Comparing 4 top hotel elite status levels — and how to easily earn them in 2021

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Travel still hasn’t truly restarted for most of us. But that is precisely why now may be the best time in recent history to quickly earn elite status levels that you can leverage the moment you’re back out on the road.

Right now, there are promo short-cuts to basically all the top valuable elite levels for hotel loyalty programs. These promos enable you to pocket a high level of elite status, even if you don’t stay with the brand many — or in some cases, any — nights in 2021.

Here’s a rundown of four of the best hotel elite status tiers out there — and the shorter pathways to status. Note that the status levels we discuss may not always be the absolute top-tier in some programs since you don’t always need true top-tier status to reap most of the best elite perks.

Read on to learn about four hotel elite statuses you should consider earning in 2021 and the available promos to get you there quickly.

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In This Post

The Points Guy’s best hotel elite statuses to easily earn in 2021

  • Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite: Best worldwide elite-perks
  • World of Hyatt Globalist: Best for waived fees
  • Hilton Honors Diamond: Best easy-to-maintain top-tier status
  • IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite: Best for value-conscious travelers

Comparing the best hotel elite statuses

Status Free breakfast Lounge access Advance suite upgrades Best options for earning in 2021
Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite Yes* Yes Yes, through suite night awards Stay 50 nights (elite night credits from select Marriott Bonvoy cards count). Head start to 2021 status based on 2020 status and leveraging upcoming double night promo.

Open the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card by 1/13/2021. Terms Apply.

World of Hyatt Globalist Yes Yes Yes, through suite upgrade awards Stay 30 tier-qualifying nights (half of normal), earn 50,000 base points or host 20 meetings and events (tier-qualifying nights earned through promotions and the World of Hyatt Credit Card count). Double night promo running until Feb. 28.
Hilton Honors Diamond Yes Yes No Complete 15 stays, stay 30 nights or earn 60,000 base points.

Be a cardholder of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite No No No Stay 40 qualifying nights or earn 40,000 elite-qualifying points

Be a cardholder of the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

Best hotel elite statuses to earn in 2021

Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these hotel elite statuses. In particular, we’ll consider the highlights of each status as well as how you can snag the status in 2021.

Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite

JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa (Photo by Zach Griff / The Points Guy)
JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Marriott’s third status tier is widely regarded as a sweet spot in the Bonvoy program, thanks to its roster of perks and relative ease of earning Platinum status, compared to Titanium and Ambassador status.

As a Marriott Platinum Elite member, you’ll get perks including guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout, room upgrades, breakfast or lounge access at many brands, an annual selection of Choice Benefits including Suite Night Awards and more. There are some specific brands or types of hotels where some of these benefits don’t apply, but on the whole, Platinum turns out to be very useful at most Marriott properties.

Quickest path to Marriott Platinum in 2021: Right now, the easiest way to earn Platinum status is simply by opening the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. This card is currently offering complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status for the 2021 status year as part of its welcome offer. So, you can get Platinum Elite status in addition to a points welcome bonus of up to 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points: 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months and an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of card membership. Offer ends tomorrow on Jan. 13, 2021. Terms Apply.

Otherwise, Marriott’s also made it even easier to earn status the old-fashioned way in 2021.

Current elite members receive 50% of the elite nights needed to qualify for the elite status that they held in 2020. So any member who was Platinum Elite in 2020 who stayed exactly 50 nights — the amount required for this tier — would receive 25 elite nights as a bonus in 2021. Marriott also just launched a promotion that will allow members to earn double elite-night credits and double points for all stays of two or more nights from Feb. 16 through April 27, 2021.

Having the right credit cards can help you achieve status much faster than staying in hotel rooms. Select Marriott cobranded cards provide 15 elite-night credits as a perk of holding the card. And, now you can earn up to 30 elite nights per year with Marriott credit cards.

Related: The complete guide to Marriott elite status

World of Hyatt Globalist

Park Hyatt Aviara
Park Hyatt Aviara (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

World of Hyatt Globalist is a favorite hotel elite status for many TPG staffers and readers because of its many perks. Some of the best perks include waived resort fees, room upgrades including to standard suites, 4 p.m. late checkout, club lounge access (or breakfast at properties without a lounge), free parking on award nights and “Guest of Honor” benefits on awards that effectively allow you to formally share your perks with others.

Typically, you’d need 60 tier-qualifying nights, 100,000 base points or 20 meetings and events to earn World of Hyatt Globalist status.

But, World of Hyatt has made it much easier than normal to earn Globalist status in 2021. Specifically, in 2021 you’ll only need 30 nights or 50,000 base points to snag Globalist status. Plus, the current Bonus Journeys promotion allows members to register by Jan. 15, 2021, and earn double tier-qualifying nights through Feb. 28, 2021.

So, just 15 nights stayed in Jan. and Feb. 2021 could get you Globalist.

However, you could stay even fewer nights and still earn Globalist status with the World of Hyatt Credit Card. After all, cardholders automatically get five tier-qualifying nights each year. Plus, cardholders earn two tier-qualifying nights for every $5,000 spent. So, you could theoretically spend your way to Globalist status without ever stepping into a Hyatt hotel.

Quickest path to World of Hyatt Globalist in 2021: You could spend $65,000 on your World of Hyatt Credit Card in 2021 and earn World of Hyatt Globalist. Or, you could stay 15 nights in Jan. and Feb. 2021 and earn Globalist even if you don’t have the World of Hyatt card. The quickest path for most travelers will be a combination of these methods where you get five nights from having the Hyatt credit card and then you’re left needing 25 nights.

You could earn those nights in as few as 13 nights by having the credit card and then registering for the double nights promo. Here’s how TPG’s Summer Hull is doing just that to line-up Globalist status.

Related: 6 ways to redeem points with the World of Hyatt program

Hilton Honors Diamond

DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Fiji
DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Fiji (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Hilton’s top-tier Diamond status affords plenty of generous perks, including room upgrades, lounge access, complimentary continental breakfast at many brands and more.

Fortunately, Hilton consistently makes it relatively easy to achieve top-tier status in its Honors program. For 2021, Hilton halved its standard requirements for earning status, meaning for Diamond, you’ll have to complete 15 stays, stay 30 nights or earn 60,000 base points. But it could be much, much easier since Hilton allows you to earn Diamond status without ever setting foot in a Hilton property.

Quickest path to Hilton Diamond in 2021: The easiest way to achieve Hilton Diamond status is by opening the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, which comes with Diamond status as a perk of the card. It’s also offering a welcome bonus of 150,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the card within your first three months of card membership. Plus, you can earn a one-time $100 statement credit after using your new card to purchase an ExpertFlyer Premium annual subscription ($99.99 plus applicable taxes, followed by automatic renewal, owned by TPG’s parent company Red Ventures) within your first year.

Related: The award traveler’s guide to Hilton Honors

IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite

Kimpton Seafire Grand Cayman
Kimpton Seafire Grand Cayman (Photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

IHG Rewards Club is often left out when discussing the best hotel elite status to obtain. After all, IHG Rewards Club doesn’t provide complimentary elite breakfast, lounge access or even guaranteed late checkout to its elite members. Frankly, there are many ways IHG Rewards Club should improve its loyalty program.

But, Platinum Elites often do get upgrades and late check-out. And, IHG Rewards Club properties often provide reasonable quality at a modest price. So, IHG Platinum Elite can be a good status for budget travelers.

Quickest path to IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite in 2021: It’s easy to earn IHG Platinum Elite status since it’s a cardholder perk of the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.

Another cardholder benefit is a fourth-night reward benefit on award stays of four nights or longer and an annual free night valid at a property costing 40,000 points or less per night. So, even if you don’t stay at IHG hotels frequently, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Card is likely worth its annual fee.

Of course, you can also earn IHG Platinum Elite status through stays. Specifically, you can earn Platinum Elite status after 40 qualifying nights or 40,000 elite-qualifying points.

Related: Booking direct: How much value does IHG status provide?

Bottom line

There’s reason to be hopeful for the meaningful return of travel at some point this year, thanks to the approval and subsequent distribution of effective coronavirus vaccines.

However, travel is still largely on hold, and companies across the industry have rolled much of the changes to elite-status requirements we saw in 2020 into 2021, making status more achievable than ever for those who want to use the downtime now to earn status to leverage in the coming years.

From that perspective, now is the perfect time to supercharge your travel game this year by taking advantage of these reduced requirements and numerous active promotions to earn hotel status for yourself at a rate much faster than normal.

Featured image of the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay by JT Genter/The Points Guy.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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