The Cathay Pacific Visa Signature Card is not one of our top-rated airline credit cards. You can review our list of the best airline credit cards for what we think are better options.
Full Review of Cathay Pacific Visa Signature Card
Generous one-time offer
Valuable rewards program
Complimentary $100 Marco Polo Club membership
Limited travel benefits for an airline card
Reward miles have an expiration date
- Generous One-Time Offer: The Cathay Pacific Visa Signature offers a high-value one-time bonus for a relatively modest spending requirement. If you spend $2,000 within the first 90 days of opening an account, you’ll get a 40,000-mile bonus. By Investopedia’s calculations, each mile is worth approximately 2 cents, making the 40,000-mile bonus worth $800 when redeemed for flights on Cathay Pacific or its airline partners. Other cards that offer bonuses of comparable value mostly require spending of at least $2,000—that is, twice or more the requirement to earn the bonus for the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature.
- Valuable Rewards: The Cathay Pacific Visa Signature allows you to earn miles rewards that are at least solid, and sometimes better than that—provided, that is, you’re willing to redeem your miles for flights. The rewards of 2 miles per dollar spent on Cathay Pacific purchases deliver about 4 cents in total value. These rewards are competitive in value with those for buying airfare—albeit from a wider range of carriers—with some general travel cards. The 1.5 miles per dollar for purchases made abroad as well as U.S. dining amounts to about 3 cents in value. Since many or most of those purchases will presumably be for travel and dining, that’s about what we estimate you’d earn in value with some standout travel cards with the same annual fee, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Finally, the single mile per dollar earned on U.S. non-Cathay-Pacific purchases and U.S. non-dining purchases is on a par, if not a little better, than what you’d make with cards that deliver 1.5% or 2% in cash back on all purchases.
- Complimentary Marco Polo Club Membership: When you become a Cathay Pacific Visa Signature cardmember, you get complimentary one-year membership to the carrier’s elite member program, the Marco Polo Club. You are granted the lowest level of membership, Green, which ordinarily costs $100 a year. Membership comes with a few desirable perks like priority boarding and additional checked bags at no cost. But for other features, such as getting seats with extra legroom or access to airport lounges, the membership merely entitles you to redeem miles for these benefits. Also, the membership is complimentary for only your first year with the card, after which you must pay the regular $100 membership fee in order to retain the basic Green status level.
- Limited Travel Benefits: For a travel card with an annual fee, the Cathay Pacific Signature Visa has limited travel extras. The Marco Polo Club provides a few benefits like priority boarding and an allowance for checked bags. Otherwise, though, the card lacks the travel features tied to annual spending of such cards with similar annual fees as the Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card, which has a $100 flight credit if you spend $10,000 or more with your card per year and 20% back on in-flight purchases.
- Reward Miles Expire: Points or miles no longer expire with a growing number of carriers, including Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, United Airlines, and Southwest. Unfortunately, the reward miles you earn with the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature (along with those earned by flying) expire if you don't have account activity for 18 months.
- $95 Annual Fee: With limited benefits—even the complimentary Marco Polo Club membership is mostly a one-year opportunity to spend points on perks—this card’s value is rooted in its rewards. Before you can begin to realize that potential, you must justify the card’s $95 annual fee. You’d probably need to take several long-haul economy return trips a year to earn $95 in rewards from flying. (For example, at the rate of 2 miles per dollar spent, a premium economy return Cathay Pacific flight from Washington, D.C. to Beijing costing $1421 would earn you 2,842 miles. With an estimated value of about $57, rewards from that example trip would help you justify about half the annual fee.
This Card is Best For
Seeks the recognition and perks of branded travel partner status
Flies often for business or leisure
Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
The Cathay Pacific Visa Signature is best-suited to people who regularly travel on the carrier on long flights between the United States and Asia, where most of the carrier’s destinations are located. Using the card to buy four or more such flights a year should get you well on your way to earning enough in rewards to easily justify the $95 annual fee. It’s also a decent card for those willing to use its miles rewards to buy travel benefits as well as awards flights. During your first year with the card, for example, you could use some of the card’s 40,000 one-time bonus miles to redeem for benefits such as seat upgrades and lounge visits through the card’s complimentary Marco Polo Club membership.This is also a fine choice for purchases when traveling abroad. You’ll earn 1.5 miles per dollar spent—yielding a decent value of 3 cents per dollar—on all purchases made outside of the United States. And no foreign transaction fees apply to those transactions
Frequent travelers who fly via Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, or an Asia Miles partner will find the card beneficial since you can redeem your miles for flights on those airlines. You can also redeem your rewards for upgrades, companion tickets, hotel accommodations, and merchandise.
Cathay Pacific Visa Signature Card One-Time Offer
If you spend $2,000 within the first 90 days of opening an account, you’ll earn 40,000 miles. According to Investopedia’s calculations, each mile is worth approximately 2 cents each, so the 40,000-mile bonus is worth $800—which is a generous bonus for an airline card.
Rewards Earning Details
With the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature, you’ll earn:
- 2 miles per dollar spent on Cathay Pacific purchases
- 1.5 miles per dollar spent on U.S. dining and purchases outside the U.S.
- 1 mile per dollar spent on other purchases in the U.S.
Rewards Redemption Details
Your Asia Miles can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, car rentals, gift cards, and even charitable donations.
While we benchmark the value of Asia Miles at around 2 cents each based on booking flights with Cathay Pacifc, keep in mind that your actual value will vary based on your travel destination and time of year. Other redemption options may yield even less value. To get the most value for your points, redeem them for flights, and pay attention to the cost in cash vs miles to ensure you are getting a value around 2 cents per mile.
With the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature, you’re not limited to redeeming your miles for flights only on Cathay Pacific. Instead, you can redeem your Asia Miles for partner flights, which include American Airlines, British Airways, Air Canada, and Lufthansa. Miles requirements are sometimes no higher than for Cathay Pacific flights, and may even be lower.
You can convert your Asia Miles into points with other loyalty programs. However, true to this card’s emphasis on spending abroad, all three options involve conversion to programs you can use only in southeast Asia:
- Esso (Hong Kong and Singapore): Each Asia Mile is worth three Esso Smile points which you can redeem at participating gas stations.
- MoneyBack (Hong Kong): 100 Asia Miles is worth 500 MoneyBack points which you can use on participating websites or at MoneyBack kiosks.
- Plus! (Singapore): 110 Asia Miles is worth 440 Plus! points, which can be redeemed on participating websites.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
Making the most of this card begins with ensuring you spend $2,000 on it within the first 90 days after opening an account. That relatively easy “spend” earns you 40,000 miles that we estimate are worth $800 when used to buy awards flights on Cathay Pacific. Then, consistently use the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature for the categories in which it provides the best rewards. Airfare on Cathay Pacific flights earns 2 miles per dollar spent, and dining and purchases outside of the United States both earn 1.5 miles.
Those earnings can add up to a significant amount, especially on a foreign trip built around long Cathay Pacific flights. For example, let’s detail the spending and rewards if you used your card on the following transactions, all listed in U.S. dollars:
- $1421 on a premium economy Cathay Pacific flight from Washington, D.C. to Beijing, China: At 2 miles per dollar spent, the purchase would earn you 2,842 miles.
- $380 for a five-night stay at the Ramada by Wyndham Beijing Airport: At 1.5 miles per dollar spent, you would earn 570 miles.
- $300 on dining in Beijing: At 1.5 miles per dollar spent, you would earn 450 miles.
- $150 on souvenirs purchased in Beijing: At 1.5 miles per dollar spent, you would earn 225 miles.
In total, you’d spend $2,251 on your trip, and earn 4,087 Asia Miles. Valued at 2 cents each, those miles would be worth about $81.74 when redeemed for travel arrangements.
Cathay Pacific Visa Signature’s Outstanding Benefits
This card offers a few standout benefits:
- 10% savings on Asia Miles: Get 10% off purchases of Asia Gift Miles, Mileage Renewals, and Mileage Transfer Fee transactions. You’ll also get a 10% redemption discount on hotel, rental car, and experiences redeemed through Travel Asia Miles.
- Complimentary Marco Polo Club membership: During your first year as a cardmember, you’ll enjoy free Green membership to the Marco Polo Club. As a Green member, you can redeem your miles for seats with extra legroom, get priority boarding, and get up to two free checked bags when traveling in economy, premium economy, or business class.
- Travel and emergency assistance services
- Lost-luggage reimbursement
- Trip cancellation/interruption coverage
- Trip-accident insurance
- Secondary auto rental damage collision waiver
- Roadside dispatch
The Cathay Pacific Visa Signature is issued by Synchrony Bank. Unfortunately, Synchrony Bank doesn't have a great reputation for customer service. Synchrony ranked seventh out of 11 national card issuers and scored below average in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study.
You can manage your account online at CathayPacificCreditCard.com. If you have questions or issues with your account, you can call 1-866-273-9028 or 937-534-3628 (international).
This credit card has standard security features you’d expect, including:
- Fraud alerts
- Account monitoring
- Free monthly access to your FICO Score
If you’re a frequent international traveler who regularly flies on Cathay Pacific airlines, the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature card would be a useful addition to your wallet, despite its annual fee. You’ll earn higher rewards on your travel and purchases made outside of the country, and you can redeem your Asia Miles for future travel arrangements.
However, the card does have limited travel perks compared to other credit cards. You must redeem or earn miles at least once every 18 months to prevent them from expiring.
If you’re looking for more benefits and a card that allows you to bank your miles indefinitely, you might be better off with a general travel-rewards card. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred also has a $95 annual fee, but you’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining. Those rewards would yield about the same value per dollar on dining as the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature. You’d earn a little less in value on Cathay Pacific flights despite the same points earning rate (2X), but you’d get better rewards on all other travel purchases than with the Cathay Pacific Visa Signature. And Chase’s points never expire as long as your account remains open. However, all you need to do to keep your Cathay Pacific frequent flyer account miles from expiring is to simply use the card, fly or make a mileage redemption once every 18 months — which shouldn’t be an an issue for fans of the airline or holders of this card.