Stepping Away from Status in 2015

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Yesterday I posted five things to do to start 2015 in order to travel more for less (check the post out here if you missed it), but one thing you may notice missing from the list is chasing elite status with a hotel chain or airline.  That isn’t to say you shouldn’t pay attention to elite status thresholds and progress if you naturally have lots of paid travel, because you absolutely should, but if you mainly like to travel on miles and points with occasional paid trips sprinkled in, then it may be time to step away from elite status in 2015.

Backing away from top tier hotel status:

I can say that after several years of doing the opposite, I am personally largely stepping away from status in 2015.  For the first time since 2011 I will not have Hyatt Diamond status (or any top tier hotel status), because I came to terms with the reality that I just don’t naturally have enough paid travel right now to worry about chasing it.  Doing a couple of incremental stays to get to top tier status can be 100% worth it, but since I had a total of 8 eligible Hyatt stays in 2014, that was clearly too far to push to the 25 stays needed for Diamond status.  I could have shifted some stays around to probably get that number up to at least 12 or 13 stays, but that would still be too far from 25 to be worth it.

I will miss the full Diamond breakfasts and upgrades and such, but when I really want those things I can simply buy them for less than earning elite status would have cost.  It also helped my decision that my husband still does have enough work travel to qualify for Hyatt Diamond status, so on trips where we both travel together, we will simply book under his name and utilize his Diamond benefits.

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Hyatt Diamond Breakfasts continue….when with my husband

That said, even he scaled back on hotel elite status as he will not have both Hyatt and SPG top tier status this year since we decided to not mattress run for the 7 or so stays he needed to get to 25 with SPG and earn re-earn Platinum status.  We currently only have a couple of potential vacation stays for the family planned at SPG hotels in 2015, so the several hundred dollars (or thousands points) it would have cost to get those 7 missing stays just wasn’t worth it to us.  On top of the money, the time and brain space it takes to check in for stays you don’t need is an expense not to be discounted.

His work travel (sadly) picks back up for the new year shortly, and he will be hotel hopping between different Hyatts each night until he hits 25 stays with Hyatt to hopefully keep Hyatt Diamond status again for 2016, but it is unlikely we will be picking SPG back up in the near future without some sort of double stays elite promo as he doesn’t have enough business travel most years to really qualify with two chains…which is really a good thing.

Saying no to mileage runs:

I dropped from United 1K to United Platinum status for 2015, which is still pretty high tier airline status, but as the new year starts I am very doubtful that I will re-qualify at the Platinum level again for 2016.  In addition to really trying to scale back on the number of trips we take, I have been using miles and taking advantage of cheap fares on other carriers instead of always booking a paid fare with United.  This means I currently have one paid trip booked on United for all of 2015.  That number will certainly increase, but I’m far from certain that I will have 75,000 elite qualifying miles with United in 2015 to hit Platinum status again, and that’s okay.

United E+ Seats

United E+ Seats

I’m not going to start booking mileage runs or trips I don’t really want just to up my EQM totals.  I will give preference to United for a number of reasons when I do book trips, but elite status needs to be a by-product of travel, not a reason to travel (at least for the most part).  If you are deep into this hobby it can be easy to get caught up on the elite status treadmill even if you really don’t have enough paid travel to warrant trying that hard, but it is shockingly easy to get off the treadmill once you make that decision.

Credit cards can give you elite-like perks:

One thing that can make it easier to back away from earning elite status the old fashioned way with paid travel is that most airlines and hotel co-branded cards offer elite-like perks these days.  If I lost United status entirely I would still get free checked bags and priority boarding with the United MileagePlus Explorer Card or even have waived close-in booking fees and more with the United Club Card.  Alternatively, if I just cared about E+ seats then an E+ subscription might make sense for my family.

I think that mid-tier hotel status has gotten a bit less attractive with most major chains now offering free internet to guests, but if I found myself wanting mid-tier hotel status for some reason I could get that with almost any chain just by picking up their co-branded credit card.  That would usually get me a slightly better room, a few extra points, and sometimes a few other little extras.

Use a challenge if your travel picks back up:

If you find yourself getting shaky at the notion of stepping away from chasing elite status, just remember you can always get it back.  If you find that your travel picks back up to a level that elite status makes sense, then you can often request a challenge to get the status back pretty quickly.  Even the Hyatt Diamond status challenge has returned (with changes) after a couple of months absence, which was a relief to me in case I decide that I somehow can’t live a full and complete life without Diamond status in the future.

In all seriousness, my family has gotten a ton of value out of elite status the last few years, and we still continue to do so even in 2015.  However, we have turned the wheel so that elite status is working for us, and not the other way around.  We are being realistic with how much travel we really have and want, and not adding lots of trips unnecessarily with the conscious or subconscious goal of elite status coming into play.  At least that’s the goal, or resolution as it may be…

What is your elite status plan for 2015?  With revenue requirements on the rise, and promised benefits sometimes on the decline, is anyone else taking a step back from status?

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Interesting view point. My flights and hotel stays are infrequent so I do not chase elite status. I do, however, want to amass points for international award flights (and maybe hotel stays). Just hoping the whole loyalty system does not implode.

  2. Going to do the Hyatt challenge in April since we already have 8 paid nights planned in April/May in Orlando and Tampa. Would then need to just book 4 local stays to qualify. Too bad there is no longer upgrades during the chanllenge, but we already have paid suites (one is the same as the room rate – an error that has since been fixed!)

  3. Don’t forget about RewardsPlus from United and Marriott. Being Platinum on UA, you can still enjoy Gold Elite benefits at Marriott – looks like both intend to continue the program into 2015.

  4. I travel on premium cabins for the most part using points so never really felt a need to do mile runs to attain status. With premium cabin tickets, I have priority boarding, plenty of space to stretch in my seats, lounge access and much more. I can easily manufacture spend $40K on my Hilton CC to attain Diamond Status. And with it, I am treated like royalty when travelling internationally. I get free breakfast and suite upgrades as well as very high quality of services. If I want to stay at Hyatts, I just redeem UR points for suites or club rooms. Yes, it would be nice to use the suite vouchers but since I am able to fairly easily generate UR points using my Chase Ink Card, I am okay using extra UR points for my bookings. And I am okay not having free breakfast at Hyatts. This is personal preference, but when I go to a new place, I rather not eat at the same place (hotel restaurant or club room) and much rather venture out and try new things. So not having Hyatt Diamond is not the end of the world. Perhaps a blessing in disguise.

  5. We’re going in the opposite direction. Planning to do the challenge in the Spring – we had 9 nights so we added a long weekend to get to 12, so we can enjoy the status on an already booked international trip. Then I realized after that trip we will have so many Hyatt stays we were in shooting distance of qualifying for Diamond the usual way through 2016, so I’ve thrown all my work and leisure travel Hyatt’s way.

    Though it’s not much more travel than we’d do anyway I do wonder whether fatigue will set in by adding a couple of trips here and there. Traveling with kids requires a lot of energy. We will see.

  6. I plan to go with whatever airline/hotel offers me the best prices! That said, I still love Southwest and hope to requalify for A-List Preferred, but at times flying United is cheaper (and much closer to my home) than Southwest for my many short haul intrastate flights.

    On another note, I just splurged (to me at least) on a Marriott booking in Austin on Valentine’s Day at the JW Marriott, which doesn’t even open until February! At a category 8, it cost me a whopping 40,000 points for just the one night stay, but it was a great value in my opinion as the hotel was pricing at $399 not including tax. I’ll be in Austin for the Austin Marathon and most hotels don’t allow stays of just one night on marathon weekend due to the demand for rooms so to methat improves the value of my points stay! Hopefully you’ll get a chance to review the hotel soon as well!

  7. I have no status with airlines other than Gold with Aegean; and for hotels I’ll be dropping back from Gold to Silver with Club Carlson in March. I don’t travel for work so it’s all out of pocket. The only specific status items planned are some paid flights on Aegean/Olympic in May when we’re in Greece, to reduce the re-qualification mileage requirement. Other than that, whatever comes will come. I’ll probably gain a status here or there with hotels, but I’m not aiming for it.

  8. Im on the same page with you. Enough is enough for me. After 10 amazing years having tons of top status, I’m ready to devote my energy to something else. We have 11 million miles to burn, so we wont be sitting in coach anytime soon, but perhaps I will regain some sanity and lose some pounds.

  9. We achieved our first hotel “earned” status in December as gold with SPG through my husband. I love this hobby, but I’m too good at finding flight deals so we haven’t used any free flights yet. I don’t have anywhere near what @Gene has!! I have Marriott silver and Club Carlson gold and those come with no effort.

  10. I’m also stepping back, partly due to good changes at work that have me traveling a lot less. After seven years as 1K or greater, and the last two as GS, I’ll drop to no status on United. I’m still planning to requalify for SPG Platinum to get lifetime status, but no extra flying for me.

  11. I think you might have made a mistake with SPG. There are category 2 Sheraton Hotels that with cash a points a stay during weekends is only 2000 points and $35. If you are already Platinum, you can request 500 points as a welcome gift, so it is only 1500 points in total per stay. If you add that you can go to the club, have a couple beers or some wine and cheese, then the mattress run could be even fun. (It could be even more fun if you can use that room for a couple hours…ha, ha, ha) Just saying…

    • Ricardo, might agree if there was one within an hour or me, but there isn’t. That would mean lots of invested time (or luck) to pull it off.

  12. Like you, we are planning to travel less this year. We have just moved into a gorgeous apt that is costing a fortune in rent so I want to enjoy being at home more. I feel I travelled too much in 2014. I pushed hard to renew as a SPG Plat 50 and am now scratching my head trying to work out why as all my travel planned in 2015 is to locales where SPG properties are too expensive. I’m going to work on letting it all go and make my choices based on price and choosing a property that appeals to me rather than being one attached to my status. I’m also going to cut down on credit card apps. Last year I messed up a couple of times missing payments on new cards etc because I just have too many cards on the go. With 3 million points in the bank I’m happy to just let them grow thru spend.mi know that is chicken feed to some, but I find these days if u actually do travel and do spend the points seem to replace themselves quickly.

  13. I stepped away in 2012-13 due to taking a break from paid work. I did travel a lot during that time, but I redeemed over 500K in AA miles for both airline tickets and hotel stays. In 2014, I started to fly revenue flights for international tickets, but I will continue to redeem 20K awards to Europe when I can find them.

    As for hotels, yup. I’m no longer anything but Hyatt Plt. I seem to be treated pretty well and my TH is going to challenge this month because she has a buttload of travel coming up.

    Very good post, btw.

  14. The only airline status I plan to chase in 2015 (actually early 2016) is Southwest Companion Pass renewal. I’m MM lifetime gold on UA, and get the benefits I need on AA from their co-branded credit card.

    With many hotel chains counting award stays toward status, that’s where I’ll focus my efforts. I get the most out value of SPG Plat (those free breakfasts and evening lounge appetizers really save us significant $$$ – but, yes, we should pass on the bennies and investigate the local restaurant scene more often).

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