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Which hotel chains offer lifetime status? (and the BA criteria revealed too)

Lifetime status is a popular perk among the hotel chains.  Hilton HHonors was the latest to jump on the bandwagon last year.

In general, lifetime status usually requires such a high threshold that you would wonder why such a person would ever want to set foot in another hotel ever again if they did not have to!  Despite that, I thought it was worth running through the various options.

Hotel

At present, Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood and Hilton offer lifetime status.  Club Carlson and IHG Rewards Club do not.

Hilton HHonors launched Lifetime Diamond (top tier) status last year.  You can find the – sparse – details on the Hilton website here.  You need to have been a Diamond member for 10 years, not necessarily consecutive, and to have knocked up a whopping 1,000 nights in Hilton properties!  Reward nights do not count towards lifetime status, unlike standard status qualification.

Hyatt Gold Passport offers Lifetime Diamond (top tier) status to anyone who has earned 1 million base points.  This would require $200,000 of spending.  You must also have been a Hyatt Gold Passport member at any tier for 10 years.  I don’t think this is openly published online.

Marriott Rewards offers lifetime status across all three elite levels of its programme.  It openly publishes the requirements online:

Lifetime Silver requires 250 nights and 1.2 million points

Lifetime Gold requires 500 nights and 1.6 million points

Lifetime Platinum requires 750 nights and 2 million points

Whilst lifetime status is relatively easy to achieve at Silver levels, the corresponding benefits are not huge.  One upside of Marriott lifetime status is that include all points earned, including credit card points, although you still need to hit the nights target.

Starwood Preferred Guest is the only scheme to reward a long period of ‘middling’ (for want of a better word) loyalty.  The Marriott Silver target is more difficult than it looks, because even if you hit the nights target you are still likely to fall short on points unless your stays are generally high value ones.

Lifetime Gold status is available if you have stayed 250 nights and had Gold or Platinum status for at least five (not necessarily consecutive) years

Lifetime Platinum status is available if you have stayed 500 nights and had Platinum status for at least 10 years

As you can obtain Starwood Gold status for free with American Express Platinum – for as long as you keep your Platinum card – this offer is less valuable.  Starwood Gold is also available via the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card if you spend £15,000 per annum.

In terms of pure spending, the Starwood scheme is the easiest to achieve.  You need to average a pre-tax spend of $400 per night before the Hyatt route became a quicker way to top-tier lifetime status.  2m Marriott points for Platinum would require base spend spending of $133,333 so – unless you spend huge amounts on the Marriott credit card – 750 nights is, in reality, not going to be enough unless your average spend is over $175 per night.

Whose lifetime?

We still do not know what will happen to people who have lifetime Starwood status after the Marriott merger.  The Starwood and Marriott targets for Lifetime Gold and Lifetime Platinum are substantially different, although arguably the smaller Starwood footprint makes their lifetime target harder to achieve.

To be honest, lifetime status with airline or hotel chains has never appealed to me.  I would be happy to accept it as a by-product of stays I was doing anyway but would not chase it.  Ask the former ‘Lifetime Gold’ members of bmi Diamond Club if it was worth spending money chasing that status, which BA promptly scrapped after the takeover.

Even when the company survives, your lifetime status can be downgraded.  American Airlines is adding a new status level, Platinum Pro, from 2017.  This will push Lifetime Platinum status holders further down the pecking order for upgrades.

Lifetime status can even create perverse incentives.  I have a friend who recently achieved Lifetime Gold status with British Airways – it is explained here at ba.com if you want to know more about it.  The requirement for BA lifetime status is 35,000 British Airways tier points which is the equivalent of 145 Club World return trips to New York.

His first move on achieving it was to abandon British Airways on long-haul for what he considers ‘better’ airlines.  If Lifetime Gold did not exist he would definitely continue to put 1,500 tier points a year in BA’s direction in order to retain Galleries First access on short-haul, but that isn’t a problem for him now ….

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Pedant corner but it’s 125 club world returns to New York!

  2. 16 years straight as HHonors Diamond but under 700 nights as my paid stays all single night bookings.

  3. Sam wardill says:

    Do any of the hotel groups (I’m most interested in Marriott) allow you to see your progress to lifetime status on their website (like BA do)?

  4. I am in the hundreds of nights at Marriott properties, less at Hyatt, even less at other chains but a couple of my regular Marriotts have fallen off and switched to other brands making Marriott going forward a more difficult status retention.

    As I get older, I also tend to use chains in cities and then exotic hotels on holidays, often not part of any chain. At this level, though expensive per day, I could perhaps retain Marriott Gold on occasion (maybe fudge some cheap meetings in Asia) but I feel somewhat left behind as though my daily spend is high, my nights on the ground can be lower than someone who stays many nights in £50 a night hotels, but who I feel, generates little profit for the hotel in reality.

  5. Gold for Life member……43,000 tier points and 1.4 million miles flown with BA.

    LHR to Edinburgh and BA wanted £9 each way for me to pick a seat. Their loyalty knows no bounds.

    • Lewis Watson says:

      Are you sure you put your exec club number on the booking? Am on a silver but I have no problems picking seats on this route

      • If it’s hand baggage only you can’t pick your seat without paying. I’m a gold member and they still charge me for picking a seat when flying hand bagge only

        • the real harry says:

          there’s a way round that :)

          • Please can you explain how? Thanks!

          • the real harry says:

            It does rely on an element of luck ie availability. You check in online @ T-24 (and choose a better seat if one is offered) but don’t print your BPs or save as pdf (because this finalises your seat selection). Next day at airport, arrive early & go to the self check-in machines. You go through the check-in process again – but this time you (incl HBO fares) can see all seat availability remaining and choose any seat still unoccupied and choose it for free (incl emergency exit seats).

    • Lady London says:

      Good heavens! Even Ryanair is regularly offering me seat selection for less.

  6. Not sure if this is quite for life, but I still retain my SPG Gold status that I got through Amex Platinum, despite getting rid of the Amex over 2 years ago – same for Accor who still keep renewing my platinum status, which has been very handy in getting status matches.

  7. Cruise line loyalty programmes can be very rewarding Eg Royal Caribbean 80 nights gets diamond status the main benefits are free alcoholic drinks for 4 hours every evening and balcony discounts.

  8. O/T, but hopefully someone can help.
    Thinking of getting the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold card, for both the bonus points and two free lounge passes. Do each of these passes allow me to bring a friend/guest, or would I have to use both passes for a one time visit if there were two of us? Thanks!

    • It’s two visits, full stop. So either you alone on two separate occasions or one visit for two people. Both work – the lounge won’t know the deal you’ve got, they’ll just know you’re ‘paying’ for two people. Amex just won’t charge you the first two ‘visits’ the card is used.

      • Great, thanks very much Nick. Will be a great experience hopefully :)

      • Chris jones says:

        I phone up amex and said I wanted more. They said not a problem due to my high spend.

        I’ve now moved to plat. If I see a deal somewhere I often phone and demand a discount.

        Amex recently gave me £100 credit towards my car insurance renewal (without even asking)

        • Rob Walker says:

          How much were you generally putting on your card each month/year when they agreed to this if you don’t mind me asking?

    • Rob Walker says:

      I’m a relatively new Amex Gold card holder. I used my Lounge Club card for the first time a week or so ago at Leeds Bradford with my wife and infant daughter. When she’d swiped the card, the receptionist asked if I wanted a receipt. I said yes just to see what would be on it. It said “Number of Guests: 1” so I assume I somehow got away with it and will be able to use the card again without being charged. I’m not sure if it was a mistake, or if she was just being nice. To be fair it’s hardly the most exclusive lounge, so maybe she felt bad charging for us both :-) It was mainly full of people attempting to pour as much alcohol down their necks as possible on their way to Alicante or Ibiza.

      • The lounge at LBA is split into 2 sections . The area used by BA is usually quiet . BTW “To be fair it’s hardly the most exclusive lounge,” If you think this of the LBA lounge you will be disappointed on most of your UK airport lounge visits and don’t even think of stepping into a US lounge.

  9. any plans, murmurings or hints of a hyatt card being launched in the uk?

  10. O/T, but do the BAPP Amex points post immediately as spending is accrued?. I’m asking because I’ve put hundreds worth of spend on my card already, but the Amex app is only showing less than 200 Avios earned.

    • they take a few days; better to look on a computer

    • If you spend £100 at day T, it’s about T+2 that the purchase posts to your Amex account and the 150 avios are added. Then just before statement month end, points are transferred to BAEC

      • Wrong advice. Apologies. Purchase at t posts say at t+2 then goes to your rewards account at say t+4.

      • I’d noticed that they have been very slow to post over the last week or two but seem to have caught up now.

  11. New BA route LGW – FLL announced with lot’s of availability next year.

  12. Off topic but I follow this site almost everyday but who is Anika ? Did I miss something ? Is this your wife? Nothing wrong with her posts it’s justs it happened suddenly ? What did I miss?

    • the real harry says:

      Raffles has a menage a quatre – there’s the wife (who is the only good person here, earning shedloads of money in the city), there’s Anika the freundlich gemutlich type and then there’s Sally the au pair – who lives up to her job title.

      At various times dastardly Raffles sends them off on travel missions, they write up their findings & we all pay a monthly sub to belong to this club.

      • OK, quick recap :-) I hired Anika last December to write Shopper Points for me on a part-time basis because I wanted it to have a young female voice as that is closer to the Clubcard / Nectar market. It isn’t a coincidence that she is German and my wife is German as I know her through my wife.

        I then offered her extra work doing hotel reviews for this site as I was being offered things by the chains and didn’t have the time to do them myself. As well as some general articles for the site she is now doing a lot of the behind the scenes stuff as well.

        PS. The au pair is not called Sally!

  13. Is she pretty? The au pair, I mean.

  14. Off on my Jumeriah Frankfurt Birthday jaunt tomorrow. Thanks Rob. BTW you should have received your Amex MR recommendations points already.

    • Hope you have less trouble checking in than we had at a Jumeirah four hours ago, which led to a 1-hour stand-off (which I won) over the hotel not giving us the room we had booked …..

      If you learn nothing more today from HFP – when a hotel tells you it is full, it is not telling the truth. There are always rooms but they generally don’t want you to have them. The first offer they make to you (once they have admitted the hotel is not really full) will also not be their best offer, so reject that too. The 2nd offer (after falsely claiming to be full and then making you a bad offer) is the one to accept.

      About every 3 years something happens to me to prove this to be true, and today was that day ….

      • It’s good to hear of a northern lad standing firm!

      • Glad to hear it – although as a kid I quickly learnt this on family holidays. Sit on the bed and watch the TV without touching anything whilst my Mum went off to reception to get a better room – worked pretty much every time 😀

  15. Interesting Rob. We shall see what transpires. Are you there tomorrow?