Are the six free Amex Platinum hotel status cards worth having?

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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

Melia Rewards 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)

What hotel statuses come with American Express Platinum

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 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.

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.

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

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.

The full list of Marriott Bonvoy Gold benefits is 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 and 2017 HFP Christmas parties

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

The full list of Melia Rewards status benefits is here.

Club Carlson Gold benefits

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.

Full details of Radisson Rewards status benefits are 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.

The official list of Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade benefits is 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

Conclusion

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.

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 £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 miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Oh! Matron! says:

    Such a shame Accor dropped off the list. Had some amazing upgrades with them

    I’m wondering if they’ll status match, as the double dipping with Air France: https://www.flyingblue.co.uk/en/partners/hotel/hotel-le-club-accor-hotels/presentation

    • I agree, it was a great perk. With the soft landings I’m now down to Silver which doesn’t offer much. But for stays in Paris it’s still a little handy. I’ve had a bottle of water offered most of the time.

  2. SimonW says:

    O/T Plaza Premium at T5 – Pretty sure I can take a guest in, using my Amex Plat. Can I also take 2 kids in (5 and 6)?? Im sure I have before, but was a year ago.

    • Jonathan says:

      Not permitted in the T&C’s so you’d be relying on discretion of agent. I’d say you’d probably not get lucky in school holidays especially now they’ve increased the number of eligible lounge schemes so it’s now often packed as opposed to the ghost town when it first opened.

    • BigSi says:

      Does your partner also have platinum? If so, then you can both take in 1 kid each. Just did this last week.

    • SimonW says:

      Thanks. I thought this might be the case. I gave the supp to my mother. So guess i’ll have to convince my wife to go shopping with my daughter, while my son and I hide in the lounge.

  3. Sorry OT but Accor related.

    Anyone else having trouble with the legendary Accor IT and unable to log in to their account.
    Both online and app saying “error occurred”. They have removed points which expired on 16/07 despite then crediting a stay on 14/07…

  4. Nikki says:

    We stayed in a Shangri-La in Toronto we were offered a stunning room which had been upgraded. As it had been booked by a travel agent they hourored the jade loyalty and the breakfast was fab.

    Certainly in the Far East Shangri-La work out reasonable value for your money

  5. Well I’m not sure if the hotel status’s are worth the new Amex fee that’s for sure. Problem for some is the elite benefits don’t universally apply to all hotels i.e. St. Regis, Ritz Carlton etc. Where is the incentive to book direct with Marriott with your Platinum gifted status for a St. Regis property when you need lounge access? It almost forces you to use a TA and then the elite privileges don’t count anyway.

    • You get elite benefits if you use a standard travel agent – if you didn’t, all of these business travellers using corporate travel agents wouldn’t get anything! You only lose points and benefits when using a ‘wholesaler’ online travel agent, which bulk buys rooms for a huge discount (eg Expedia, Booking, Hotels.com etc).

      Anything Emyr books for you, for eg, will earn points and get benefits, on top of the special benefits he can access as a ‘preferred partner’ luxury travel agent.

      • Harry T says:

        Rob, how do you find Emyr stacks up vs Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts?

        • Good question. Two things:

          1. Amex FHR has its own pricing. This is often higher than you see online via the hotel site, but can be lower. Emyr will always – at worst – match Best Flexible online and can often match special promos too. This is generally a win for Emyr.

          2. FHR has GUARANTEED 4pm check out. If this is a deal breaker, and it often is for me, then go the Amex FHR route even if it is more expensive. Emyr can often negotiate one too, to be fair, but you know with Amex you’re getting it from the outset.

          • Harry T says:

            Thanks, Rob – very helpful. Looks like FHR is probably a safer bet for a weekend break.

      • RussellH says:

        Rob, there is nothing to stop a ‘standard travel agent’ buying from a wholesaler rather than using the travel agent log-in on the hotel scheme’s systems, apart from whether the wholesaler wants to deal with a particular TA.
        And the likes of Booking.com deal directly with accommodation providers as well.
        It can certainly be worth using booking.com as a ‘search engine’ though, and then contacting the hotel direct. You may not get a better price, even though booking.com’s commission charge is pretty horrendous, but you will probably get a much better room and service.
        It can all be a bit impenetrable to those who have not been involved in the business (rather like private equity banking for the rest of us!)

  6. James says:

    I recently had a status challenge for Hilton and got gold. I have a lot of stays coming up but wondered if I asked for a challenge to diamond I’d get it? Or because Iv had one to gold I wouldn’t ?

  7. George K says:

    Remind me: does booking via FHR get you full status benefits (on top of FHR ones, if they don’t overlap already) and points/stay credits?

    How about the Hotel Collection?

    And how about regular amex travel bookings?

    • Don’t know about the first 2, but my Amex Travel bookings (when they had offers at the end of last year) were white labelled Expedia bookings so no status benefits / point credits on those. It was 200 pounds off 600 spend though so it was worth it back then. I wouldn’t do it in normal circumstances…

    • Yes, Yes, no.

  8. youngtraveller says:

    With Melia since getting the platinum card I have stayed twice and each time they gave me an upgrade, I know its not part of being gold but perhaps I just got lucky. One of the stays was during London’s fashion week.

    • Stu N says:

      I’m Melia Gold via Amex and stay at a Melia every couple of months for work – usually get upgraded.

  9. Are there any secret tiers for Hilton a bit like IC Royal Ambassador? I’m approaching 120 Hilton nights (double what is needed for diamond) and likely to pass 180 by the end of the year. Hilton is the only decent chain option where I am so I can’t work on status in another chain.

    It’d be nice to know I’d still have a new tier to look forward to but I doubt such a thing exists as I’ve never heard of it!

    • No experience, but I’d call (or email) Diamond line and see if they can offer anything. Perhaps bluff a bit and say that you’ll move your 60+ nights elsewhere. Also might be useful to think about what would represent value for you, more points or upgrades or credit voucher? You then might want to hint at this in your conversation.

    • Individual Hilton hotels have secret tiers i.e. Known Personally to Manager.

      Hiltons prefer non-status/member guests as they get more revenue (can charge for wifi too) and don’t need to pay out for the points, unless the elite guest has a history of spending large amounts of money on incidentals, drinks and food etc. But if you repeatedly stay at the same hotel they will start to give you extra benefits. This is probably the case for other brands too.

      • That’s unlikely, because such a person is likely to have booked via Expedia etc who cream off 22% commission, or be part of a group booking which was done at a substantial discount.

    • Lady London says:

      If I had done that many nights and could not see any improvement in benefits once I’d reached this point with so many more nights to come, TBH this is one time I’d try to put up with another chain’s hotels, maybe travel a but further away, and gain status there. Unless, of course, perhaps a trickle of promos that were worthwhile were earning me enough points in Hilton at a fast enough rate that i could spend later.

      Normally I wouldn;t advise spreading your nights over too many alliances but if you’re staying this number of nights personally I’d take this opportunity to get another status even if not with the better hotels in the area.

      • Lady London says:

        PS if there;’s not much worthwhile on the earning front, and if there really isn’t another chain within travelling distance that you could bear to stay in to accrue another chain’s status, perhaps this is your opportunity to try out another sort of accommodation? perhaps boutique one-off hotels, spas which include treatments, someone’s luxury flat, a country house that doesn’t belong to a chain, etc.? or other creative solutions? some of these might allow you to bring family, or share expenses with people somehow…in a creative way, for example.

  10. Ian Goodacre says:

    With Shangri-La there is also a status match with Singapore Airlines so the Jade equates to Silver status.

    • Singapore Silver is pretty worthless though.

      What is good is the Shangri-la to Singapore challenge – 3 segments in 90 days for SQ gold…

  11. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    The Shangri La Jade welcome gift benefit is actually a lot better than the ones from the competition. You get to choose three from:

    Fresh fruit/Chocolates/Cookies and milk/Cup noodles/Beer/Coca-Cola/Diet Coke/Mineral water, sparkling/Mineral water, non-sparkling/Local / Seasonal amenity

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