My Elite Status Strategy for 2021 (and Beyond)

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Yesterday, Joe wrote about his elite status strategy for 2021. I thought his article was so interesting that I would share my own because, quite frankly, InsideFlyer is all about trying to share different viewpoints on travel loyalty (and sometimes “travel hacking”).

That said, Joe and I agree completely about one fundamental issue – the objective of collecting multiple elite statuses is to not feel restricted in your choices. The aim is to be able to choose a Hilton or Marriott or Crowne Plaza or Hyatt Regency depending on what works best for each individual trip – without worrying about missing out on valuable elite status perks such as upgrades, breakfast, etc.  Of course you could become a free agent and ignore elite status entirely, but where’s the fun in that… 😉

Airline Status

I have elite status with British Airways Executive Club and Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles. Due to various quirks and perks, my BA Silver status is good until September 2022 and my Turkish Elite Plus status is good until November 2024!) So I can spend my miles freely, without worrying about requalifying for airline status as we slowly escape the pandemic.

It’s also worth mentioning that I have Platinum status with Qatar Airways Privilege Club (Oneworld Emerald) due to a status match opportunity offered when we all thought that there might only be one wave of COVID-19.  That status will expire at the end of 2021, probably unused. Oops…


Hotel Chain Status

Priority One – Marriott Bonvoy Platinum

I have written previously about the dangers of chasing lifetime elite status. Because I am so close to Lifetime Platinum status with Marriott Bonvoy, I am not likely to give up now.  One of the additional “dangers” of being a “professional” travel blogger is that I pick up a lot of the noise surrounding Marriott Bonvoy, even though I have never experienced the poor treatment I read about so regularly. This has helped to poison my opinion of Marriott Bonvoy, without being able to point directly to something that has happened to me personally.

In any event, Marriott has made it really easy for me in 2021.  I was gifted 25 elite nights due to my Platinum status. And I took advantage of a “double elite night” promotion in February and March to pick up the remaining 25 elite nights with some very cheap staycations / mattress runs.

Whether this results in my ninth or tenth Platinum year – 10 years being needed for lifetime Platinum – is subject to the vagaries of Marriott’s world-class IT systems.  (ha!)  So when 1 January, 2022 rolls around I’ll have to make a decision…

Priority Two – Hilton Honors Diamond

I have spent several years without taking Hilton Honors seriously. In the same way that I don’t keep my savings in Argentine pesos, I don’t like collecting Honors points that struggle to hold their value (to be charitable).

But 2021 is offering me a pretty unique opportunity – Diamond status with a mere 15 stays, which can be cheap one-nighters or even day use rooms.

Not only would I achieve Diamond status until March 2023, I would likely become eligible for the Hilton Diamond extension, which requires:

  • Current Diamond status
  • Three total years at Diamond status (years do not have to be consecutive).
  • At least 250 nights (paid or reward) OR 500,000+ earned Base Points since joining Hilton Honors.

As far as I understand it, those “three total years at Diamond status” require qualifying for Diamond status the “hard way”, not via a status match or some other short cut. Since I already have two “hard way” Diamond years, a 15-stay 2021 would satisfy the requirements for three such years.

The only tricky part is determining the number of total nights I’ve spent since joining Hilton Honors, since that isn’t a detail that is available online or in any account summary emails…

But for 15 relatively cheap one-night stays, I can probably lock in my Hilton Diamond status until 31 March, 2024.

Priority Three – Hyatt Globalist

Normally, my Hyatt Globalist status would be priority one, because the benefits are so valuable. But due to a very happy change in personal circumstances, there’s simply no way that I can regularly manage to stay 60 nights per year in a Hyatt hotel.

So, 2021 is likely to be my last hurrah. Hyatt has reduced the requirements for Globalist status to 30 nights during 2021. But, unlike with Marriott, I had no Hyatt option available for staycations / mattress runs during Hyatt’s double elite credit promotion in January and February.

I will probably still manage to stay 30 nights with Hyatt in 2021. But 2022 will be all about spending my Hyatt points balance as best I can, before accepting the inevitable… 🙁

Priority Four – IHG

Perhaps I will renew my Ambassador status, despite having received zero value from my £140/$200 annual fee. (the free weekend night will expire unused because IHG don’t seem to care that the Intercontinental and Kimpton hotels are closed in many of the countries I could possibly visit due to COVID restrictions)  Or perhaps I will never actually manage to stay at an IHG hotel again.  In the absence of lucrative IHG promotions making the decision difficult, a combination of Hilton and Marriott should cover nearly all of my potential hotel requirements.

The Bottom Line

It feels rather bizarre, but in 2021 I might manage to add to my collection of elite statuses, with an upgrade in my Hilton status from Gold to Diamond. This is basically due to the leeway offered by the reduction in requirements for renewing my Marriott Platinum and Hyatt Globalist status. (which are far more valuable)

In 2022 the decision will become tougher for me, even though we all hope that travel will have mostly returned to normal…

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