6 elite statuses I plan to earn this year and 3 I’ll let lapse
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My stance on loyalty has changed significantly over the years. When I first began traveling, I’d book the cheapest flights and lodging I could find. I earned online travel agency rewards but otherwise didn’t care about loyalty.
However, in 2015 I earned American Airlines Platinum status through a status challenge. The following year, I did a few mileage runs to earn American Airlines Executive Platinum Elite status. And, I’ve worked to re-qualify for Executive Platinum status each year since. Even so, I didn’t put much value in hotel elite status until after my husband JT and I hit the road as digital nomads in 2017.
We’ve currently paused travel. But, when we are traveling, we spend most of our nights with well-known hotel loyalty programs. And we’re always looking for airfares that provide good mileage and elite status earning opportunities. So, today I’ll describe the elite statuses I plan to earn in 2021 and the ones I’ll let lapse. However, since we usually travel together, we’ve decided only one of us needs to earn status with some hotel loyalty programs. So, I’ll discuss our plans as a couple in some sections.
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American Airlines: Plan to requalify for Executive Platinum
As I discussed above, I’ve held American Airlines Executive Platinum status since 2016. I’ve generally strived to earn this status each year primarily for the following perks:
- Systemwide upgrades and unlimited complimentary 500-mile domestic upgrades
- Oneworld Emerald perks when flying Oneworld partners
- Waived cancellation and redeposit fees for awards
But, with American Airlines removing award cancellation and redeposit fees for everyone and improving its Platinum Pro status, I’ve debated whether it still makes sense to earn Executive Platinum status in 2021. It’s not a clear-cut decision, so I expect many travelers will decide that Platinum Pro or status with Alaska Airlines provides all the perks they need.
But, my husband and I have already snagged some fares that will put requalification for Executive Platinum status in 2021 well within reach. So, assuming entry restrictions and policies don’t prevent us from taking these flights in mid and late 2021, we both plan to requalify for Executive Platinum for at least one more year.
Asiana Club: Diamond will likely lapse in Dec. 2021
In Dec. 2017, my husband and I both started the 24-month qualification period to earn Asiana status. Between an inexpensive business-class ANA flight from Vancouver to Sydney to Asiana in Dec. 2017 and two cheap Air Canada round-trip flights to China in Jan. 2018, we both quickly earned Asiana Club Diamond status.
Asiana Club allows you to keep the status for 24-months after the end of the 24-month qualification period. So, since we started in Dec. 2017, we will have Diamond status through Dec. 2021. However, we haven’t made any progress so far on our current 24-month qualification period. And, we haven’t used our Star Alliance Gold status nearly as much as we expected. So, we’ll likely let this status lapse. But, we might work to qualify again once a new qualification period begins.
Malaysia Airlines Enrich: Gold will lapse in Mar. 2022
Back in early 2019, I earned Oneworld Sapphire Status for more than two years for less than $500. In particular, I maximized a Triple Everything promotion to earn 3x Enrich award miles, 3x elite miles and 3x elite segments on 18 flights I flew across 16 days.
After these 18 flights, I’d visited five new cities and earned Enrich Gold status. Enrich Gold status equates to Oneworld Sapphire status, which provides Admirals Club access and Flagship Lounge access when flying American Airlines domestically.
My Enrich Gold status was initially set to expire on Mar. 31, 2021. But, thanks to a coronavirus status extension, my status will be valid through Mar. 31, 2022. I don’t plan to earn status with Malaysia Airlines in 2021, though — unless Malaysia Airlines offers another amazing promotion.
Marriott Bonvoy: Will requalify for Platinum, may push for Titanium
Until 2019, JT and I both relied on Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status as a cardmember perk of The Platinum Card® from American Express. But, in 2019, we stayed at Marriott Bonvoy brands enough for JT to earn Platinum Elite status without even trying. He’d go on to earn Titanium Elite status in 2019 after we found that Platinum Elite status provides valuable perks such as guaranteed 4 p.m. checkout, complimentary breakfast at most Marriott properties, lounge access and upgrades.
But, in 2020, I decided I wanted to push for higher Marriott Bonvoy elite status myself. Between 30 elite nights from credit cards, 13 bonus elite nights credits and seven nights in Istanbul, Turkey, I snagged my own Platinum Elite status in 2020.
Looking forward, JT and I will both requalify for Platinum Elite status this year. We each have our own personal and business Marriott Bonvoy cards, so we’ll each get 30 elite nights thanks to these cards. Plus, JT will get 38 bonus elite night credits and I’ll get 25 bonus elite night credits in 2021. So, we’ll each have more than the 50 elite nights required for Platinum Elite in 2021, even if we don’t stay with Marriott at all this year.
But, since we live and work on the road and enjoy staying at Marriott hotels, Titanium Elite status is likely within reach for both of us in 2021. After all, JT would only need to stay seven nights in 2021 to requalify for Titanium Elite, while I’d only need 20 nights to snag Titanium Elite. On top of improved earning rates, Titanium Elite also provides United Premier Silver status.
World of Hyatt: I’m going for Globalist
A lot of TPG staffers love World of Hyatt Globalist status. But, although I’ve enjoyed my three Hyatt stays in the last two years at the Hyatt Regency Kuantan Resort, Andaz Capital Gate and Park Hyatt Beijing, I haven’t seriously considered earning World of Hyatt status. That is, until recently.
After all, only 30-night credits are needed to earn Globalist status in 2021. And various promotions and limited time offers have made it possible to earn Hyatt Globalist status with even fewer nights. So, I decided to give World of Hyatt a try in 2021 while working to earn Globalist status.
To make my quest easier, I applied for the World of Hyatt Credit Card shortly before the end of 2020. I was accepted and currently have 15-night credits in my account (current applicants will only get five-night credits each year). I plan to spend $15,000 on my card in 2021, so I’ll get six-night credits through this spending.
As such, I’ll only need nine more night credits during 2021. I may stay at Hyatt hotels a few nights in January and February and take advantage of the double night credits under the Bonus Journeys promotion. However, I have no plans to mattress run since I’m confident I’ll get the nights I need organically during the rest of 2021.
Hilton Honors: Keep status as a cardmember perk
One unique aspect of the Hilton Honors program is that it’s possible to maintain top-tier Hilton Diamond status by keeping the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card in your wallet. And, you can get mid-tier Hilton Gold status — which provides complimentary continental breakfast and upgrades — as a cardholder of the following cards:
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
- Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
My husband has the Hilton Aspire, so we book Hilton stays through his account when traveling together. However, I have Hilton Gold status through the Amex Platinum, so I get complimentary breakfast and upgrades at Hilton properties even when traveling alone.
The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
IHG Rewards Club: Keep status as a card perk
The IHG Rewards Club program decreased the requirements for earning elite status in 2021. But, even though my husband currently holds Spire Elite status, he likely won’t get the 55 qualifying nights or 55,000 qualifying points needed to requalify in 2021. Instead, we’ll probably both rely on the Platinum Elite status provided as a cardholder perk of the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.
After all, most of the Platinum Elite and Spire Elite perks are identical. Platinum Elite members only earn 50% bonus earnings on top of base points, instead of Spire Elite’s 100% bonus. But, many of our nights at IHG Rewards Club hotels are award nights thanks to periodic promotions that allow us to buy IHG points at 0.5 cents each and the IHG Premier’s fourth-night reward perk. So, we won’t push to get either of us to Spire Elite status in 2021.
Choice Privileges: No requalification plans
It’s no secret that my husband and I are huge fans of the Choice Privileges program thanks to the excellent value we can get redeeming Choice Privileges points. We even spent a month at an all-inclusive resort one summer using Choice Privileges points. But, outside of elevated earnings and the occasional late check-out, having elite status in the Choice Privileges program hasn’t netted us any notable perks. And, lacking elite perks is one of the six ways Choice Privileges should improve its loyalty program.
JT currently holds top-tier Choice Privileges Diamond status and I hold Platinum status through Dec. 31, 2021. But we didn’t actively strive to earn these statuses and have no plans to requalify even though Choice Privileges decreased elite qualification requirements in 2021 to seven nights for Gold status, 15 nights for Platinum and 25 nights for Diamond.
However, Choice’s new partnership with Penn National Gambling might provide enough perks to encourage us to push to requalify for a particular status level. And we might requalify for status organically since we often choose Choice hotels despite limited elite perks. But, for now, we have no Choice Privileges requalification plans.
M Life Rewards: Matched to Gold
World of Hyatt members can receive a matched tier with M life Rewards. Precisely, World of Hyatt Explorists and Globalists can match to M Life Gold. So, when I reached 15-night credits with World of Hyatt earlier this month, I requested a match to M Life Gold. I’m not sure how much I’ll use my M Life Gold status, though, as you still have to pay resort fees at most M Life properties.
There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding travel in 2021. So, our elite status plans could substantially change if we’re able to travel more or less than expected in 2021. Luckily, many of our elite status plans will be manageable even if we only do limited international travel in 2021. The primary exception will be American Airlines Executive Platinum status, which will require us to fly several long-haul international itineraries to requalify.
Featured image of the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Fiji by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.
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