Unless you travel a lot, getting status in a hotel loyalty can seem very daunting with the number of nights required to earn it. However, there are a number of ways you can do this almost instantly by “buying” it. Once you have status in one hotel scheme, many of the other will match it, even if only for a few months. So you should try and time it for when you will get the most benefit. For me, Hilton offers the best benefits at the middle ‘Gold’ tier with free breakfast and upgrades. This can save a lot of money, especially in the US where breakfast can be very pricey at luxury hotels.
What hotel schemes can you buy loyalty in?
IHG – Intercontinental
There are two ways to get status in InterContinental hotels. First, you could take out the IHG credit card. You will earn 1 point for every £1 you spend in the UK, 2 points for every £1 you spend in an IHG location in the UK, and 2 points for every £1 you spend abroad. Most importantly you get Gold Elite status when you open your account and the card is free.
The second option is to join the Intercontinental Ambassador Club which costs $200 and gives you the higher Platinum Elite tier in IHG’s Rewards Club.
You also get:
So what do you get?
• Guaranteed one category room upgrade
• Extended 4 pm check-out
• Complimentary weekend night
• Dedicated check-in area
• Welcome fruit platter for every stay
• Complimentary mineral water
• Complimentary Internet
• Up to US $20 restaurants & bars credit for every stay (can be used in certain bars/restaurants and minibar)
• Ambassador Benefits Guarantee to ensure you make the most out of every stay
The main draw for me is the free night certificate. If you pay for one weekend night, you can use the certificate to get the other night free. This can usually mean the membership pays for itself and all the other perks are free.
You can find more details and join here.
Accor – Sofitel, Pullman, Raffles, Fairmont
Accor offer a way to effectively buy status at Le Club Gold level through their Ibis business card. Although most of the perks related to the business card are only for stays at Ibis hotels (which I am guessing most TLFL readers won’t often stay in) the status can be used at any Accor hotel. Accor hotels include some upmarket brands such as Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Rixos, Raffles, Fairmont, Banyan Tree, Mercure and Novotel. The other perks of the business card include 10% off room rates for 2 rooms per booking and 10% off food and drink both at Ibis hotels.
The Accor Gold status gets you:
- up to 10% off room rates
- free internet
- free local calls
- 10% off spa treatments at Fairmont, 20% at Swissotel
- Room upgrade subject to availability
- Free newspaper
- early check-in or late checkout (subject to availability)
- welcome drink
- welcome gift
The Ibis business card costs £65 (don’t select business traveller if it’s for personal use) so whether it is worth buying depends on how often you will stay at an Accor hotel. Getting an upgrade a few times and some free drinks are probably worth it if you will make more than a couple of stays at the Accor properties in a year.
You can find more details and join here.
Marriott and Hilton
You can buy Marriott (trial period) and Hilton Gold status by buying a Founders card. This comes with a number of travel benefits including Marriott Gold Status. Founders cards cost from $295 a year when then is an offer on. You can find out more here.
A better but much more expensive option would be the American Express Platinum card. This comes with full Hilton Honors Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle and Marriot Bonvoy Gold Elite Status. The Amex now has a whopping £575 fee but it does include a lot of other benefits such as travel insurance and a Priority Pass card.
Many hotels will offer a status match to a similar tier in their scheme, although nowadays this nearly always involves a challenge to complete. The good thing is that you normally get 3 months to complete the challenge and during that period you have the matched tier in the other scheme for those 3 months. A good resource for finding out the latest status matches on offer is the website Status Matcher.
The two main status matches that are usually offered year-round are Hilton and Marriott.
Hilton recently changed their status match slightly. You can now only match to Gold initially for the 90 day challenge period. If you stay 10 nights within your 90 day trial period, you then keep Gold status until 31 March 2021. If you manage 18 nights during the trial then you get Diamond status at that point until 31 March 2021.
Marriott have a slightly different offer. You have a choice of either completing:
- 8 nights for Gold
- 16 nights for Platinum
You have to achieve 16 Nights in three months providing you register before 31 December 2019. One thing to consider is that if you register after the 1st of a month you get the rest of that month + the 3 months, so try to register on the 2nd of the month for the maximum time!
To get the same deal you need to contact Marriott Bonvoy directly. The contacts are listed on this page.