The end of the year is upon us and many travelers are flying their last trips (or cramming them in) before the end of the year to finish up their status for the year. Once the new year begins, travelers will already be hitting the roads or the hotels yet again to start the qualification for status for 2016. Getting elite status with an airline, hotel, or rental car company can take some thought so that you properly credit your trips to the program that is going to give you the best bang for your miles and points. Here is where I am at now and what I am looking for with status in 2015.
My Elite Status Outlook For 2015
With the changes coming to both Delta and United in their mileage earning, many travelers are certainly thinking about jumping ship and moving on to another program that may reward their travels a bit more substantially (or, in some case, a lot more!). For my part, I am dropping status with both airlines, but that does not mean that I will stop earning award miles in either program!
So, with so many airlines, hotels, and car rental companies out there, what am I going for, dropping, or retaining in 2015? Also, how can you get some of these status as well?
Elite Status I Am Dropping
Delta – Gold Medallion
Why: I have been a Delta elite flyer for a number of years, including a charter Diamond Medallion member and holding that status for a couple of years. However, I am not flying them nearly as much as I used to since they no longer serve my primary airports. Also, the way they have treated elite flyers with the benefit cuts this year alone make the decision to drop them even easier.
I am not dropping them because they have a bad airline, though. The airline is definitely a good one to fly on and I have always enjoyed (almost always) my flights throughout the Delta network. The problem is really their frequent flyer program.
JetBlue Airways – Mosaic
Why: I got this status as part of a match they did back in April. It served me well the couple of times I flew them but I do not fly them enough to warrant the status and it did not do enough for me to really want to keep it. However, that could be a different view after the new fare classes come out next year and what benefits they tie to them, but just not for me at this time.
United – Premier 1K
Why: United is also gutting their award earning structure (except for higher paying customers) and since I never buy expensive tickets, it is not that beneficial for me to continue crediting to them for status. Not only that but to hit Premier 1K this year, you must actually spend $12,000 in a year on United tickets (or partner flights on United ticket stock). No way that is happening! While I could credit enough to earn a lower status (and then do the $25,000 in credit card spend in a year to get the required spending on tickets waived), my plans have shift enough that I am leaving United behind.
But, one of the things I have thoroughly enjoyed about the status was the flexibility it gave me in regards to making, changing, and redepositing award tickets. For my trips this year, situations did move around enough that it would have cost me almost $2,000 in change fees. So, having that status certainly helped (Premier Platinum provides the same waiving of award change/redeposit fees).
Marriott – Gold
Why: I received the Marriott Gold status as a complimentary feature of having higher United elite status (read about obtaining that here). While Marriott is a chain with incredible worldwide coverage, I only found myself staying at Marriotts a few times this year. I did not notice any great extra benefits to having the status and, since I am not holding on to United status, this status will go.
Elite Status I Am Retaining – Cars
Status levels marked with * mean that I received them by virtue of a credit card. The levels marked with ** mean that they were the result of a match or challenge.
Why: Some of the status I actually hold did not come from qualifying for it but through the strategic use and application for various credit cards. Avis First (used to be Avis President’s Club for me before the downgrade) is a marginally useful status for me when renting cars in places not serviced by National. I have received some good service with the status and, since I hold a credit card that grants it, I will continue to hold it.
How You Can Get It: If you have a Mastercard World Elite credit card (like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, the Citi Executive AAdvantage, and some others), you are eligible to sign up for that status – here. If you would like to learn more about what the status earns you, you can read about that – here.
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star*
Why: This is yet another status that is received simply by having a credit card or airline elite status. I have not rented from Hertz in quite a long time but, in the case that their rates are less than National or Avis, it is always good to have status with them. However, come January 1, I will be eligible to use my outgoing United 1K status for Hertz President’s Circle status.
How You Can Get It: If you have an American Express Platinum card, you are eligible to get the Gold Plus Rewards Five Star status – here. Also, if you have status with United Airlines, you can also get status with Hertz – here. Delta has also gotten into the game by matching their elites to Hertz status (just like United) – here.
National Executive Status
Why: This is actually a car rental status that I earned this year (though you can pick it up for free as well). I had incredible experiences with National’s program and their cars. Representatives were always very helpful and the benefits to me were just what I wanted. While I do not have National around me right now, this is definitely a status that I will continue to take advantage of because of benefits and prices when I do rent.
How You Can Get It: Same as Avis First, if you have a Mastercard World Elite credit card (like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus or the Citi Executive AAdvantage cards), you are eligible to get the status for free by signing up – here. To read about more ways to receive it, check out this post – here.
Elite Status I Am Retaining – Hotels
Club Carlson – Gold*
Why: I received Club Carlson Gold status by having the credit card from them and I have no plans of letting the card go this year. For one thing, the anniversary bonus is great but also the ability to book two award nights at the price of one is just too great a perk. I stayed in a number of Club Carlson properties this year, though I did not get a lot of benefit from the Gold. I got a couple of minor room upgrades but I do not fault the hotels too much for that because they were very busy during my stays.
How You Can Get It: Getting this status is as easy as applying for the Club Carlson Premier Rewards card. Not only will you receive the status but you will also get 85,000 points which are great! To view the benefits of the status, check them out – here.
Hilton HHonors – Gold*
Why: To me, the Hilton HHonors Gold status is the best mid-tier hotel status around and that is largely because of one thing – free breakfast. I have stayed at quite a few Hiltons this year and have always had a positive experience and some nice room upgrades. But, knowing that I have the free breakfast is always a nice perk. I received this status by virtue of a credit card as well so will not be losing the status anytime soon.
How You Can Get It: This status is easy to achieve through any one of multiple credit cards. I have it through the American Express Platinum card (a promo they ran last year that allowed me to reactivate it) but you can also get it through the Citi Hilton Reserve card and the Amex Hilton Surpass card (check out this post – currently offering 80,000 points). To view the benefits of the status, check them out – here.
Hyatt Gold Passport – Diamond**
Why: I just received Hyatt Diamond status this year as the result of a Diamond challenge (no longer offered). I love the 4 suite upgrade certificates you get with the status and the free breakfast that comes with being a Diamond. In addition, the welcome points are nice and I have always found myself well-cared for at Hyatt hotels as a Diamond. I plan on renewing my status in the coming year which should not be too difficult since you can do so with Points+Cash stays that really drop the cost down.
How You Can Get It: To currently get Hyatt Diamond status, you have to actually stay 25 times or 50 nights in a year. However, you can get the status level below it, Platinum, which is done by virtue of holding a credit card – the Chase Hyatt Visa. I have received some nice upgrades and even complimentary breakfast coupons at Hyatt hotels outside of the US (as a Platinum). Because the Hyatt Visa gives the great anniversary night, it is a card I will always hold and so can always be assured of having Platinum status if I drop from Diamond. To view the benefits of the status, check them out – here.
Le Club Accor – Platinum
Why: This is actually a funny status – I haven’t stayed at one of their hotels in years and have never used the status. But, it was a free offer a while back so I took it and haven’t lost it since! No real reason to keep it or retain it except I can’t seem to lose it – yet! 🙂
How You Can Get It: Keep checking the blogs for another opportunity to open up to just sign-up for the status!
Starwood Preferred Guest – Gold*
Why: I have stayed at a couple SPG hotels this year and always love the brand. Gold status with SPG is one of the harder mid-tier status to get simply because you cannot receive it as a complimentary benefit by having the SPG Amex. I did get it, however, from having the American Express Platinum card. I like the better room upgrades I have received and it is always nice to have access to the elite line when the hotel is busy!
How You Can Get It: You can also get it with any of these American Express Platinum cards – the regular personal, the business, or the Mercedes Benz edition. If you already have one of them, just visit this site to setup your status.
Elite Status I Am Retaining – Airlines
Aegean Airlines – Gold
Why: Aegean Airlines used to be the most simple route of receiving Star Alliance Gold. However, they revamped the program last month and now qualifying must be done on an annual basis. For current Gold members, they do have very easy retaining requirements. If you fly 4 Aegean segments, you only need to credit 12,000 miles in a year. Since Aegean is now my main carrier for European flights and my initial flight anywhere, keeping this status is a no-brainer.
How You Can Get It: If you have the opportunity to fly Aegean or Olympic airlines on a total of 4 flights in a year, you will only need to have 24,000 miles credited to your account to receive the Gold status. Whether that is worth it for you or not will depend on your situation. But, you can find out all about it – here.
Alaska Airlines – MVP Gold 75K**
Why: Because of my current location, having a program that can give me elite status based on flying with a variety of airlines is a great thing! Granted, very little of my flying will be done on Alaska Airlines so I won’t be getting the hard benefits of status, but the mileage earning bonuses for their top tier status is great – 125% starting in 2015! Not only that, but once I qualify again, I will receive an additional 50,000 miles! That is some serious mileage earning and I am really starting to play around more with the Alaska Airlines redemption offerings. So, I am going to make a go out of earning the status this year (this year’s status was matched – check this post).
How You Can Get It: If you have any airline status with a domestic airline, you will be able to match to Alaska Airline’s various status levels as well. To find out how you can do that, check out this post.
Etihad Airways – Gold**
Why: Again, this status is just one of those things that I happened to get by some promo they were running. To be honest, I cannot even remember what I had to do! I just know that it arrived in the mail months after whatever it was that I did! So, this status is here and we will see how long it will last! 🙂
It is kind of funny to see just how many different elite status one can rack up without actually accomplishing the published requirements for the status! Looking at the hotel status levels I have this year, it would have required that I stayed in hotels a total of 250 nights in hotels! That certainly did not happen with me. 🙂
It is incredibly easy to secure travel status and the benefits can be great! Be sure to check for an upcoming post that will show you some of the easy ways to get a variety of travel status! Oh, I am also keeping my Best Buy Elite Plus status – just because I love doing my Black Friday shopping the Monday before! 🙂