How to get to China with credit card rewards

A high signup bonus makes your trip much less expensive.

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Most travel cards — especially those with an annual fee — come with a solid signup bonus worth at least enough for a one-way trip to China. To get a return ticket with rewards, you’ll need to use your card on categories with accelerated miles.

Credit cards that get you to China

Choose from general travel credit cards and cobranded airline cards, depending on your needs. If you’re looking to get a reward flight to China and back, base your choice on the kind of card you prefer and your everyday spending.

Our pick for getting to China

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 2x miles on all purchases. You can also earn 10x miles on eligible hotel purchase at hotels.com/venture through January 2020
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • No blackout dates on travel bookings
  • Transfer miles to over 12 travel loyalty programs
  • Miles have no expiration date and no cap
  • No foreign transaction fees
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Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
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How many miles do I need to fly to China with Delta?

You can fly to China with Delta Air Lines or one of its SkyTeam partners, including Korean Air, China Airlines, China Eastern and China Southern.

According to the Delta website as of February 2019, you’ll need at least 42,500 miles plus $33.70 for taxes and fees for a one-way main-cabin trip from New York to Beijing. For the return trip, you’ll need 50,000 miles plus ¥285 — worth around $41.
flight to China image1

How do I earn the miles?

Spend $2,000 within your first 3 months of card membership and earn 60,000 bonus miles. Plus you’ll earn $50 in statement credit after making a Delta purchase in the same timeframe. That’s enough for a one-way trip with some miles left over to go towards your return flight. You’ll still need an additional 12,000 miles for one-way trip. That’s around $1,700 spent on Delta flights.

To make the return trip, be ready to spend around $7,200 on Delta flights to earn enough miles.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
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How many points do I need to fly to China with Chase Ultimate Rewards?

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card lets you book a flight using your points through Chase Ultimate Rewards and get 50% higher value. The number of points a flight costs varies by the flight price, so we’ll use an example of flying from New York to Beijing.

An economy round-trip flight can run right around $875 depending on the carrier and when you’re booking. You would need around 58,400 points to book a flight through Chase Ultimate Rewards according to their website as of February 2019.

How do I earn the miles?

Earn 60,000 bonus points once you spend $4,000 within 3 months of your account opening. If you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards you get a $750 value for flights, hotels, car rentals and cruises.

You’ll need to spend another $1,900 on accelerated rewards categories to get a complete round-trip ticket using our example above.

United℠ Explorer Card

United℠ Explorer Card
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How many miles do I need to fly to China with United?

United flies directly between the US and China. And since it’s a member of the Star Alliance, you can earn and redeem miles on partner airlines — including Air China and Shenzhen Airlines.

With United Airlines you can get one-way ticket between most US cities and Beijing starting from 35,000 miles plus $5.60 for an Economy flight or 80,000 miles plus $5.60 for a Business Saver flight according to the United website at the time of writing.
flight to China image 2

How do I earn the miles?

Spend $2,000 in the first 3 months of card membership and earn 40,000 bonus miles. That’s enough for one-way trip to Beijing. Spend a total of $10,000 in the first six months of card membership to earn an additional 25,000 miles.

If you clear the signup bonus, you’ll need 5,000 more points for a round trip. That’s $2,500 spent in the card’s accelerated rewards categories.

For a limited time you might be able to meet your goal if you earn the card’s secondary signup bonus of miles after you spend in the first from account opening.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

How many miles do I need to fly to China with American Airlines?

You can redeem 32,500 miles + $5.60 for taxes and fees for a one-way flight to China on an Economy MileSAAver flight with American Airlines according to their website at the time of writing.
flight to China image 3

How do I earn the miles?

During your first 3 months of card membership, spend $2,500 and earn 50,000 bonus miles. You can get 10,000 bonus miles if you spend another $4,000 during your first year. That’s more than enough for a one-way flight to China.

If you want to get a return ticket with miles, you need to spend another $7,500 on purchases in the card’s accelerated rewards categories.

Compare similar travel credit cards

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1.5% for cash back
16.74% variable
$495
Receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
5x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases
N/A
$550
Get 5x Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5x points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Rates & fees
12x points on Hilton Portfolio spending, 6x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
17.49% to 26.49% variable
$95
Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
18.99% to 25.99% variable
$450
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
2x miles at restaurants, hotels and United and 1x miles on all other purchases
18.49% to 25.49% variable
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

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Bottom line

With most annual-fee travel credit cards, you can get a one-way reward flight to China by clearing the welcome offer. Your choices include general travel credit cards and cobranded airline credit cards.

However, if you don’t think any of these cards fit your spending style, check out other travel credit cards and compare your options.

Frequently asked questions

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Disclaimer

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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