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Marriott has the strongest mid-tier elite status. While I still think their top tier Platinum is weak, at least compared to Starwood and Hyatt top tiers which have real suite upgrade benefits, Marriott’s Gold is better than competitor levels.
Of course Marriott Gold status takes 50 nights to qualify for, something other chains usually consider to be enough for top tier. But Marriott Gold is easier to get than ever.
Battle House Renaissance, Mobile Alabama
I used to regard Hilton HHonors as having the best mid-tier status level, Gold, because it’s easy to get (just sign up for the Citi Hilton Reserve Card) and offers a breakfast benefit — which neither Hilton nor Starwood offer at their mid-tier levels (and IHG just doesn’t offer).
But Marriott’s Gold status is better than Hilton’s now because not only do you get club lounge access – and with Hilton club lounge access depends on getting upgraded to a club floor (otherwise you get continental breakfast at hotels where that’s a benefit):
If you are an HHonors guest with Gold status, you and up to one additional registered guest in the same room will be granted complimentary access to the Executive Floor Lounge only if you receive a room upgrade to the Executive Floor or an upgrade to a room type that confers Executive Floor Lounge access benefits.
Furthermore Marriott added guaranteed 4pm late checkout (except for the usual exclusion of conference and resort properties) which is something Hilton doesn’t guarantee.
Marriott’s tough with status qualification, since you need actual nights rather than a smaller number of stays to qualify. But there are (3) basic ways to get to Marriott’s Gold status more quickly.
- For the past three years United Gold elites and higher have gotten complimentary Marriott Gold.
- 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 just $10,000 a year on the card to keep Gold. That’s $833.33 a month which most readers would be able to meet without difficulty. You could also 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 on the card. That’s huge, especially with the Starwood merger, my bet is that Marriott introduces suite upgrades for Platinums as they combine programs.
Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Credit: Ritz-Carlton
If it’s your only status, Marriotts have an extremely broad reach, you can stay with Marriott most everywhere you go (and they’re getting bigger, with nicer hotels, and more international with the Starwood merger).
If you’re a Hyatt loyalist like I am, it’s a great second choice for when there’s no Hyatt option.
I’m a strong advocate of being loyal to the program that gives you the most, for me that’s Hyatt but even there I need a ‘backup’ program. And backup programs with mid-tier status are easier than ever to get since the Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card comes with Gold status straight away, and so does the Citi Hilton Reserve Card.