Episode 31: The Hotel Status Loyalty Trap

0:42 Bank of America $300 Personal Checking Bonus (HT DoC)

  • Requires $4,000 Direct Deposit in 3 months
  • You need to have a checking account with BofA to quality for their Preferred Rewards program (which provides up to 75% uplift for spending on certain personal BofA credit cards)

1:30 Banco Popular Avianca Vuela Visa 60,000 Offer (HT US Credit Card Guide)

  • $149 AF not waived the first year
  • 40,000 first use
  • +20,000 with $1,000 spend in first 3 months with code SB4060
  • Deal or not a deal?

3:53 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles Credit Card 50,000 (HT DoC)

  • 30,000 after $2,000 in spend first 90 days
  • 20,000 after additional $6,000 spend in first 6 months
  • $95 AF not waived first year
  • Issued by Synchrony Bank
  • Deal or not a deal?

7:10 Stop & Shop gas rewards for groceries?

  • Trial for now
  • Has anyone been targeted?
  • 100 = $1 off groceries. 
  • Not as good as gas rewards for all but the smallest tanks (10 gallons = this)
  • If you find yourself with expiring rewards this is a way to ‘cash out’ at 10/(your fill up in gallons). 
  • Very similar to the Safeway rewards we’ve discussed.

10:02 Airline Shopping Portal Bonuses (HT Frequent Miler)

  • United 2,500 for $600 ends 8/18
  • Alaska 1,500 for $600 ends 8/11
  • Southwest 2,000 for $550 ends 8/18
  • AA 2,000 for $500 ends 8/18
  • Smaller bonuses for lesser amounts of spend as well

10:36 Amex Adds Weekend Night Certs to $95 AF Hilton Cards + 130,000 (HT DoC)

  • Surpass/Business 130,000 + Free Weekend Night
  • Both available for referral
  • Free Weekend Night cert for every $15,000 spent per *calendar* year, post quickly after spend threshold met
  • A whopper of a deal I say

13:12 BofA Amtrak 40,000 + $100 (HT DoC)

16:07 Free Topic: Is Hotel Status an even bigger trap than airline status?

Robert: Recent stay at Waldorf Astoria Chicago

  • Near total bust from a status standpoint
  • Concierge emailed ahead of time and said status entitles you to 1-level upgrade *if* space is available
  • Concierge pitched a 5-level upgrade, for a fee
  • In practice, there was no space available at check-in so no upgrade whatsoever
  • Diamond breakfast was essentially a $30 daily voucher for the restaurant

Sam: Hotel breakfast is a pure captive audience type situation: 

  • There is a difference between a breakfast which would attract someone not staying at the hotel and, food.
  • I think the benefits are highest at hotels which are the least desirable outside of Hyatt properties. And the Generosity of Hyatt can’t continue forever.
  • Would like to see a fixed amount for breakfast
  • Ultimately check the price against another hotel that you are comfortable at which might not have breakfast, or will include breakfast as part of a package.

Robert: Sometimes upgrades *do* work out

  • Booked Park Hyatt New York on points
  • Got complimentary upgrade to gonzo terrace suite when the hotel was sold out
  • Went back, next time they sold me an upgrade to the same room even though it was available
  • Same property, different result
  • You never know what you’re going to get with hotel status
  • You might say “well, Hyatt Globalist is the one good hotel status” but have a look at this next example…

Robert: 1-Night Hyatt Regency Greenwich, CT Stay

  • Surprising that a hotel like this in one of the pricier places to live in America is only a Category 2 (8,000 points/night)
  • Just needed a place to sleep near a family gathering
  • Thought it would be a good place to leverage Globalist status
  • Regency Club is closed on weekends so Globalist gets breakfast downstairs in the restaurant (which worked out better for our late-arrival situation anyway)
  • Hyatt used to give you 2,500 compensation when a Regency Club is closed, not anymore
  • Checked in kind of late
  • Initially booked 2 double beds but our kids ended up spending the night at their cousins so I asked for 1 King at check-in
  • Request was met with a quick “No, we’re overbooked tonight. But I can comp your parking?”
  • Parking is free for Globalists on an award stay and I was paying with points so I said, “Isn’t parking free anyway?”
  • Desk clerk: “No. Not even for Globalists.” Whatever, I think she was mistaken.
  • That this suburban hotel charges for parking anyway is odd.
  • Just a slimy interaction and lousy hotel status recognition once again. Hyatt is so hit or miss, and that they’re the best top hotel status to have says a lot about hotel status…
  • In-room coffee, coffee set up near the elevators on each floor, and breakfast downstairs was the high point. $25 pp buffet was pretty good.
  • I checked out in-app and noticed later that they charged me for breakfast and I had to call them and get it reversed.
  • Not bad for 8,000 URs for a clean room, but I did not like it overall.

Hotel Status is an even bigger scam that Airline Status: Discuss

  • Robert: If I look back at my last 5 TripAdvisor Reviews, the titles are literally “Weak Globalist Recognition,” “Weak Diamond Recogntion,” and “Weak Titanium Recognition.” That should tell me something.
  • You hear about people doing some really crazy things to retain hotel status, especially at with Hyatt (both from an opportunity cost perspective on credit card spend, or in terms of mattress runs)
  • Sam’s words about “feeling like you’ve already lost” when you walk into a hotel expecting your status to do certain things for you have been echoing in my head.
  • Robert: Maybe I should lay out what I’m hoping for – perhaps unrealistically – with hotel status. First, I’m looking for them to do what they promise to do according to the benefits associated with the status level. They rarely do that, so let’s get that out of the way.
  • But if I’m honest I’m looking to book the cheapest room in the joint and get upgraded to a gonzo suite and be provided a lavish breakfast with no friction. The only hotel chain to ever come close to that is Hyatt, but even they fail at providing this experience far more than they succeed.
  • A real thing I need to remind myself of is how little I actually travel in a year in the grand scheme of things. How much leverage am I really going to get out of a given status in a year? And how much am I going to have to bend my travels to even put myself in a position to leverage that status? And how many times am I going to be disappointed with the weak status recognition I might encounter along the way

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About the author

- Written by Sam Simon. All ideas are my own, but I encourage you to see my point of view and I promise I'll try to do the same. Connect with me on Twitter @Milenomics.


  1. Sam/Robert – excellent podcast. I’m in Sam’s camp: get out there and explore. Status is a by-product. Great back and forth commentary. That said – I can see the benefit of status if one travels a lot for work. It’s a game, true, and if you like it excellent. It shouldn’t be a job to chase status.

  2. Thanks for the podcast; I enjoyed the discussion. I’m still new-ish to the game but from what I’ve read/seen Hilton Diamond status isn’t great for room upgrades (and Waldorf brand seems especially stingy on benefits), which isn’t surprising given that it’s obtainable from very consumer friendly cc (Aspire). Still, I’ve gotten good use out of the Diamond status this past year with lounge access, breakfasts, and assistance from the diamond reservation line (was able to cancel a points reservations <24hrs without any penalty – twice). The one thing I find really enticing about Hyatt Globalist (I'm only Explorist from status match) is the suite upgrade awards which can guarantee a suite at time of reservation (technically now awarded at 50 and 60 night milestones). Travelling as family of 4 this could potentially allow me to book one suite instead of 2 rooms which would be a huge savings. So it's tempting to try to MS Globalist, but I decided to hold off…for now.

    1. Alex: I think those suite upgrades are the best benefit as well. For me I need guaranteed space with also a family of four. And I think that’s the issue that I have overall with status, the ‘what if’ is not enough for me to plan around… My problem is I can’t see a good way to get to globalist that doesn’t involve me spending in excess of $1,000 a year or more. That amount could probably upgrade all my stays for the year…

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