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Best ways to fly to China

A high signup bonus makes your trip much less expensive.

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.

Best ways to fly to China using credit card rewards

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.

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.

How do I earn the miles?

Earn a limited-time offer of 40,000 Bonus Miles after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months and a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. This offer expires 7/28/2021. That’s more than enough for a one-way trip with about half miles left over to go towards your return flight.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card: Top travel perks

  • Earn miles.
    Earn 2x miles for Delta purchases, including flights booked on Delta.com, Sky Club membership or passes, Delta packages, seat upgrades and in-flight. Earn 2x miles at restaurants worldwide and US supermarkets. On all other purchases earn 1x miles.

    Delta SkyMiles members can also earn an additional 5x miles on Delta flights.

  • First checked bag free.
    Save up to $60 per person on one round trip with Delta. You get this perk for up to nine passengers traveling on the same reservation. Making two round trips per year is enough to offset the annual fee.
  • Priority boarding.
    Board your plane sooner with a Main Cabin 1 priority boarding. You can save $15 with this perk.
  • In-flight savings.
    Save up to 20% on in-flight purchases of food, drinks and headsets.

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 100,000 bonus points once you spend $4,000 within 3 months of your account opening. If you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards you get a $1,250 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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Top travel perks

  • Earn points.
    Using your card for travel and dining at restaurants worldwide earns you 2x points, and Lyft rides earn 5x points until March 2022. Everything else you buy earns 1x points.
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards offers higher value.
    If you transfer points to airline miles you’ll get the same number of points. But when you book flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards, your points are worth 25% more.

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.

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.

You can also earn the card’s secondary signup bonus of 10,000 miles after you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months from account opening.

United℠ Explorer Card: Top travel perks

  • Earn miles.
    Earn 2x miles at restaurants, hotel rooms booked directly with the hotel and on all United Airlines purchases. Everything else you buy earns 1.5x miles.
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit.
    Get reimbursed up to $100 for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application once every 4 years.
  • In-flight purchases discount.
    Get 25% back as statement credit for purchases like food, beverages and Wi-Fi on United flights.
  • First checked bag free.
    Save up to $120 with this perk for you and one companion traveling on the same reservation. Typically your first checked bag costs $30 on a one-way trip.

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®
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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.

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.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®: Top travel perks

  • Earn miles.
    Earn 2x miles at restaurants, gas stations and on American Airlines purchases. All other purchases earn you 1x miles.
  • First checked bag free.
    With this card, you get your first checked bag free for you and up to four companions traveling on your reservation. This perk only applies for domestic flights.
  • Preferred boarding.
    Board your plane sooner with this perk.
  • In-flight savings.
    Use your card to pay for food and beverages on American Airlines flights and get 25% back as statement credit.

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

  • What credit cards are accepted in China?
    Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted, and in most hotels and high-end restaurants you’ll find that American Express and Discover are also accepted. For more details, check out our guide to using a credit card in China.
  • What is the difference between an American Airlines MileSAAver and AAnytime tickets?
    A MileSAAver ticket requires less miles to redeem, but it’s similar to an AAnytime ticket. The main difference is that with the MileSAAver ticket you’ll have to pay a fee to change your date, whereas you can change your date free of charge with the AAnytime ticket.
  • Which of these cards offer TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit?Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and United℠ Explorer Card both offer statement credit towards your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application.

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