Points Panda has partnered with a variety of financial companies including CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Points Panda and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. For more information please read our full Advertiser Disclosure.
Before you chase elite status, make sense for you? Ask yourself: Is hotel or airline elite status worth it? The answer is pretty simple when it comes to airlines. In almost every case chasing elite status is not worth the effort and hassle unless you travel several times a month for work. The simple truth of the matter is there is no seat or service on an aircraft that you cannot buy for hard cash.
A loyal traveler who has flown an airline hundreds of times and is flying in First using miles they saved up will receive the same seating and service as someone who paid cash. Or someone who transferred credit card points to the program and booked his first flight with the airline.
What Does Airline Elite Status Bring?
Airline elite status comes into its own when you have status and are flying economy. While the list of benefits can be huge depending on your level, the ones that really count towards your travel experience are free checked bags, priority boarding, and airport lounge access.
While these perks may seem like the preserve of airline elites, they are not! When it comes to checked bags and priority boarding, there are multiple ways you can receive these perks without elite status. Virtually every airline major airline in the U.S. has a wide range of co-branded credit cards.
A quick glance through the card benefits makes it easy to find a card that provides those two perks and more. The time, effort, and costs involved in applying for a card are negligible compared to those involved in attaining elite status with an airline! Holding a co-branded credit card can also boost your mileage earning, amongst other things. Getting elite perks can be a matter of finding the right airline co-branded card.
The Keys to the Lounge
When it comes to airport lounge access then, look no further than a credit card. Almost every premium credit card on the market today will provide you complimentary airport lounge access via priority pass select. However, the American Express Platinum Card takes lounge access to a new level and is arguably the best card for lounge access on the market today. Holders of the card have access to lounges, including:
- American Express Centurion Lounges
- Priority Pass Select
- Delta Sky Club lounges
- Plaza Premium and U.S Escape Lounges.
- Lufthansa business and senator lounges in Munich and Frankfurt.
The above list of lounges you can access is by no means exhaustive. You can access the Amex Global Lounge collection to find where your American Express Platinum Card will get you in! Bear in mind the card is a premium card, and it is about so much more than lounges. Feature of the Amex Platinum include:
- Receive 100,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending $6,000 in the first six months of card membership.
- Earn 10X on restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. in the first 6 months of card membership up to a maximum of $25,000 of combined purchases.
- Earn 5X per point for flights booked with American Express Travel or directly Airlines.
- Earn 5X per point for hotels booked with American Express Travel.
- Receive $200 in Airline Fee Credit per calendar year to cover baggage fees and more at qualifying airlines.
- Yearly $179 CLEAR Credit, receive a statement credit towards your yearly CLEAR membership.
- The card has no foreign transaction fees.
- The card carries a $695 annual fee.
The American Express Platinum Card comes with a hefty price tag, but it is a premium product that delivers time and again. With an enormous list of benefits, card users who maximize the usage of their cards can earn make the card more than pay for itself on a yearly basis. Maximizing the airline incidentals, Uber, CLEAR, and a couple of other options more than makes up for the card’s annual fee. Add that to unparalleled lounge access and earning on travel, and the American Express Platinum Card is a true heavyweight contender.
Hotel Elite Status Can Be Worth It!
When it comes to hotels things, look different. A room is a room; after all, there is no economy room and lie flat rooms. Most of the time, you will be staying in a relatively standard hotel room. The value of status is found in the ancillary services offered around your stay.
Holding elite status with a hotel program can be very valuable. Depending on the program, benefits can include free breakfast, late checkout, complimentary upgrades (when available), bonus points, and much more. Each perk has a dollar value, and if you add up the value of all the perks you get for your stays per year, it could soon add up to a substantial amount.
If you decide to go for elite hotel status, the qualification requirements can be daunting unless you are a true road warrior who spends a significant amount of time on the road. This is where Co-branded credit cards come into play. Most major hotel brands have co-branded credit cards, and the majority come with Elite Status as a perk of holding the card. A couple of our favorite hotel cards are the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card and the World Of Hyatt Credit Card.
A card with a low annual fee and a big punch, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card delivers across the board for a $89 annual fee that is waived in the first year. The card comes with very generous earning rates, and an enormous welcome bonus, as well as elite status and more, key features of the card include:
- Receive a 125,000-point welcome bonus when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of card membership.
- Receive a Free Reward Night Certificate each account anniversary (can be redeemed at IHG properties valued up to 40,000 points per night).
- Receive complimentary Platinum Elite status with IHG Rewards Club for the duration of your account.
- Earn 25 points per dollar for spending at IHG properties worldwide.
- Earn 2 points per dollar for spending at restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations.
- Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
- Receive a $100 statement credit every 4 years towards Global Entry or TSA Pre (✔), as long as the enrolment fee is charged to your card.
- Receive your 4th night free every time you book a 4-night award.
- $89 annual fee waived for the first year.
Platinum Elite brings with it a host of perks for your stays, including complimentary room upgrades (which is far more common in Asia than in the U.S. or Europe). Other extras that add value include late checkout, which can be invaluable, particularly on weekend breaks.
The world of Hyatt is one of the smaller hotel brands out there but still has an impressive footprint in the U.S. and most major destinations around the world. The World of Hyatt Credit Card is feature-rich and provides its holders with a wide range of perks, including Elite status. The card carries an affordable $95 annual fee, which is excellent value compared to the card’s benefits. Features of the card include:
- Receive 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Earn a further 30,000 bonus points with an improved 2X earning rate on purchases that would typically earn 1x in the first 6 months of account opening. (Maximum earning on $15,000)
- Receive a free night certificate every card anniversary- (redeemable at any Hyatt Category 1-4 property worldwide)
- Receive an additional free night certificate when you spend $15,000 on your card in a year.
- Receive complimentary World of Hyatt Discoverist status for the lifetime of your account.
- Earn up to 9 points per dollar for spending on Hyatt stays.
- Earn 2 points per dollar for spending with Airline tickets, restaurants, fitness clubs, gym memberships, and local transit and commuting.
- Receive 2 elite qualifying night credits each time you spend $5,000 on your card.
- The card carries a $95 annual fee.
Applicants who apply for the card by 9/30/21 and also get approved will receive 2 Tier-Qualifying Night Credits whenever they say at eligible hotels from 8/16/21 – 12/21/21.
World of Hyatt Discoverist provides a mid-level of benefits, including the use of premium internet, complimentary bottled water, late checkout, and the waiver of resort fees on award stays. In addition, if you are an American Airlines member, you can earn bonus miles courtesy of your Hyatt elite membership.
Final Thoughts: So Is hotel or airline elite status worth it?
You should always remember not to get caught up in the psychology of elite status. What ultimately counts is that you get the quality of service. Running around trying to hit arbitrary milestones set by an airline so you can be considered elite is not helping you reach your travel goals. Strategically planning, so you get the same service and perks as elites with the minimum of expense and effort is always the best way to go.