The Cost of Loyalty
I love getting upgraded to hotel suites and first class on flights but there is a cost involved to achieve hotel and airline status. If I was traveling for work I could easily get airline and hotel status without much effort. Since I currently am not in a position that requires travel, in addition to the trips I have planned I also am taking several trips just to help me get status. Last year American Airlines gifted me with Gold status and I had a challenge to keep it. I spent nearly $2,000 to achieve their 2nd highest level of status, Platinum Pro. Last summer for an entire month I went to the airport and flew to Charlotte, Denver or Dallas and flew back the same day and never left the airport. Each location had an Admirals club so I was able to eat and drink for free since I have the AA Citi credit card that gets me into their lounge. I have even stayed in hotel rooms just to help get Marriott status as well. Since I always have to stay at Marriott properties to keep my status that limits my choices when I am planning a trip. At certain times I am passing on less expense hotels and missing out on opportunities to stay at some great properties.
A mileage run is when you take a trip just to help earn status. You will earn redeemable miles in the process but the main reason is to earn the required EQMs or MQDs that your airline requires. Listed below is a list of flights I took last year to earn AA Platinum Pro status. I had a layover on each trip and came home the same day.
- ALT to MCO – July 10 2021 – $225
- ALT to DEN – July 17 2021 – $572 (Booked in First to earn 3x EQMs)
- ALT to DFW – July 24 2021 – $553 (Booked in First to earn 3x EQMs)
- ALT to MIA – July 24 2021 – $376
- I also went to Hawaii and paid about $900 to upgrade to Delta One (This was more of a Mattress Run)
- Total Spent = $2,626
A Mattress run is staying in a hotel just to earn elite status. Sometimes people just book a hotel nearby their house and check in just to earn the elite night credits and go home. I have done this and I have also made trips out of it too. I usually plan my mattress runs while Marriott is running a double elite night promotion. Last year I was awarded 25 extra elite nights by Marriott and only needed to make 2 Mattress runs. I am making significantly more trips this year. Listed below is a list of hotels I booked over the last 2 years to earn Marriott Titanium status.
- 2021 – Sheraton Princess Kaiulani – Honolulu. Hawaii – $359.14
- 2021 – Sheraton Atlanta Perimeter North Hotel – $163.77
- Feb 11 – 13 2022 – Element Knoxville West – $206.36
- March 4 – 6 2022 – Fairfield Inn Macon, GA – $249.20
- April 22 – 24 2022 – Element Knoxville West – $82.08 (For 2 Nights – Possibly a Mistake Fare)
- April 29 – May 1 2022 – Courtyard Greenville, SC – $248.60
- Oct 7 – 9 2022- Sheraton Norfolk, VA – $528.21
- Total Spent = $1,837.36
I have many credit cards that have travel perks. Some offer shortcuts to elite status, free night certificates, airline fee credits and much more.
- American Express Platinum Card – $695
- American Express Hilton Surpass – $95 (Free Night After Spending 15k)
- American Express Hilton Business Card – $95 (Free Night After Spending 15k)
- American Express Marriott Personal Card – $95 (Offers a 35k Free Night Certificate)
- American Express Marriott Personal Card – $95 (Offers a 35k Free Night Certificate) (I have 2)
- American Express Marriott Business Card – $125 (Offers a 35k Free Night Certificate)
- Citi Premier – $95 (3x Points on Dining, Groceries, Gas, Hotels, Airfare and 18 Transfer Partners)
- Citi AA Executive World Elite Card – $450 (Access to AA Admirals Clubs)
- Total Spent = $1,745
Overall it cost me over $6,200 to be loyal to airlines and hotels dating back to last year. I am planning on making some changes to my airline and hotel loyalty plan for next year. I will drop my Marriott status down to Platinum and start staying at Hyatt hotels as well. I just got my first Chase credit card and I am under 5/24 so I should be able to get a Chase Hyatt card soon. I am also in the process of status matching my AA status to Tap Air Portugal. The will have to pay $125 but I will get Star Alliance Gold status for 12 months. That means that if I am flying United or any other Star Alliance airline I will be able to access United Clubs. I also status matched my AA status to ITA Airways and was given Sky Team Elite Plus status. Sky Team Elite Plus status gives me access to the Delta Sky Clubs as long as I am flying Delta and I would no longer need to pay The Platinum card’s $695 annual fee to access their lounges. I am also planning on downgrading my Citi AA card this year, I have several hundred thousand AA miles and plan on using them for international business class trips which would automatically give me access to the lounges so the credit card is not necessary. I plan on keeping my other cards, I value the $95 annual fee cards especially the ones that give you a free night certificate.