Air China PhoenixMiles Loyalty Program Review

Air China PhoenixMiles Loyalty Program Review

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Air China Summary Table

Branded and Partnered Credit Cards

The primary way earn Air China PhoenixMiles without flying is to earn transferable credit card points from Marriott Bonvoy. Before you transfer your Marriott Bonvoy points to Air China, it’s important to keep in mind that this doesn’t result in good value.

The reason is because you’ll be transferring Marriott Bonvoy points to Air China in kilometers and not miles like you’ll find with most Marriott to airline transfers. 1 kilometer is equal to approximately 0.62 miles. With that transfer ratio, you are losing more than 30% of the value of your Marriott Bonvoy points, without taking into account the Marriott Bonvoy transfer bonus we will discuss further into this article.

Air China has a number of co-branded credit cards offered by ICBC, however, the bank does not offer a credit card for the U.S. market. For this reason, Marriott Bonvoy personal and business credits are one of the only ways for U.S. travelers to to earn points that can then be transferred to Air China.

Air China ICBC Credit Cards

For residents of China, Air China lists 25 different co-branded credit cards on its ICBC bank partner’s website.

None of these ICBC credit cards offer a welcome bonus. It will be challenging to earn PhoenixMiles with your credit card spend.

Instead, we recommend focusing on the Marriott Bonvoy program. The reason is because Marriott Bonvoy currently has personal and business credit cards that come with sizeable welcome bonus points offers.

Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards

Marriott Bonvoy is the only hotel loyalty program where members earn points that can be transferred to airlines to book an award flight. Marriott Bonvoy has 40+ airline transfer partners in all, more than double the number of airline partners that you’ll find in the Amex, Capital One, Chase, and Citi transferable point programs.

While Marriott Bonoy has a one-up on its hotel competitors by having airline transfer partners, the time it takes for the points to leave your Marriott Bonvoy account and show up in your airline loyalty account is not the same.

In the case of Air China, it will take at least 5 days to transfer your Marriott Bonvoy points into your Air China PhoenixMiles account. Not all airline partners take this long so keep this mind before transfer your Marriott Bonvoy to the airline.

One benefit of the Marriott Bonvoy program is the bonus structure.

For every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points that are transferred to an airline partner, you’ll receive a 5,000-point bonus in the form of airline miles. When transferring Marriott Bonvoy points to Air China, the transfer will be different due to the kilometer to mile conversion.

The Marriott Bonvoy to Air China airline transfer ratio is 3:1, so 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points become 25,000 PhoenixMiles (kilometers) with the 5,000-point bonus (60,000 / 3 = 20,000 + 5,000 = 25,000). 25,000 kilometers is equal to approximately 15,534 miles.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card - For a limited time only, earn 125,000 Bonus Points and 1 Free Night Award (value up to 50,000 points) after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary. Plus, earn up to 17x total Bovoy points per $1 when using your Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card at at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, and 2x Bonvoy points per $1 on all other purchases. Annual Fee is $95.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card - For a limited time only, earn 60,000 Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Earn up to 14x total Bonvoy points per $1 when using your Marriott Bonvoy Bold card at over 7,000 participating in Marriott Bonvoy hotels, earn 2X on other travel purchases, then 1x on all other purchases. A solid card for Marriott loyalists looking for a no-annual-fee card offering Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card - For a limited time, earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and a bonus Free Night Award after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Resort fees may apply. Terms apply. Offer expires 11/3/2021.

Earn 6x per $1 at hotels participants in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program, 3x at U.S. restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines, and 2x on all other eligible purchases. Annual Fee is $450. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - For a limited time, earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points & 2 bonus Free Night Awards after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months. Each bonus Free Night Award has a redemption level up to 50K points. Certain hotels have resort fees. Offer ends 11/3/2021.

This is a solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business Card, click here.

Other Hotel Partner Credit Cards

For non-Marriott Bonvoy members, you may be interested in transferring your points from its other hotel partner, World of Hyatt.

Unfortunately, this hotel loyalty program has an even worse transfer ratio as the one listed above through Marriott Bonvoy. This means that when transferring hotel points into airline miles, you won’t be getting as many miles as you could with other programs or other transfer avenues.

We only recommend transferring Hyatt points to Air China if you’re topping off your PhoenixMiles account for an award flight. Otherwise, you’ll be better off using your World of Hyatt points in other ways.

Air China Overview

Air China is the flagship airline carrier of China that operates out of its hub at the Beijing–Capital (PEK) airport. Flyers can book flights out of PEK to destinations across China and the world, including a few non-stop flights to the United States.

The airline is a Star Alliance member joining the likes of Avianca, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, and United Airlines. With Air China’s membership in the Star Alliance, frequent flyers with miles earned in the PhoenixMiles program can redeem them not only for Air China flights, but also for flights on airlines across the alliance.

PhoenixMiles is the airline’s frequent flyer program that can offer its members value when flying Air China or a Star Alliance partner airline flight. PhoenixMiles members are awarded elite status based on the number of Qualifying Kilometers or Flight Segments flown in the previous 12 months. 

The PhoenixMiles members earn can then be redeemed for award flights and upgrades. The Merchandise section of the Air China website is currently under construction, so check back at a later date for opportunities to redeem PhoenixMiles for things other than an award flight.

Bottom Line: PhoenixMiles is a program that will not be valuable for most people. Other Asian airlines such as ANA, Asiana, and Singapore Airlines have more valuable frequent flyer programs that you should focus on earning miles in instead. 

Joining PhoenixMiles

Membership to the Air China PhoenixMiles program is free by filling out an application. PhoenixMiles members have the ability to earn and redeem kilometers in the PhoenixMiles frequent flyer program.

How to Sign Into Your PhoenixMiles Account

Enter your Mobile/Card Number/ID Number and password that you provided in your application to access your account.

Air China PhoenixMiles login page
Air China PhoenixMiles login page. Image courtesy of

Hot Tip: Anyone can access the Air China award charts, however, you will need to login to your PhoenixMiles account to search for and book an award flight. 

Viewing Your PhoenixMiles Account Activity

PhoenixMiles members can see the number of miles in their account by clicking the My Account tab at the top of the PhoenixMiles page.

Points Expiration

PhoenixMiles expire 36 months from the end of the month in which the kilometers accrued. For example, if a member earns 10,000 kilometers in April 2019 and uses 7,000 kilometers, the remaining 3,000 kilometers is valid until April 30, 2022.

Air China PhoenixMiles Program

Iberia Plus Elite Status

Air China PhoenixMiles logo
PhoenixMiles is the name of the Air China freqeunt flyer program. Image courtesy of

The PhoenixMiles frequent flyer program has 3 elite tiers.

Members who move to higher elite tiers unlock additional benefits such as mileage bonuses, additional checked baggage allowance, and departure lounge access.

Silver: Air China’s lowest elite that offers members the following benefits:

  • 25% mileage bonus
  • Business Class/Elite member check-in counter
  • Additional checked baggage allowance
  • Star Alliance Silver status

Gold: The middle tier of Air China elite status that comes with these perks:

  • 30% mileage bonus
  • Access plus 1 guest pass to the Air China business class lounge
  • Gold Track fast security clearance when flying a Star Alliance flight
  • Star Alliance Gold status

Platinum: Air China’s highest elite where qualifying flyers earn these benefits:

  • 50% mileage bonus
  • First Class/Elite member check-in counter
  • Access plus 1 guest pass to the Air China first class lounge
  • Star Alliance Gold status

Star Alliance status (Silver, Gold) is a separate status in addition to your Air China elite status.

PhoenixMiles members with Star Alliance status will have additional benefits such as Star Alliance lounge access, priority check-in, and fast track at select security lanes when flying on a Star Alliance member flight.

If you’re interested in reading all of the program benefits, check out the PhoenixMiles member benefits page.

Bottom Line: Air China doesn’t have the elite benefits and perks that you’ll find with other flag carrier airlines. Mileage bonuses, lounge access, and Star Alliance status are the primary benefits you’ll receive if you earn elite status in the PhoenixMiles program. 

Value of Air China PhoenixMiles Elite Status

air china business class lounge
Air China business class lounge. Image courtesy of designs by Jack via

50% mileage bonus, first class check-in counter, first class lounge access, and Star Alliance Gold status are the benefits to focus on in the highest Air China elite tier. The next tier below Platinum is Gold Status. This status is similar to Platinum status with the difference being that the mileage bonus is reduced to 30%.

If earning Air China elite status makes sense for you, focus on earning Gold status. The reason is because the benefits of Gold are nearly identical to Platinum without the requirement of having to earn the additional kilometers or segments.

Bottom Line: Earning Air China elite status is not something we recommend due to the lack of benefits. Consider earning elite status with another Asian airline where the value outweighs the cost of earning the status. 

Earning Air China PhoenixMiles Elite Status

Air China elite status qualification
Air China elite status qualification. Image courtesy of

Members earn PhoenixMiles elite status by the number of Qualifying Kilometers or Flight Segments flown.

Platinum status requires 160,000 kilometers or 90 segments to initially qualify. In the subsequent years after you qualify, you’ll need 145,000 kilometers or 80 segments. The same is true for Gold and Silver. The years after you initially qualify require that you fly a reduced amount of kilometers or segments.

Some frequent flyer and hotel programs will allow you to earn elite miles or points with your credit card spend. Unfortunately, Air China doesn’t allow you to do this with its co-branded credit cards.

Bottom Line: PhoenixMiles elite status requires that you fly the required number of kilometres or segments for each elite tier. 

How to Earn Air China PhoenixMiles

If you decide to transfer your Marriott Bonvoy points to Air China, it’s important to note that the transfer time is not instant like you’ll find with other Marriott Bonvoy to airline transfer.

In the case of Air China, it takes 5 days to transfer your Marriott Bonvoy points to Air China. Also, the transfer ratio is not as favorable to Air China as you’ll find with other Marriott Bonvoy airline partners.

Earning PhoenixMiles Through Flying

Determining the earning rate when flying Air China is not easy. The reason is because the Air China website does not function properly. With that said, you’ll need to call Air China at 800-882-8122 and ask the airline what the accrual rate is when flying Air China.

What is known from the Air China terms and conditions is that the mileage you earn for each flight depends on the distance between the origin and destination and the mileage earning ratio for the booking class that you travelled in.

Air China Star Alliance Partners
Air China Star Alliance Partners. Image courtesy of

For partner airline flights, Air China makes it just as difficult to determine the number of miles that you’ll earn. The airline does have a full list of earning rates, however, the respective partner airline page does not provide the earning rate. Mileage is accrued based on the accrual ratio of the operating carrier on the date the flight is taken.

Earn PhoenixMiles With Credit Cards

If you can generate a significant amount of Marriott Bonvoy points and don’t mind losing value when transferring your points to Air China, the partnership can beneficial in two ways.

The first way is that Marriott Bonvoy has a number of personal and bonus credit cards. Many of Marriott Bonvoy credit cards currently have signing bonuses of 100,000 points, and that allows you to earn points quickly.

The second way the Marriott Bonvoy partnership can be beneficial is that you’ll receive a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred to an airline partner like Air China. Before transferring Marriott Bonvoy points to Air China, please take into account the transfer ratio and the reduced value of your Bonvoy points.

Earning Bonus PhoenixMiles in Other Ways

For those looking to pad their PhoenixMiles account with additional PhoenxMiles, it can be beneficial to stay on top of the airline’s mileage-earning opportunities that don’t involve flying.

Check out the Air China FacebookTwitter, and Special Offers page for additional places to earn PhoenixMiles or snag a flight deal.

Hot Tip: Air China doesn’t have hotel or car rental partnerships. Some airlines have these partnerships. This allows members additional ways to earn airline miles with their hotel stay or car rental. 

How to Redeem Air China PhoenixMiles

The way to receive the most value with an frequent flyer program is to use the miles that you earn for an award flight.

What can be confusing about the PhoenixMiles program is that the program is called PhoenixMiles and the airline currency is in kilometers.

Air China uses a distance-based award chart when flying its own flights domestically. For Air China international flights, the PhoenixMiles program uses a region-based award charts.

Air China domestic award chart
Air China domestic award chart. Image courtesy of

Air China International award chart
Air China International award chart. Image courtesy of

If you use PhoenixMiles to fly on an airline partner, Air China uses a different region-based award chart for each of its airline partners. A full list of the Air China award charts can be found on the Redeeming Air China Award Tickets page.

Diving deeper into the redemption side, let’s look at a couple of interesting ways to use your PhoenixMiles:

  • 125,000 PhoenixMiles (200,000 km) round-trip Air China business class to Mainland China
  • 100,000 PhoenixMiles (160,000 km) round-trip Star Alliance business class to Japan/South Korea

Hot Tip: Alaska Airlines, ANA, and Japan Airlines are the programs we recommend instead of Air China for award flights to Asia. The reason is because you can use fewer miles for the same flights on Air China or Star Alliance partner flights. 

Star Alliance and Other Partner Awards

Air China lists all of its award charts here. After you decide what route and partner airline that you want to fly, you will then need to convert the number of kilometers shown in the respective award chart into miles if you are transferring points in from Marriott Bonvoy.

Booking Online

Use the Aeroplan and United Airlines websites to search for award availability. A combination of the two websites will ensure that you can see most, if not all, of the award space for your respective flight.

When you find an award seat on the Aeroplan or United website, call Air China at 800-882-8122 to search for and book the partner airline flight.

Keep these general rules in mind when searching for award flights:

  • Search the British Airways and Qantas websites for Oneworld flights
  • Search the Delta and Flying Blue (Air France or KLM) websites for SkyTeam flights
  • Search the United and Aeroplan websites for Star Alliance flights

Hot Tip: Expert Flyer is one of the best resources to show you award flight availability. We recommend using the website if you need more detailed award flight information or for searching for hard to find airline award availability.  

Featured Image: Courtesy of Shutterstock

Frequently asked questions

What is the Air China PhoenixMiles program? Is it worth it? What are the benefits?

PhoenixMiles is the frequent flyer program of Air China. It’s a free program to join and allows its members to earn PhoenixMiles and elite status, as well as use PhoenixMiles for an award flight.

PhoenixMiles members are awarded elite status based on the number of kilometers or airline segments flown.

Air China is a Star Alliance member joining the likes of ANA, Asiana Airlines, Avianca, Singapore Airlines, and United Airlines. Air China’s Star Alliance membership means that PhoenixMiles can be used to fly on both Air China and partner airline flights.

What other programs partner with PhoenixMiles? Can I transfer PhoenixMiles to them?

The primary ways to earn Air China PhoenixMiles are to fly Air China or partner airline flights, or earn Marriott Bonvoy points that can then be transferred directly to Air China.

Using PhoenixMiles for award flights is one of the best ways for members to use their PhoenixMiles.

PhoenixMiles members can use Phoenix Miles to fly on an Air China or partner airline flight, however, members can’t transfer PhoenixMiles to another airline program. You must use those airline miles (i.e. PhoenixMiles) only with that airline. However, you can use your PhoenixMiles to book an Air China flight or a partner airline flight like United Airlines.

What is the Air China PhoenixMiles login?

You can access your PhoenixMiles account on the PhoenixMiles login page.

Where can I sign up for PhoenixMiles?

The PhoenixMiles program is free to join by completing a member application.

What is my PhoenixMiles number?

You can find your PhoenixMiles number by signing into your account, looking on your membership card, or through a variety of marketing emails they send you.

If you can’t find it there, try using the “forgot my password” tool to reset your account so you can get in. Alternatively, try calling the customer service desk at 1-800-882-8122 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

When do PhoenixMiles post in my Air China account?

PhoenixMiles should post in your account within 7 days after your date of travel.

When do PhoenixMiles expire?

PhoenixMiles expire 36 months from the end of the month in which it was accrued. For example, if a member earns 10,000 km in April 2019 and uses 7,000 km, the remaining 3,000 km is valid until April 30, 2022.

When does PhoenixMiles status expire?

PhoenixMiles elite status is valid for 12 months.

Is there a Air China credit card?

Air China doesn’t offer a credit card for the U.S. market.

Can you hold an award flight with Air China?

Air China doesn’t allow its members to put an award flight on hold.

Michael McHugh

About Michael McHugh

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Michael took his first international trip in 2013 with friends to the Bahamas. Although he didn't travel much in his younger years, on that trip, he caught the travel bug and has been hooked ever since. Michael first caught wind of the points and miles game in 2014 while at a bar in Washington, DC where the conversation amongst friends was quickly derailed because of an alert on a friend's phone about a mistake fare.  That's where the love affair with points and miles began.

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  1. I was trying to decide which Star Allince program to join. Phoenix isn’t the best – but I live in Beijing… Was thinking Thai cause I fly there a lot, but isn’t it better to join the program of country you are based in?


    • Hi Anna, it depends on which airline and points currency you value the most. If you frequently fly THAI and find that its mileage program and elite status benefits are better suited for your needs, we’d recommend going with them. If you won’t fly enough to get status, go with whatever program has the best mileage currency for your needs. Thanks!


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