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How to get to China with credit card rewards

A high signup bonus makes your trip much less expensive.

Updated . What changed?

Fact checked
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

United℠ Explorer Card

  • $0 first-year intro annual fee, then $95.
  • Signup bonus: 60,000 miles after you make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Plus an additional 10,000 points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months.
  • 2x miles on United purchases, hotel stays and restaurant purchases.
  • Credit every four years for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.
  • 25% back as statement credit on United inflight purchases. Plus, priority boarding and your first checked bag free on United-operated flights.
  • 2 United Club one-time passes each card anniversary.
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Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
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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 $1,000 within your first 3 months of card membership and earn 35,000 bonus miles. That’s enough for a one-way trip with half miles left over to go towards your return flight.

To make the return trip, be ready to spend around $4,000 on Delta flights, dining or US supermarkets 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 25% 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.

With this new signup bonus value, you’ll have more than enough for your round trip flight based on 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 $3,000 in the first 3 months of card membership and earn 60,000 bonus miles. That’s enough for one-way trip to Beijing.

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

The information about Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® has been collected independently by Finder and and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer.
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. 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
The Platinum Card® from American Express
10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 combined in the first 6 months, 15x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases. Starting January 1, 2021, your 15x points on flights will be capped on up to $500,000 annually (then 1x points).
See rates & fees
$550
One of the most valuable premium travel cards, featuring two welcome offers worth up to $4,500, multiple travel credits and unrivaled lounge access. Rates & fees
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
16.99% to 23.99% variable
$550
Get a generous $300 in annual travel credits, 3x points on travel and dining, and a 50% bonus on point redemptions with Chase's premier card.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
6x points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3x at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2x for all other purchases
15.74% to 24.74% variable
$450
Earn 100,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 or more within your first 3 months, plus earn 25,000 after the first anniversary of card membership (offer expires 1/13/2021). Rates & fees
Luxury Card Mastercard® Black Card™
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1.5% for cash back
14.99% variable
$495
Receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
12x points on Hilton Portfolio spending, 6x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
15.74% to 24.74% variable
$95
With a big welcome offer worth up to $650, up to 12x points on spending, and free Gold status, this is an upgrade from the entry Hilton card. Rates & fees
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Compare up to 4 providers

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.

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