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Happy New Year! We were sound asleep at midnight and didn’t see 2017 until at least six hours into the day, which is to say we had a pretty good night sleeping! I couldn’t have ask for a better way to start a new lap around the sun. I hope that you are also having a good first morning of 2017 wherever and however you are bringing in the new year.
One of the first miles and points related headlines I saw today was via View From the Wing, as he has a post titled (in jest) “Please Help: I Need 100,000 Miles and 50 Nights to Requalify for Elite Status!”.
Even though that title is a bit of a joke, I know for stone cold fact that a good number of frequent travelers absolutely do feel some flavor of that feeling as their elite status counters largely reset to 000,000 today. For some there is an inevitable trek towards re-qualifying for elite status as the months go on because their lives simply keep them on the road and in the sky. For that group I totally get how there is both comfort in the process, as well as a twinge of stress as you go through another year of methodically watching the status counters creep upwards.
However, for those who don’t have a lot of natural travel for work or pleasure, and are now again facing 12 new months to scramble to hit the threshold of 100,000 miles, 50 nights in hotel chain, or whatever status goal you have in mind, I’m here to at least drop a seed of doubt in staying on the hamster wheel this year. It’s okay to walk away, and this is actually the perfect day to do it.
You can travel when you want. Where you want. On any carrier you want. Buy the cheapest flight. Book the hotel room via the cheapest site. Stay at a non-chain hotel or go the Airbnb route. Use your miles. Don’t overly stress about the elite status your travel is earning you, and just travel the way you want. If you notice later in the year you naturally getting close to some elite status thresholds that have value to you, you can always make some minor adjustments to hit those thresholds. You can always hop back on the hamster wheel whenever you want.
But on this first day of the new year I’d encourage you to at least consider starting the year off just traveling the way you want and when you want without worrying about status. You can still get some status and elite-like perks just by having certain rewards credit cards, booking a higher fare or rate when you want extra room or pampering, and leveraging some hotel booking programs like Amex’s Fine Hotels and Resorts or the Visa Signature Luxury Hotel Collection to get breakfast, late check-out, room credits, and more.
“Free” hotel breakfast tastes just the same whether it was obtained via elite status, or because you booked via a credit card hotel program that includes it as a perk. As an example, my bagel and lox at The Driskill in Austin this week obtained via my Hyatt Diamond status tasted just as good as the “free” breakfast our friends sitting next to us got by booking via Visa Signature’s Luxury Hotel Collection. Of course walking outside the hotel walls to find breakfast can be an even better plan (though not always with young kids)…
Loyalty programs have increasingly very short memories in that they care how much you are spending with them very lately when deciding how to sprinkle out some extra perks and upgrades. It is still possible to come out ahead when you do things like “The Last Great Mattress Run for Hyatt Status”, but those will be the outlier cases. Most people will not come out ahead chasing status, so for a minute just consider not even trying.
I absolutely have some goals for the new year involving travel, but not a single one of them relates to elite status. I have some goals about where I want to travel, who I want to travel with, and what I want our travel to feel like, but I have no goals related to how many nights to spend with this hotel chain or how many miles I need to sit in the seat with that airline. Maybe I will sprinkle in some elite status goals future years, but for now my goals are much less “hamster wheel”, and much more enjoying the view.
I promise the view is still fantastic whether it is being enjoyed by a Platinum Globalist Diamond Elite Super Traveler or just Joe General Member. In fact, sometimes Joe General Member may enjoy it a bit more. I’ll be here to support your travel years for 2017 whatever they may be, so stay tuned next week as we get back down to the business or traveling more for less!
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.