Love it or leave it: Elite status levels I plan to keep or drop in 2022
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During the pandemic, many loyalty programs extended elite status, and some offered reduced qualification requirements that made earning higher tiers of elite status relatively easy. These decreased requirements led TPG’s Benji Stawski to call 2021 the year of easy elite status as it allowed some travelers to earn higher elite status in 2021 than in recent years.
Before the pandemic, l held elite status with a collection of hotel and airline loyalty programs while traveling full time as a global digital nomad. And although I spent much of the pandemic traveling by RV in the U.S., even I earned a few new elite statuses in 2021.
However, the era of widespread elite status extensions and significantly decreased requirements is likely coming to an end.
As such, now is the time to start considering which statuses you plan to requalify for in 2022 and which you’ll let lapse. To help you think through how to handle your elite statuses, here’s a look at my 2022 elite status requalification plans.
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American Airlines: Executive Platinum until March 2023, but I have doubts about requalifying
I first earned American Airlines Executive Platinum status in 2016 and have requalified each and every year since. Over the years, I’ve gotten a ton of value from both American Airlines miles and the perks of Executive Platinum status.
But, although I’ll have Executive Platinum status through March 2023, I’m uncertain whether continuing to chase AAdvantage status beyond that makes sense. AAdvantage’s impending switch to Loyalty Points will make it increasingly challenging to earn higher tiers of status without spending significant amounts on American Airlines credit cards.
And some of the reasons I’ve earned Executive Platinum status in the past, such as waived award cancellation and redeposit fees, aren’t compelling anymore. After all, all AAdvantage members can cancel and redeposit awards now for no fee.
I could continue to earn Executive Platinum status through a combination of flights and credit card spending, but there’s a significant opportunity cost to using an AAdvantage card for my everyday spending instead of one of the best everyday spending cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Citi® Double Cash Card. And it’s still unclear whether some partner activities (such as Bask Bank savings accounts that earn AAdvantage miles) will earn Loyalty Points.
Once American Airlines unveils all the details of how to earn Loyalty Points, I’ll have some tough decisions to make regarding my AAdvantage elite status.
Asiana Club: Diamond lapses in December 2021 and I’m uncertain about requalifying
In December 2017, my husband and I both started the 24-month qualification period to earn Asiana status. By the end of January 2018, we’d each earned Asiana Club Diamond status. Since Asiana Club gives you 24 months to qualify for status and then lets you keep your status for 24 months once your qualification period ends, we each earned Diamond status through the end of December 2021.
However, neither of us has used our Star Alliance Gold status nearly as much as we expected. And we won’t requalify for Diamond status unless Asiana extends our requalification periods past December 2021. Assuming we don’t get extensions, qualifying for Diamond in the future isn’t going to be a priority for either of us.
But once more of Asia opens to tourists without quarantine requirements, I suspect we’ll fly enough inexpensive-yet-lucrative Star Alliance premium economy and business fares to qualify for Asiana Diamond status — especially considering Asiana’s generous 24-month qualification period.
Southwest Airlines: A-List through December 2021, but no plans to requalify
One day, I logged into my Southwest account and noticed I had A-List status. It was around the same time that Chase provided me 100,000 Southwest points to book an all-inclusive trip to Mexico, but the points shouldn’t have gotten me A-List status. Although I’m not sure how I got A-List status, I know the status expires on Dec. 31, 2021.
I’ve enjoyed having A-List status for the last few months, primarily since I haven’t needed to check in for my Southwest flights exactly 24 hours before departure to snag a good boarding number. But I have no plans to requalify for this status since it would typically require 25 flights or 35,000 tier-qualifying points.
Delta Air Lines: Silver until January 2023, but no plans to requalify
I’m just 24 Medallion Qualification Dollars short of earning Delta Silver status this year after a last-minute award trip to Italy got me halfway to Silver status. But, since Delta currently allows you to earn toward elite status on award tickets, I’ll fly a Delta award before the end of the year to get the last MQDs I need to earn Delta Silver status. And then I’ll have Silver status until Jan. 31, 2023.
Delta Silver status won’t give me many perks, but I’ll enjoy getting access to preferred seats at no additional cost (except when flying Delta basic economy) and a first checked bag free when traveling on Delta flights.
However, I don’t plan to go out of my way to requalify for elite status with Delta.
Malaysia Airlines Enrich: Gold lapses March 2023 and no plans to requalify
In early 2019, I earned Oneworld Sapphire status for less than $500 through a Malaysia Airlines promotion. Having Oneworld Sapphire status as a Malaysia Enrich Gold member has allowed me to enjoy Admirals Club access and Flagship Lounge access when flying American Airlines domestically.
But, after two sets of elite status extensions, my Enrich Gold status should expire on Mar. 31, 2023. I don’t have any plans to earn status again with Malaysia Airlines unless the program offers another excellent promotion.
Marriott Bonvoy: Requalify for at least Platinum Elite
I recently wrote about why I’m striving for Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite status this year. Although I’ll earn Titanium Elite status through February 2023 once I stay with Marriott Bonvoy four more nights in 2021, I may only requalify for Platinum Elite status in subsequent years. After all, the only tangible perks that Titanium Elite status provides over Platinum Elite status are increased earning on paid stays, United Silver status and a 75-night annual Choice Benefit.
Of course, these perks are valuable. But my husband and I both want to earn at least Platinum Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy in 2022. We get significant value from Platinum Elite perks, including guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout, lounge access and complimentary breakfast at most Marriott brands.
So first, we’ll make sure we both get the 50 elite nights required for Platinum Elite status. Then, we’ll put the next 25 nights toward one of our accounts — likely his, since he has more Suite Night Awards going into 2022 — to earn Titanium Elite. As such, I’ll probably only requalify for Platinum Elite in 2022.
You may wonder why we don’t just put all of our stays toward one of our accounts to earn Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador. Since we redeem Marriott Bonvoy points for many of our stays to get a fifth night free, we wouldn’t even come close to reaching the spending requirements for Ambassador.
It’s also worth noting that Marriott recently announced plans to drop its award charts. This isn’t an encouraging sign, and we may eventually move away from Marriott Bonvoy if Marriott points become less valuable. But, for now, I’m still hopeful that we’ll find continued value in the Marriott Bonvoy program.
World of Hyatt: Requalify for Globalist
Until this year, I’d ignored World of Hyatt. Discoverist and Explorist status don’t provide enough perks to justify staying with Hyatt over other programs where we have mid-to-high levels of elite status or can get high value when redeeming points. So, I never wanted to put in the 60 nights required to earn Hyatt Globalist status.
However, thanks to World of Hyatt promotions and decreased elite requirements, I qualified for Globalist status earlier this year. I initially figured I wouldn’t requalify for Globalist status in 2022. After all, 60 nights is a lot considering Hyatt’s small footprint and the absence of budget-friendly Hyatt options in many markets.
But Hyatt may have a place in my hotel elite strategy plan in the long term, especially with Marriott removing its award chart (and IHG and Hilton already using fully dynamic award pricing). For now, I’m just excited to have Globalist status and plan to enjoy its perks as I requalify for Globalist next year.
I’m hopeful that Hyatt will offer some promotions in 2022 to make requalification slightly easier than usual. But, as I’ve started planning 2022 trips, I already have 28 nights booked next year at Hyatt properties for a modest cost of 60,000 points and $1,357. So, I have a good foundation for requalifying even if the qualification criteria isn’t reduced as it was this year.
Choice Privileges: Platinum lapses December 2021, but no plans to requalify
Out of all of TPG’s full-time editorial staff, I’m certainly the biggest advocate for the Choice Privileges program. But even I readily agree that Choice Privileges should improve its loyalty program in several major ways. A good place to start would be elite benefits.
Even though my husband and I regularly choose Choice hotels despite limited elite perks, neither of us sees a reason to maintain a high level of elite status with Choice Privileges. After all, having high levels of elite status with Choice doesn’t provide significant perks on stays.
Sure, higher-tier elites get better earnings on paid stays, but we mostly stay with Choice due to the value we can get when redeeming Choice points. We rarely book a paid stay unless we’re taking advantage of one of the frequent Choice Hotels promotions.
We may stay on points enough in 2022 to each requalify for Gold status with Choice. Gold status would give us access to almost all the same perks as top-tier Diamond status. But even so, I’m not actively trying to qualify for any elite status with Choice in 2022.
United MileagePlus: Silver through RewardsPlus partnership, but uncertain about requalifying
One often-overlooked benefit of Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite status is United MileagePlus Silver status via the RewardsPlus partnership between Marriott and United. I’m currently four nights away from Titanium Elite status with Marriott through February 2023. But I’m not yet sure whether I’ll requalify for Marriott Titanium Elite status in 2022.
However, the RewardPlus partnership frequently asked questions page states that as a Titanium elite, I can get United Silver status for the “remainder of the calendar year in which the [Marriott] status is granted.” So, I may keep United Silver through the end of 2023 even if I don’t requalify for Titanium Elite status in 2022.
Other status levels I’ll continue to earn
Finally, there are several other hotel elite statuses that I plan to earn or maintain through partnerships and card benefits, including:
- Hilton Honors Gold: Earn as an authorized user benefit on The Platinum Card® from American Express.
- IHG Rewards Platinum: Earn as a cardholder benefit of the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card.
- Best Western Rewards Gold: Earn as an AARP and AAA benefit.
- M life Gold: Earn as a benefit of the World of Hyatt and M life Rewards partnership.
Of course, these benefits could end or change at any time. However, even if the Amex Platinum hotel elite status perks end, several Hilton Honors cards offer Hilton elite status as a cardmember perk. For example, you can get top-tier Hilton Diamond status by having the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.
The information for the Hilton Aspire 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.
It isn’t easy to make firm elite status requalification plans for next year right now. As I look through the trips we have booked for 2022, I’m uncertain whether we’ll be able to take many of them. For example, I don’t know whether Japan will reopen to U.S. tourists in time for our trips in February and March. I also don’t know when Hong Kong and several other destinations we plan to visit will reopen without quarantine.
Likewise, loyalty programs could roll out significant devaluations. As such, I have a rough plan, but my elite status requalification plans for 2022 will remain flexible … for now.
Featured photo of the Le Meridien Maldives Resort & Spa by Katie Genter/The Points Guy.
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