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I won’t likely do 150+ hotel nights again next year. I’ll end 2016 with both 100 night Starwood status and with Hyatt Diamond, along with a handful of Marriott, Hilton, and unaffiliated hotel nights.
With Hyatt increasing the requirements to earn top tier status (and with Hyatt’s elite status the one I want most), and with fewer nights overall to work with, I’m not going to renew Starwood’s Platinum Ambassador level.
I’ve decided that I don’t need to. I can’t give all my business to Hyatt because their foot print isn’t large enough, there are places I travel where there isn’t a Hyatt or at least where a Hyatt isn’t what’s reasonably convenient. I need another chain.
So my plan is to get the Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card. It comes with Gold status the first year and lets you re-earn that status with just $10,000 a year in spend on the card.
- For my purposes what’s most useful is that $75,000 in spend on the card in a year earns Platinum status. Ritz-Carlton and Marriott Platinum status are effectively the same. I have access to the 5000+ hotel footprint and with status.
Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Credit: Ritz-Carlton
- This status matches to Starwood Platinum.
I’ve confirmed that status earned via credit card is eligible for the status match. It’ll keep me Starwood Platinum without having to worry about my stays.
St. Regis Abu Dhabi
- Of course Starwood Platinums get elite-like benefits with Delta and with Emirates. (We may soon see a similar program with China Eastern.)
- Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Platinum also get you United Premier Silver. I’ve been much more willing to fly airlines besides American this year. I requalified for Executive Platinum in June, but I also fly United to destinations they serve non-stop from Austin. Knowing I’ll keep United Silver means more points for my tickets and economy plus at check-in. Of course it also means no more cheap first class buy up offers at check-in.
- United Silver is eligible for Hertz Five Star status. I’m not a regular Hertz rental, but sometimes I find myself needing a Hertz car. This status should keep me from getting turned away as a nobody despite having a reservation.
Count Marriott as a separate status from Ritz-Carlton since they’re equivalent, and count both Emirates and Delta recognition, and that’s 7 status benefits from a single credit card.
The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card has a $450 annual fee. However it also comes with a $300 annual travel credit. There’s also a signup bonus of 3 complimentary nights at any tier 1-4 Ritz-Carlton property after $5,000 spend on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong Club Lounge, credit: Ritz-Carlton
You get Priority Pass lounge access and your authorized users on the account do, too.