Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

1 year of BA lounge access with Amex Platinum … you need to decide soon!

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I wanted to gently remind everyone that time is running out if you want to apply for the American Express Platinum card in order to get the free Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Gold card.

The last day to apply for the Cathay Pacific Gold card will be 31st March.  However, you must have your American Express Platinum card in your hand first.  This means, realistically, that you need to apply for Amex Platinum in the next 2 weeks to be certain that you receive it before 31st March.

If you are not familiar with this offer, this is how it works.

When you take out an American Express Platinum charge card you can apply for a Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Gold card, valid for one year.  It looks like this:

Cathay Pacific, like British Airways, is a member of the oneworld alliance.  This means that your Cathay Pacific Gold card gives you the same benefits as a British Airways Silver card when you fly with BA.

In particular:

You can use BA lounges, even when flying economy – and bring a guest

You can use the lounges of any other oneworld airline when flying with them (Qantas, Qatar, Cathay, Finnair, Royal Jordanian etc)

You can select seats on BA flights for free

You get an additional baggage allowance (BA only)

You can check-in at business class desks

The full list of benefits from a oneworld Sapphire card (which is what both BA Silver and Cathay Gold offer) can be found here.

But doesn’t Amex Platinum have a £450 fee …..?

Yes, it does.  However, the fee is refunded pro-rata when you cancel.

When you cancel, you keep the Cathay Gold card for the remainder of the 12 months for which it is valid.  You also keep the three hotel status cards for the rest of the year – Starwood Gold, Accor Platinum and Carlson (Radisson) Gold.

There is also a very lucrative sign-up bonus with Amex Platinum, although you can only get this if you have not had an Amex Gold or Amex Platinum in the last six months.  You will receive 30,000 Amex Membership Rewards points, which can be converted into 30,000 Avios or 30,000 Virgin Flying Club miles amongst other things.

This is how the maths could pan out for you:

Apply for American Express Platinum within the next 2 weeks, to guarantee that you receive your card by late March

Go online and order your Cathay Gold, Starwood Gold, Accor Platinum and Club Carlson Gold cards (last day for ordering Cathay Gold is 31st March)

Spend the £2,000 in 3 months required to trigger the 30,000 Membership Rewards points

Transfer your 30,000 points – plus the extra points from your spending – into 30,000  Avios, Virgin Flying Club miles or whatever other programme you choose

Cancel the card after three months for a pro-rata fee refund

So, for just £112, you will get ….

So, assuming you cancel the card after three months, for a net cost of just £112 (3/12th of £450):

you will have earned 30,000 Avios and

you get the equivalent of a British Airways Silver card for a year and

you get Gold status at Starwood hotels for a year and

you get Platinum status at Accor hotels for a year and

you get Gold status at Carlson (Radisson, Park Inn) hotels for a year.

Which sounds OK to me.  A lot of people who take out the card intending to cancel actually end up keeping it, because the benefits package (which includes full travel insurance, Eurostar lounge access, two Priority Pass lounge access cards, access to Fine Hotels & Resorts deals, UK Hotel Collection deals and special Platinum promotions such as the free Melia hotel night last year) is impressive.

My full review of the American Express Platinum card is here.

(PS.  There is no mention of the Cathay Gold benefit on the official Amex Platinum application website.  This appears to be linked to Amex’s close relationship with British Airways.  Don’t worry, it definitely exists!)

Comments (198)

  • Micky says:

    Can i use the platinum charge card to buy foreign currency and get it delivered to my home? Would this count towards my spend? I’m going to struggle hitting the £2,000 in 3 months as I’ll be abroad in the next month and a half, and certainly wont be using my amex cards abroad.. Tips appreciated!!

    • Rob says:

      Yes but only if you buy from ie the Amex site. All other FX providers treat it as a cash withdrawal.

  • Mark says:

    Still waiting on being able to obtain my membership number having applied on the 1st March – getting the 2136 error when doing ‘forgotten username’.

    Don’t bother trying to phone Cathay Pacific on the Marco Polo Club service centre numbers as it is impossible to speak to anyone without a membership number (it either insists you enter it or redirects you back to the website!).

    Is anyone else still waiting over a week?

    • Ant says:

      Same here. I applied on the Amex website on Saturday 1st and get the 2136 error message every time I try the “forgotten username”

      • Brendan Sweeney says:

        Yep, also Sat 1st and still waiting

        • Rob says:

          I also did mine (at last, did it mainly to save $50 on opening a Cathay account in case I need one!) on the 2nd and still not activated either.

          • Mark says:

            Wonder if there is a bit of a last minute rush… have emailed the Marco Polo club, will see what response that gets.

  • Martin says:

    Hey Raffles,

    This is bit of a cross post apologies. I know you can only claim one signup bonus every six months from Amex. Is this a global limit? I’m interested having just relocated outside of the UK. Is it possibly to cancel my UK Amex having bagged the bonus reward points and then apply and claim a new card and bonus in my new location? Cheers

    • Rob says:

      Yes, almost certainly OK.

      It is also one sign up bonus PER REWARD SCHEME with a 6 month gap. If you only have a BA or SPG Amex, there is no block anyway on opening a Membership Rewards card (or vice versa).

      • Martin says:

        Thanks Raffles. I’ve only been reading the blog for a few weeks and you’ve saved me quite a bit of cash already!

  • Andreas says:

    also still waiting to get my membership number
    my platinum card was open relatively quickly, and as soon as I activated the card (last Thursday) I enrolled on their website for the Marco Polo membership.

    I tried to phone Marco Polo to expedite the process but I was unable to get through to them without a membership number no matter the combinations of numbers I’d press.

  • Mark says:

    The Marco Polo club responded to me yesterday to say they don’t have any record of me, so I phoned Amex customer services this morning to ask them to confirm that my application had indeed been passed across.

    Initially they told me they don’t have anything to do with the Marco Polo club membership applications as they are made directly on the Cathay website. Obviously untrue since it is part of the wider partner application process and I have an email from American Express confirming the application.

    When I pointed that out I was then told that it takes four weeks for the data to be sent electronically (!) and that they can’t give me any information.

    So I have now raised a complaint with Amex to see if I can get a more sensible answer. Though I suspect it is probably things just taking a bit longer than usual due to people getting in their applications before the deadline, It would be nice to have confirmation that it is being processed.

    • Brendan says:

      Starting to get a bit frustrating!

      • Mark says:

        Indeed. I raised my complaint through Colin Walsh ([email protected]) who was CEO of their European card business, though I suspect he may have left in December. I can’t find a more up-to-date name though, and I assume in any case it will just get redirected to their customer complaints department (which has worked for me in the past).

        The website just gives postal addresses for complaints.

    • Rob says:

      Four weeks is rubbish, I have never heard of anyone having a disproportionate wait to get their card.

      • Mark says:

        Indeed – part of my reason for raising the complaint is that the customer services person I spoke to (having gone away to speak to someone else when I told her that her first answer wasn’t right) just seemed to be making it up as she went along.

  • Andreas says:

    I thought people said 5 working days is all it takes to get a membership number?

    When I spoke to Amex on the phone they said, 10 working days is what it should take to get your membership number, however the card can take as long as 6 weeks.

    But once you got your membership number, it should be enough to get you priority check in and lounge access right?

    • Rob says:

      Yes, as long as it is in the booking.

      My wife got her card 10 days after completing the form, and it came from HK. That was 2 years ago though.

  • Brendan says:

    Plat upgrade showing on account today, card yet to arrive. Interestingly, can already go in to account and enrol for MP Gold. I have an existing base level Asia Miles account, so gave the number for upgrade to gold rather than new enrolment. Do you think this will make the process quicker or slower?

    Also, do I have to enrol for Priority Pass or does it come automatically after I activate the Plat card? How long does it take to arrive in the post?

    • Brendan Sweeney says:

      Priority pass seems to come very quickly, I got mine before I got my platinum card!