Reader Questions: Visa On Arrival At Denpasar, IHG Rewards Club Platinum Status Match & Hilton Or Hyatt Status?

13 Comments

Here are three reader questions from the past week that I have decided to reply to publicly. You can always email me, leave a note or private message on Facebook, or Tweet me with your questions.

Reader Questions January 24 2015

Note that I can shorten the emails and edit them for clarity. I always remove the personal information of both the reader and front line employees. If there are managers involved, I may leave their names intact, however.

Bjorn’s Question About Visa On Arrival At Denpasar (Bali)

I have the following question, and I hope you can answered it:

My six year old daughter and I will travel to Bali for two weeks in august this year. I have read on several forums that immigration at DPS is sometimes horrific with long queues.

I have two options; I buy a voa at the airport or I apply for a visum at the Indonesian embassy in the Netherlands, the price difference is approx. €35.

Are there at DPS separate queues for travelers with tourist visa allready obtained in their homecountry or is it one line together with the voa queues? In other words, do you think it would save me time at DPS when I buy the visum at home?

Actually, I did this just today (Saturday afternoon) after a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok. I travel to Indonesia maybe four/five times a year.

There is never a long queue to purchase the visa stamp at Jakarta, but sometimes there is at the Denpasar airport especially in the evenings when many of the long-haul flights arrive all roughly at the same time.

You first need to queue to purchase the visa stamp, then queue at the immigration and finally queue at the customs where they x-ray all your bags including the carry-ons.

The purchasing of the stamp going through the immigration took less than 10 minutes today. I had to wait sometime for my bag to arrive, however.

At the old airport, I had a feeling that they made the process miserable in order for you to have to pay for the “expedite” services that many people were offering right at the arrivals hall before immigration that likely included a bribe for the immigration personnel.

Personally, I wouldn’t pay extra considering how much of your time applying for the visa would take in Netherlands. If the things look really bad at the time of your arrival, there is probably someone offering these “expedite” services for a bribe of 20 to 40 euros.

READ MORE: Reader Questions: Royal Ambassador Qualification Requirement, How To Get Best Hilton Rate & United Flight Cancellation

Ricky’s Question About IHG Rewards Club Status Match

I have been platinum member of IHG for numerous years but recently drop to gold.

Could you please advise me what number to call from Malaysia for status match.

IHG Rewards Club used to offer an easy status match, but it is no longer available. The reader lives in Malaysia where IHG doesn’t offer a credit card that would come with Platinum status.

You could always purchase one of the Dining Rewards options that come with a status bump from no status to Gold or from Gold to Platinum. The Dining Rewards that comes with a free night award usually cost roughly $250 to $300 depending on the market.

John’s Question Whether He Should Go For Hilton Gold Or Hyatt Diamond

And that question is, Hyatt or Hilton? I travel for pleasure only (all at my expense) and had 27 stays last year, approx 40 nights. They were split between Hyatt and Hilton.

If I had placed all my stays in one hotel chain last year, I would have achieved either Hyatt Diamond or Hilton Gold status. In 2015, I want to achieve one or the other. I’ve gone through many of the pros and cons and thought I made up my mind, until I realize I didn’t. It’s a repeating cycle.

I currently have 170,000 HHonors points and 40,000 Hyatt GP points. Strangely enough, I think that gets me an equivalent number of nights at similar hotels between the two. I have the Hyatt cc and the Hilton Citi card (not the gold status reserve card, the “6 points per night at Hilton” card).

I prefer Hyatt customer service and feel they have a more consistent upscale product, both hard and soft. However, I’ve stayed at many very comfortable Hiltons and they have a much larger footprint. Plus, I feel the overall cost of 40 nights at Hilton properties will be less than 40 nights at Hyatts. Cost is one of the considerations since I self-finance all my travel.

I don’t see my travel increasing this year, so 27/40 is probably what I’m looking at in 2015, too.

Do you have any thoughts? Should I be looking elsewhere instead, perhaps SPG?

READ MORE: READER QUESTIONS: Expedia Best Rate Guarantee Woes, What Program In Singapore & 2 Extra SPG Nights Worth Getting SNA’s?

As the reader has noted, there are far more Hilton affiliated hotels than Hyatt ones. The Hyatt foot print is roughly one eight of Hilton’s and, outside of the United States, has very few properties.

I would encourage the reader to take advantage of one of the many Hilton HHonors Gold fast track status offers that would only require 4 stays within 90 days to get the status. If you do it this year, it will be valid all the way until early 2017!

One another option would be to do the Marriott fast track offer for Gold or even Platinum status. The Marriott benefit is also that you can keep renewing the Gold or Platinum status year after year without having to meet the actual qualification requirement by buying back the status. Marriott also has more than 4,000 properties worldwide.

I do like SPG, although it is not very rewarding based on the number of points that you earn and what is required for free nights, but the reader might find the global foot print of 1,200 hotels to their liking.

Hyatt’s customer service used to be very good, but I would say that I cannot see much of a difference between Hyatt and Hilton on that sense. It might take couple of days to get a reply to an email from Hyatt where Hilton sometimes get back to you in few hours.

So, personally, I would look into Hilton HHonors and Marriott Rewards.

Conclusion

Keep the emails and messages coming. I will have these READER QUESTION pieces at least once a week (sometimes more often) and try to cover issues that would help LoyaltyLobby readers.

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