READER QUESTIONS: Marriott, Hilton Or SPG Status? Platinum Member Upgrades At Holiday Inn? Accor Advance Payment DCC?


LoyaltyLobby readers tend to have excellent questions about loyalty programs and I try to answer as many as I can here.

Reader Questions October 28

Question from Nancy regarding Marriott Gold, Hilton Gold or SPG Platinum

I currently travel 30 nights a year for business plus another 20 for pleasure. Mostly USA and Latin America for work, and USA and Europe for pleasure. Do you know which loyalty will suit me best? Marriott Gold, Hilton Gold or SPG Platinum? I want to be able to get upgrades on my rooms and to get points for awards.

So, we have total of 50 nights here to work with. That would be enough for any one of these status options or maybe for both Hilton Gold and Marriott Gold if Nancy is willing to do a status challenge/match.

Both Marriott and Hilton have around 4,000 properties worldwide where SPG has currently 1,100. None of the chains have presence everywhere.

If you mostly care about the upgrades on your stays and there are Starwood properties everywhere you go, the Platinum SPG status would trump both Hilton Gold and Marriott Gold. The main problem is that are there enough properties?

I would do both Marriott Gold (read about challenge here) and Hilton Gold (one 4 stays within 90 days Gold challenge here). You would have 8,000 properties to choose from compared 1,100.

Reader question about Platinum member upgrade at a Holiday Inn hotel

I’ve just checked in to the London Bloomsbury Holiday Inn. The person in front of me was checking in at the gold / platinum desk – they weren’t an IHG member but were asked if they would like to pay to upgrade to an executive room. I was asked to check in at the standard check in desk, even though I am a Platinum member. I asked for an upgrade to an executive room but I was told there were none available. I said, well that clearly not true seeing as your colleague is currently trying to upsell another customer to an executive room.

Surprisingly, they managed to find me the upgrade. I’m not happy about this though, they are supposed to honor an upgrade subject to availability and they are clearly being dishonest about availability. What’s your view?

It is very coming tactic for the front desk trying to sell upgrades to guest at the time of checking in. There are programs such as the Nor1 that even offer this during the reservation process.

IHG Rewards Club has defined the Platinum member elite benefits very vaguely when it comes to upgraded rooms. You can find the Platinum benefits T&C’s here

Hotel Room Upgrades for Platinum Members: Platinum level members will be offered a complimentary upgrade, as determined by the hotel, which might include rooms on higher floors, corner rooms, newly renovated rooms, or rooms with preferred views. The upgrade will be offered at time of check-in, based on availability, and will only apply to the member’s personal guest room. The hotel is not required to upgrade members to suites or specialty rooms. Upgrade benefit will not apply to rooms booked as a Reward Night reservation.

So, basically hotel can offer you nothing and they still would be in compliance with the T&C’s. Most hotels that I frequent do upgrade Platinum members to even suites and provide a club access such as Crowne Plaza Bangkok (where I happen to type this right now).

Reader Question About Advance Charge That Came In Using Wrong Currency

I just booked two different Bangkok Accor Hotels for Dec 2014.

Pullman Bangkok KingPower automatically changed the room charge (online book and prepaid with credit card via currency from Thai Baht to HKD before posting the transaction to my credit card. I was surprised by the amount charged and check my credit card bank to find out this fact.

For info, another Accor hotel at Bangkok charged Thai baht and my eventual rate is 1 HKD to 4.0885 Baht. Pullman Kingpower auto convert and charged HKD and my eventual rate is 1HKD to only 3.9795 Baht.

For information, both hotel confirmation were in Thai Baht.

Well. The Pullman Kingpower has used DCC (Dynamic Currency Conversion) and converted the THB charge to the currency of your payment card and inflated the rate probably around 3% to 5%. They are not supposed to do this without getting an approval from you first.

The other Accor hotel just processed the payment in THB and then the MasterCard/Visa/Amex did their currency conversion and may have added an FX fee (your bank too).

The difference between the exchange rates from your statement is 2.67%.

I have written about the Dynamic Currency Conversion and how much I hate it here and here.


You can send in your questions by email, Twitter, Facebook or comment any of the posts here on LoyaltyLobby. I will start having these reader questions features several times of the week, because many more readers can learn from them this way.