Every frequent flyer knows the comforts and benefits that a top-tier airline card brings.
Myth #1: You need to fly long haul trips frequently.
Myth #2: You need to spend a small fortune on air tickets to earn the necessary points to attain top-tier status.
Today I am going to show you how to get hold of the Marco Polo Diamond status card by flying within Asia and under US$10,000.
The requirements for attaining Diamond status:
Currently you would need to fly 1,200 club points within 12 months period.
For a perspective of how much is 1,200 club points: a return economy class ticket from Hong Kong to London Heathrow or San Francisco is worth 50 club points. An economy class return ticket from Hong Kong to New York JFK earns you 60 club points.
This means having to fly 20 plus long haul flights in a year, almost 2 long haul flights every month. It is like spending half your time away from home travelling.
The smarter way to earning club points:
Instead of flying long haul to earn club points, the easier way is to fly on business class within Asia. Just a short business class return trip from Hong Kong to Taipei earns you 40 club points. To Malaysia, Japan, Singapore scores you 60 points. But wait…. Isn’t it very costly to travel in business class? In terms of cost per point, the answer is no. It’s actually cheaper than travelling long haul in economy class and you get to enjoy the luxury of flying business class. Sounds really good, right?
Here is the maths:
I am going to show you how to score club points on the cheap.
The trick is to fly off from Hong Kong on a Oneworld alliance airline with a transit in their hub onwards to a local city with a domestic sector.
Return economy class ticket on Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong to London Heathrow. Costs HK$6,560 (US$843), earns 50 club points. It costs you HK$131.20 (US$16.86) per club point.
Business Class return ticket on Malaysia Airlines from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur. Costs HK$7,772 (US$999), earns 50 club points. It costs you HK$155.44 (US$19.98) per club point. Wait…. Isn’t it more costly than flying long haul? Add in a domestic sector and see the difference.
Instead of flying to Kuala Lumpur, travel to Penang instead transiting in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia Airlines Hong Kong to Penang on business class costs HK$7,772 (US$999), which costs the same as flying to Kuala Lumpur, however this earns you a total of 80 club points. Cost per point is now HK$97.15 (US$12.49). It gets even more interesting when you fly domestic.
Malaysia Airlines Penang to Johor Bahru on business class costs MYR1,822 (HK$3466, US$444.36) and earns 60 club points. Cost per point is HK$57.77 (US$7.41).
The smarter way to earn Club Points flying on Cathay Pacific:
What if I want to fly on Cathay Pacific? The trick is to fly on business class from a nearby city like Taipei, Bangkok or Seoul onwards to a third destination, stopping over in Hong Kong.
A return business class ticket from Taipei to Singapore costs TWD 25,425 (HK$6,616, US$850.40) and earns 100 club points. Cost per point is HK$66.16 (US$8.50). If you have noticed, it costs about the same to travel on economy class from Hong Kong to London Heathrow but earns you double the club points.
Bangkok to Seoul on a Cathay Pacific return business class ticket costs THB 26,845 (HK$7029, US$903.74) and earns 120 club points. This makes it HK$58.58 (US$7.53) per club point.
It works pretty well for Seoul to Bangkok on Cathay Pacific business class too. Costs KRW 870,900 (HK$5868, US$754.24), earning 120 club points. Only HK$48.90 (US$6.29) per club point!
As shown in the various examples above, it is not difficult to acquire Marco Polo Diamond status on a budget, making quick trips within Asia and on business class too! With clever trip planning, it is possible to get the top Diamond tier status for less than US$10,000.
Disclaimer: All prices shown and exchange rates are as of 1st Jan 2020, and strictly for references only. Your mileage may vary.