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Cathay Pacific to discontinue Marco Polo Club, merge points and elite status into a single program

May 31, 2022
5 min read
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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

(Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

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:

(Screenshot from cathaypacific.com)

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.

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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

(Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)

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

Bottom line

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.

Featured image by (Photo by Eric Rosen/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
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  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more