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People chase after airline status first, but I probably value my hotel status more. I may spend a few hours on a plane each trip, but I spend much more time (even sleeping time) in a hotel. I enjoy suite upgrades, better views, club lounge access, and more quite a lot. I never knew how much I would before I earned status.
And hotel status is easier to get than ever. I’m a Hyatt Diamond and I find that status the most rewarding, but of course Hyatt’s hotel footprint is much smaller than the other major chains. I am a Starwood Platinum as well, I split my nights, and even those two chains together don’t give me a hotel everywhere I need to be. This year I’ll be a Starwood 100 night Platinum. Plus I have Hilton Gold status from my Platinum Card from American Express which covers me when there’s no Hyatt or Starwood property.
In order to make top tier in both Starwood and Hyatt I’ve put $40,000 on my Hyatt co-brand card, since that earns me 5 stays and 10 nights towards Diamond.
Earlier this week I spent some time thinking about how Marriott Rewards could become the best hotel loyalty program given that the Starwood merger provides an impetus (and a lot of nicer properties at which to use your points).
St. Regis Abu Dhabi
Since I’ve got Starwood status and have been accumulating Starwood points for over 15 years I’ve been paying close attention to how things are developing — and how I’ll continue to earn status since Marriott requires 50 nights for Gold and doesn’t let you qualify on stays, and requires 75 nights for Platinum.
But you get Gold status included your first year with the Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card. Ritz-Carlton status effectively is Marriott status, you get treated reciprocally.
After your first year you need to spend $10,000 a year on the card to keep Gold. That’s $833.33 a month. Or you could just pay rent, mortgage or other bills with Plastiq. Fees are usually 2.5% of the amount paid, so $10,000 in bills costs $250 and earns Gold status in subsequent years.
You can even earn Platinum status with $75,000 in spend. That’s huge, especially with the Starwood merger, my bet is that Marriott introduces suite upgrades for Platinums as they combine programs.
That would make it a better level than Hilton’s Diamond (and indeed it already is, with Marriott’s Citi Hilton Reserve Card cardmember, and you can spend $40,000 a year on the card for Hilton Diamond but Hilton’s incremental published benefits for Diamond are weak, I prefer sticking with Gold.
Conrad New York
Top tier hotel elite status becomes both easy to get and increasingly tied to credit cards. I get 2 stays and 5 nights each from the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card. Since I was targeted for double elite qualifying nights for a few months this year I’m sitting on 90 nights, easy striking distance from the 100 nights that will earn me a Starwood Ambassador. Frankly I’d be perfectly happy with 75 night status (that includes 24 hour checkin and an extra point per dollar spent at Starwood… and Uber) but I want to try Ambassador first hand.
Al Maha Desert Resort
All of these cards let you earn points or free nights as a signup bonus that make the value proposition to sign up easy, then you can figure out how they fit into your plans. But like airlines, credit cards have become an integral part of being treated especially well on your hotel stays.