At the beginning of the month, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express card rolled out some serious upgraded benefits, pretty much mimicking Starwood Platinum benefits to an extent without actually having to qualify. Seeing that enhancement got me thinking – with so many great benefits from hotel co-branded credit cards, what status is actually worth chasing?
I decided to compare the status levels/perks from many of the major hotel chains against the benefits that can be obtained by their respective credit cards. As noted in my previous post, out of all of the hotel chains, only two programs are worth chasing status in my opinion.
Let’s take a look:
Hyatt: Hyatt currently has an amazing credit card offer, and it’s one of the best I’ve seen. With the Hyatt Credit card, you get 2 free nights at any Hyatt property worldwide after spending $1,000 in 3 months, $50 statement credit, and the $75 annual fee waived the first year. This card is a no brainer. I personally have the Hyatt Credit Card myself, and it’s one of the cards that is never leaving my wallet. But there’s on caveat: being a Hyatt Credit Card holder gets you Platinum status by default (which is not really anything to write home about), on the flip side, their top-tier Hyatt Diamond status comes with some of the best benefits (free amazing breakfasts & suite upgrades just to name a few). You can qualify for Diamond status after 25 stays in a calendar year. Even better, you can take part in the new and improved version of the Hyatt Diamond challenge that will have you set through the end of 2016!
Credit Card Status Equivalence: Platinum
Verdict: Go big or go home – go for Diamond Status
Starwood: Starwood currently has two co-branded credit cards: Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express & Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. Both currently have a sign-up bonus offering 25,000 points. While neither of those cards automatically come with status, other than the lowest level, “preferred status”, (The Platinum Card® from American Express & The Enhanced Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN can get you Gold status by calling), the business version of the SPG card has rolled out some serious enhancements: no foreign transaction fees, complimentary unlimited boingo-wifi, complimentary premium in-room internet access, and free lounge access when staying at Sheraton hotels (food and drinks). The annual fee is waived the first year, and then is $95 thereafter.
Credit Card Status Equivalence: Platinum. If you don’t have this card and still want lounge access for free, you’d have to be a Platinum member, which requires 25 stays/50 nights in a calendar year.
Verdict: Chalk up the $30 increase in the annual fee and get the business version of the card – you’ll get your money’s worth in one Sheraton lounge visit.
Club Carlson: As someone who is a Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card cardholder and has been a Club Carlson concierge member in the past, I can tell you one thing: there really wasn’t anything special about the top-tier concierge level (except for the lounge access at the soon-to-be closing Radisson Aruba); therefore, I am more than happy with my gold status that I have by default from my credit card. Of course, it hurt a lot when they took away the “BOGO” award night benefit earlier this month, but I still find value in the card and will continue to keep it for the time being.
Credit Card Status Equivalence: Gold
Verdict: Gold status is more than sufficient at Club Carlson, but not worth actually earning, so get the card instead.
Hilton: There are several Hilton credit cards through AmEx and Citi, such as the Hilton Honors(TM) Card from American Express. Some come with points and automatic silver status and some come with free nights and gold status. For Hilton, gold status is plentiful (I feel that top-tier diamond status isn’t anything to write home about).
Credit Card Status Equivalence: Gold
Verdict: Gold status is pretty generous at Hilton, but because Hilton points are hardly a value, skip out on qualifying for status and just get the credit card.
IHG: Hands down, this is my ultimate favorite hotel credit card. I went nuts raving about it in a previous post. The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card comes with two very awesome benefits for a $49 annual fee – waived the first year: the annual free night certificate that can be used at any property, and automatic Platinum status. Platinum status at IHG is very generous. I always get a nice welcome amenity, such as a bottle of wine, and suite upgrades. I absolutely tell all of my friends and family about this card.
Credit Card Status Equivalence: Platinum
Verdict: Get the card and keep it forever.
Kimpton: Kimpton is my favorite hotel chain because if you’re top-tier Inner Circle, you will get treated like royalty. I go out of my way to stay at Kimpton properties because they make me feel that good. As of now, there is no Kimpton co-branded credit card, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see one soon, especially with the IHG acquisition. With that being said, I’ll leave you with one piece of advice…
Verdict: Status match (with IHG Platinum), enjoy the value, and absolutely go for the status each year.
Fairmont: I’ll be honest, I am a stranger to Fairmont, but they have some pretty great properties. The Fairmont card is actively on my radar because of the 2-free night benefit to use at any Fairmont worldwide. I am planning to visit some friends in Vancouver later this summer, and I’m thinking of staying at the Fairmont Pacific Rim while I’m in town. The credit card comes with Premier level status, and some of the perks include a $50 dining credit, free wifi, room upgrades, a complimentary 3rd night on 3 night stays, etc.
Credit Card Status Equivalence: Premier
Verdict: Since Fairmont hotels are rather pricey and hard to come by, I find it best to obtain the Premier level status simply by being a card holder.
Marriott: In my journey with Marriott I’ve been Platinum, Gold, Silver, and jack squat. I find that a happy middle ground rests somewhere between Silver and Gold because the benefits obtained from Platinum really didn’t speak volumes to me. While the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card doesn’t actually come with status by default, the value from the sign up bonus and annual free night certificate definitely allows the fee to pay for itself. The current offer is 50,000 Marriott Rewards points after spending $1,000 within three months; one free night at any category 1-4 property upon account approval, $85 annual fee – waived the first year, annual free night at any category 1-5 property every year after your account anniversary date, no foreign transaction fees.
Credit Card Status Equivalence: None necessarily, but being a card member lets you fast track to elite status by providing you with 15 elite night credits each year.
Verdict: It’s your call here. If you’re a Marriott person then it might make sense to have the card because of the annual free night benefit (which is becoming harder to use IMHO thanks to the recent category changes).
Wyndham: Earlier this year, Wyndham surprised us with some pretty significant enhancements to their loyalty program, making the Wyndham credit cards a serious win with the potential to earn 3 free nights at any Wyndham property world wide (here’s a post with my top picks) with the sign up bonus, and a yearly night after paying the annual fee.
Credit Card Status Equivalence: None, but who needs Wyndham status anyway?
Verdict: The credit card is a great value.
Which hotel credit cards do you have for status perks? Do you agree or disagree with my list? Would love to hear your thoughts!