I often get questions from readers about which airline or hotel status they should go for next. Something along the lines of:
“It’s only halfway through the year, and I’ve already (re)qualified for [airline/hotel loyalty program] [precious metal]. Which status should I go for next?”
Loyalty programs (sometimes) don’t offer enough benefits for marginal loyalty
I can relate to the struggle in general. If you’re a goal oriented person, it’s only natural to want to move onto the next goal once you’ve completely “qualified” for one. And the feeling isn’t unreasonable, given that almost across the board loyalty programs don’t do enough to incentivize marginal loyalty above the top tier, in my opinion.
For example, Hyatt gives you four confirmed Diamond Suite Upgrade Awards when you achieve Diamond status, each of which can be used to confirm a suite upgrade for up to seven nights. Potentially you can confirm upgrades for up to 28 of the 50 nights needed for Diamond. But you don’t receive any extra Diamond Suite Upgrade Awards if you spend 100 or 150 nights in hotels. So your percent of nights spent in a suite decreases the more you stay.
It’s no different on the airline front. American gives you eight systemwide upgrades when you qualify for Executive Platinum status, but as a published benefit they don’t give you extras for marginal travel (though in the past they’ve unofficially offered bonuses for passing certain thresholds).
My status situation this year
I’m trying to “normalize” my life a bit. Now, that’s a relative term, coming from someone who lives in hotels and flies 400,000+ miles per year.
But I don’t want to do this forever, and I’m contemplating settling down sooner rather than later, as fun as the past ~18 months have been.
We’re a bit over halfway through the year, and I’ve realized how complacent I am with status:
- I’ve already way over qualified for Executive Platinum status with American
- I’ve already way over qualified for Diamond status with Hyatt
- I’ve already way over qualified for Platinum status with Starwood
On top of that I’m quite happy with the IHG Platinum status I have with the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, as well as the HHonors Gold status I have with the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card. In both cases I get that status just for holding onto the cards, and it comes in handy when I stay in a market where there are no Hyatt, Starwood, or independent hotels which interest me.
Which status will I go for next?
I could easily qualify for more status levels, be it with another airline or hotel. I could get HHonors Diamond status by spending $40,000 on the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card, I could go for InterContinental Royal Ambassador, etc.
But sometimes it just feels really nice to be “complacent.” And by complacent I mean just enjoying the status I’ve earned, and not always having to plot out my travel like a chess game.
What are the benefits of that?
- I’m more likely to try out some independent hotels when I’ve already requalified for the status levels I’m going for
- Once you’ve earned status, it’s very hard to let it go; in other words, if I try to go for any more status, I’ll feel the need to requalify again next year, which makes it tough to “wind down”
- Ultimately I have millions of miles, and it’s much easier to redeem them when you’re not constantly trying to book revenue tickets in order to requalify for an ever increasing number of status levels
In many ways my approach towards this hobby has changed. I’m no less passionate about it than day one, but I think I’ve just naturally “evolved” as anyone else in the hobby has. My priorities at age 15 are different than my priorities at age 25. 15 year old me would have thought the person who dies with the most status wins. 25 year old me thinks that the person with the most status dies first. 😉
Where do you stand on earning status — would you rather “over” qualify for a status level, or pick up status with more programs?