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Hilton vs Marriott, membership in both, or add IHG?

Hilton vs Marriott, membership in both, or add IHG?

Old Aug 21, 19, 5:22 pm
  #1  
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Hilton vs Marriott, membership in both, or add IHG?

I'm fairly new to the hotel scenes. Until fairly recently I just used the OTAs for hotel bookings and I didn't care about elite status. I think I had my mind made up and going to go with Marriott until last week's announcement. Now I'm having second thoughts. I might still initiate a Platinum challenge just to try out the program for at least a year. Hilton really have my attention because their mid-tier status, which I got from my CC, gives decent value.

I like how Hilton gives out Diamond with the AMEX Aspire. Unless I'm mistaken, combine that with a promo, which Hilton seems to have quite frequently, I'll earn more points staying at Hilton than staying at Marriott and using their card to pay for the stay? Not sure how beneficial Diamond is when staying at Hilton's mid to lower range properties?

I was thinking of getting an IHG card as well since I read it's fairly easy to accrue lots of points at IHG.

In general when I travel solo, I prefer to stay in properties between US$150-US$200. When I travel with the gf, then I go higher. My goals are to redeem points for nicer properties.

I guess I don't really know where to start and I'm looking to be better educated on this matter. What do you guys think?
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Old Aug 21, 19, 5:46 pm
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Tons and tons of threads on this. Read them.
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Old Aug 21, 19, 8:17 pm
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Originally Posted by lsquare View Post
I'm fairly new to the hotel scenes. Until fairly recently I just used the OTAs for hotel bookings and I didn't care about elite status. I think I had my mind made up and going to go with Marriott until last week's announcement. Now I'm having second thoughts. I might still initiate a Platinum challenge just to try out the program for at least a year. Hilton really have my attention because their mid-tier status, which I got from my CC, gives decent value.

I like how Hilton gives out Diamond with the AMEX Aspire. Unless I'm mistaken, combine that with a promo, which Hilton seems to have quite frequently, I'll earn more points staying at Hilton than staying at Marriott and using their card to pay for the stay? Not sure how beneficial Diamond is when staying at Hilton's mid to lower range properties?

I was thinking of getting an IHG card as well since I read it's fairly easy to accrue lots of points at IHG.

In general when I travel solo, I prefer to stay in properties between US$150-US$200. When I travel with the gf, then I go higher. My goals are to redeem points for nicer properties.

I guess I don't really know where to start and I'm looking to be better educated on this matter. What do you guys think?
I didn't know Hilton did that!
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Old Aug 21, 19, 9:11 pm
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Originally Posted by arlflyer View Post
Tons and tons of threads on this. Read them.
Agree. Lots of threads here...no need to start another one.
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Old Aug 22, 19, 12:45 am
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Tough crowd here, although it is true that there's a lot of similar threads out there.
Here's my musings on a similar topic: https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/31183756-post29.html

Originally Posted by lsquare View Post
Unless I'm mistaken, combine that with a promo, which Hilton seems to have quite frequently, I'll earn more points staying at Hilton than staying at Marriott and using their card to pay for the stay?
You have to compare point earnings in terms of how much value you get per $ spent, not how many points. I may be stating the obvious. But that depends on your point valuation. If you value Hilton pt at 0.6cents and Hyatt pt at 2cents, then it's basically a wash between the two programs since Aspire/Diamond gives you 34pt/$ and Hyatt Chase/Discoverist probably gives you 9.5pt/$. Of course Hilton has promos more often than not, so you might be getting 44pt/$ or sometimes even 54/$. Then again, your valuation might differ a lot from mine. I have IHG card, but it's become a lot less useful card since they now limit the annual free night to <40k properties and IHG just lacks 3.5~4-star full-service hotels (CP doesn't do it for me).
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Old Aug 22, 19, 2:00 am
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The value of Marriott's standard earning is roughly the same as a double point Hilton promo. Hilton points are badly devalued and it will only get worse...

If you only need 30 or so hotel nights in a year, getting Hilton Diamond via a credit card is probably the best way to go. If you can do 60+ nights and obtain top tier status the normal way, then Marriott or Hyatt...
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Old Aug 22, 19, 2:01 am
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Originally Posted by craigthemif View Post
The value of Marriott's standard earning is roughly the same as a double point Hilton promo. Hilton points are badly devalued and it will only get worse...

If you only need 30 or so hotel nights in a year, getting Hilton Diamond via a credit card is probably the best way to go. If you can do 60+ nights and obtain top tier status the normal way, then Marriott or Hyatt...
Good advice. Thx!
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Old Aug 22, 19, 9:59 am
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How many nights/year are we talking? Are there Hilton/Marriott/IHG hotels near where you usually need to be? What are your priorities from a loyalty program? Upgrades? Points for free nights? Free Breakfast? Where would you want to spend those points? Cities? Resorts? US? etc.
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Old Aug 22, 19, 12:37 pm
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There isn't a single thread comparing the three.

For your original question, I think knowing that IHG doesn't give the benefits of elite status on award stays might suffice. At the better hotels, I find it to be pretty strict (but not always - Amstel got an upgrade, IC Hong Kong absolutely no benefits and quite happy to inform me of such).
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Old Aug 22, 19, 12:59 pm
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Originally Posted by beachfan View Post
There isn't a single thread comparing the three.

For your original question, I think knowing that IHG doesn't give the benefits of elite status on award stays might suffice. At the better hotels, I find it to be pretty strict (but not always - Amstel got an upgrade, IC Hong Kong absolutely no benefits and quite happy to inform me of such).
That's not exactly true. The IC Ambassador program very specifically curtails benefits on award stays, but IHG itself does not for other brands. However, at least in the States, at Crowne Plaza (Indigo, Holiday Inn, etc.) there's no breakfast (f&b) benefit at all to speak of.

The IHG credit card might be worth it as a decent room can be more than the annual fee that includes (a capped) award night, along with Platinum status.
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Old Aug 22, 19, 1:40 pm
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I was used to focus most of my stays at the same group in the same year. From my point of view the best status was the Royal Ambassador at Intercontinental hotels. But that time is gone. Now I think the best strategy is not to waste too much time in caring about hotel programs. It's better to get some status, which are easy to get without stays or nights. Having a lot of stays and nights to get a high status at 1 hotel group makes only sense, if that hotel group and its status really cover your locations and needs. For most of us that 1 hotel group doesn't exist.

The best way to stay at IHG is buying the Ambassador, which includes IHG Platinum (USD 200/year). Spire or Royal Ambassador don't make sense any more.

The best way to stay at Hilton group for US citizens is to get Diamond status with the AMEX aspire (USD 450/year). But Gold is quite good already and it comes with a lot of other cards/programs for little money.

I'm not a Marriott Bonvoy expert, but I know, that Amex offers a credit card for US citizens, where you get Platinum Elite status (USD 450/year plus USD 75k a year in spending). Maybe others know an easy way to get Bonvoy Platinum, which is from my point of view a good status.

So my budget recommendation is to buy the Ambassador and to get Hilton Honor Gold from somewhere. If you want to spend more money, buy the Ambassador and get the Amex aspire. If money doesn't matter, get the Amex Platinum and spend a lot of money to get invited to the Amex Centurion.

Watch out for other ways to get a good accommodation without a status, like FHR/Amex, Impresario, Airbnb, etc. From my experience girlfriends and wifes appreciate the freedom to choose the best hotel for a stay. It's more romantic than staying for status/points/benefits.
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Old Aug 22, 19, 4:11 pm
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Originally Posted by thbe View Post
I was used to focus most of my stays at the same group in the same year. From my point of view the best status was the Royal Ambassador at Intercontinental hotels. But that time is gone. Now I think the best strategy is not to waste too much time in caring about hotel programs. It's better to get some status, which are easy to get without stays or nights. Having a lot of stays and nights to get a high status at 1 hotel group makes only sense, if that hotel group and its status really cover your locations and needs. For most of us that 1 hotel group doesn't exist.

The best way to stay at IHG is buying the Ambassador, which includes IHG Platinum (USD 200/year). Spire or Royal Ambassador don't make sense any more.

The best way to stay at Hilton group for US citizens is to get Diamond status with the AMEX aspire (USD 450/year). But Gold is quite good already and it comes with a lot of other cards/programs for little money.

I'm not a Marriott Bonvoy expert, but I know, that Amex offers a credit card for US citizens, where you get Platinum Elite status (USD 450/year plus USD 75k a year in spending). Maybe others know an easy way to get Bonvoy Platinum, which is from my point of view a good status.

So my budget recommendation is to buy the Ambassador and to get Hilton Honor Gold from somewhere. If you want to spend more money, buy the Ambassador and get the Amex aspire. If money doesn't matter, get the Amex Platinum and spend a lot of money to get invited to the Amex Centurion.

Watch out for other ways to get a good accommodation without a status, like FHR/Amex, Impresario, Airbnb, etc. From my experience girlfriends and wifes appreciate the freedom to choose the best hotel for a stay. It's more romantic than staying for status/points/benefits.
Thanks for the post and you've got me thinking about. This would probably be the most cost effective way to enhance my experience at these chains.

Just to be clear, if I were to buy IHG Ambassador, then I'll be at the highest tier elite status for any IHG hotel including Kimpton?

With regards to staying at mid-range properties, does having the highest tier elite status matter as much? I figure there probably won't be lounges at many of these places.

I think I have to agree with your statement about girlfriends and wives.
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Old Aug 22, 19, 9:05 pm
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Originally Posted by lsquare View Post
Thanks for the post and you've got me thinking about. This would probably be the most cost effective way to enhance my experience at these chains.

Just to be clear, if I were to buy IHG Ambassador, then I'll be at the highest tier elite status for any IHG hotel including Kimpton?

With regards to staying at mid-range properties, does having the highest tier elite status matter as much? I figure there probably won't be lounges at many of these places.

I think I have to agree with your statement about girlfriends and wives.
IHG has one main program, IHG Rewards, and two sub-programs: Ambassador/Royal Ambassador at IC brand properties only, and Inner Circle at Kimpton.

​​​​​Spire is the highest IHG level, which must be earned (although I think RA and Inner Circle may include it). It is recognized at Kimpton, as far as upgrades go, behind Inner Circle; IC get treated far better in terms of recognition (think: Prince of Wales vs. siblings). Intercontinental Ambassador gets a one-category upgrade and meagre f&b allowance; Royal Ambassador (requiring lots of nights and spending!) gets lounge access, better f&b, etc. You can buy basic Amb for a couple hundred bucks, with sharply curtailed benefits on award stays.

Rest of IHG chain, there are no guaranteed elite breakfast benefits, with lounge access at Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn (?) on a property-specify basis rather than guaranteed (some may​​​​ throw in a breakfast option, don't hold your breath). Most properties I've found have made efforts at upgrades (of some sort) when possible. Credit card gets one Platinum status and a free (capped) night for $89.
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