My Centurion Hotel Loyalty Trek

Discussion in 'American Express | Membership Rewards' started by Steven Schwartz, Apr 3, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Steven Schwartz
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    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    I've had the AMEX Centurion car for maybe 7 years now. I was lucky to be able to get it since most of my spending for for my dental practice for supplies and lab costs - easily met the $150,000 back then and no initiation fee. Called them up, they told me I was about $15,000 shy, called a month later and it was done. Back then it came with Hyatt Diamond and, most important, Starwood Platinum.

    I also learned about the Starwood AMEX and most of my spending went there. The status was amazing and the suite upgrades, especially when we traveled to Europe, were not to be believed. Buy, I was sold on the brand and must have encouraged 10 others to get the Starwood AMEX.

    Then we lost Hyatt Diamond - I had only used it once and was not distressed. But the loss of Starwood Platinum was a heartbreak. I had hundreds of thousands of points and loved using them for hotels and for airfare transfer. So all of my efforts went to figuring out how to retain that status.

    Fortunately (or unfortunately), the economy convinced many hotel companies to offer double-stay promotions. I live in northwest NJ and I had a lot of options for not a lot of money. Cost me about $800 to top off my stays and retain status - for two years in a row. Got some points for the trouble (both hotel and credit card) and felt good it was worthwhile. Certainly worked for me last summer in Venice and Athens where we had great suites for standard points.

    At the same time, I heard that Hyatt would status match and since we were thinking about going to Paris, decided to do it. Paid for two nights and three on points at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome and they had me at hello! The free included Diamond breakfast went for 48 Euro per person and was spectacular. We were in an incredible suite and just loved it. That same year, they also had a double stay promotion with a twist. You got a free night at any Hyatt for two stays. We needed 20 nights to retain status. I did 10 stays in the area for about $100 total per visit. Got all the points PLUS five free nights, which were used at the Park Hyatt in Washington DC. This was a major league coup for us and our devotion to Hyatt grew and grew. Actually used my last free nights at the Park Hyatt Zurich on the way home from our cruise. The issuing of the Hyatt Visa clinched it for me - I was a Hyatt guy!

    The economy seems to be slowly improving. It's already April and no sign of double-stay promotions altho it certainly could be early. But here's the reason for this diatribe:

    AMEX has now made it easy to get Hilton Diamond status - I needed only two stays to get it. Diamond status included free internet and breakfast plus upgrades, altho not to suites. Their rooms cost more points than Starwood, but for credit card spenders, it's not a problem since I get 3 points per dollar on the Hilton Surpass AMEX versus 1 point per dollar for the Starwood AMEX.

    Now the biggest news. Hilton is now unveiling a few new aspects to the program . First of all, they will have a Cash and Points variety. They will also, like Starwood, let you pay more points for a better room or a suite. Here's the info: http://dealswelike.com/2011/04/02/h...he-better-reservation-system-and-award-stays/

    I have no idea if this easy path to status will be repeated next year but from this point on, I will start using the Hilton AMEX exclusively. Between the BA VISA program and the US AIR ability to purchase miles, I have airfare handled for the next few years.

    I will clearly also be staying at SPG hotels - I have a bunch of miles to burn. But what I have learned over the years since playing this game is that loyalty goes so far and that every day is a new opportunity. Boards like this and FT and the many good blogs are the ways we can keep on top of the game!
     
  2. KyRoamer
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    KyRoamer Gold Member

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    Since you have Starwood gold as Centurion and lots of points there is no reason to use Starwood if you find top status elsewhere more attractive. The improved Hilton benefits are useful. The Hilton Garden Inns provide real value, particularly for family travel. Before switching look at where you plan on traveling over the next couple of years and if Hilton is in those markets and you think re-qualification will not be an issue go for it.

    Check out the Hilton Honors Visa card and compare benefits before taking the AMEX card.

    Now for me the Starwood 25000 for 20000 point transfer program to US Airways, AA and DL is worth a lot. Also, even as a gold I am treated well. Their points and dollar program is excellent (maybe Hilton's new similar program is as good). Last year in Venice I good a $400+ room for $90+4000 points. That was like getting a $310 room for 4000 points or better than 7.5 cents per point. I could also have had the room for 12000 points, a little less than 3.5 cents per point.

    Anyway, enjoy Hilton. A thought - purchased US Airway miles are expensive so use remaining Starwood points for US Airway miles as needed.
     

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