If you haven’t heard already, the new and improved metal American Express Platinum card is absolutely incredible. American Express increased the annual fee to $550 a year, but after Uber credits and airline of choice credits ($200 each) the effective annual fee is just $150. That’s the same effective annual fee as the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and a lower fee than the ‘improved’ metal Citi Prestige card.
Obviously a $550 annual fee is a lot of money to shell out for a credit card, but the American Express Platinum card is no ordinary card. The Platinum card was the first ‘premium’ credit card to hit the market years ago. For years the card defined what a premium card should offer. Over the years other cards moved in and stole some of the Platinum cards prestige, but now with recent enhancements I’d argue the Platinum card is once a benchmark for other premium cards.
All the of benefits offered from the American Express Platinum card are hard to discuss in a single post so I’ve decided to break them out into individual categories. Today, we’ll discuss the Hotel Elite Status benefits offered from the American Express Platinum card.
Hotel Elite Status From The American Express Platinum Card
Generally the only way to earn any form of elite status is through loyalty. For airlines this means flying thousands of miles and spend a lot of money with a single airline. Usually there aren’t too many ways around these qualifiers either. Airlines may let customers use co-branded credit cards to partially waive the revenue requirement, but rarely is there a way around the “butt-in-seat” flown mile requirement.
Hotels are a little more generous than airlines. Hotels tend to give complimentary elite status to customers with co-branded credit cards. Additionally, customers who use co-branded credit cards extensively can qualifying to a higher tier elite status.
I tend to avoid co-branded credit cards because I hate when miles and points are tied to a single loyalty program. I like the flexibility that comes from credit card loyalty programs such as American Express Membership Rewards. Luckily American Express Platinum card members receive complimentary hotel elite status with several brands just for maintaining a Platinum card account. This benefit is perfect for anyone who stays less than 75 nights a year in hotels. Since you wouldn’t qualify for top-tier status anyway.
Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status
American Express Platinum card members receive complimentary Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Elite Status. There is no spend requirement or stay requirement to qualify either. All card members need to do is set up a Starwood account and call American Express to link their Starwood account to their Platinum card. Once activated card members receive complimentary SPG Gold Elite Status at no extra charge.
Starwood Preferred Gold Status isn’t quite as good a Platinum, but you still get some great benefits for free out of this partnership. For starters, SPG Gold elites earn 3X Starpoints for every dollar spent on qualifying stays. Sadly, you won’t earn points for stays booked through Amex Travel. Additionally, SPG Gold Elites get free late checkout, an upgraded room when available, and complimentary premium internet. Lastly, all SPG Gold Elites receive a welcome gift upon arrival. I typically just choose SPG points as my welcome gift.
As you can see, Preferred Gold status is fairly valuable. The best part is that you don’t have to stay a single night at an SPG property to maintain status. Simply carrying the American Express Platinum card and linking your accounts maintains your status. Keep in mind if you close your Platinum card you’ll use your status unless you qualify otherwise. To qualify for SPG Gold status you must complete 25 stays or stay 50 nights at SPG properties annually.
Hilton Honors Gold Elite Status
Carrying the American Express Platinum card also gives card members complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status. Again, signing up is easy and from my experience when you call to set up one hotel brand the phone rep will help you setup the second. Simply call American Express and ask for complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status. The whole process takes just a few minutes. Once setup you’ll receive complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status as long as you maintain your Platinum account.
Hilton Honors currently has 4 levels of elite status. Gold is the second highest, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t rewarding. Hilton Honors Gold Elites earn 25% bonus points on all qualifying stays, receive a 5th night free when booking with points, and receive complimentary in-room premium internet. You’ll also receive two complimentary bottles of water at select hotels, late check-out when available, and the 2nd guest stays for free. Hilton Gold Elite status is not quite as standardized among Hilton brands, but more information on Hilton Gold Elite status is found here.
When staying at Hilton hotels I generally don’t see the benefits of being an elite member as much as other brands, but again these benefits aren’t necessarily useless. It’s nice coming into a room late at night and not worrying about drinking the bottled water. It’s also nice to get ‘upgraded’ to preferred rooms (city views, etc.) when staying at select hotels. Last time I stayed at a Hilton I received a free drink from the bar for my Gold Elite status. To earn Gold status guests need to complete 20 stays, stay 40 nights, or earn 75,000 Hilton Honors base points in a year.
Marriott Rewards Gold Elite Status
Well, Marriott doesn’t maintain a partnership with American Express. However, thanks to the SPG/Marriott merger SPG Gold Elites get complimentary reciprocal Marriott Rewards Gold status. This should work until the SPG program goes away, but I’m not sure what will happen in the future. I doubt Platinum card members will receive complimentary Marriott Gold status later on, but you never know.
To earn Marriott Rewards Gold Elite status, first activate your SPG Gold Elite status through American Express. Then, log-in to your Marriott Rewards account and link your Marriott and SPG accounts. Once linked you should automatically receive Marriott Rewards Gold Elite status.
Marriott Rewards Gold Elite status is similar to other hotel elite statuses discussed so far. Gold elites earn a 25% bonus points on qualifying stays, a guaranteed room type, and complimentary room upgrades when available. Additionally, Gold elites get complimentary premium in-room internet, guaranteed late check-out when available, and guaranteed lounge access and complimentary breakfast for two!
If you don’t carry the American Express Platinum card you can earn Marriott Rewards Gold status by staying 50 nights at qualifying Marriott hotels. Marriott Rewards Premier card holders receive 15 elite night credits annually, but don’t get complimentary elite status.
Ritz-Carlton Rewards Gold Elite Status
This is where things get even more interesting. Ritz-Carlton Rewards maintains a partnership with Marriott Rewards. Thanks to that partnership Ritz-Carlton matches Marriott Rewards elite status. Since you’ll earn Marriott Rewards Gold Elite status from the Amex Platinum card (indirectly) you’ll also get Ritz-Carlton Rewards Gold status.
Ritz-Carlton Rewards Gold elite status comes with a whole lot of benefits. Most of those benefits are identical to what I’ve already mentioned. Free internet, a 25% bonus, and late checkout pretty much sum up the benefits. I’ve noticed when I stay at Ritz-Carlton properties I generally get an enhanced room, but never receive any benefits worth writing home about.
As you can see just by carrying the American Express Platinum card you can get a ton of benefits from several hotel chains. It’s sad that you won’t earn hotel points or elite credits when booking through Amex Travel, but at least you’ll have some added benefits during your stay.
I love the American Express Platinum card because I love trying out different hotels. As my travel patterns change I’m no longer shooting for top-tier hotel status. It’s nice to stay at a variety of hotels, but still receive things like free internet or free breakfast during my stay.
If you find yourself in hotels several nights a year, but not enough to otherwise qualify for hotel elite status it may be worth opening the American Express Platinum card. The card comes with a ton of benefits and huge opportunities to earn Membership Rewards points on travel. Earning hotel elite status is the icing on the cake which helps me justify paying the annual fee year after year.