Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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 avios.com 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!)

Comments (61)

  • MarsBoyUK says:

    This is one benefit that makes me want the platinum card. I got amex gold at the moment but can’t warrant the cost of £450. Especially as you don’t get double points on supermarket shopping like gold

    Do travel BA a fair but but not even bronze yet! Do they openly accept just a flash of the card to use fast track/lounge or is it normally a bit of a discussion to let you through?

    • John says:

      CX Gold is oneworld sapphire, which allows access to business class lounges when flying a oneworld airline in a lower class than business. So no discussion but not just a ‘flash’

  • alan smith says:

    Is the cathay gold available to supplementary cardholders too or is it only for the main account holder? Sorry but not clear to me.

    • cpdc1030 says:

      It’s only available to the main account holder. However the hotel loyalty cards are available to one supplementary card holder.

  • cpdc1030 says:

    I’ve had the Amex Platinum for almost a year now, and despite the high cost it has been worthwhile, mainly because of the hotel benefits (especially Hilton Gold, which is no longer offered).

    However there are some caveats with trying to gain access to BA lounges with the CX card. At both Berlin and Munich, they wouldn’t let me enter unless I changed my ticket to the CX FF number. Might be just excessive German rule-following, but that’s scared me off trying at other BA lounges, other than LHR where I know it’s fine. Of course changing accrual to CX is pointless, as the reward scheme is far worse than BA’s (for example HKG-TPE is 4,500 Avios or 10,000 CX miles one-way) .

    CX does indeed have a better Y product than BA (however not substantially so with the new BA interiors). However they are extremely stingy with mileage accrual on discounted tickets. I flew LHR-HKG-BKI, KUL-HKG-LHR with ZERO miles accrued with Marcopolo. Although the lounges at HKG were very nice. Ironically the only flight on CX I earned miles on was my BA Avios redemption on HKG-TPE, which must have been a mistake 🙂

    I’m going to be Executive Club Silver with my next flight this weekend, so I won’t bother with CX anymore, unless I’m redeeming my Avios on them.

    • John says:

      Can you not change your FF number once you have gained access to the lounge (on the Finnair site, I have heard)?

      • Rob says:

        Should work. I would be nervy without a boarding pass showing my BA number though.

        • andy21 says:

          The Exec Club call centre have always been very helpful in this regard. They are able to add both numbers to the booking, the CX Gold will open up seat selection but you can still earn miles on your BA card. On one occasion I noticed that my CX number was printed on my boarding card so simply asked the lounge agent to change it to my BA and re-print my boarding pass. Worst case, you can ask the gate agent to change the FFP number and re-print your boarding pass if the lounge agent is being obstructive.

          • John says:

            Well the lounge agent is the one who changed cpdc1030’s FF number in the first place, so they are unlikely to change it back.

            Maybe have an “accident” with boarding pass after you have changed the FF number back to BA; then ask the gate agents to reprint? E.g tear through the barcode, or soak it in water for a bit

          • Tom says:

            I have had this at LHR and MNL. Both times I was instructed to have my BAEC number put back on at the gate! A real fag, but worked. Now I am BA silver it is probably good bye to the Plat.

    • Macca says:

      I spent a year accessing lounges using my AA Plat card whilst flying BA and having my BAEC FF# on the booking. I never got refused entry (although they tried to in Mauritius of all places).

      I just hand over my boarding card and AA Plat card. Every time the agent asked if I would like them to put my AA FF# onto the booking but a single sentence explaining I have AA Plat and am now going for BAEC Silver was sufficient.

      They do have to make a manual (paper) note that they are letting in a passenger under a different program though, but I never got refused. I mainly fly MAN, LHR and all over the US, so haven’t tried it with those strict germans.

  • Paul says:

    I have just logged in and I am Green so the renewal is not happening automatically.

    My year expired on August 31st and I have not logged any flights to CX in the last year though do fly them in J using BA card.

    I recieved the original card and was then renewed last year so had about 2 years of membership via the Amex route, only actually using it once or twice to get access to a lounge. This would have been my 3rd year but it is not to be a very stern letter will now go to Amex as the benefits of membership dwindle annually.

    Cant blame CX but will also now cancel membership entirely.

    Good luck to those who do get it.

  • Adam says:

    I dont get why Amex don’t just sign a deal with BA directly – surely the £450 fee is hefty enough to cover some costs of it.

    Also if you think about it, if you had silver BA you are more likely to use BA to fly, so they would get more money surely.

    • Rob says:

      That would massively undermine BA. You can tell from the way that Amex dare not mention this benefit on their website how happy BA is about it.

      • Mike says:

        Because of the BA credit cards? Those have quite different benefits, the reward for spend is much better. I’d see that people would be more likely to have both Plat and BA.

        • Rob says:

          It isn’t about that. It is about Amex desperately trying to stop MBNA winning the BA credit card, which is up for renewal.

          As I wrote in the post, I have cut back on BA spending because I know I can get the benefits of status via Cathay and I’m certainly not the ony one.

  • Benj says:

    Its a shame we do not know if this benefit will be official continued or ended, as it does make chasing a few extra points for status in BA pointless if we knew that Sapphire status would be continuous with this card.

    I am a BA silver and am off on a CE TP run next weekend for the final 80 points to get me to Silver, a trip I probably would have avoided, if I knew I’d have Cathay Status for at least 2 years.

    I will be applying for the Cathay card in January, as I am highly unlikely to maintain status next year

  • Kevin Young says:

    Have used my CX Gold on a couple of BA flights through Gatwick and every time hey change my BA FF number to CX. Used the CX website to reserve business seats on an Avios redemption (AMS- HKG) next year and his causes the reservation to disappear from the BA Exec Club web site totally. Does anyone no if it is possible to change bookings back to BA FF and save the tier points and Avios (where applicable)?

    • Rob says:

      Yes, you can change it back in the lounge at the ticket desk. They are being over zealous though as it is not necessary in the first place.

      Actually, it is possible for the lounge person to enter both numbers, one to credit the flights to and one to confirm your status. You will rarely find someone who knows how to do this, though.

  • Col A-B says:

    Thanks to Raffles I managed to apply for the Platinum card, hit the spend target to achieve sign-up bonus & get the card cancelled all within a month so I had the whole membership fee refunded.
    However I’ve not received any of the ancillary cards.

    • Rob says:

      Did you apply for them via the americanexpress.co.uk website? They don’t come automatically. Only Priority Pass comes by default.

      • Col A-B says:

        Drat! I didn’t realise (ie: didn’t read p4 of the big silver book they send with the card grrrr) that I had to individually apply for the others. After the PP arrived I assumed the rest would follow.

        Darn it. I’ve gone & cancelled my Platinum card already too so now can’t apply. Oh well lesson learned…..just have to get my hubby to apply & ensure he does everything correctly!

        • Rob says:

          It is possible they haven’t fully cancelled it yet … nothing to lose by trying to apply.

          • Col A-B says:

            Totally agree – as soon as I saw you first mention I had to apply myself I was straight back on there to try…..but nope, they’ve been super efficient & locked me out 🙁