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Which hotel scheme requires the least spend for top tier status?

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When we compare the major hotel loyalty schemes on Head for Points, we generally look at them in terms of the number of nights you need to stay.

For most people, this is the correct approach. Whilst most of the hotel programmes let you qualify by either spend or nights, the majority of people earn status by qualifying nights because the spend target is disproportionately high.

If you like to stay in luxury hotels, however, you may be able to qualify for top tier status on spend even if you don’t do many nights. This is especially true if you tend to book larger rooms or suites.

Let’s take a look at how much spending each programme needs for top tier status.

For clarity, not all top tiers are created equal. IHG doesn’t give breakfast, lounge access or guaranteed upgrades to its top tier members – you would get more as a mid-tier Hilton Honors member than as top-tier IHG Rewards Spire Elite. That said, the analysis below provides a basis for discussion.

You should also note that different chains have different rules over how multiple rooms are treated. Accor will count spend from TWO rooms per night towards status, which is unusual. Most chains will give redeemable points on 2nd rooms but not status points.

Here are the headline numbers, which exclude any covid changes for 2021:

Easiest chain to earn top-tier status by nights:

  • Accor Live Limitless – 60 nights (for Platinum)
  • Hilton Honors – 60 nights
  • World of Hyatt – 60 nights
  • IHG Rewards – 75 nights
  • Marriott Bonvoy – 75 nights (for Titanium)

Easiest chain to earn top-tier status by spend:

  • Accor Live Limitess – $6,700 (for Platinum)
  • IHG Rewards – $7,500
  • Hilton Honors – $12,000
  • Accor Live Limitless – $12,500 (for Diamond)
  • World of Hyatt – $20,000

Here is a breakdown by chain which also includes covid changes for 2021:

Accor Live Limitless

Top-tier Diamond status requires €10,400 of qualifying spend. There is no ‘nights’ equivalent.

If we drop down to Platinum, it requires 60 nights or €5,600 ($6,700) of pre-tax hotel spending.

The benefits of Platinum and Diamond status are shown on accorhotels.com here.

Hilton Gatwick South

Hilton Honors

Top-tier Diamond status requires 60 nights or 120,000 base points.

At 10 base points per $1, you would earn Diamond with $12,000 of pre-tax hotel spending.

During 2021, as a covid measure, this is reduced to 60,000 elite qualifying points which requires $6,000 of spending.

The benefits of Diamond status are shown on hilton.com here.

IHG Rewards

Top-tier Spire Elite status requires 75 nights or 75,000 elite qualifying points.

At 10 base points per $1, you would earn Spire Elite with $7,500 of pre-tax hotel spending.

During 2021, as a covid measure, this is reduced to 55,000 elite qualifying points which requires $5,500 of spending.

The benefits of Spire Elite status are shown on ihg.com here.

Marriott Bonvoy

Top-tier Titanium Elite status requires 75 nights. There is no cash equivalent.

The ‘concierge’ level, Ambassador Elite, requires 100 nights AND $20,000 of annual spending.

The benefits of Titanium Elite status are shown on marriott.com here.

Radisson Heathrow Hotel entrance (2)

Radisson Rewards

Top-tier Platinum status requires 60 nights. There is no cash equivalent.

The benefits of Platinum status are shown on radissonhotels.com here.

World of Hyatt

Top-tier Globalist status requires 60 nights or 100,000 base points.

At 5 base points per $1, you would earn Globalist with $20,000 of pre-tax hotel spending.

During 2021, as a covid measure, this is reduced to 50,000 base points which requires $10,000 of spending.

The benefits of Globalist status are shown on hyatt.com here.

Conclusion

If you are a big spender at hotels, Accor Live Limitless may have more to offer than you originally thought.

Both Platinum and Diamond, which is ‘spend only’, are easy to achieve compared to the competition. Accor also has a lot of high quality brands, including Fairmont, Raffles, Sofitel and Swissotel. You can also have spend from two rooms per night count towards status.

At the other end of the scale, World of Hyatt has less to offer, requiring $20,000 of spend for Globalist. 60 nights is easy in comparison. Marriott Bonvoy, despite having St Regis and The Ritz Carlton in its portfolio, doesn’t offer any route for high spenders to gain status on just a few luxury stays.

As for Radisson Rewards, big spenders should give it a miss. 29 stays in a £1,000 per night won’t get you Platinum, but 30 stays in a £50 Park Inn will.


Hotel offers update – June 2021:

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

Want to buy hotel points? There is currently a special offer running with Marriott Bonvoy (30% discount to 20th June), Hilton Honors (100% bonus to 8th July) and World of Hyatt (30% bonus to 25th June).

Comments (39)

  • ChrisC says:

    IHG is much cheaper than you make out

    Spend $200 for Ambassador and you get Platinum and then you need fewer qualifying points / nights to bump yourself up to Spire

    And if you get some of the bonus package rates where the bonus points are qualifying (1k for approx £5 / $7) it becomes even cheaper

    • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

      And if you can find a good use for the free Ambassador night certificate you get from that membership (granted not a given at present) then the net cost of Platinum Elite status can be virtually nil!

    • Lyn says:

      Having IHG Platinum status through Ambassador or the premium credit card doesn’t make any difference at all to the qualifying nights needed for Spire.

      • ChrisC says:

        I never said it did!

        Obviously you need to meet the Spire target but with Plat as you starting point you only need to earn the difference between the two not the full whack if you were starting from zero. And having Plat via AMB means your spend requirement is lower to reach Spire

        • Mark says:

          That’s not quite true, for Premium Credit Card holders at least. I have Platinum with the credit card but still needed to hit the (COVID reduced) target of 55,000 points for Spire. I didn’t get any kind of status points credit to count towards that because I already had Platinum from holding the card. Likewise had I qualified on nights there was no credit there either.

          That said, having the card helped a lot in hitting the target because points earned from the card spend count towards status. That meant that I achieved Spire last year even though I only had one eight night stay in an Intercontinental.

          The real benefit there is the 25,000 bonus points on hitting Spire. With the reduced COVID targets you can achieve Spire status without any stay with £27,500 spend on the credit over the year. You are then eligible for the 25,000 bonus points which means, if you can hit it, you effectively get 2.9 points per pound spent not the headline 2 points per pound. That makes a significant difference to the effective card earning rate.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          That’s completely incorrect you still need to earn the full 75k or 75 nights to go from Plat to spire if you’ve bought AMB and got Plat.

          And IHG black works the same way which is Exactly like every other gifted status from credit cards (Amex etc)

          • John says:

            True, but with IHG, you only need to hit Spire once. Because as long as you keep paying the $200 for Amb, the Spire status will auto-renew.

            And as noted above, the easiest way to achieve Spire initially is by booking bonus-point packages. Roughly 12-15 nights that all include a 5k bonus-point package will do this trick.

  • fbrj says:

    I have found Accor Platinum a worthwhile benefit (all through leisure spend) and have also benefited occasionally from booking 2 rooms, when with family/friends. I think this is mainly because much of our travel is in The Far East and Australasia and generally most of their top tier (eg Sofitel and Pullman) come with the all important upgrade/breakfast/lounge access. Accor have some pretty decent resorts too – again with lounge access/breakfast etc. Some of those lounges even provide a light lunch.

    If you have a European destination focus – then I probably wouldn’t bother with Accor (from the point of view of attaining top-end tier status)

    • Tony says:

      Totally agree. Accor for Plat / Diamond in Fare East is the sweet spot. Forget them in Europe / USA

    • Alan says:

      Agree, had some great Accor treatment with Platinum in Oz 👍

  • Gavin says:

    My first stay at a hotel as a newly minted Diamond gave me no upgrade whatsoever, and an inferior room category to the one I was given for a previous 17 night stay the previous month as a Gold (which pushed me into Diamond).

    I should have complained but as I wasn’t strictly staying as a key worker I didn’t want to cause a fuss.

  • Scott says:

    No mention of “stays” versus “nights”. For years now, I would say as a majority 1/2 night stay kinda guy, I have reached top tier with “stays” almost 100% of the time over nights. Much lower threshold.

  • Pangolin says:

    The spend requirement for AMB in Marriott is not $20K – it’s been reduced to $14K.

  • David Zed says:

    Accor is awarding double status points and status nights throughout 2021, therefore the qualification criteria are effectively halved. I don’t see this mentioned anywhere in the analysis here.

    • Rob says:

      This, as you say, effectively halves the criteria, but doesn’t actually halve it so the tables are correct. We thought about this and it seemed the best way of doing it.

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