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Hotel elite status can be both vastly overrated and extremely useful depending on which status level and which hotel program we’re discussing….and people’s opinions can vary quite significantly. But, as a rule, having status is better than not having status at all so people will go to varying degrees of effort to maintain their hotel status from year to year.
But wouldn’t it be nice not to have to renew your status year in, year out?
A number of hotel rewards programs offer a “lifetime status” option and guests meeting the criteria for lifetime status don’t have to worry about qualifying for their perks from one year to the next….but this doesn’t come easily.
What Is Lifetime Status?
You may be forgiven for thinking that the phrase “lifetime status” is self-explanatory but it really isn’t.
Most make the mistake in thinking that once you attain lifetime status you hold on to it till the day you leave this mortal coil…but that’s not how it works.
Lifetime Status in a rewards program refers to the lifetime of the program and not the individual.
It’s actually hard to find specific wording referring to this in the terms and conditions of the individual hotel rewards programs but, if you take a look in the FAQ’s of the American Airlines lifetime status page, this is what you’ll find:
What does lifetime AAdvantage Platinum and lifetime AAdvantage Gold status mean for me?
For the life of the AAdvantage Platinum and Gold programs, you will continue to enjoy the rewards and recognition of that elite level regardless of your annual elite-qualifying activity.
It’s not just American Airlines that has this policy – all major rewards programs that offer lifetime status of one sort or another give themselves an “out”. Lifetime status can be taken away from you whenever a rewards program feels like it – that’s very important to remember.
Hilton puts this succinctly:
Lifetime Diamond Status is granted at the discretion of Hilton Honors Worldwide, LLC and may be ended, or amended with or without notice or compensation, at Hilton Honors’ sole discretion.
Essentially there are no guarantees.
Which Hotel Programs Offer Lifetime Status?
The following major hotel rewards programs offer lifetime status:
- Hilton HHonors
- World of Hyatt
- Marriott Rewards
- Starwood Preferred Guest
At the time of writing the following major hotel rewards programs do not offer lifetime status:
- Club Carlson
- IHG Rewards
Hilton HHonors Lifetime Status
Hilton HHonors only offers lifetime status at its top level – Diamond – but, as you can maintain Hilton Gold status simply by holding the Amex Platinum Card (annual fee: $450) the absence of a Lifetime Gold status isn’t exactly a big loss.
Requirements for Hilton Lifetime Diamond status
- 10 years of status at the Diamond Level (the years do not have to be consecutive) and…
- stayed 1,000 nights at Hilton properties worldwide or
- earned 2,000,000 base points in the Hilton Honors program
It’s important to note that award nights count towards the Hilton Lifetime Diamond status target of 1,000 nights (at one time they did not).
World Of Hyatt Lifetime Status
Just like Hilton HHonors, Hyatt only offers Lifetime status at its top, “Globalist”, level but, with its middle tier, “Discoverist” status coming as one of the benefits of the Hyatt Visa card from Chase (annual fee: $75) that’s not much of an issue for most.
Hyatt never used to list the conditions required to attain lifetime status but, since the transition over to the World of Hyatt, it’s all set out in black and white.
Requirement (there’s only one)
- 1,000,000 Base World of Hyatt points earned over the course of your history with Hyatt
Under the Hyatt Gold Passport program guests also had to have had a minimum of 10 years of membership of the program before they were eligible for lifetime status but this requirement has been removed.
The fact that only base points qualify for Hyatt Lifetime Globalist status makes this an expensive proposition. Guests typically earn 5 Gold Passport points per dollar spent at Hyatt & M-Life properties so that would require $200,000 of spend to achieve lifetime Globalist status.
Marriott Rewards Lifetime Status
Unlike with the previous two hotel rewards programs, Marriott offers lifetime status at all three levels of the Marriott Rewards program. That being said the benefits that guests get at the lower levels really aren’t all that exciting.
Marriott Rewards Lifetime Silver status:
- 250 nights at Marriott properties worldwide and
- 1,200,000 Marriott Rewards points earned (from any source)
Marriott Rewards Lifetime Gold status:
- 500 nights at Marriott properties worldwide and
- 1,600,000 Marriott Rewards points earned (from any source)
Marriott Rewards Lifetime Platinum status:
- 750 nights at Marriott properties worldwide and
- 2,000,000 Marriott Rewards points earned (from any source)
While the rewards for elite status may not be as exciting as with some other rewards programs (although they’re slowly improving) the requirements to earn lifetime status aren’t too arduous.
Any points credited to Marriott Rewards, be they transfers in, points earned from credit card spend or even points purchased from Marriott, all count towards lifetime status.
As far as the number of nights required goes, that’s reasonably generous too.
Nights earned from credit card spend, nights earned just from having the Marriott Rewards credit card and nights earned from booking meetings at Marriott properties all count.
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Lifetime Status
The SPG program will, at some point in the next 12-18 months, almost certainly be folded into the Marriott Rewards program once Marriott has finished integrating Starwood into its business….but that still leaves time for Starwood loyalists to earn lifetime status if they’re close to one of the thresholds.
Starwood offers lifetime elite status at both its Gold and Platinum tiers – although Starwood Gold also comes as a perk of having the American Express Platinum Card (annual fee: $450).
SPG Lifetime Gold status:
- At least 5 years of elite status with Starwood (years do not have to be concurrent and status can be from any source) and
- 250 eligible nights (defined below)
SPG Lifetime Platinum status:
- At least 10 years of earned SPG Platinum status (years do not have to be concurrent) and
- 500 eligible nights (defined below)
According to Starwood, the following will count towards the night requirement for Lifetime Status:
* Any Starpoint eligible paid night (For example, BAR)
* Any Award night after October 1st, 2011
The following will not count towards the night requirement for Lifetime Status:
* SPG Co-Branded Credit Card by American Express 5 night credit
* Award nights before October 1st, 2011
* Any bonus nights from a “Nights Count Double” promotion
That concludes the list of the major hotel programs that offer lifetime status and the requirements you have to meet to get the various statuses on offer. Some are a lot harder to reach than others but all will take quite some time to reach…whether they’re worth it or not is a whole other question and one that I’ll be addressing in another post.