Is Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club Worth It?

When booking a Cathay Pacific flight you’ll be asked if you want to join one or both of the membership schemes the airline runs. One of those membership schemes is the Marco Polo Club which costs $100USD per year and provides you with a number of benefits as you move through the four tiers of the programme.

The Marco Polo Club isn’t worth it as the majority of people with a budget of $100USD to pay for one-year membership are already flying and obtaining the benefits of flying business class or first class on a regular basis.

The only time where I believe a Marco Polo Club membership is worth considering is if you’re flying enough to get you quickly to the silver teir (this is the optimal point of benefits vs value) and then going to travel consistantly in economy.

In this case, you’ll be able to benefit from extra legroom seats, additional luggage, priority check-in and priority boarding when flying economy. Of course, all of these benefits are obsolete if you’re flying in business or first class as they are already included.

What Is The Marco Polo Club?

The Marco Polo Club is a paid membership scheme run by Cathey Pacific. As a member guests can move through the programmes teirs to obtain benefits such as complimentary extra leg room, additional luggage and priority baording.

Is The Marco Polo Club Free?

The Marco Polo Club costs $100 US to join. You’ll be required to pay for your membership when submitting your application, and pay either an additional $100 USD or 20 club points every year to renew.

There is also a free Cathay Pacific membership scheme known as the Asia Miles program which is available for anyone to join.

How To Sign Up For The Marco Polo Club

You can sign up to the Marco Polo Club on the Cathey Pacific website. Either while purchasing a flight or prior to booking a flight.

If you’re already an Asia Miles member then you’ll be able to add your information to the programme and it will automatically pull in your personal information. However, if you’re not already an Asia Miles customer then you’ll be required to fill in a personal information sheet which takes around 10 minutes.

A physical Marco Polo Club card will arrive in the post approximately two weeks after signing up for the programme. However, your membership number will be issued straight away and linked to your account so you’re able to use the benefits of being a member without the physical card if your flight is departing prior to the arrival of the physical membership card.

How Much Does It Cost To Renew A Marco Polo Club Membership?

Marco Polo Club membership lasts 12 months from the date you enrol and renew as well as from the date you were upgraded or downgraded between the different tiers.

If you qualify for an upgrade or are downgraded then the Marco Polo Club points you have accrued will be reset to zero and your new membership year begins. These upgrades occur as soon as you’ve gained enough club points to enter the next tier and right now you can only go up one club tier at a time.

If your membership does come up for renewal as you’ve been unable to upgrade or downgrade between tiers in a year then you’ll be required to either pay $100 USD or use 20 club points to continue receiving the benefits that a Marco Polo Club membership brings.

Whether you choose to renew using money or club points is going to depend on how close you are to the next club tier (as on a renewal you’re able to maintain the same points level) and whether or not you can find a flight that generates 20 club points for less than $100 which is also convenient for your schedule.

Club points can be obtained when flying with any member of One World alliance, but for argument’s sake, I looked at flying with Cathey Pacific from Singapore to Bangkok. In this case, an Economy fare Y, B, H or K would generate 20 club points one way.

In most cases, a round trip flight generating 40 club points can be obtained for around $170USD and a one-way flight generating 20 club points can be obtained for $90USD.

Personally, if I had the time I’d rather spend the weekend in Bangkok for the additional $70 and obtain an additional 20 club points on top of the 20 I’d be using to renew my membership. However, this will come down to personal preference and the flights available at the time.

It’s worth remembering that if you want to renew your membership this way then you’ll need to book and take the flight in advance of your membership renewal. I’d recommend taking the flight at least one month in advance to give the system plenty of time to update your accrued points.

Benefits Of Joining The Marco Polo Club

Of course, it’s only worth paying the $100USD to join the Marco Polo Club if you’re going to benefit from being a member. The benefits of membership vary depending on your level within the club.

Green Membership

Green is the entry-level for the Marco Polo Club, as a result the benefits are lackluster at best;

  • You can use Asia Miles to upgrade to extra legroom seats
  • You may use premium economy bag drop when travelling in economy at selected airports
  • Priority boarding (for the member-only and no additional guests)
  • You may use Asia Miles to purchase extra baggage
  • Up to 2 pieces of baggage in economy, premium economy and business flights and 3 pieces of baggage in first class on specific flights
  • You may use Asia Miles to purchase lounge access
  • Hold your flight booking and fare for free for up to 72 hours when you book your flights on our website at least 7 days in advance

Silver Membership

Once you have accrued 300 Marco Polo Club points you’ll be upgraded to the silver membership tier. At this level, you’ll be able to receive all the benefits a green club member has in addition to;

  • Free of charge extra legroom seats (for yourself only, no travel companions)
  • Prefered seating on Air New Zealand flights
  • Check-in at business class counters when travelling in economy and premium economy
  • Priority boarding for yourself and travel companions
  • 10kg additional checked baggage allowance
  • 10kg cabin baggage allowance
  • Access to Cathey Pacific and Cathey Dragon business class lounges

Gold Membership

To obtain gold membership status with Marco Polo Club you’ll need to obtain 600 club points. At this level you’ll gain all the benefits that a green and silver member gets along with;

  • Up to 3 pieces of luggage in economy, premium economy and business class and 4 pieces of luggage in first class on selected flights
  • Gold members may bring one guest to the Cathay Pacific lounge when they are travelling together on Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon with a OneWorld airline
  • Access to discounted flights 2 days prior to them being released to the general public

Diamond Membership

Diamond is the highest Marco Polo Club membership tier and requires 1,200 club points to access it. The Diamond Marco Polo Club status includes all the benefits of the green, silver and gold tiers in addition to;

  • Check-in at first or business class counters even when travelling in economy or premium economy
  • 15kg cabin baggage allowance
  • Access to Cathey Pacific first class lounge when travelling in any class on a marked Cathey Pacific flight
  • Access to arrival lounge in London for selected flights, member-only no guests permitted

As a diamond member, any additional points you obtain can be used on a variety of products and upgrades;

  • 1,800 Points – Gift a family member of friend Marco Polo Club gold status
  • 1,600 Points – You can claim four single-sector Bookable Upgrades to one cabin class up for yourself, a travel companion, or redemption group member for Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon flights
  • 1,400 Points – You can claim two Lounge Passes for a travel companion or Redemption Group member to enjoy one-time admittance to any Cathay Pacific or eligible partner First Class or Business Class lounge

How To Earn Marco Polo Club Points

Marco Polo Club points can only be obtained by booking flights on a member of OneWorld alliance through the Cathey Pacific website.

The exact number of miles you obtain will depend on how far you travel and the class in which you travel. This is broken down in the table below;

Asia Miles vs Marco Polo Club

The other membership scheme offered by Cathay Pacific is Asia Miles. This is free to join programme which tracks your mileage and allows you to exchange the miles for a number of products and upgrades including business and first-class tickets.

You can have both an Asia Miles and Marco Polo Club account at the same time, and certainly, if you’re a Marco Polo Club member you should definitely have an Asia Miles account as you’ll be able to obtain miles as you fly.

Although both used by the same airline, the programmes are relatively different and don’t integrate or intertwine whatsoever.

Marco Polo Club Value Demonstration

As I mentioned in the introduction for the majority a Marco Polo Club membership isn’t a worthwhile investment as those who are spending $100USD to join are often already flying business class or first class.

For example, assuming you’re at the highest Marco Polo Club tier, diamond and already flying business class on flight then you’ll only benefit from;

  • Additional Marco Polo Club miles which could be used to gift a member gold Marco Polo Club status, gift two lounge passes or claim four single-sector bookable upgrades
  • Being able to check-in at the first-class desk instead of the business class desk
  • 15kg cabin baggage allowance instead of 10kg
  • 3 pieces of checked-in baggage instead of 2 on selected flights

Aside from the luggage, the benefits are mediocre, to say the least. An while there is certainly more than $100USD value in being able to bring an extra piece of checked baggage.

The majority of travellers don’t need 3 pieces for one person, and of course, this is more than just $100USD in value as there’s the cost of getting to the diamond Marco Polo Club status too.

However, assuming you’re a silver Marco Polo Club tier member and flying economy then you’ll benefit from;

  • Complimentary extra legroom
  • Use of business class check-in desks
  • Priority boarding
  • 10kg cabin baggage instead of 7kg
  • An additional 10kg of checked-in baggage
  • Access to Cathey Pacific and Cathey Dragon business class lounges

The additional value here seems much more worthwhile when compared to a diamond club member flying business class. However, the number of instances where someone who has signed up for the Marco Polo Club is going to be flying economy is in my opinion at least few and far between.

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