Difference between The Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles - A Guide to Cathay Pacific's Loyalty Programme

Most credit card miles and points in Singapore can convert into either the ever-popular KrisFlyer Miles or the lesser-known Asia Miles (Citibank is the only bank in Singapore to offer miles and points conversion to 12 airline partners). Most of us have taken the stand and preference to accrue on Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer programme but with the recent devaluation, many of us have started to look beyond the usual redemption on SQ/MI and Star Alliance metal. The next immediate frequent flyer loyalty programme of interest is Asia Miles (since all banks in Singapore allow conversion into it) but what exactly is the difference between The Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles?

Photo Credit: Asia Miles

Photo Credit: Asia Miles

What is Asia Miles?

Perhaps the simplest way of understanding the differences between the two is to first understand what Asia Miles is. Similar to what KrisFlyer Miles stand for Singapore Airlines, Asia Miles is a free-to-join programme which allows members to accrue a 'currency' that can be accrued by either flying (traditional way of earning miles), credit card spend, dining, shopping or even general travelling. Just like how you can use KrisFlyer Miles to redeem for free flights and upgrades on SQ/MI and Star Alliance Metal, you are able to use Asia Miles to redeem for flight awards across 20+ airlines. Obviously there is also the option to use your valuable miles for shortsighted and ludicrous redemption options like vouchers, car rentals and hotel stays. 

Photo Credit: Marco Polo Club

Photo Credit: Marco Polo Club

What is The Marco Polo Club?

Marco Polo Club is the official loyalty programme for Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon. The Marco Polo Club is a pay-to-join (at least for the first year) programme which allows travellers to accrue club points from traveling with Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon and other oneworld member airlines - Asia Miles are not club points and vice versa. Just for the sake of clarification, club points earned on the Marco Polo Club can not be used for flight awards - they are simply a way to measure the level of status a traveller should have on the Marco Polo Club - Green, Silver, Gold or Diamond. 

If you are familiar with the Qantas Frequent Flyer Programme, you may think of club points as status credits. Similarly, you may think of club points as Elite Miles (which are different from KrisFlyer Miles) on the Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer Program (read more about the difference HERE!).  

Photo Credit: Marco Polo Club

Photo Credit: Marco Polo Club

What is the Difference between Asia Miles and Marco Polo Club? 

Asia Miles is free programme that offers the currency that travellers can accrue for use on flight awards and the Marco Polo Club is a paid programme that allows travellers to accrue club points which in turn gives travellers the opportunity to earn status levels which allows them to enjoy certain benefits and privileges. They are separate programs and if you just wish to accrue Asia Miles for redemption then you do not have to bother about the Marco Polo Club at all. 

Why should I bother with The Marco Polo Club? 

The Marco Polo Club is a loyalty program and if you intend to fly quite a bit on Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon or oneworld member airlines then you should definitely look into The Marco Polo Club. Obviously there are other free loyalty programmes by other oneworld member airlines available but the Marco Polo Club does offer a number of unique benefits which may benefit travellers who travel often on Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon specifically. 

How much to join The Marco Polo Club? 

You can join The Marco Polo Club online by simply paying the joining fee of USD 100 (approx. SGD 140). Once the payment has been made and the membership has been successfully processed, you will be enrolled at the Green (status) level of The Marco Polo Club - this is the lowest level of the club (read the next section to learn about the different levels and how to earn/retain them). The membership year will last 12 months from the date you have enrolled, renewed, upgraded or downgraded into your current tier. Upon renewal, upgrade or downgrade, your club points will automatically be reset to zero and a new membership year begins. Confused? Read on. 

Status Levels on The Marco Polo Club | Photo Credit: The Marco Polo Club

Status Levels on The Marco Polo Club | Photo Credit: The Marco Polo Club

Understanding Status Levels on The Marco Polo Club

There are four main status levels on The Marco Polo Club: Green, Silver, Gold and Diamond. Depending on how many club points you earn, you will be upgraded (or downgraded) to the next level and a new membership year will start. In general, this is how many points you need earn in order to achieve each status tier:

  • Green - 100 club points
  • Silver - 300 club points
  • Gold - 600 club points
  • Diamond - 1,200 club points

For the sake of illustration, assume you paid USD 100 for the successful enrollment into The Marco Polo Club in May 2017 - you will now be at the Green status tier (even though you have not achieved 100 club points) and will have 12 months to accrue club points. The tricky part is this - if you achieve a new status level during your membership year, your club points will start again from zero at the new status level and a new membership year will start from that month. 

If your membership year starts in May 2017 at the Green level and you have managed to hit 100 club points in July 2017, nothing will happen at this point and if you do not earn any more club points, your Marco Polo Club membership will renew at the Green level 12 months from May 2017. However, if you do hit 300 club points in November 2017, your account will renew at the Silver level for another 12 months - at this stage, your total club points will go back to zero. You now have 12 months from November 2017 to accrue 600 club points in order to reach Gold status (this is start of your new membership year). 

Lounge Access | Photo Credit: The Marco Polo Club

Lounge Access | Photo Credit: The Marco Polo Club

Understanding Mid-Tier Benefits

As you work your way through the different status levels of The Marco Polo Club, you will be rewarded for hitting mid-tier club points requirement:

  • Green Tier Level
    200 club points: One Business Class Lounge Pass
  • Silver Tier Level
    450 club points: Two Business Class Lounge Pass
  • Gold Tier Level
    800 club points: Two Business Class Lounge Pass
    1,000 club points: Four Bookable Upgrades 
  • Diamond Tier Level
    1,400 club points: Two First or Business Class Lounge Pass
    1,600 club points: Four Bookable Upgrades
    1,800 club points: Complimentary Companion Gold Membership
Photo Credit: The Marco Polo Club 

Photo Credit: The Marco Polo Club 

What Kind of Status Benefits do I Get with The Marco Polo Club?

The infographic above does a great job at summarising the status benefits that you get with The Marco Polo Club when you travel on Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon and oneworld member airlines. The lesser known benefits actually pertain to hotels (some of which are pretty impressive), car rentals and retail partners. 

Get Tangible Hotel Benefits (e.g. Upgrades) with The Marco Polo Club

On the extreme right end of the chart, top-tier Marco Polo Club members can enjoy elite benefits like complimentary breakfast, room upgrades and personalised welcome amenities at large international chain hotels too. 

Should You get The Marco Polo Club Membership?

If you intend to redeem Asia Miles on Cathay Pacific and other partner airlines and assuming you are only redeeming them on Business or First Class, The Marco Polo Club adds little value. With that being said, if you have plenty of travels (especially in premium cabins) that are coming up in the year ahead on Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon or oneworld member airlines', you could potentially benefit from the membership.