On March 1, something unthinkable will happen: For the first time in four years, I won’t have top-tier Hyatt elite status….and I’m totally fine with it. If I’m being perfectly honest, being a Hyatt Diamond member isn’t all its cracked up to be. I almost never get upgraded (to a room with a decent view, let alone a suite) and I’m finding club lounge access less valuable in cities where I would rather dine out than feast on the same generic appetizer spread. Plus, I still have three suite upgrade awards that will likely expire. Earning top-tier Hyatt status doesn’t make much sense since I haven’t even been making use of the benefits.
I’ve discussed the trouble with following the herd in this hobby, which is really important when you’re considering whether to re-qualify for top-tier Hyatt elite status. If you’re like me and are around 15+ stays short of earning Hyatt Diamond status (i.e World of Hyatt Globalist) and only occasionally make use of benefits like club lounge access and suite upgrades, there are other ways to get these benefits: Mainly by putting any funds you would have spent on mattress runs towards paying for these perks. Here are your alternatives if you’re trying to retain top-tier elite benefits without Hyatt Globalist status:
American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts
American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts is a great alternative to elite status. Many bookings made through Amex FHR come with elite status perks like complimentary upgrades (based on availability), free breakfast, on-site spa and dining credits, and late checkout. Better yet, many affiliated hotels offer free nights, which translates to significant cash savings on paid stays.
Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
Qualifying Chase cardholders can access the Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection booking site, which is similar to Amex FHR. While I haven’t seen anything in the way of free nights, hotels listed on this site do include benefits like free breakfast, welcome amenities, and on-site credits that can be applied to food and beverages.
Visa and MasterCard Hotels
If you don’t have an Amex Platinum or qualifying Chase credit card, chances are you can still get access to MasterCard Travel Services and Visa Signature Hotels. These programs offer more or less the same benefits as Amex FHR and Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection: Free breakfast, hotel credits, room upgrades, and early check-in/late check-out.
If the thought of life without top-tier elite status is too much to bear, you can always switch your loyalty to another program. The easiest option is to pick up a Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve or Amex Hilton Surpass card. Both cards come with Hilton Gold status and the ability to earn top-tier Diamond status via $40,000 in spending. Say what you want about Hilton, but it’s one of the best rewards programs when it comes to earning free nights via paid stays and credit card spending.
If you’re want top-tier elite status with more than one program, then go with the Ritz Carlton Credit Card. Cardholders can earn top-tier Ritz Carlton Platinum status after spending $75,000 in a calendar year. The best part? This status level can be matched to both Marriott and Starwood, so you’re essentially earning top-tier elite status with three hotel loyalty rewards program with one credit card.
Stay at Hotels that Offer Elite-Type Benefits
If you’re a frequent traveler who is concerned about losing out on complimentary breakfast or suite upgrades, there’s a fairly simple solution: Stay at hotels where these things are included in the price. I’m referring to Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, SpringHill Suites, and Embassy Suites to name a few. At all of these hotels, guests receive complimentary breakfast. Many even offer suites as their standard accommodations, which is nice for families or those who want more space. Most of these hotel brands are available in major cities with terrific locations. In fact, I’ve written about how the Hyatt Place Chicago was better than the Doubletree and Hyatt Centric The Loop.
While it will be sad not to have top-tier Hyatt status anymore, it’s not the end of the world. Hyatt doesn’t have as many hotels as Marriott, Starwood, or Hilton – programs that make it possible to earn top-tier status via credit card spending. As for those who can’t come up with $40,000 – $75,000 worth of credit card spending in a calendar year, there are at least four booking sites where you can get the equivalent of elite status benefits on hotel bookings.
If anything, consider this loss of status as freedom from elite status prison. You are now free to break away from your Hyatt rut and make your hotel booking decisions based on more important factors than who gives you free waffles in the morning.
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