Cathay Pacific renewing free Gold cards (= BA Silver) for Amex Plat cardholders yet again ….

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It is now two years since American Express sprung a surprise on its Platinum cardholders by introducing a new benefit – Gold tier membership of Cathay Pacific‘s Marco Polo Club.

Marco Polo Club Gold has a lot of useful benefits in its own right if you fly Cathay Pacific – see their website for details.  However, as far as UK residents were concerned, there was only one benefit that mattered – as Cathay Pacific is a member of the OneWorld alliance, as is BA, a holder of a Marco Polo Gold card gets almost all of the benefits of a British Airways Executive Club Silver card.

The most important of these is access of BA’s business / Galleries Club lounges, which includes the Heathrow lounges. You can also bring a guest. This is a fantastic benefit for anyone who flies BA on a regular basis but never manages to achieve 600 tier points for a BA Silver card.

Marco Polo Gold

You also get most of the other benefits of BA Silver – free seat selection on BA flights, ability to use business class check-in desks when flying economy, additional baggage allowance, priority boarding etc. You can also now use the Fast Track lane at Heathrow when flying BA, Iberia or American.

Note that there is no requirement to credit your flights to Marco Polo Club. You can still have your British Airways or number in your booking for collecting avios and BA tier points. Unless you want free seat selection, in which case you will need to put your Cathay number in your booking, you can simply flash your Cathay Gold card at the lounge and at check-in.

For many people, this was a game-changer. Me included. I have historically spent money I didn’t necessarily need to spend in order to retain BA status, such as upgrading very short European flights to business class purely for the tier points.

I have stopped doing that now. I am currently BA Silver and will lose that in October. I have purposely not chased status this year, since I know I can get the Cathay Pacific Gold card at the end of 2013.

The reason for this post, though, is that American Express Platinum has always been very vague about how long your Cathay Pacific Gold status would last.

Initially they refused to say at all. Then they added a message to their website saying it was for one year only, but continued to tell members who contacted them that in reality this might not be the case. In Autumn 2012, most – although, oddly, not all – Cathay members got their free Gold extended for another year.

We are now another year on, and the first batch of renewals are coming around for a second time. And, so far, people seem to be getting their Cathay Pacific Gold cards renewed OK, even if they haven’t credited any flights to Cathay. One person on Flyertalk has been demoted, but a couple of other posters have stated that their online accounts have shown Gold status rolling over.

This is an excellent result, and far beyond anything that was expected.

Is this offer still available to new Amex Plat applicants?

Yes, is the simple offer.

It is not clear when it will end. In Amex’s ‘Departures’ magazine recently, it stated that you would be able to apply for a Cathay Gold card until 28th February 2014. However, I have not seen this date repeated anywhere else.

30,000 Amex points gets you 30,000 Avios or 30,000 Virgin Flying Club miles amongst other things.

Remember that – whilst the Platinum card has a £450 annual fee – the fee is refunded pro-rata if you cancel. Your Cathay card is NOT cancelled, however, and you can continue to enjoy the benefits until it naturally expires after a year. The same applies to the hotel status cards that come with Amex Platinum.

My full review of the Platinum card is here.

The Amex Platinum website – although it purposely does not mention the Cathay card (to avoid annoying BA, Amex’s main UK partner!) – is here.  You shouldn’t apply via this link, though – take a referral for the extra 5,000 points or take the cashback.

Please post if you have the free Cathay Gold card and your status has been extended again (or indeed if it hasn’t!)

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  1. Looking through the September Departures, I didn’t see mention of the Marco Polo Club card – does one need to call to request this?

    • I haven’t got my September issue yet!

      You order the Cathay card (and the hotel status cards) at – they don’t come automatically

  2. Alas, this must be limited to UK Platinum holders – the UK site won’t allow me to log in, and the US site doesn’t list the Cathay card.

    • Yes this is – although you get things like $100 to cover Global Entry fee, airline credit, zero foreign currency fee!

  3. Hoorah – my renewal just came through! 🙂

    • If you upgraded a Gold card to platinum, ordered the Marco Polo card & then cancelled… £38 for it? Anybody tried it?! Just a thought!

      • And if you did do this, would it burn a bridge with Amex?

        • Eventually, yes. So far they are deliberately letting it continue, but I can tell you from discussions I have had with them that they are not happy about it. They appear to have aggressive new business targets to meet, though ….

          • Well if they do decide to crack down I trust it’ll only be on the fee refund element and not the sign up bonus side (Lloyds-style)!

            In your discussions with them have they shown any appreciation of the devaluation they’ve made to the product in the past year or so?

          • The only people I’ve met are on the signing-up side – different bunch of people for product benefits.

          • Ah OK – try and get them to pass the message on – better MR earning rate and no forex fee would be my top requests!

  4. good bargain

  5. Forgive me but i have just been accepted for my first ever AMEX Platinum card and i am waiting for it to arrive in the post this week.

    I understand from reading the above that the Platinum card enables me to get the Cathay Pacific Gold card. what i have not been able to identify is how i go about getting this freebee extra? is this something that i have to apply for or sill it land in the same envelope this week?

    I am UK based and my next business flight will be this coming Tuesday, where i will have to travel through Heathrow T5. Will i be able to gain access to a lounge with just the AMEX card or will i have to hope that i can get a CPGold card processed in time?

    Sorry for the rookie question but hopefully someone can put me at easy quickly.

    • Hi Iain

      You need to apply separately for it via the Amex Platinum website ( – it’s under the various benefis and you fill out an online registration form.

      Although stranger things have happened, I think one week is pushing it to get things processed – you certainly won’t hve hte physical card by then, so once you’ve filled out the registration form you’ll need to keep trying the Marco Polo website and using the ‘forgotten login’ option to get it to email you your account details.

      • Thanks Alan,

        I agree, it is going to be impressive if it works out. I’ll just have to cross my fingers and hope to get all processed in time.

        if not, i’ll practice my hitchhiking skills and see if i can thumb a guesting into the T5 lounge 🙂

        really appreciate the speediness and simplicity of your response. only a little embraced it was that simple an answer.

        • Not a problem, you’re very welcome! There’s a thread on FlyerTalk that might be worth a look if it’s just you and you’re looking to be guested in.


  6. StudentDigs says:

    Hi everyone, this is hugely interesting, thanks for the article!

    I’m a student, and for a 21 year old I fly a fair bit and have been treated, on occasion, to OpUps etc. Having lounge access / extra luggage allowance etc would be a big help.

    That said, no way I earn over £40,000 a year, though my household (parents) does… I’d almost certainly be applying for the card, applying for all the ancillary cards, and then cancelling ASAP.

    Anyone think of any way for me to get in on this?


    • You could apply via your parents address and use that household income. However, you would need to have some bank accounts or something still registered at your parents address, so that you showed up on the credit files as living there. Similarly, if you were still on the electoral roll at your parents address it would make acceptance easier.

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