Over the last 2 years, I have stayed at every major hotel chain and am a member of all rewards programs. I’ve counted my nights and points and have worked my way up to the top tier of a few. Here is my rundown and how to get ahead!
Includes: Waldorf Astoria, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites & Home2 (aside from the obvious Hilton properties)
Where I’m At: Diamond (top level)
Run Down: 4 levels – Blue, Silver, Gold & Diamond
Blue – Automatic when you sign up
Silver – after 4 stays or 10 nights
Gold – after 20 stays, 40 nights or 75k base points
Diamond – after 30 stays, 60 nights or 120k base points.
Since I live in hotels, I reached diamond status by staying 60 nights. If you have a Hilton credit card, you’ll probably gain this status pretty easily too.
The biggest perk to going up tiers is really just the bonus points. For example, at the diamond status you get a 50% bonus on all base points you receive. So for 150% for each stay, you’ll quickly rack up the points for your free nights.
How Do You Get Free Nights? We’re going to stay at the Home2 Suites in Orlando which is just 6 miles from Disney World and includes a free shuttle. It’s only 30,000 points a night, and my points will get me 3 free nights.
Includes: Renaissance, Residence Inn, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, Springhill Suites, Autograph Collection (Grand Bohemian Hotels, Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, etc.), TownePlace Suites, Ritz-Carlton
Where I’m At: Silver (bottom of 3 levels)
Run Down: 3 levels – Silver, Gold & Platinum
Silver – after 10 nights
Gold – after 50 nights
Platinum – after 75 nights
The rewards program is so-so. It’s benefits are similar to Hilton but it’s kind of a bummer that the only way to move up is by number of nights. So for example, with Hilton you could stay at a Hilton property for 1 night only 4 different times and get Silver status (so only 4 nights), you HAVE to stay the specific number of nights to move up. So in order to reach platinum, you have to stay at a Marriot property for two and a half months in the whole year to reach Platinum. Unless you live in hotels like me (and I STILL have never reached platinum), this can be pretty tricky.
Will the Marriott Rewards credit card help you? I’m not sure. You get 15 credits towards your Elite membership each year which puts you into the Silver category and then you get 1 credit for every $3000 in purchases. In order to get to Gold, you still need 35 nights so it will still take you some time or a stupid amount of money.
How Do you Get Free Nights? For a stay in New Orleans, one night is also 30,000 points but I only have enough points for one night out of our stay.
Includes: Sheraton, Westin, St. Regis, W Hotels, Aloft, Four Points
Where I’m At: Preferred
Run Down: 3 levels – Preferred, Gold, & Platinum
Preferred – when you sign up
Gold – 10 stays or 25 nights
Platinum – 25 stays or 50 nights
Platinum requires less stays or nights than the other brands which makes it much easier to get ahead PLUS with all the Sheraton hotels as well as the other luxury brands in its collection, you should be OK.
How Do You Get Free Nights? With rooms 10,000-20,000 points per night, this program seems to be your best bet.
Please note that in November 2015 Marriott announced that it would buy the Starwood hotel chain so the rewards program is expected to combine – but bonus to you, it will be the largest hotel chain so lots of opportunities to move ahead!