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Is Hotel Status Really Worth Pursuing if You Are a Regular Family?

As with most things in this hobby, the answer is: It depends. There are many opinions on the subject. Some believe status is the best thing since sliced bread. Others think it’s totally useless, and basically, you are an idiot for putting even a minuscule amount of effort in order to obtain it. The truth is much more complicated.

It really depends on many factors: Your lifestyle, preferences and the amount of money you have in your savings  account. Say, someone travels extensively for business and his job pays  all his hotel bills. At the end of the year, he is only 2 nights’ short of obtaining a top-tier status with a chain like Hyatt. Did I mention that this guy loves Hyatt and has several family vacations planned staying exclusively in their properties the following year?

While top-tier status in some hotel chains isn’t exceptionally valuable, in Hyatt, it gives you free breakfast, four guaranteed suite upgrades on paid stays and a lounge access. I’ll be honest, I would be tempted to book a 2-night getaway with my spouse in order to obtain Diamond status. In this case, the perks he will enjoy with his family the following year make this a very attractive proposition value-wise.

That’s who IMO should (kind of) value status: Families. Having a suite and complimentary breakfast on-site can come in handy when you travel with kids. Ironically, the most eager status chasers are usually singles and couples. Personally, I don’t get it.

While it’s certainly nice to have extra room and “free” food, is it really that big  of a  deal for one or two people? Are you telling me that being with your spouse in a confined space at all times a deal-breaker while on vacation? Is going to IHOP for breakfast a fate worse than death?  If it’s a first Friday of the month and you happen to have CSP in your wallet, well, amigo, you just hit a jackpot (not really). Order crepes, highly recommended. If you absolutely can not survive without hotel breakfast, then stay in brands that include it in the rate, like Hyatt House.

To be clear, I don’t want to come off as mocking those who put a huge premium on hotel status. I hope my mini-rant hasn’t offended anyone (Julia is a bit crabby and obnoxious today, my apologies). I simply want to encourage others to question the “status quo,” pun intended. To quote my reader Cheapblackdad, is the juice really worth the squeeze? I have no doubt that the perks are extremely nice. I’ve seen the photos of breakfast spread at Hyatt Vendome, and it looked like “awesome sauce.” Yes, I’m a little jealous, especially of the truffle omelet.

lipsImage courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I saw this stock photo, I just had to have it in my blog! Over-the-top, you say? That’s how I feel about the worship of the almighty Status in The Hobby.

Of course, my target audience does not fall into this category anyway. I don’t know even one middle-class family who goes on mattress runs in order to obtain status for the next year. And honestly, I simply can not imagine a scenario where doing all of your hotel stays from scratch for this purpose can ever make sense financially. Breakfast and upgrades are nice, but I would rather not pre-pay them ahead of time. Because that’s essentially what you are doing when you go on mattress runs.

Surely, nobody can say those perks are free when your have previously  spent your valuable time and money on needless hotel says. Of course, if you already have a vacation planned anyway and simply switch to a different brand, that’s another story. But it would have to be one heck of a deal for me personally to consider something like this. Besides, most of our hotel stays are covered with points from promos or sign-up bonuses.

I do everything I can to avoid paying cash. I’m not opposed to paid hotel stays, but those tend to be an exception rather than the rule. To me, most hotel chains are very similar. Sure, I have preferences (I like Marriott), but not enough to pony up cash when I don’t have to.  Most of the time, Holiday Inn Express is perfectly sufficient for my humble needs.

Still, I can definitely say that hotel status is not useless. The good news is, you don’t have to pay to acquire it. Well, certain types of hotel status. In order to get Diamond with Hyatt, you do have to hit the required number of stays via “butt in bed.” You may get an option to do Diamond status challenge, but it seems to come and go. Plus, once again, you have to actually pay money to get it. I like to be a freeloader when it comes to any kind of status.

Without further ado, here are ways to obtain (somewhat) valuable status by just having a co-branded credit card, where it is truly 100% free. Well, except for the honorable mention:

IHG Platinum status

You get it as long as you are IHG MasterCard cardholder. Platinum IHG status is often popped on in this hobby, and I can’t figure out why. You get it simply by having this card, which is a keeper even without it. You hear over an over again that IHG Platinum status is useless. That has not been my experience at all. 

We got upgraded more times than I can count. I don’t keep track (precisely because I don’t count on it), but I would say it happens 4 out of 5 times. I’ve stayed in IHG chain almost exclusively over the last 4 years, and I don’t think it’s a fluke. The expression “IHG Platinum status is useless” statement has been repeated so many times, many don’t even question it.

Well, they are wrong.

It’s extremely nice to get a suite when you are traveling as a family. We even got a free couple’s massage in Jamaica AND a bowl of fruit. Sure, I normally guilt my husband into massaging me for free, but this time I didn’t have to.

No, the upgrades and all the other good stuff  are not a guarantee, but I don’t have to pay for Platinum status, do any mattress runs and would hang on to this card regardless. How can you beat that? Ok, complimentary breakfast would be nice.

Club Carlson Gold status

An underrated perk of US Bank Club Carlson Signature card is Gold status with that chain. I’ll be the first to admit, it’s not a game changer, and I would never consider getting this card just to acquire it. Still, a few times we’ve stayed at Club Carlson hotels, we got upgraded to a mini-suite and got preferred parking right upfront. We never got the free gift (one of supposed perks of Gold), but I didn’t make a big deal over it. Getting a suite was quite enough. I’ve read that some have gotten resort fees waived just for having Gold status.

BTW, both places were extremely nice and clean. I don’t understand the loud cry of hobbyists pronouncing all Country Inn and Suites properties in USA to be dumps. Not true. I’m sure many are, but I’m certain that many are not. Always check TripAdvisor to get an overall picture on any given property, don’t buy into stereotypes.

Hyatt Platinum Status

I actually just got Chase Hyatt Visa, so don’t have any first-hand experience with it. But you do get Platinum status just for being a cardmember. While it doesn’t come with free breakfast, there is a possibility of an upgrade. It’s not a guarantee, but this card is a keeper for most. If you regularly vacation in Florida, there are quite a  few nice places where you can use your renewal certificates. Read my post for more.

Honorable mentions:

Amex Hilton HHonors Surpass or Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve

These two cards only make sense if you have a considerable amount of stays in Hilton chain. Both come with complimentary Gold status which gives breakfast (in most, not all Hilton properties) and a possibility of upgrades. Amex card has a $75 annual fee, while Citi has $95. The latter does give you a free weekend night at most Hilton properties if you spend $10,000 per year while using the card. This is undoubtedly worth it for some, but I would never divert this much spending in order to get just one hotel night. But once again, to each his/her own.

Bottom line

While for me, status isn’t a game changer, I’m certainly happy to have it when it costs me nothing to obtain it. Once again, I’m not telling folks how to live their life, and if you are into mattress runs, by all means, keep on running. But please, for the love of The Hobby, when you get an upgrade next year as a result, don’t call it free.

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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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3 thoughts on “Is Hotel Status Really Worth Pursuing if You Are a Regular Family?

  1. Abso-freaking-lutely. I have gotten better upgrades (larger rooms, suites) when traveling with my family than as a solo business traveler. Example: in June, I was given a suite for 6 nights at a Holiday Inn Express on a PointsBreak stay and during the same trip a big city-center Intercontinental gave us a bi-level suite when I used a free night certificate. And I only have IHG Platinum thru the credit card. If no upgrade, then sometimes I’m given breakfast coupons even when that is not a status benefit (which recently happened last month at a Sheraton to “thank me” for being a loyal SPG Gold). I’m not traveling as much for business anymore so I have to maintain status thru easy-to-achieve means (either having the co-brand credit card or thru promos/challenges). The way I see it, having the chance to score a better experience with minimal cost/effort is worth it – better than no chance at all. A week or even a few days of free breakfast for a family of 4 can easily “rebate” the annual fee paid for a co-brand card, not to mention the free night is typically offered. Of course, it probably depends on how many nights per year that you spend in hotels as a family. We normally do 3-4 weeks annually.

    • @Erik I knew I wasn’t the only one who thought IHG Platinum status is quite lucrative! We got a ton of upgrades with it, just like you. Sometimes it’s a better room with a view, and other times it’s a suite. I absolutely love this card and hope they don’t cut the benefits. It’s almost too good to be true, right?
      Yeah, the point of my post is that status can be very lucrative, especially when traveling with family. The question I hope people ask themselves: “How much is it really worth?” The answer, I’m sure, is different for everyone. If you travel for the most part of the year, it’s probably worth a good amount. We are like you guys, travel 3-4 weeks per year. Part of it is spent in vacation rentals with my in-laws, so status is totally useless there. Some weekends are spent in Holiday Inn Express and other places that come with breakfast already. Although, I have to say HIE food is pretty crappy. I’m always tempted to just go to IHOP, but my cheapness won’t allow it.

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