Cathay Pacific to discontinue Marco Polo Club, merge points and elite status into a single program
Cathay Pacific has faced a tough few years as Hong Kong entry and transit restrictions have severely stunted passenger flow to, from and through its hub. And as many regions move onward from pandemic-related restrictions, Hong Kong remains mostly closed to tourists.
Last summer, Cathay Pacific announced its desire to become a lifestyle brand named "Cathay." Part of the new Cathay program involves combining its elite program (Marco Polo Club) and rewards program (Asia Miles) in July 2022.
Now that July is nearing, various websites are reminding readers of the impending program combination, including View from the Wing and Executive Traveller. So, here's what we know about the new Cathay program and how it will affect U.S.-based travelers.
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Elite status with the new Cathay program
In early March, Cathay began renaming Club Points to Status Points. Cathay even has a calculator on its website that calculates how many Status Points (what you need for elite status) and Asia Miles (miles you can redeem) you can earn for a particular journey. In July, Club Points in your account will become Status Points.
Unlike the Marco Polo Club — which you can still pay $100 to join — the new Cathay program won't have a fee to join.
Cathay has confirmed that it will honor Marco Polo Club Green benefits through the end of a member's membership year. However, all Asia Miles members who don't belong to Marco Polo Club will become Cathay Green members in July. Here's a look at the difference between Marco Polo Club Green and Cathay Green:
Meanwhile, if you have a higher tier of Marco Polo Club status, you'll become a Cathay member at a tier equivalent to your existing Marco Polo Club tier. Cathay says that members at these tiers shouldn't see a difference in their current travel benefits.
Cathay launched new Standard Chartered Cathay Mastercards for Hong Kong residents in 2021. You can earn Status Points by spending on these Hong Kong-issued cards and flying on Oneworld airlines.
And there is a Cathay Pacific Visa card for U.S. residents. Interestingly, the current bonus on this card expires on June 30. Especially since the card currently offers complimentary Marco Polo Club Green membership for the first year of enrollment, I suspect we'll see some changes to this card in July.
The information for the Cathay Pacific Visa has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Cathay has already extended Marco Polo Club Silver, Gold and Diamond status through Dec. 31. However, Cathay's frequently asked questions website states it will announce details of a 2023 status extension in the coming weeks.
Related: Book this, not that: Oneworld award flights
Asia Miles with the new Cathay program
Information about the new Cathay program is still relatively sparse when it comes to Asia Miles. Cathay's frequently asked questions page only notes, "All your Asia Miles will carry over to the programme with the same expiry policy."
So, it's impossible to know whether Asia Miles will face any new devaluations. Although Executive Traveller confirmed with Cathay that "there'll be no devaluation of Status Points when the changeover takes place," no mention is made of whether there will (or won't) be any devaluation of Asia Miles.
However, I expect that Asia Miles will continue to offer the same redemptions as it currently does while also introducing new lifestyle redemption options. And I expect that Asia Miles will continue to be a transfer partner of many U.S. transferable currencies, including American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One, Citi ThankYou, Bilt Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. After all, this slew of transfer partners makes Asia Miles one of the easiest airline miles to earn.
Related: Cathay Pacific and the future of long-haul travel: Emirates president Tim Clark assesses the industry
By bringing its elite status program and rewards program together, Cathay may be seeking to tie the value of its loyalty program closely with the airline. After all, many experts question whether Cathay Pacific will survive.
As airlines are looking to push travelers to interact with their programs even when not flying, this shift by Cathay isn't surprising. And as a traveler looking to earn American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum this year through Loyalty Points, it's difficult to read about Cathay's new Status Points and not think of the similarities to Loyalty Points.
Based on what we know so far, you'll still only be able to earn Status Points (what you need to earn elite status with Cathay) through flying with Oneworld airlines or spending on Hong Kong-issued credit cards. As such, Cathay's partner earning and redeeming will — at least initially — be more focused on Asia Miles than Status Points.