If you’re looking to get yourself some hotel status cards quickly, there is no easier route than getting The Platinum Card from American Express.
It comes with SIX hotel status cards. Five of these are given to you directly and one requires you to complete a status match. Even better, your partner (or whoever you choose to give your free supplementary Platinum card to) will get the hotel statuses too.
American Express Platinum offers the following hotel statuses automatically:
Hilton Honors Gold status
Marriott Bonvoy Gold status
MeliaRewards Gold status
Radisson Rewards Gold status
Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade status
You can also get the following status via a guaranteed match:
Taj InnerCircle Gold status (Taj and Shangri-La have a formal status matching programme)
You will have six shiny cards in your wallet (or at least in your Apple or Android 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 30,000 Avios – you get for signing up come in handy too!) then what are you certain of getting on your next stay?
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.
The standard requirements for a Hilton Gold are either 20 stays, or 40 nights, or 75,000 Hilton Honors base points in a calendar year.
The key benefit here is free breakfast.
You will receive a free breakfast of some sort at all Hilton Honors brands, including Hilton, Conrad, Curio, Waldorf Astoria 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 space-available upgrade at most brands. You shouldn’t expect too much, often just the best room in the category you booked. You will also receive two free bottles of water per stay.
The other main benefits of Hilton Honors Gold are:
- 80% bonus points – which soon adds up
- 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 is the best of the free Amex Platinum hotel statuses.
Marriott Bonvoy Gold – what is guaranteed?
Marriott Bonvoy is the loyalty scheme for Sheraton, St Regis, Le Meridien, Luxury Collection, Aloft, Westin, W, The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Marriott, AC Hotels, Delta, Protea, Renaissance, MOXY and various other brands.
Even though Gold Elite status usually requires 25 nights per year, the benefits are modest:
- 25% bonus points on your stay
- 2pm late check-out
- Upgrade to an ‘enhanced’ room at check-in
- Welcome gift of 250 or 500 bonus points, depending on brand
Breakfast is conspicuously missing from this list.
The upgrade benefit is unlikely to deliver you anything noticeable as a Gold member although the late check-out benefit is handy. The bonus points are welcome but are not hugely valuable given my 0.5p per point valuation.
MeliaRewards 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 and 2017 HFP Christmas parties
MeliaRewards 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. Even the ‘2-4-1’ breakfast has its limits – we were recently refused it on one room when I booked two rooms for the same evening, with one adult and child per room.
Radisson Rewards Gold – what is guaranteed?
Radisson Rewards 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 30 nights or 20 stays. It is worth noting that their top tier, Platinum, is hard to get (60 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:
- 15% off food and drink
- room upgrade “when available”
- 25% bonus on base points
- two free bottles of water
- early check-in and late check-out “on request”
- welcome gift
Nothing is guaranteed except your free water, welcome gift and bonus points – and there is no free breakfast. However, in my limited experience, you can do well as a Radisson Rewards Gold because there are often no Platinum members booked in who out-rank you. 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.
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.
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
Just because you now have six 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 participating properties – although not regular enough to earn status in your own right – then you could do nicely.
Over the years I have done OK on Hilton and Radisson stays via my Amex Platinum status.
My experience of Melia, Shangri-La and Taj is too limited to draw any honest conclusions. Marriott Bonvoy Gold status was only introduced in 2019 following the merger of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest.
Don’t forget the sign-up bonus is currently 30,000 Amex points which makes the £575 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.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – November 2020 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are my November 2020 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus.
British Airways American Express
5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review
Earning miles and points from small business cards
If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these:
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review
Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.