Are the seven Amex Platinum hotel status cards worth having?

If you’re looking to get yourself some hotel status quickly, there is no easier route than getting an American Express Platinum charge card.

It comes with SEVEN hotel status cards.  Five of these are given to you directly and two require you to complete a partner match.  Even better, your partner (or whoever you choose to give your free supplementary Platinum card to) will get hotel status too.

American Express Platinum offers the following hotel status automatically:

Hilton Honors Gold status

Melia Rewards Gold status

Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade status

Club Carlson Gold status

Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status

You can also get the following two statuses via a guaranteed match:

Marriott Rewards Gold status (Marriott now owns Starwood and matches your SPG Gold instantly, online)

Taj InnerCircle Gold status (Taj and Shangri-La have a formal status matching programme)

American Express Platinum hotel benefits

You will have seven shiny cards in your wallet (or at least in your Apple Wallet) but ….

It is worth looking more closely at each of these statuses to see if they are actually worth anything.

Here is the ground rule for this article.  Because I am old and cynical, I do not trust anything unless it has the word ‘guaranteed’ in front of it.

I won’t move my business to a hotel because I may or may not receive a benefit ‘subject to availability’, which can mean anything.  The one thing you can be sure of is that ‘subject to availability’ does NOT mean is ‘as long as we can physically manage your request, you can definitely have it’.  That isn’t how it works.

As far as I’m concerned, if it’s not guaranteed, I assume I won’t be getting it and I value it at virtually nothing.

So, if you get yourself an American Express Platinum card primarily for the hotel benefits (although the 30,000 Amex Membership Rewards points – worth 30,00 Avios – you get for signing up come in handy too!) then what are you certain of getting on your next stay?

Hilton Gold benefits

Hilton Honors Gold – what is guaranteed?

This is the mid-tier Hilton status.  Hilton Honors is generally known for having the best mid-tier benefits in the hotel industry.  Gold does not carry a lot of weight in North America, where hotels are overrun with Gold members, but it does often carry respect in Europe and Asia.

(Marriott Rewards Gold status has better benefits than Hilton, as we will see below.  However, as Marriott Gold requires 50 nights per year if you earn it the hard way, it is a bit unfair to compare it with the mid-tier status of other brands.  You can get Hilton Gold with just 20 stays – which could all be one night – or 40 nights in total.)

The key benefit here is free breakfast.

With the exception of Waldorf-Astoria hotels, you will receive a free breakfast of some sort at all Hilton, Conrad, Curio and DoubleTree hotels.  This is usually but not necessarily full breakfast – at the Conrad New York, for example, I was given a special Gold breakfast menu which allowed me to pick a couple of items from a short list or take a $20 credit off a cooked item

You should also receive some sort of upgrade – this IS a guaranteed benefit but it is not clearly defined.  You shouldn’t expect too much, often just the best room in the category you booked.  You will also receive two free bottle of water per stay.

The other benefits of Hilton Gold, which I do not hugely value, are:

  • 25% bonus points
  • late check-out (not guaranteed)
  • 2nd guest stays free (only useful in countries which tend to charge more for two people, eg Germany)

You will also qualify for the ‘book 5 nights and pay for 4’ Hilton Honors redemption benefit which is offered to all status members.

Overall, because of the sheer size of the Hilton chain and the guaranteed breakfast, and to a lesser extent the upgrade of some sort, this ties with Marriott Gold as the best of the free Amex Platinum hotel statuses.

You can see the official list of Hilton Honors Gold benefits here.

Innside exterior

Melia Rewards Gold – what is guaranteed?

Melia is a Spanish-based hotel group.  The key brands are Sol, Tryp, Melia, Gran Melia, Paradisius, ME and INNSIDE.

In the UK, they have a number of impressive but not very well known hotels which you may want to try with your new Melia Rewards Gold status:

ME London, the Norman Foster designed hotel on the Strand which has a good reputation.  Think of a hotel like The Trafalgar nearby or a more sophisticated W.

Melia White House, a surprisingly pleasant art deco era hotel near Regents Park where we had our 2016 HFP Christmas party

INNSIDE Manchester, the first UK outpost for Melia’s four-star business brand.  The image above is of the hotel.  I reviewed INNSIDE Manchester and was very impressed. 

Melia Rewards Gold offers the following benefits:

  • 30% bonus points
  • free breakfast for a companion (so basically 2-4-1)
  • free wi-fi
  • 3 x 20% off vouchers for room bookings
  • 4pm late check-out at city hotels, 2pm at resorts

Late check-out IS guaranteed as long as the hotel is not 100% full.  You will also receive free wi-fi.  There is no upgrade benefit.

Overall, there isn’t much here to persuade me to move a stay to Melia EXCEPT for the ‘almost guaranteed’ 4pm check-out.  That could be important on a short break if you have a late flight back.

The full list of Melia Rewards status benefits is here.

Shangri La Shard

Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade – what is guaranteed?

Shangri-La has only a limited presence in Europe via its luxurious properties in London (in The Shard) and Paris.  It has a large presence in Asia and also operates the lower priced Traders, Hotel Jen and Kerry brands.

Your Jade status will get you:

  • 25% bonus base points
  • “Priority upgrade to the next available best room category, if the reserved room type is not available at check-in” (I have no idea what this is meant to mean – it appears to mean you are guaranteed not to be downgraded!)
  • 11am check-in and 4pm check-out (not guaranteed, and many hotels including London and Paris do not offer it at all)
  • choice of welcome amenity
  • free breakfast
  • partner stays free, in hotels which charge more for double occupancy

This could work out well for anyone planning to travel in Asia.  The 4pm check-out, if ‘available’ and as long as your hotel is not on the excluded list, is handy.  All you are guaranteed is the free breakfast and a welcome amenity but overall I think you could do quite well from the benefits above if your hotel was playing ball.

Club Carlson Gold benefits

Club Carlson Gold – what is guaranteed?

Club Carlson is the loyalty scheme for Radisson Blu, Radisson Edwardian, Park Plaza and Park Inn plus a few smaller brands.

Gold is their middle tier which usually requires 35 nights or 20 stays.  It is worth noting that their top tier, Concierge, is very hard to get (75 nights or 30 stays) compared to the size of the chain.  This is good news because it means that a Gold member may well be the highest status member in a hotel on a particular night.

Your Gold status will get you:

  • 20% off food and drink
  • room upgrade “when available”
  • 35% bonus on base points
  • early check-in and late check-out “on request”
  • welcome gift

Nothing is guaranteed – there is no free breakfast.  However, in my experience, you can do well as a Club Carlson Gold.  I have been upgraded to a ‘Business Room’ a few times (the features are listed here) at a Radisson Blu and – whilst the hotel can refuse to honour this on upgrades – a ‘Business Room’ gets you free breakfast.

The bottom line is that, whilst Gold is not technically their top tier, hotels take it more seriously than they take, say, Hilton Honors Gold.

Full details of Club Carlson status benefits are here.

Taj InnerCircle Gold – what is guaranteed?

I’m not going to focus on this heavily as few of you will ever stay at a Taj.

Taj and Shangri-La are now co-operating to allow members the opportunity to earn points at hotels in either chain.  A status match is part of the package.  You can match your Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade status to Taj InnerCircle Gold status via this website.

Taj InnerCircle Gold status is not hugely valuable.  Taj InnerCircle Gold benefits are

  • Late Check Out
  • Early Check In
  • 2 Upgrade Vouchers
  • 15% discount on room redemption rate

Starwood Preferred Guest Gold – what is guaranteed?

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) is the loyalty scheme for Sheraton, St Regis, Le Meridien, Luxury Collection, Aloft, Westin, W and various other brands.  Whilst Starwood is now owned by Marriott, the two schemes have not yet been integrated and this is not now expected until January 2019.

The Gold benefits of SPG are:

  • 50% bonus points on your stay
  • 4pm late check-out
  • Upgrade to an ‘enhanced’ room at check-in
  • Welcome gift – a drink, high-speed internet or bonus points

Breakfast is conspicuously missing from this list.  However, the 4pm check-out is guaranteed except at ‘resort and conference centre hotels’.

High-speed internet is included if you book direct with SPG online so, if you do this, you can select the bonus points or a drink as your welcome gift.

The upgrade benefit has never delivered me anything noticeable at SPG hotels as a Gold member and I have never taken advantage of the late check-out to my knowledge.  The bonus points have always been welcome.

Full details of Starwood Preferred Guest Gold benefits are here.

Marriott Rewards Gold – what is guaranteed?

Now that Marriott has acquired Starwood, you can match your Starwood Preferred Guest status online to Marriott Rewards via this page of the Marriott website.  This means that your free SPG Gold card via American Express Platinum becomes a Marriott Rewards Gold card.

This will benefit you at any The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Marriott, AC Hotels, Delta, Protea, Renaissance, MOXY or other hotel controlled by the group.

This is a good package at the right brand – not surprising, because Marriott Gold is usually very difficult to earn, requiring 50 nights per year in their hotels.

These are the benefits of Marriott Gold:

  • 4pm late check-out, except at resort and conference hotels
  • 25% bonus on base points
  • high-speed internet access
  • room upgrade, based on availability at check-in
  • Executive Lounge access at JW Marriott, Autograph Collection, Renaissance and Marriott Hotels, Delta Hotels (resorts excluded) or, if there is no lounge at these brands, free continental breakfast in the restaurant

This can be a great package.  You are guaranteed a 4pm late check-out and Executive Lounge access (at the brands listed above).   At a brand without the lounge benefit, or at resorts, it is less useful.

The full list of Marriott Rewards Gold benefits is here.

Conclusion

Just because you now have seven mid-tier hotel status cards in your wallet via Amex Platinum doesn’t mean that your hotel stays are going to be transformed.

That said, if you are a regular guest at Hilton and Marriott properties – although not regular enough to earn status in your own right – then you could do nicely.

I have done OK with Hilton and Club Carlson stays via my Amex Platinum status, although to be honest I can’t think of any time that I ever got something noticeable at a Starwood.  The time I got the Presidential Suite at the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport doesn’t count, as I traded two standard rooms – which they couldn’t interconnect – for it!

My experience of Melia, Shangri-La, Taj and Marriott is too limited to draw any honest conclusions.  The Marriott package of free lounge access plus a guaranteed late check-out at certain brands is an impressive one and if I was a regular user of their hotels I think I would value a free Gold card highly.

If you are thinking of applying for the American Express Platinum charge card to take advantage of these benefits, you can find out more in my review here.

Don’t forget the sign-up bonus is currently 30,000 Amex points which makes the £450 fee more palatable – and there are plenty of other benefits, including airport lounge access.  You will also retain the hotel status cards until their expiry date even if you cancel your Platinum card for a pro-rata refund.

Flying Blue: WestJet deal, a look at the KLM UK network and latest promo awards
Bits: Atlantis The Palm Avios promo, all food now free at Escape lounges, airberlin closing
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Comments

  1. Oonagh Cacioppo says:

    Although slightly off point here but I feel relevant…Amex Platinum Travel Service can certainly match ant written quote for hotels within their booking range. Especially when you then add that they can sometimes get you a guaranteed upgrade even two categories higher!

  2. Wally1976 says:

    Slightly OT…anyone know if the Conrad Dublin will be getting an executive lounge anytime soon? Read a review saying it was on the way but couldn’t find any more info and hoping to stay there September next year. Thanks for any info.

    • No sign of it recently – but they kindly gave me a number of drinks tokens to use in the (public) bar downstairs – the lovely barmaid gave me *any* drink I wanted (result!) until the end of the night when her boss cottoned on lol (too late punk!)

  3. FWIW, based on a recent holiday in Asia, HIlton Gold is well worth having. Booked a week in a 50% sale at Hilton Bali’s cheapest garden facing room. Was upgraded on arrival to an Executive Terrace Ocean room (which was a number of classes above what I had booked – seems to sell for approx. 3 times the cost of the Garden rooms on any given date). Plus free access to Executive lounge with for breakfast, all day snacks and cocktail hour with unlimited booze. Free kids club, etc..

    Then went onto Conrad Hong Kong on way home for a Barclaycard Hilton Honors welcome bonus free night Again upgraded to executive floor with all breakfast/cocktail hour, etc. (retailing for approx. £600 a night so around 3 times the retail rate of what we’d actually booked.).

    I understand upgrades in Europe/America can be rather trivial but if you’re travelling to Asia I’d definitely recommend Amex Platinum – I was totally blown away by what was thrown at us. Collecting miles since the happier times of BMI but never bothered with Hotel programs until now – my mistake.

  4. Great experience on the Radisson Blue Plaza Oslo recently. Upgraded to business room (that means free breakfast and a higher floor, but room size is the same), early check in (around 9am) and a very late check-out (7pm, they said we could stay up to 8pm if we wanted, but our flight departed at 9:30pm anyway)

    • You usually get a coffee machine in a business room too. Note that the last time I wrote about how good these upgrades were, a few readers wrote that they had got Business Room upgrades but were specifically told they wouldn’t be allowed free breakfast. This has never happened to me but it does happen, it seems.

      • Even Ibis do Nespresso machines these days.

        • I remember getting one in a suite at a Ritz-Carlton about 8 years and being very impressed …. they were charging €3 per capsule you used and I didn’t even mind!

        • The coffee is pretty good in those Nespresso machines, had them at the Crowne Plaza and Conrad before.

        • @Rob, given some of the things it bothers you to spend a £ on I guess you really like your coffee. Milano Centro was first Ibis I came across with a nespresso machine this spring. The big winner for me is free cookies and other snacks. Top of the list is the glorious old Chancellor Hotel on Union Square in San Francisco. Cookies go straight from the oven to reception area still hot and they have great coffee too. At check-in everybody is gifted a rubber duck to play with in their huge old baths. It’s two or three doors down from the St Francis for anybody who wants to give it a try.

    • I was also upgraded to a business room there recently without any status.

  5. OT: points for staying at different Marriott brands finally posted today.

  6. Isn’t the UK hotel collection going this year?

    Thought it was a good benefit that

  7. Unfortunately what counts as a resort/conference hotel for SPG appears to be continually expanding, so I wouldn’t hope for much luck with guaranteed late checkout.

    That being said, recent SPG Gold stay netted me an upgrade to a room with a much nicer view, $15/day drink credit, 1pm checkout (normally 11am) and (thanks to complaining via Twitter), waiver of $28/day service fee. Decent result overall although I had to push for everything except the drink voucher.

  8. guesswho2000 says:

    I’ve had great success with HH Gold & Diamond, but as Rob mentions not in the US – you get the bear minimum there. Surprisingly my best upgrades have been at Hilton Park Lane (Clarence Suite on a points booking), Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia (Surfers Paradise) and Iceland (the Canopy – upgraded to a loft apartment, again on a reward certificate – given the price of that country, that was a massive win!).

    I’m fairly loyal and can generally hit Gold, but my Diamond is somehow comped until 2019 due to last year’s credit card spend, which was confirmed by email earlier this year. This surprised me, as I was due to lose Diamond this March, I expected to retain Gold due to the spend – is this an unpublicised benefit? I know the Aussie HH card offers it at $40k, but I only hold the UK Barclaycard one, however I did put about GBP 50k through it in over a couple of months last year.

  9. Any chance Accor will come back? I’ve had excellent use of their Platinum status in Asia.

    • Unlikely. They have really clamped down on the number of Plats – remember they changed the rules in 2017 to make it far tougher for even those people who actually do stay with them to achieve it.

      • They’ll need to try and improve the benefits of Accor Plat to make it worth the work to acquire it – pretty daunting requirement for so-so benefits! As part of Amex Plat it was handy, but IMO not worth trying to acquire on stays alone.

  10. Any idea how long Marriott Gold via SPG matching will continue?

  11. Does anyone have a specific link to where on the Marriott website you can ask for an SPG status match? Many thanks.

    • That would be the page linked to in the Marriott section of the article 🙂

      There is a big ‘Link Account’ button in the corner.

  12. OT: Looking at ways to accumulate Hilton Honors points, and was thinking of the Virgin Miles conversion route (interested in Virgin ISA 8000 Miles promo). I’m not currently a member of FF Club, are there any offers for first time sign up. I have upgraded my HH to Gold via Plat, and also triggered my e-certificate via the HH Visa card. Any other ideas on collecting HH points much appreciated. P.S. Apologies, as I had also posted on the Bits article first, but think it may be relevant here since we are on the subject of hotel schemes.

    • Starwood Amex has a bonus which converts into Virgin which would convert into Hilton. If you cancel the card quickly most of the £75 fee would be refunded.

      3,000 Virgin miles with first Virgin Wine order, 8,000 with the ISA. The 2,500 point Heathrow Rewards sign-up bonus is still running (see our ‘Quick Avios’ page) and that would convert into 2,500 Virgin after £150 of Heathrow spending.

      • Thanks Rob, whats the SPG bonus, is it the 20k = 25k miles

        • Sign up bonus is 10k (11k if referred). You need to transfer in chunks of 20k to get the 5k bonus. Easiest way to do this is to get your partner to get an SPG Amex card too and then move the points from her account to yours, which takes your combined total to 20k.

    • Tesco Clubcard converts to Virgin at 1:2.5 (and then to Hilton at 1:1.5). I expect there to be another 20% conversion bonus from Tesco to Virgin next summer. If that happens then you can get 4.5 honors points for every Tesco Clubcard point.

      Also consider the virgin Atlantic black and/or white credit cards, preferably when they have increased signup bonuses, although they may not increase them again.

      Furthermore you can often buy honors points with a 100% bonus.

      • Thanks Alex, I usually keep my CC points for Avios, but might consider using them to top up FF miles, as transfers to HH are only allowed in 10k chunks

        • Analyse the value you get from avios in detail for your proposed redemptions, particularly in comparison to alternate miles-earning revenue flights. If the results are not as good as you would like then you might find paying for flights and collecting Honors points is a better strategy for you. If staying at Hilton UK properies always evaluate relative merits of redeeming clubcard points directly for Hilton stays as opposed to transferring indirectly to Honors points. Rob had an article on this here on HFP within the past year so just search clubcard hilton.

    • Have you got any SPG/Marriott points to swap? I have got loads of HH.

  13. Does booking through a travel agent affect your ability to get the above rewards. Booked a ‘le meridien’ room through an agent and it was 1000 pounds or so less than the directly booked price. If I were to get SPG status could I add it to the request and still get the benefits/ points?
    I booked the best room, so no upgrade, but since we are staying for a while it might help with points etc.

    Thanks

    • If it was booked directly with the hotel via an agent, and not via Expedia etc, then yes it should earn points and you’d get the status bonus if Gold.

    • Jas Gill says:

      In that case, you should have booked it directly with Starwood and then claimed for a Best rate guarantee match. This would have resulted in a price match to the agents’ rate plus a 20% discount on that rate and you would still receive all member benefits.

    • As a side note, Marriott appear to be the only ones who recognised status on OTA bookings. Worked at Autograph Glasshouse in Edinburgh at weekend using a Hotels.com free night voucher.

  14. Andy Morgan says:

    To clarify, I have the Preferred Rewards Gold card… so I can’t apply for this?

  15. Done very well from SPG Gold. Of 5 stays this year so far:
    – Sheraton Frankfurt put me in a nice exec room with lounge access but arrived very late and left early so didn’t get any real value from it. That was a cheap corporate rate.
    – Alfonso XIII in Seville we booked a nice but not amazing room, but definitely top end of what I will pay for a hotel. Ended up in a top floor corner suite – easily the nicest hotel room I have ever stayed in. Cash stay, but I will remember the stay a lot longer than the bill thanks to the upgrade. Just wow!
    – Westin Seattle put us in a high floor bay view room on a redemption and we got 12 noon check-in and 4pm check-out no problem. Priceless when arriving off a long haul flight “tired and confused” – or was that the LPGS???? 😉
    – Seattle Airport Four Points gave us a top floor room – offered choice of front with average view but freeway in the way or back of the hotel which looked onto a cliff but was super-quiet. We took the quiet room.
    – Anchorage Sheraton gave us a suite too, again a redemption into basic room.

    So two suites, two decent upgrades and one “best in category” rooms from five stays this year.

    Hilton Gold much less impressive
    – Hilton Belfast no acknowledgement of status, argument over free breakfast and receptionist forgot to note agreed late check-out so came back to find the cleaners had cleared our room. Most unimpressed.
    – Doubletree at Tower of London gave us free drinkies (redeemable for cocktails in their rooftop bar) and free breakfast but no discernible upgrade, still worth a fair bit I think.
    Got another couple of Hilton stays before the year is out so will see how we go on those.

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