Do You Strive for Mid or Top Tier Elite Status?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by RestlessLocationSyndrome, Dec 12, 2012.  |  Print Topic

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Do You Strive for Mid or Top Tier Elite Status?

  1. Air Travel: Mid Tier

    51.0%
  2. Air Travel: Top Tier

    41.2%
  3. Hotels: Mid Tier

    62.7%
  4. Hotels: Top Tier

    33.3%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. RestlessLocationSyndrome
    Original Member

    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    After years of chasing top tier status for air travel and hotel stays, I've finally accepted the fact that I'm better off only striving for Mid Tier elite status and leveraging credit card benefits.

    It's not that I haven't found a great deal of value in being a UA 1K, DL Diamond, SPG Plat, Hyatt Diamond, or Hilton Diamond... it's just that the cost and struggle of achieving the highest tiers no longer seems to be worth the incremental effort.

    Am I the only one out there who feels this way about the chase?
     
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  2. AUSsie

    AUSsie Silver Member

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    I'm the same way. I don't generally travel enough to make the incremental benefits of top tier worth the effort. It is also nice to rack up points in numerous programs instead of one or two.
     
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  3. AUSsie

    AUSsie Silver Member

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    Basically, if I get breakfast and Internet access (why this essential amenity is not included always irks me), I'm happy at the hotel. A room upgrade doesn't really mean much to me.

    As for flights, most of my flying is either short hops or long haul, so free domestic upgrades don't impress me much. Skipping security and boarding early are all that matter to me. Domestic lounges are a bad joke.

    I don't usually drink, am short enough to easily fit in economy seats, and I usually travel solo, so that may factor in as well.
     
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  4. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    I tend to favor low to mid tier status in several programs. I know you miss out on some of the top tier benefits, however we are all at the mercy of the programs. Any day they can dilute the benefits or award currency. It seems prudent to diversify.
     
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  5. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I gave up completely on hotel status several years ago. It was not at all worth it for me. My travels have been better for it.

    But top tier airline status is hard to offset with a CC. If all you want are a free bag and access to the elite check-in line then the CC is fine. Reduced fees and increased flexibility at the top tiers are worth a decent bit to me, however. So is the increased RDM earning from flying. The part where I don't really struggle to get that level of activity probably helps, too.

    As for potential dilution of award currency, the trick is to keep spending. Sitting on a million points in any given program is probably not a great place to be.
     
  6. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    Historically I've aimed for top-tier airline status and mid-tier hotel status (EDIT: in HHonors; see several posts down for an explanation). After about ten years of that, I'm letting UA 1K go: my SWU's haven't been clearing, I was 31 on the u-g list on a 3-cabin 777 on a domestic route recently, and platinum gives everything except those upgrades. I'll also get my million miler next year, and I'm trying to relax into the idea that gold is good enough, particularly when I don't have to worry about the details.

    My hotel patterns don't lend themselves to easily getting top-tier hotel status, and I haven't seen the draw. I did enjoy Hyatt Diamond status this year, but I'm ending the year with between 15 and 20 qualifying stays (and would requalify if award stays counted!) and don't plan to try to collect the last few. Instead, I've been practicing "wallet loyalty" and using priceline for many of my stays. The savings have been tremendous.
     
  7. Jett Rink
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    Jett Rink Silver Member

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    Mid and Mid was Jett Rink's vote. A bare minimum thing.
     
  8. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    For self-funded trips to disparate and often non-mainstream destinations, this only makes sense.
    I think that not having to work too hard at it is the key in general. I make top tier hotel status with a couple of chains because my travel patterns already have me staying those nights and selecting from similarly priced and located hotels domestically. When travelling for leisure I'll look twice at the affiliated options out of convenience and trust in the product, but certainly not lock myself in.

    On the flying side, I flew 75k or so a year naturally and end up at that status. With the right fares and opportunities I'll push that a bit more, but available vacation time (and desire to spend most of that with my wife), MSP airfares, and various other considerations tend to keep me about 80/20 business/leisure in terms of segments, and for the leisure the longer haul tends to be burn. Even with a slowly growing rollover stash, there's not a huge carrot to fly another 25k to make diamond. If DL had AA's SWUs then I'd be much more likely to make the push.
     
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  9. Colonel G
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    Colonel G Silver Member

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    .I only go for the top tier because the benefits at mid-tier seem to be almost nothing. I struggle to get an upgrade as a 1K (I'm about 50/50), I can't imagine I would ever get upgraded at lower levels.

    And for hotels, is there anything for mid-tier beyond a small % increase to points?

    Glenn
     
  10. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    It depends on the brand and its definition of mid-tier, which suggests that the original question should be reworded.

    For Hilton and Marriott, no. But their top two tiers are very similar. See Gary Leff's recent blog post about Hilton.
    http://boardingarea.com/blogs/viewf...es-gold-and-diamond-benefits-almost-the-same/

    For Hyatt and Starwood, yes: only top-tier gets lounge/breakfast. Hyatt's top tier also gets confirmable suite upgrades. But both of these programs only have two elite tiers.

    It might be more interesting to look at the tiers in the context of benefits, particularly at which tier one gets breakfast and lounge access:

    Hyatt: top (of two elite tiers). 50 nights/25 stays.
    Starwood: same
    Marriott: mid (of three). 50 nights/25 stays
    Hilton: mid (of three). 40 nights/20 stays (was 36/16) Note: this tier only gets lounge access if one is also upgraded to the exec floor.

    So "mid-tier" can be a misleading term in terms of hotel programs. Would the OP like to rephrase?
     
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  11. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    For Hilton the question seems appropriate to me. HH Gold works for us since breakfast and internet are very useful. As for FF programs I have found as a UA Million-miler that Gold gets me what I need to have a pleasant travel experience. Obviously at that level chasing upgrades is a bit of a snipe hunt, but E+ on long flights works reasonably well.
    As for the original question, I do not have the time or the budget to chase 1K or Diamond under most circumstances.
     
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  12. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    It's interesting that even in this community of travel enthusiasts that we still have roughly 2 individuals shooting for mid tier status to every 1 shooting for top tier status.
     
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  13. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I would be more interested in how many who naturally have enough miles or points for one top or two mid split it versus just getting one top. If you're only naturally getting to one mid tier anyways then the one top tier option isn't really an option.
     
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  14. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    Not any more. I can generate about 30,000 miles a year in paid travel in my personal budget without things like bumps and mileage runs. I got AS MVPG for a while, then decided "nah, not worth it" when faced with the decision.

    I think AS MVP is enough to guarantee non-suck on AS, AA, DL (plus it accumulates some miles in one place) and for the rest of it, I'll spread travel on whatever Kayak says is best. :)

    (I still managed to pick up around 100K RDM split between AA, US and UA this year- without a credit card app and with only about 4K miles of flying.;))
     
  15. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    I also would be interested to hear from those who make a conscious choice to drop a tier to make Elite at another airline. I know I have HH Gold and not Diamond in part because there are times and places where an internet sourced hotel meets my needs/budget better than Hilton does.
     
  16. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I went far further than you on this front. I have not earnt hotel status through traditional qualifying means for 5+ years now. I have SPG Gold via AmEx and lately HH gold via my Aussie CC ;); I've used each maybe once in the past year to no particularly useful benefit. I found that elite status from those programs was far more expensive than the value I was getting back. I switched nearly entirely to hotels.com, my cash-back booking portal and Welcome Rewards and I'm doing very, very well by it.
     
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  17. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    Well, this depends. Hilton and SPG usually have a lot of ~$100/night options (or less) where I am travelling to (or less). But I agree to some extent, in that I am not going to do mattress runs for status- more like I'll take it where I can get it (and HHonors Gold is just easy to get).
     
  18. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    It very much depends on travel patterns. I spend a lot of time traveling internationally. That means not many cheap options at those western-branded chains. I can do MUCH better choosing local chains or one-off hotels. And on the off chance I'm staying at a Hampton or 4 Points the elite status and few points earnt are worth less than the 15%+ rebate I'm getting through the booking portal + Welcome Rewards. The other benefits - free breakfast and wifi - are part of the room rate so where's the value??
     
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  19. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    True enough, if that's the way it works out for you. I get lucky because one place I end up a decent amount (LA) has decent Hilton/Doubletree options at Hampton prices (in fact, the Hampton Inns usually cost MORE).
     
  20. thegrailer
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    thegrailer Silver Member

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    We've been to some of the same places, Kyiv for example - how do you find the cheaper options in a place that isn't a dump? Trial and error? In Kyiv, I was looking for something that wasn't western hotel cost. I got lucky at the Hotel Ukraine (right up from Independence Square and a great deal), but that was 100% luck and don't think I'd be that lucky again.

    Thoughts/suggestions?

    Cheers

     
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  21. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I read reviews, look for photos (both from the property and independent reviews) and then just take a bit of a gamble. I'm not looking for luxury in my hotel stays. I need a simple 2.5-3* experience and that is pretty easy to get in many places for a fraction of the western hotel costs. The Hotel Lybid in Kyiv got good reviews as a basic business hotel and was $80/night. They Hyatt, Farmont, Radisson Blu or Intercontinental were all 3x that price at a minimum and closer to 5x in some cases. It doesn't matter how good the "free" breakfast is; I cannot justify that cost difference.

    Here's a decent example: Bangkok at the end of this month. I can get the HIX for around $100/night; that's the best price on a western-branded property there. The number of choices I have in the $50-75 range is HUGE and I've stayed at some of them previously so I know the quality. That's just one night but doing that over 20-30 nights a year and it adds up to real money. And that's not even close to the widest spread I see. Over three nights in Switzerland in October I easily saved $100/night. Ditto in Istanbul a few weeks prior to that.

    I did splurge and stay at the Best Western in Sevastopol later on that Ukraine trip and was happy to do so; it was a nice change of pace and they took great care of us. But the splurge there was just to $100/night, up from $25 for a ridiculously simple room in Bakhchasarai the night prior. Maybe that is too simple for some folks' tastes. In that case go with the higher priced options and the consistency that the brand offers. But for me it works VERY well. And I can generally add an extra trip or two each year to my budget this way. That's HUGE to me.
     
  22. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    I also have found Hotels.com too useful to ignore. I tend to only use Hilton when it is competitive or located conveniently. I must say that there have been many trips this year where I have stayed at a Hampton Inn, DoubleTree or Embassy Suites that were very competitive.
     
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  23. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    You are double-dipping between WelcomeRewards and a cash-back booking site, right??

    The extra 5%+ makes quite a difference.
     
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  24. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

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    I will be now.
     
  25. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    May I humbly suggest mine. ;)

    http://www.wandr.me/travel-rebates.aspx/hotels/hotels.com

    FatWallet has only a 4% rebate. eBates is 3.25%. Looks like TopCashBack does enough volume that they hit the higer payout threshold so they're offering 7%. I'm sure there are a few others out there, too.
     
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