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Hotel elite status can unlock a variety of perks for both frequent and more casual travelers, and now that we’ve crossed into the second half of 2019, it’s a great time to review your progress toward qualification — or requalification — for elite status with your preferred hotel program(s). There are a number of ways to lock in your status, but on thing’s for sure: The end of the year will be here before you know it, at which point you’ll be stuck with whatever level(s) you earned in 2019.

To help you figure out the best plan for the remaining months of the year, today we’ll take a look at the progress of select TPG staffers so you can compare your current situation to TPG’s road warriors.

And if you missed it, be sure to check out our similar breakdown of the TPG team’s airline elite status progress.

In This Post

Brian Kelly, The Points Guy

Goal: Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador

Current status: Ambassador
Elite nights: 65, including 15 from Marriott credit cards
Spending: $7,936

Others

Hilton Honors Diamond (from the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express)

Brian’s take:

Despite the litany of complaints that continue to cause problems after the Marriott-SPG integration, I’ve been quite happy with the program. I’m a Lifetime Titanium Member — as a legacy Lifetime SPG Platinum — but I see some notable value in qualifying the hard way each year, especially with the upgrade certificates that I earn at 50 and 75 elite-qualifying nights through the Choice Benefits program. As a current Ambassador Elite, I get personalized service that I find quite valuable, though I may not make the $20,000 spending threshold required to renew that tier this year.

I’ll also continue to enjoy my Hilton Diamond status courtesy of the Hilton Amex Aspire card — which I’ve already utilized across three stays covering 15 nights in 2019. It’s fantastic for a cobranded hotel credit card to offer top-tier status without burdensome spending or stay requirements, so while Marriott is still my preferred program, I’ll stay in Hilton-branded properties when it best suits my needs and still get an array of valuable perks.


Nick Ellis, Reviews Editor

Marriott elite status can unlock numerous perks at properties like the St. Regis Bal Harbour. (Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)
St. Regis Bal Harbour (Photo by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy)

Goal: Marriott Bonvoy Platinum

Current status: Gold Elite (from Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card)
Elite nights: 23, including 15 from Marriott credit cards

Others

Hilton Honors Diamond (from the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express)
World of Hyatt Discoverist (from The World of Hyatt Credit Card)

Nick’s take:

I’m working my way to Platinum with Marriott, and thanks to several trips (both personal and work) coming up along with the fact that I was targeted for the Bonvoy double nights promotion, I should have no problem hitting Platinum this year. I mainly want to reach Platinum to get a little more meaningful benefits at most Marriott properties. Most important to me is free breakfast, even over suite upgrades.


Zach Honig, Editor-at-Large

Goal: World of Hyatt Globalist

Current status: Globalist
Elite nights: 13
Elite-qualifying points: 10,203

Others

Hilton Honors Diamond (from the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express)
Marriott Bonvoy Titanium (from reaching old Lifetime Platinum Premier status before Dec. 31, 2018)
World of Hyatt Discoverist (from The World of Hyatt Credit Card)

Zach’s take:

I’m Lifetime Titanium Elite, so I am IN THE CLEAR! No more chasing status with Marriott. Phew!

And as much as I’d love to qualify for Globalist, I’m just not sure I’ll make it again.


Nick Ewen, Senior Points & Miles Editor

The Sheraton Sand Key. (Photo courtesy of Marriott International)
Many staffers are fans of the Marriott Bonvoy program. (Photo courtesy of Marriott International)

Goal: Marriott Platinum

Current status: Platinum Elite (from last-minute Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card sign-up)
Elite nights: 30, including 15 from Marriott credit cards

Others

Hilton Honors Diamond (from the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express)
IHG Platinum (from the old IHG Select credit card, since replaced by the IHG Premier)
World of Hyatt Discoverist (from the old Hyatt credit card, since replaced by the World of Hyatt card)

Nick’s take:

I am currently Platinum Elite after signing up for the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card back in 2018. The old Gold status transitioned to new Platinum status, but I’m hoping to qualify the “hard way” for Platinum this year. I value the fact that Marriott doesn’t just give away this high-tier status but makes it attainable, and I currently have 12 nights booked over the rest of 2019. I’ll just need to find another 8 and I’ll secure Platinum into 2020!

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying my newly-minted Hilton Diamond status after taking an upgrade to the Hilton Aspire card earlier this year and will gladly keep my IHG and World of Hyatt statuses thanks to credit cards, as they offer nice perks whenever my plans take me to a participating property in either program.


JT Genter, Senior Points & Miles Writer

(Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)
TPG‘s resident IHG fan is working hard to requalify for Spire status. (Photo by JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Goal: IHG Spire

Current status: Spire
Elite nights: 57
Elite-qualifying points: 40,376

Goal: Marriott Platinum

Current status: Platinum
Elite nights: 41, including 15 from Marriott credit cards

Others

Choice Privileges Platinum
Hilton Honors Diamond (from the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express)

JT’s take:

Living on the road and covering IHG for TPG, I stayed 93 nights at IHG properties in 2018 vs. the 75-night requirement for top-tier Spire Elite status. Thanks to IHG’s elite night rollover perk, I was able to start 2019 with 18 elite nights. From stays from Candlewood Suites up to luxury stays at InterContinental properties, I have slept 39 nights in IHG hotels so far, leaving me just 18 nights away from requalifying for Spire Elite again this year. In May, I purchase InterContinental Ambassador status for the standard $200 rate before a few InterContinental stays. It’s already scored me sweet upgrades to top-floor corner rooms and to a premium ocean-view room in Fiji.

Thanks to a 15-night boost from my Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, I’m already well on my way to re-earning Marriott Platinum Elite. While I’d barely spent any nights at Marriott properties before 2019, I have really been enjoying the solid benefits of Platinum Elite status like free breakfast, upgrades and a guaranteed 4pm checkout. Halfway through the year and I’ve already spent 26 nights at Marriott properties, leaving me just 9 nights away from Platinum Elite — which is easily achievable.

One of the credit cards that has provided outsized value in my wallet is the Hilton Aspire card. Although I’ve only spent a few nights in Hilton properties so far this year, the automatic Diamond status has already paid off — including upgrading me to a premium-view ocean bungalow in Fiji and a suite in Penang, Malaysia. The card’s $250 resort credit fully paid for our stay in Penang and some of the Fiji hotel as well. So, the card has definitely earned its place in my wallet going forward.

The other two programs I use are Choice Privileges and Wyndham. While I’m not necessarily chasing elite status at Choice, I have easily earned it via cheap 8,000-point award stays in NYC and Europe. So far in 2019, I’ve only stayed 3 nights at Choice hotels, but I have plans coming up this fall that will easily help me re-qualify for Platinum and leave me close to hitting Diamond.

Like Choice, there’s not many benefits to earning elite status in the Wyndham program. However, Wyndham elite status can be matched to Caesars Total Rewards. In late 2018, we used that status match to score a free stay in Atlantis in the Bahamas. While I only have 2 nights at Wyndham so far this year, I’ll likely prioritize re-earning Wyndham status either through stays or a status match.


Ethan Steinberg, Senior Points & Miles Contributor

Goal: Marriott Bonvoy Ambassador

Current status: Titanium
Elite nights: 53, including 15 from Marriott credit cards

Others

Hilton Honors Gold (via The Platinum Card® from American Express)
IHG Platinum (via the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card)

Ethan’s take:

I’m shooting for Ambassador status this year — 100 nights and $20,000 in spending. A pricey trip to the Maldives got me started down that path early in the year, and I like the idea of having a personal ambassador to coordinate my stays for me.


Bottom Line

As you can see, there are some common themes here. Many TPG staffers are sticking with Marriott, and several are leveraging automatic elite status from credit cards like the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. One of the most popular ones in our wallets is the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express. This is (in large part) thanks to the automatic Hilton Diamond status it confers without completing the 30 stays or 60 nights normally required for this top tier. And if you don’t currently have the card, you can apply today and take home a welcome bonus of 150,000 points after you spend $4,000 in purchases on the card within your first three months of card membership. This haul is worth $900 based on TPG’s most recent valuations.

Remember too that you can often leverage existing elite status — through credit cards or other means — to utilize a status match or challenge with a competing program. This can be a great way to ensure that your upcoming trips are more comfortable and rewarding and may help erase any concerns you have with your midyear progress toward hotel elite status.

Featured photo courtesy of the Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort

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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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