I’m often asked what hotels, airlines and car rental companies I hold elite status with. I think being open about this not only helps others understand my travel patterns, but also helps readers understand how to obtain upgrades, and other perks.
First off, it’s important to note that travel is not free. There’s a price tag, no matter whether you’re using miles, points, or cash. The same goes for elite status. It’s not free, and when it seems like it is, there’s often some sort of back-office requirement, such as holding a specific credit card or spending a certain amount of money.
That said, I’ve divided up my loyalty into two categories: “Earned” and “Credit Card Provided.” “Earned” means I stayed the required amount of nights, or flown the required amount of miles to attain that status. Those nights and flights were paid by me, and are “butt in seat,” if you will. “Credit card provided” means the status was provided as a perk of holding a specific credit card, and the requirements to hold that credit card were met – such as paying the annual fee.
So, let’s take a look at where my loyalty is.
American Airlines Executive Platinum (oneworld Emerald) – I fly over 100,000 miles a year to keep this status, which includes complimentary upgrades, systemwide upgrades, mileage bonuses, and access to an elite desk where agents are empowered to help me.
Hyatt Diamond – Staying 25 stays a year, Hyatt Diamond status allows me confirmed suite upgrades, complimentary breakfast, welcome amenities, and access to a dedicated elite line, which I’ve found to be very helpful.
Kimpton Inner Circle – I absolutely adore Kimpton and their hotels, and even more so, their Inner Circle status, which is their top-tier. I choose Kimpton hotels as one of my primary domestic chains, and have received fantastic suite upgrades, more-than-usual free nights, food and beverage credits, as well as unique welcome amenities.
Credit Card Provided
Emerald Club Executive Membership – Provided through my American Express Platinum card, I can skip the lines, receive point bonuses, and also receive car-category upgrades.
Hertz #1 Club Gold – Provided through my American Express Platinum card, I can skip the lines, receive point bonuses, and also receive car-category upgrades.
Starwood Preferred Guest Gold – Provided through my American Express Platinum card, I receive welcome point bonuses, complimentary internet, room upgrades, and sometimes even club access.
Hilton Gold – Provided through my American Express Platinum card, I receive select room upgrades, complimentary breakfast and wifi.
Club Carlson Gold – Provided through my Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature card, I receive room upgrades, 2 for 1 point redemption offers, welcome amenities and point bonuses.
Airport Lounge Access
Delta SkyClub – Accessible through my American Express Platinum card and Delta Reserve card.
American Airlines AAdmiral’s Club – Accessible through my Citi Executive AAdvantage card. I also receive access to oneworld lounges when traveling on an international itinerary thanks to my oneworld Emerald status.
Priority Pass Select – Provides lounge access to a number of third-part and mainline airline lounges through my American Express Platinum card.
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