Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Cathay Pacific renewing free Gold cards (= BA Silver) for Amex Platinum cardholders 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.

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 Platinum applicants?

Yes, is the simple answer.

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.

best travel rewards credit cards

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – June 2024 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

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Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

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5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

HUGE 60,000 POINTS BONUS UNTIL 3rd JULY and 15 elite night credits each year Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

18,000 bonus points and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

American Express Business Platinum

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Capital on Tap Business Rewards Visa

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For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback Business Credit Card

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Comments (61)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • 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?


    • Rob says:

      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.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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