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60,000 POINTS BONUS: Are the four free American Express Platinum hotel status cards worth having?

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As we covered yesterday, there is an exceptionally good 60,000 Membership Rewards points bonus running on The Platinum Card from American Express.

This converts into 60,000 Avios or other equally valuable rewards. Our article yesterday explains the bonus in more detail.

American Express Platinum also comes with FOUR hotel status cards.  I thought I would take a closer look at this benefit to help you decide if you should jump on the 60,000 Membership Rewards points bonus.

The Platinum Card appication page is here.

What hotel statuses come with The Platinum Card?

American Express Platinum offers the following hotel statuses automatically:

You will have four shiny cards in your 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.

You also need to remember that you must book direct to obtain any of these benefits. Bookings via Expedia, Hotels.com etc will not count.

So, if you get yourself an American Express Platinum card primarily for the hotel benefits (although the 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points – worth 60,000 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. At Hilton Garden Inn you need to select breakfast as your ‘My Way’ benefit.

(Until 31st December 2021, free breakfast at hotels in the USA has been replaced by a cash credit which can be used against any food and beverage purchase.)

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

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 MeliaRewards Gold status including:

  • 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 Newcastle has just opened and INNSIDE Liverpool will open in mid-September.

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.

(That said, my brother stayed at ME London on a reward stay booked from my Gold account this Summer and got a very good upgrade. It just isn’t an official benefit.)

Overall, there isn’t much here that is guaranteed 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 MeliaRewards 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.

American Express Amex Platinum card

Conclusion

You can get four mid-tier hotel status cards in your wallet or purse via The Platinum Card, although it 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.

Marriott Bonvoy Gold status was only introduced in 2019 following the merger of Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest and I was given a higher level of status at that point, so I have never had to rely on my free Gold so far. I don’t stay enough at Melia to give a fair opinion.

Don’t forget the sign-up bonus is currently an exceptional 60,000 American Express Membership Rewards 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.

You can apply for the card here.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Comments (70)

  • Sandgrounder says:

    I’m just back from Edinburgh, I stayed on points for 5 nights at the Doubletree as Gold. I was upgraded to a King on the 4th floor with a clear view of the castle, and received 10 drinks vouchers. Plus the breakfast of course. Festival time isn’t as busy as usual, but still a good result.

  • PM says:

    My experience with Melia in Germany:

    – no upgrade, staff explained that higher category rooms unavailable, I pointed out they were still selling them on their website for the same night

    – late check out, cleaning staff were knocking the door every 5 min asking when we were checking out and even explained that they finish at 4 pm on Sunday so us staying until then is an inconvenience

    • Lady London says:

      Just one, let alone both of those, has meant I never returned to a number of hotels in the past even when the location was perfect.

      The second one in particular feels like a roadhouse in Italy (though Chewton Gen did it to us on our second and final stay).

      What exactly did the German Melia say when you pointed out the level of room they were denying was available for upgrade, was still being sold on their website?

      • PM says:

        My booking was part paid with points (which created another amusing situation as we were approached on the tram stop right outside the hotel by an unexperienced member of staff who suggested we still need to pay up after checking out) and a check in lady was trying to convince me that by using points for full or part payment I have surrendered any gold status benefits. This came as a surprise considering that late check out was offered and the room had some welcome amenities (probably this is why an upgrade was such an issue as these amenities would have to be moved over).

    • Niall says:

      I think most people who have used Meliá a few times have bad stories. I have stayed many times with them in many countries and late check out is almost always given begrudgingly (as if they are trained to do so). Identical experience with cleaning staff knocking on the door constantly for late check out in Seville recently.

      Also have weird situations like Gran Meliá Marbella giving constant wrong detail on what Half Board includes, with them ultimately telling me it is breakfast and lunch ‘for summer’ but can be ‘breakfast and dinner’ after this… the only thing is ‘summer’ is a concept for them ‘based on occupancy’. They cannot say if summer would be over in October. Haven’t responded at all if it will end in November.

      Oh, or when I expected to meet the requirements for platinum status by 13 October and thought to check if the status would be in place by 18 October for another Meliá stay (it says immediately in T&Cs) they said it takes 10 days right now and nobody can manually process or so anything as simple as writing an email to the hotel before the 18th to ensure platinum benefits provided.

      In all dealings with MeliáRewards (and many with the hotels) the attitude in general is unapologetic ‘we cannot help’ / ‘tough luck’. Their covid policy left a lot to be desired also!

      Sorry, mini Meliá therapy session for me here! 🙂

      Both Meliá London hotels are excellent though and the staff are brilliant. I haven’t really heard of people who have stayed a lot with Melia outside the U.K. who speak positively of the customer service. Behemoth staying in London, do weigh up the good hotels and local staff against them being Meliá!

  • R says:

    From my experience, Marriott Gold upgrades are better than Hilton Gold/Diamond upgrades – at least these days. Same applies to late checkout requests.

    This is based on my experience in the past 18 months across hotels in the UK (mainly in London + hotels in Southampton, Bristol, Bath, Cambridge, Oxford, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool).

    I’ve received many impressive upgrades at a different Marriott hotels – especially at the Autograph Collection hotels, including an upgrade from the cheapest room to a very impressive (and £££) suite in London. I’ve completed 18 stays across the Marriott portfolio and I did not receive an upgrade at 3 occasions – 1x (recently opened) Aloft, 1x Residence Inn, and 1x Moxy. I never had any issue with my request for a 2pm checkout, and at several occasions I was given a 4pm checkout.

    I don’t have such a good experience with Hilton (Diamond, Gold until November).So far, I’ve completed 12 stays as a Diamond member across Hilton, DoubleTree and Curio brands. Out of 12 stays, I was upgraded 8x, and normally just to a room one category above or an executive room. Prior to reaching Diamond, I had a Good Status and the upgrades were very similar, although less frequent, especially at DoubleTrees. Unlike with Marriott hotels, none of the upgrades stand out/are memorable. I had too many issues with the late checkout request – my request was fully denied at 4 hotels (all Hilton or DT). A 2pm checkout is sometimes too much to ask for.

  • Harry T says:

    Worth pointing out that the 2pm checkout for Bonvoy Gold membered is not guaranteed at any type of hotel. Whereas Platinum and above are entitled to a guaranteed a 4pm checkout at the majority of hotels (not resorts or conference hotels). Practically speaking, I usually received the 2pm checkout when I was Gold and the W in Amsterdam even told me it was a guaranteed benefit.

    • R says:

      From my experience, I was never denied a 2pm checkout & managed to receive a 4pm checkout at few occasions.

      • Harry T says:

        I don’t disagree but some hotels will push back on occasion, if you rack up enough stays – you don’t really have any recourse in those cases, as Gold.

  • Jess says:

    Not sure if this was mentioned before but I applied yesterday. My partner referred me. The sign up bonus for me was 65,000 not 60,000. Maybe this is because of the referral?

  • The Paw says:

    I haven’t left my hometown since March 2020, but now have started booking trips (all on miles so I can cancel if necessary!). I haven’t booked any hotels yet, but in the background is the thought of retaining (or earning) status. So I’m really interested in all these comments on how HfP readers have fared with their statuses – especially Bonvoy/Hilton examples.

    My primary hotel loyalty scheme pre-pandemic was IHG. No guaranteed benefits but I have almost always done well. Can’t recall an instance where I was denied 4pm checkout. Almost always upgraded – sometimes meaningless, but often good upgrades and some spectacular ones (Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore). Ambassador was well worth the $200 and Creation card spending pushed me to Spire. Sometimes got offered breakfast (which I never eat when on my own), and sometimes free cocktails (great to have in an expensive city) and as Rob has brought up, the occasional Kit Kat.

    I liked IHG for the ability to earn points and then get great redemptions. I’d built up a stash of IHG points which was going to used on a family vacation in March 2020, but that didn’t work out so now I have a whole bunch of points and I probably won’t make Spire this year. But I feel that the move to dynamic pricing (without sensible caps) and the removal of *guaranteed* Ambassador benefits has gutted the core value of the scheme.

    I stay where convenient – I would take a slight hit on convenience to stay at an Intercontinental (or other IHG) for the points, but when too inconvenient, I would stay at a Hilton or Marriott; this was due to the statusus I received from Amex. Breakfast at Hilton has been handy when with family but when on my own, I’d like more priority on late checkout/upgrades and maybe lounge access.

    Unfortunately the last (current?) Hilton status match excluded gold members. But given rollovers and Covid status adjustments, I should be able to make Diamond easily if I want – but I will realistically not be able to make 60+ nights in any year. With the Bonvoy Amex, I should be able to maintain Platinum in the long run. I’ve read a lot of complaints on FT about many Bonvoy hotels not living up to the published benefits. So I’m wondering about whether to get Hilton Diamond for a while and then switch to Bonvoy or whether to just go for Bonvoy Platinum now. As I said above, I’m grateful for any comments on how HfPers with Gold and Diamond/Platinum are treated so I can decide on which status to pursue.

  • Charlie says:

    The easy way around the “subject to availability” issue is see if you can book a higher category room on the website when you’re standing at reception checking in. If you can then by definition there is “availability”. I’ve had this argument with hotels before and always resulted in me getting the upgrade.

    • R says:

      Hilton or Marriott/what brands? I wish I had the balls to do that

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      I tried this at a Tribute portfolio hotel and got frustrated after they refused.
      This was before I realised not all Marriott brands follow same rules.
      Also realised I need to read flyer talk before booking.

    • Phil W says:

      I’ve done this in numerous hotels. A very quick search as you are walking up to the desk gives you the information needed.

    • The Paw says:

      Awesome tip, thanks!

      I imagine I’ll be doing this on every hotel stay (at least where I have status) from now on…..

    • Harry T says:

      Doesn’t always work because hotels will lie to your face or pretend there’s an issue with the hotel app/website.

      • BuildBackBetter says:

        Also some hotels play the game of having an ‘enhanced’ level of rooms just for upgrades. These rooms might have a better window or an extra desk compared to what you booked and they’ll claim they have upgraded you.

  • Stephanie says:

    Am booked on a holiday through the BA luxury sale, staying in two Marriott’s. Can the Platinum card status do anything for me? We could do with the Priority Pass anyway so tempted…

    • Stu N says:

      Officially no. If I’m staying on a BA Holiday or other travel agent booking at a hotel I have status I will usually ask if I can add my Bonvoy no to the booking at reception – sometimes you get “soft” benefits like a welcome drink or minor room upgrade but mostly makes no difference, I think they just take note to be polite. Very, very rare to get qualifying nights or points by this route.

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