other purchases

Sign-up Bonus
25,000 miles if you spend $2,500 in first 90 days

Annual Bonus
None

Annual Fee
$95

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$171

APR
16.49-19.49% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No blackout dates on Cathay Pacific flights
  • No limit on how many miles you can earn
  • Flexible routing options, including one-way flights, transfers and open-jaw bookings
  • Low level of miles required for airfare
  • Large number of airline partners through oneworld alliance
  • Wide number of rewards categories, including flights, hotels, car rentals, merchandise and gift cards

Cons

  • Miles expire after 36 months
  • Can only redeem miles through rewards program
  • High fuel surcharges with some airline partners

Flight Options

  • Airline partners: 25
  • Daily flights: 14,000
  • Destinations: 1,000
  • Countries served: 150

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fees, one-year free green tier membership in Marco Polo Club, roadside dispatch, emergency card replacement, Visa signature concierge

Rewards Rating:
2.1 rating
2.1 rating
2.1 / 5
Rewards Value: 0.6
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.9
Rewards Flexibility: 3.5
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

Cardholders seeking to earn Asia Miles are probably better off skipping the Asia Pacific Visa Signature card and sticking with a general rewards card that allows point transfer to the Asia Miles program.

Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 eligible Cathay Pacific travel and in-flight purchases
  • 5:1 dining in the U.S. or abroad
  • 5:1 international purchases
  • 1:1 all other purchases

Sign-up Bonus
25,000 miles if you spend $2,500 in first 90 days

Annual Fee
$95

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$171

APR
16.49-19.49% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No blackout dates on Cathay Pacific flights
  • No limit on how many miles you can earn
  • Flexible routing options, including one-way flights, transfers and open-jaw bookings
  • Low level of miles required for airfare
  • Large number of airline partners through oneworld alliance
  • Wide number of rewards categories, including flights, hotels, car rentals, merchandise and gift cards

Cons

  • Miles expire after 36 months
  • Can only redeem miles through rewards program
  • High fuel surcharges with some airline partners

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fees, one-year free green tier membership in Marco Polo Club, roadside dispatch, emergency card replacement, Visa signature concierge

Travel Rating:
2.1 rating
2.1 rating
2.1 / 5
Rewards Value: 0.6
Annual Percentage Rate: 2.7
Rewards Flexibility: 3.5
Features: 3.0

In a nutshell:

For a high annual fee, the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature card comes with a pretty limited set of travel perks and benefits, and the rewards are of little use to cardholders who aren’t already avid Cathay Pacific fliers.

Rewards Rate

  • 2:1 eligible Cathay Pacific travel and in-flight purchases
  • 5:1 dining in the U.S. or abroad
  • 5:1 international purchases
  • 1:1 all other purchases

Sign-up Bonus
25,000 miles if you spend $2,500 in first 90 days

Annual Fee
$95

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$171

APR
16.49-19.49% (variable)

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • No blackout dates on Cathay Pacific flights
  • No limit on how many miles you can earn
  • Flexible routing options, including one-way flights, transfers and open-jaw bookings
  • Low level of miles required for airfare
  • Large number of airline partners through oneworld alliance
  • Wide number of rewards categories, including flights, hotels, car rentals, merchandise and gift cards

Cons

  • Miles expire after 36 months
  • Can only redeem miles through rewards program
  • High fuel surcharges with some airline partners

Other Notable Features: No foreign transaction fees, one-year free green tier membership in Marco Polo Club, roadside dispatch, emergency card replacement, Visa signature concierge

The new Cathay Pacific Visa Signature card – the first card from Cathay Pacific to be released to an American audience – may leave American travelers who have been awaiting a card that allows them to earn Asia Miles on their everyday spending feeling a little underwhelmed. Previously, American Cathay Pacific fliers could transfer other cards’ rewards points – including Starpoints, Citi Thank You points and American Express Membership Rewards – to their Asia Miles account. Until now, Americans never had the option of directly earning Asia Miles through credit card purchases.

The card does open up some additional options to earn bonus miles – including a 25,000-mile sign-up bonus – for frequent customers of Cathy Pacific. But the card comes with a high $95 annual fee that is not matched by the card’s rewards program and benefits. Given that there are many other options for earning Asia Miles, the card is a poor choice for most cardholders outside of those specifically seeking to garner a large bonus on Asia Miles.

Unique rewards scheme

The card’s rewards earning scheme is better than average for an airline card and includes some unique bonus categories. While cardholders get two miles per dollar on Cathay Pacific travel and in-flight purchases – which is pretty standard for an airline card – cardholders earn 1.5 miles on dining out and on all purchases made abroad. This is the first card that we’ve seen that offers a bonus rate on foreign purchases, and this unique earning category makes the card potentially valuable to cardholders who spend a lot of time traveling, especially since the card doesn’t charge a fee for foreign transactions.

That said, Cathay Pacific customers may find that they can earn rewards at a similar or better rate with a general rewards card that allows cardholders to transfer points to an Asia Miles account. There are several such cards, and they also offer a wide variety of choices for redeeming rewards and a much better value on their rewards points. Even frequent customers of Cathay Pacific would probably be better served by one of these cards.

Lower-than-average bonus

The Cathay Pacific card offers 25,000 bonus miles to new cardholders who spend $2,500 within the first 90 days of card ownership. This is a pretty tepid offer compared to the 35,000-50,000-mile bonuses offered by many airline cards and is not even enough to fund a rewards flight from the U.S. to Asia. But, the bonus is also the main incentive to sign up for the card. The card is issued by Synchrony Bank – an uncommon issuer in the airline card space – which means that cardholders who have exhausted their opportunities to earn bonuses with other issuers have a new way to get a large influx of Asia Miles.

While the bonus may be sufficient to initially attract some travel rewards enthusiasts and members of the Asia Miles loyalty program to the card, the card’s high annual fee and lack of airline perks may make many cardholders reluctant to stick around after the first year.

Redemption options: both good and bad

There are both major pros and cons when it comes to redeeming miles with the Cathay Pacific card. One of the biggest cons, and the largest drawback of the card overall, is the short lifespan of Asia Miles. Rewards expire after only three years. This is one of the shortest expiration dates we’ve seen on an airline card and may make it significantly difficult for many cardholders to build up sufficient miles for a rewards flight.

One other major drawback is the fact that some Asia Miles partners apply fuel surcharges on rewards tickets. Cardholders will need to pay close attention to which partners charge theses fees when planning how to use their rewards miles, since the fees can be high.

On the plus side, Cathay Pacific is a oneworld alliance member with 25 airline partners that you can transfer points to. This means that cardholders have a plethora of options for rewards flights outside of Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon airlines. Also, Asia Miles is very flexible with its routing options – allowing cardholders to mix routes from Cathay airlines and oneworld partners, book one-way flights and add up to five stopovers on some routes.

Complimentary elite status for one year only

The card offers one-year complimentary green status in the Marco Polo Club, Asia Miles’ program for elite filers. Marco Polo membership usually requires a $100 membership fee, so there is nominal value in this card feature, but the perks that come with green status are underwhelming. Green status entitles you to use your Asia Miles to pay for lounge access, extra baggage and extra legroom on flights. You also get two to three free checked bags, designated check-in counters and priority boarding. Note also that the club benefits extend to oneworld alliance airlines as well as Cathay airlines.

Many airline cards that charge a $95 fee automatically offer benefits such as priority boarding and free baggage without requiring you to enroll in a special club. Unfortunately, the free membership in Asia Miles’ Marco Polo Club expires after a year, at which point you will have to pay a $100 yearly fee to get the same airline perks that you can get with other airline cards for no additional fee.

Few other airline perks

For a co-branded airline card with a high annual fee, the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature card is sorely lacking in perks and benefits. The card offers no other airline perks outside of the ones that you receive through your temporary Marco Polo Club membership.

One positive note: The card is a Visa Signature card which includes some useful Visa Signature benefits, such as roadside dispatch and Visa Signature concierge, as well as no foreign transaction fees.

 

Why get it:

  • You’re a frequent flier of Cathy Pacific or Cathay Dragon airlines.
  • You’re looking to earn a large number of Asia Miles and you’ve already maxed out the bonus offers on other cards.
  • You’re looking to join or renew your membership in the Marco Polo Club. You can get a slightly better deal by paying the $95 fee for the card – at least until the free membership runs out – while also taking advantage of the card’s benefits.

How to use it:

  • Use the card for all your purchases when traveling abroad to take advantage of the 1.5 percent rate on foreign purchases.
  • Spend at least $2,500 on the card in the first 90 days to earn the 25,000-mile bonus.
  • Be sure to use your rewards before they expire in three years.
  • Watch out for fuel surcharges when booking rewards with Cathay Pacific airline partners.

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