A Long Week Of Travel & How To Earn Elite Hotel Status Without Leaving Your House

This was an especially busy week for me.  I was gone for work until Thursday afternoon, then turned around Friday morning after spending 18 hours with the family and flew to LAX for Frequent Traveler University.

For those that don’t know, Frequent Traveler University is a semi-annual event I volunteer at that fulfills two of my passions, helping educate people about travel and raising money for charity (LIVESTRONG, in particular).

This time, we we’re headed to Los Angeles where we would spend two days helping educate 400 eager attendees on how to maximize earning miles and points.  Note, if you missed out on this event, it’s not too late to register for the next one in the DC area this coming April.

I’m usually part of the logistics support for these types of events, but this time I’d be grabbing a microphone and conducting two sessions while I was there.  One was a general Q&A, the other an hour-long seminar on how to pick the best hotel chain for your type of travel.  I’ll be posting parts of my presentation online in a future post.

On the way to the airport this morning to head home, a bit ragged, I learned something new about hotel status for 2013, and it’s pretty significant in the grand scheme of things.  As View From the Wing reports, Hilton is essentially telling people they should go get their co-branded credit card.  They increased the requirements to achieve Gold status, their mid-tier elite level.  You needed to do a decent amount of travel to qualify before the increase, but now you’ll need 20 stays, 40 nights or 75,000 points to get or retain Gold status.  Or, you could just pay a $95 annual fee for the Citi HiltonHHonors Reserve Card.

While I’m not a huge fan of the Hilton program or the points you earn with the card, getting Gold status in the Hilton program for $95 if you use the program at all.  Heck, the card comes with two free weekend nights at virtually any Hilton property.  If you can’t get $95 in value out of that there’s a problem.

It used to be the only way to earn status perks on an airline was to put your butt in a seat.  That wall has come down over the years.  Then, hotel companies started giving you a faster path to elite status if you had their credit card.  Now, the savvy traveler can get status for next to nothing and enjoy some free nights.

Boy, things have changed.

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