Team TPG’s Progress and Strategy for Hotel Elite Status in 2018
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Careful, status hounds — that ticking sound is the clock striking August, meaning that you’re officially into the second half of the year. For those looking to maintain elite status in your favorite hotel chain, now is the time to pause, take inventory, and map out a plan to ensure that your goals are met before we ring in the new year. Whether that’s locking in a small business trip that you’ve been putting off, pulling the trigger on a summer vacation, or scheming a mattress run late in the year, we want to make sure you’re booking stays on the card that’s most advantageous.
And, because it’s always fun to compare your own streaks with the staff at TPG, we’re offering a sneak peek into the progress of several of our own road warriors. For info on where we're at in our quest for airline elite status, see our post with info on our progress and strategy.
Where do you stand, and what are your plans to maintain (or achieve!) elite status? Let us know in comments!
Brian Kelly, The Points Guy
Marriott Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite
In the points and miles space, few things are as hallowed (and valued) as lifetime status. I’ve been fortunate enough to earn Lifetime Platinum status with SPG, which will translate to Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite in the new Marriott Bonvoy program.
I am, however, irked by two changes in the new program. The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express are seeing reduced earning rates on everyday spend, from 3 Marriott points per dollar to just 2. Due to these changes, I'd recommend one of our top alternate cards for non-bonus, everyday spend. Additionally, the new program will use Marriott’s (less beneficial) policy for earning elite nights when booking and paying for multiple rooms. I’ll receive points for up to three rooms that I book and pay for in a stay, but only receive elite night credit for one of those rooms.
Given that I’m set with Lifetime Platinum Premier Elite, I’ve recently leaned into Hotels.com as a way to explore a more exotic array of lodging options outside of those in the big chains. By booking with my Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, I receive 10x miles (when booked and paid via Hotels.com/venture; offer ends Jan. 31, 2020) and a free night for every 10 paid nights stayed. That equates to 20% off of any room, even those which aren’t a part of an alliance. In fact, I recently employed this very tactic for a stay at The Shore Club in Turks and Caicos. It’s not possible to stay at this property using points, but I still saved big by using the right card and booking portal.
As 2018 continues, I’ll be using the following cards and strategies to maximize the stay and the savings. For four-night stays, the Citi Prestige card is the golden ticket given its 4th Night Free benefit.
If I don’t have enough points for a redemption, and I’m staying at a property within the Fine Hotels & Resorts portfolio (Aman, Belmond, Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula Hotels, Rosewood, Waldorf Astoria, Oetker Collection and St. Regis), I’ll use my Business Centurion Card from American Express to nab free breakfast for two, guaranteed 4pm checkout, room upgrades, and an additional $100-$200 food and beverage or spa credit for stays of two nights or more atop the $100 that you can get if using the The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. I love that I can book up to three rooms for a stay under my account, and all three rooms quality for FHR benefits.
For everything outside of that, I’ll use the Capital One Venture Rewards card to net 10x miles when booked and paid through Hotels.com/Venture. Currently the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offers 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. Capital One miles are worth a fixed 1 cent each, so your bonus is good for $500 in travel.
Zach Honig, Editor-at-Large
New Marriott Platinum
On the hotel front, I've focused my 2018 travels on Starwood Preferred Guest, since I'm especially excited about the benefits offered by the new Marriott Bonvoy program. I have 26 elite-qualifying nights with SPG, which, when combined with the 41 nights I've already accrued with Marriott, thanks primarily to the 15 night credits I've earned with both the business and personal co-branded cards, will push me well beyond the requirement to re-qualify for Platinum through 2019.
As I mentioned, the nights I earned with my co-branded credit cards deserve most of the credit here, earning me a total of 40 elite night credits, broken down as:
- Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card: 15 nights
- Marriott Rewards Premier Business Credit Card: 15 nights
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express: 5 nights
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express: 5 nights
Once the programs merge on August 18, I'll have a total of 67 night credits for 2018. I'm sure I'll earn the additional eight I need by the end of the year to reach Platinum Premier, earning me a 75% point bonus on stays (up from 50% with Platinum) and five extra confirmed suite upgrades.
Of course, next year it'll only be possible to earn night credits from one co-branded card, for a total of 15, so requalifying for Platinum will require a bit more effort in 2019.
I'm currently a Globalist in the World of Hyatt program, but with Marriott offering so many earning and redemption options around the world, I've all but ignored Hyatt's program for 2018. The only qualifying night I earned was from a stay I booked with an expiring free night certificate, and I don't expect to have any other qualifying stays this year.
JT Genter, Points & Miles Writer
IHG Platinum Elite
When I signed up for the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card, I was amazed that I could get solid hotel status just from a credit card. I figured I'd never come close to earning hotel elite status — much less one that required 40 nights — as I usually booked award stays at chain hotels or booked a cheap hotel or Airbnb instead. Then, I started living on the road in July 2017. Through the end of July 2018, I've racked up 54 paid nights at IHG properties... which re-qualifies me for the Platinum Elite status that I already have through my IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card. However, I'll easily stay another 21 paid nights before the end of the year to bump me up to IHG Spire Elite status — a status that TPG values at $2,615 and one that I'll utilize the benefits to the max.
Choice Privileges Platinum
I'm a big fan of Choice points and find Choice to be one of the most underrated programs when traveling internationally. Since Choice used to offer an extended 75-day award booking period for Platinum elites, I requested a status match to Choice last summer. That's helped me book early to score suites in Germany and hotel rooms in the heart of Japanese cities for just 8,000 points per night. And since award nights count toward qualification, I easily re-qualified for Platinum elite status for 2018.
Unfortunately for elites, Choice recently made a change so that all members can now book hotel award nights at 100 nights prior to the stay — which makes elite status less important. So, while I'll probably re-qualify for Platinum status through award nights anyways, it's not a priority for me this year.
Wyndham Rewards Platinum
I stumbled into Wyndham Gold in 2017 and figured I might even stumble all the way into Platinum, but I fell just short. This year, I've earned 11 qualifying nights so far, leaving me just four more nights from Platinum. And, if Wyndham keeps running amazing promotions, I'll definitely pick up those last few nights.