What Would You Do Differently If You Weren’t Worried About Hotel Status?

by joeheg

For years, I was proud of the fact that I didn’t have any hotel status and wasn’t beholden to any limits when picking out hotels.

At the time, I searched the internet for cheap rates through whatever site I could. That’s how I found many different places to stay in New York. We stayed at The Distrikt when it was part of Choice Hotels and even stayed at the Waldorf=Astoria on a mistake rate. That’s also how we stayed at B&B hotels like the J. Palen House in Cleveland while we visited the A Christmas Story House.  I wasn’t limited to finding a place to use a free night certificate or which hotel had the best breakfast for Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite guests.

Now my searches for hotels are based on which hotels I need to use for free nights. If I’ve already spent all of those, I look for places to use hotel points. If both of those are done, I’ll see if there are any places that would be a good redemption to purchase or transfer points.

But what if I didn’t have to think about any of that? How would I search for hotels if hotel loyalty status didn’t matter?

I’d look for the place with the best price for the highest quality hotel with the most amenities.

Why is that not what I’m doing right now?

For many of the hotels we stay in, I don’t lose anything by using my credit card benefits and free nights.

I might stay at a Holiday Inn Express with a free night IHG voucher that costs $49 from the co-brand card. This is no worse than the Hampton Inn at the same exit, which would cost $119.

But what if I’m looking for a hotel in a big city and spending 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points instead of spending $350 for a really cool hotel?  If I never was worried about earning Bonvoy points, then I could stay wherever I wanted. Sure, I’d still stay at the Goldener Hirsch in Salzburg, Austria and be glad to pay for the room through Virtuoso. But I might be missing out on a great place if I’m only going to stay at a Hyatt Centric property as a Globalist because of the amazing breakfast and suite upgrade (and yes, I know there are no Hyatt hotels in Salzburg, but I liked the example.)

It’s hard to imagine a world without worrying about hotel loyalty programs. The benefits of having a co-brand or luxury card are seemingly too good to refuse. Getting a 50K free night for $150 is a no-brainer until you realize that free night puts you into a prison of only looking at hotels in a single program.

I’m deep into the system right now, with several cards in various programs, each offering a free night for paying a small annual fee. It’s taken me a while to get here, and getting out sometimes feels as difficult as escaping Shawshank.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


TP July 29, 2022 - 1:06 pm

I’m Titanium with Marriott. What a worthless status. This year I’ve started booking hotels through Southwest hotels instead to help with Companion Pass points. Might as well get something valuable for hotel stays. Thanks Southwest!

eds183 May 27, 2024 - 3:46 pm

@TP – Don’t travel domestically. I can assure you that titanium status(for that matter all elite statuses) is/are worth plenty when travelling outside the US. Everyone is a elite in the US due to credit cards. But those credit cards don’t exist overseas. I only travel internationally for business/personal. It’s really the only good way to get value out of these systems.

Kenny May 27, 2024 - 4:22 pm

Count me as someone who is mostly not all that worried about hotel status, though we do have a couple free night awards that we will need to use this year (Marriott Bonvoy Amex and IHG Premier card, which I applied for the 165K bonus earlier in the year). Generally we just treat hotel rooms as a place to rest our heads while traveling, and not too concerned with upgrades or most other status-related perks. We’ll use points where we can to lessen the cost.

Dom May 27, 2024 - 5:14 pm

Check Hotwire and then Trivago.

UnitedEF May 27, 2024 - 8:30 pm

I was like that before. But then I had a family now I have to worry about booking a place with enough room for 4. Suites are it and as a Globalist it’s the best bang for your buck. Book a points stay and upgrade the stay to suite confirmed at booking. Nothing like the piece of mind knowing you already got upgraded to a nice spacious room months ahead of arrival. I have Hilton diamond with the aspire and it’s practically worthless in the US. None of the Hiltons I stay at have lounges. Upgrades rarely happen. It works great in Asia but that’s it for me. Marriott is Marriott.

Brad May 27, 2024 - 11:32 pm

I got a bag of m&m’s and a bottle of water yesterday at the Hilton in Austin for being diamond. I no longer go for status with any airline or hotel. It’s not worth paying more for so little in return. If you want an upgrade just pay.


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