A reader recently asked me the following question:
Hi, I am traveling to Miami for business and will be staying about a Month. I am a member of most of the major hotel brand loyalty programs, and I was wondering if you had any suggestions for the best reward deals for an extended stay hotel (like Residence Inn Marriott). I also plan on requesting some sort of status challenge if the hotel offers it. Any advice would be great!
I thought this was a nice problem to have and would make an interesting post. Here is how I answered (slightly edited for clarity):
If your main interest is in earning lots of points, Club Carlson tends to deliver the best point earnings even without promotions going on. If you go that way, make sure to get their credit card first. That will give you Gold status so you’ll earn more points for your stay, plus if you pay for the stay with that card you’ll earn 10 points per dollar with the credit card (that’s in addition to points earned for the stay). Of course, also sign up for any Club Carlson promotions that might come up before or during your stay.
If your main interest is elite status I’d recommend considering either Hyatt or SPG. The top tier statuses in both chains are very well regarded. Of the two, I only have experience with top tier Hyatt and it truly is great. One big downside: far fewer properties. Also, SPG status is easier to maintain once you get it since, unlike Hyatt, SPG award stays count towards status. SPG does have a status challenge (details here) so you would definitely want to sign up for that. 18 nights will get you Platinum status. You also might benefit from an SPG credit card in order to earn more points for your stay (if you pay with the card). If you go with Hyatt, ask the hotel manager if they can enroll you in the Hyatt Diamond Trial. That way you’ll earn Diamond status after only 12 paid nights (which you’ll meet easily).
Marriott is an OK middle ground: you’ll earn many more points than SPG (but the points are less valuable), but less than Club Carlson. Marriott Platinum status is good, but not great. One really nice perk of Platinum status is that you can sign up for United Silver status for free. Also, Marriott makes it very easy to maintain status year after year: they often offer it for free even if you didn’t reach the requirements and, if not, they let you buy back status by exchanging points (40K points for Platinum; 25K for Gold). The best thing about going with Marriott is that their Residence Inn chain is very nice (in my opinion) and they have hotels everywhere.
What do you think of the advice I gave? Did I miss anything important? Please comment below.