Buy Cathay Pacific Miles For 1.67 Cents Each

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As I’ve written about before, at the moment IHG Rewards Club has a flash sale on the purchase of pointsThrough today (June 15, 2018), IHG Rewards Club is selling points for just 0.5 cents each (that’s a 100% bonus), which is an excellent deal.

You can buy a total of 200,000 IHG Rewards Club points for $1,000.

That can be a great deal if your goal is to redeem points for the purposes of a hotel stay, especially if you have the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, which offers a fourth night free on award redemptions, and will help you stretch your points further.

What’s also interesting is the opportunity this presents to buy airline miles at a discount. As I outlined yesterday, at the moment United is offering a 50% bonus when you convert IHG Rewards Club points into United MileagePlus miles.

Ordinarily IHG Rewards Club points convert into United miles at a 5:1 ratio (10,000 IHG Rewards Club points convert into 2,000 United MileagePlus miles), though at the moment they’re offering a 50% bonus, meaning that 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points convert into 3,000 United miles.

In other words, if you bought 200,000 IHG Rewards Club points for $1,000, you could in turn convert those into 60,000 United miles, which is a cost of 1.67 cents per mile. While that’s not a rate at which I’d personally speculatively pick up United miles, that is cheaper than you’ll ever see United sell miles directly, so I know it’s an offer that will interest some.

As it turns out, that’s not the only airline with which that’s possible. Through June 30, 2018, Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles program is offering a 50% bonus on select hotel partner points conversions. Note that this is only valid if you haven’t converted any hotel points to Asia Miles since May 2017.

If you did this, the ratio is exactly the same as with United — 200,000 IHG Rewards Club points would convert into 60,000 Asia Miles.

Remember that the transfer won’t be instant, and that Asia Miles is making some program changes as of June 22 (so don’t expect the points to post before then). However, the changes aren’t all negative, and for many this could still be worthwhile.

Ordinarily Asia Miles doesn’t even sell miles directly (you just have the option of topping off for a redemption at the rate of three cents per mile), so this is just about the only opportunity you’ll have to buy Asia Miles directly at a reasonable price.

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is a Citi ThankYou transfer partner, so you can also earn Asia Miles with cards like the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card. The card has a big welcome bonus of 50,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 within the first three months, and the card’s $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. That card offers the following return on spend:

  • 3x points on travel, including gas stations
  • 2x points on dining & entertainment
  • 1x points on all other purchases

At the moment there’s even a 15% bonus when you convert ThankYou points into Asia Miles.

Does anyone plan on buying IHG Rewards Club points in order to acquire Cathay Pacific or United miles at a discount?

(Tip of the hat to LoyaltyLobby)

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Comments

  1. Question about IHG to United transfers Lucky (tangentially related to this post). If my United account has my middle name but IHG does not, will the transfer still go through? Thanks!

  2. @ DS — I don’t have any firsthand experience with that, but I can’t imagine it would be an issue if the name matches otherwise. At least I’ve never had an issue in similar situations with other programs.

  3. Lucky do you know when United gift registry will reopen. Maybe you should pull some strings to find out.

  4. Lucky, certainly a good opportunity here for folks that need to top off an Asia Miles account. But if starting from zero, given that most US Citizens use Cathay to fly long-haul routes, buying Alaska miles and using their chart (given that they’re also having a sale on purchased miles) is going to represent a better value than the plan described above, no?

  5. A couple of things to note:
    1) When I transferred points to Asia Miles last month (purchased IHG points via Daily Getaways), the IHG phone agent told me there is a cap of 120,000 IHG points I could transfer out but could not tell me if that was an annual cap, a monthly cap, or a per transaction cap. I have not attempted to revisit.
    2) I have the IHG credit card and received a rebate 10% off the IHG points used for this transfer. It took exactly one month for the rebate to post. So you can potentially purchase points for even cheaper than the 1.67 cents you’re referencing.

  6. @ Lucky or Wadacash
    I’ve heard of the 10% rebate through the IHG Credit card for room night redemption which i have certainly used
    I have never heard about a 10% rebate for mileage transfers from IHG points
    Is this a mistake or the norm?
    Thanks

  7. @DWondermeant – I don’t have the official wording of the rebate benefit (I should note that this is the old IHG card with the rebate not the new one available now), but I believe it just considers redemption. Is it truly their intent to offer it even on transfers to airlines? I can’t say but it appears to be coded that way.

    Also, for anyone looking into this, I should also note that the points took 7 days to transfer to Asia Miles. They note a transfer date of 7 days later, so take that transfer time into consideration when taking advantage of this bonus. I believe you would need to transfer points out of IHG no later than 6/23 if you want to participate in this, though it might be safer to do it a few days before that if you want to give yourself a little cushion in case the transfer takes longer for you.

    Lastly, I have not yet received the 50% bonus from Cathay yet. I am guessing the 50% bonus will be awarded after the promotion ends (and thus clearly after the time the award chart changes). Don’t make a transfer assuming that all points, including the bonus, will appear immediately.

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