My husband Adam is the business traveler in the family and with a new year starting soon we are starting to re-think his business hotel strategy. Up until now he has been a legacy Starwood guy and that has helped our family earn a ton of points and receive some great perks at Starwood properties. I was always a Marriott person when I was traveling for business (every single week M-Th for many many years) and that allowed me to earn Lifetime Platinum Premier status as well as a boatload of points. This means there is no reason for Adam to earn Platinum status again at Marriott for our families needs and we are thinking about moving onto another hotel chain. Our real goal is to earn the most amount of points to maximize our number of free hotels as well as reap the best benefits that come with top tier status. Reaching top tier status won’t be a problem since he’s able to combine credit card spend/benefits with probably 35 business nights over the course of the year.
- Hilton: With the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card you automatically receive top-tier Diamond status. Getting this status right off the bat would be great and alleviate the stress with having to actually earn status the hard way!
- Hyatt: You need 60 nights to earn top-tier Globalist status. While this is definitely not as easy to earn as some of the other hotel chains, the World of Hyatt Credit Card will give you 5 nights towards status plus you’ll earn you 2 nights towards status with every $5,000 put on card. Assuming 35 nights a year, that means if we spend $50,000 a year on the card, it will earn Adam Globalist status. While $50,000 a year is quite expensive, he will be able to hit half of that just with business spend. The other half we will earn with regular everyday spend and possibly some alternative methods (i.e., buying gift cards, etc.). The disadvantage of this is that it would take spend away from other credit cards and definitely require some more effort on my part.
- Marriott: You need 50 nights a year to earn Platinum status and the Starwood Preferred Guest Luxury Card will give you 15 nights towards status a year (all 5 Marriott/Starwood credit cards will give you 15 nights a year, but they cannot be combined). While Platinum status is no longer their top-tier status, the benefits that come with this status are good enough for Adam’s travel habits and we’d use my account anyways for family travel.
Maximizing Our Points
The #1 thing to know is that all points are not created equal! So while you might earn more points at one chain over another, you also have to look at their redemption value. There are also other factors to take into consideration — points earned from status and points earned from the hotel chains co-branded credit card. With the chart below I took a few things into account: 1) The credit card that will earn you the most number of points, and 2) Top Tier status with Marriott is Platinum (not Platinum Premier). This is because the number of nights needed to earn Platinum status is similar to earning status with the other two chains.
Because of the amount my husband travelers and combined with credit card benefits, I am assuming top status with all chains when figuring out which hotel group will earn us the most amount of points. I am also assuming 35 nights/23 stays a year at an average of $200/night ($7,000 spend a year).
- Hyatt: Will earn 10.5 points per dollar spent –> total points earned = 73,500 World of Hyatt points
- Hilton: Will earn 34 points per dollar spent + 1,000 points per stay (Diamond benefit) –> total points earned = 260,000 Hilton Honors points
- Marriott: Will earn 21 points per dollar spent + 500 points per stay (Platinum benefit) —> total points earned = 158,500 Marriott points
Based on my families typical travel patterns, we stay at the lower end of the high end properties — 20,000 points with Hyatt, 50,000 points with Marriott, and 80,000 point properties with Hilton. Based on the number of points we’ll earn, that will get us 3.68 nights at a Hyatt hotel, 3.25 nights at a Hilton hotel, or 3.17 nights at a Marriott hotel. Of course this doesn’t account for the various promotions throughout the year or the fact that Hilton and Marriott both give you your 5th night free when using points. Over the past few years, none of the hotel chains have actually offered outstanding promotions, but Hilton has seem to be the “better” of the bunch. With the 5th night free opportunities and the bonus points earned with promotions, Hilton would probably give us the biggest bang for our buck.
But… we think we are going to stick with Hyatt. Here are the two reasons why:
- Suite Night Upgrades. When we travel with our kids, having a suite is amazing. Our kids are still young, they go to bed at different times, wake up at different times, and do not always sleep through the night — having some separation overall is definitely a requirement. When you earn Globalist status (top tier status) with Hyatt, they give you 4 Suite Upgrades to use (1 certificate can be used on a stay up to 7 nights). These upgrades can be used at the time of booking and are not based on availability when you check in. For us, knowing ahead of time that we are going to have a suite is huge! We might even pick a vacation destination based on knowing we will get a suite.
- Complimentary Breakfast for Us AND our Kids. At all three hotel chains, if there is a Club Lounge, then there is no issue (usually) getting us and the kids breakfast. But, when there is no Club Lounge (for example, almost every Marriott resort!), Marriott and Hilton only grant breakfast to two guests in the room. Hyatt, on the other hand, will provide breakfast to two adults AND two kids. This means our kids can eat for free as well and we do not have to have the added expense! Also, Marriott and Hilton only offer continental breakfast as a benefit, where Hyatt offers “full” breakfast.
What is your families hotel strategy next year for maximizing your points earned? While I am pretty convinced we are going to go the Hyatt route, I am definitely open to hearing your opinions and could definitely be persuaded otherwise! Of course another option is just being a “free agent” and going based on the best hotel promotions at the time! That would fully maximize the points earned, but not allow us to earn top tier status with Hyatt.