Comparing hotel elite status benefits


Photos on today’s blog post are not my own, but are pulled off Pinterest, and are not necessarily affiliated with any of the hotels mentioned in this post.  Pinterest travel photos give me a serious case of wanderlust! 

Though I travel frequently, I have never been particularly loyal to one airline or hotel chain. The lowest possible price has always been my top concern. Taking advantage of promotions or sales with different hotel brands or even using third-party booking sites keeps money in my pocket, but doesn’t lend itself to achieving elite status and therefore receiving many additional perks.

For business travel this year I am scheduled to take 18 roundtrip flights and spend 33 nights in hotels. With this level of activity, it was time for me to start considering ways to achieve status with various brands.

There are several different ways to earn elite status with hotels, including staying a certain number of nights or receiving it by signing up for a hotel-branded credit card. Once you achieve status with one program, it can be easier to obtain it with others through status matches or challenges.

Japan

Japan

For instance, I recently signed up for the HHonors Reserve Visa from Citibank card and paid the $95 annual fee for the two free weekend nights anywhere in the world, and received gold status as an additional cardholder perk. While I don’t stay in Hiltons often, this was particularly helpful because I can use my status with this chain as leverage with the others. I’m currently participating in the Hyatt Diamond Challenge, which was what I intended this post to be about, but I think it’s helpful to first breakdown how you can receive status with each major hotel chain and the perks that come along with it.

This post is by no means inclusive of all the different hotel brands loyalty programs. Hack My Trip has an excellent chart, comparing all of the different loyalty programs at a glance. The Points Guy has one of his own   focusing on top tier status that I also found really helpful. I suggest checking those out for information on all the various tiers of status with each program. For this post I’ll focus on mid-top tiers that can be somewhat easily obtained.

Quebec City

Quebec City

Hilton

 HHonors Gold Status:

  • Free breakfast
  • Free Internet
  • Room Upgrades
  • Late check-out
  • Welcome point bonus of 100-1,000 points

The easiest way to get Hilton status is with the HHonors Reserve Visa from Citibank. Or you can achieve gold status with 40 nights or 20 stays  (this is a great post by Mommy Points on stays versus nights, a concept it took me awhile to wrap my head around, and is the basis for why I hotel hop so much, as it often factors into free night promotions as well as earning status).

Hyatt

Platinum Status:

  • Free Internet
  • 2 p.m. checkout

The easiest way to obtain Platinum status is by applying for the Hyatt Visa from Chase, which offers free status in addition to two free night awards at any Hyatt. The United MileagePlus Club Visa from Chase also awards Hyatt Platinum status. Or you can stay 15 nights or 5 stays.

Diamond Status:

  • Free Internet
  • 4 p.m. checkout
  • Free breakfast
  • Access to club lounges
  • 4 confirmed suite upgrades on paid stays
  • 500-1000 bonus points at check-in
  • 30% elite point bonus

Many frequent travelers consider Hyatt’s Diamond status to be one of the most generous and also fairly easy to obtain. I’m in the middle of the Diamond Challenge, and will post tomorrow more in depth about how that works!

Lake Como, Italy

Lake Como, Italy

Marriott

Gold     

  • Club Access
  • Free breakfast
  • Free Internet

Platinum

  • 50% point earning bonus
  • Free Internet
  • Free breakfast
  • Club access

Earning status with Marriott is a bit trickier, because the only way is by nights. You need 50 nights for gold. The Marriott Premier Rewards Visa from Chase gives you 15 nights credit toward elite status each year.

Starwood Preferred Guest

Gold Status:

  • 4:00 p.m. checkout
  • 50% point earning bonus
  • Free bottled water

SPG gold is included in the benefits of any American Express Platinum Card, or can be earned after 25 nights or 10 stays. The interesting thing to me about SPG is that award nights count towards status. Both the personal and business versions of the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest cards offer credit for 2 stays/5 nights toward elite status.

                Platinum:

  • Free Internet
  • Free breakfast
  • Club access
  • Bonus points or local gift
Washington D.C.

Washington D.C.

IHG

No published benefits other than free Internet.

IHG Visa from Chase awards top-tier platinum status for cardmembers.

Club Carlson

Gold:

  • 50% earning bonus
  • Food/beverage amenity
  • Upgrades when available
  • Free internet

The Club Carlson Visa from U.S. Bank includes automatic gold status.

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