If you’re not able to earn elite hotel status through frequent travel or status challenges, it is possible to get status by virtue of holding a high-end credit card. AMEX Platinum Charge cardholders, for example, get elite status with Marriott, Radisson Rewards, Shangri-La and Hilton. Once upon a time, holders of the UOB Reserve Visa Infinite card received complimentary Hilton Diamond.
Thanks to Shaun in the Milelion’s Telegram Group, we now know that holders of a World Elite Mastercard can register for free GHA Black status. You’ll need to call the Mastercard Concierge at the back of your World Elite Mastercard to register. More details can be found here.
[Update: 19 Jan 2019- the landing page is no more, but you can still get the concierge to upgrade your account…for now]
This offer is available for registrations made until 31 December 2019. Once you register, your status will be valid until 31 December of the following year. So it may make sense to wait until January 2019 to register, so your status lasts till December 2020.
What is GHA and what does Black status give me?
GHA stands for the Global Hotels Alliance, which is a collection of 33 smaller hotel chains across the world. Smaller doesn’t mean B-list, though, because you have some well-known brands like Park Royal, Pan Pacific, Anantara, Viceroy and Tivoli hotels inside.
With 550 properties in 77 countries, their footprint isn’t as big as the majors like Hilton or Marriott, but you’re still going to find some pretty aspirational properties inside.
What’s interesting about GHA’s loyalty program is that it doesn’t work like a conventional hotel rewards program where you earn points towards future stays. Instead, you earn “local experience awards”. Members receive one Platinum/Black Local Experience award upon reaching Platinum/Black status, and another each year their status is renewed. Platinum and Black members earn subsequent Local Experience awards each time they stay at a new DISCOVERY hotel brand.
What do these awards look like? Here are some examples from Singapore:
Most of these take the form of a dining or spa credit, but there are also some less conventional options like a gourmet picnic at Botanic Gardens (although you could arguably pack your own basket and better off) or a vintage sidecar heritage tour. Note that some experiences may have a stay requirement- that is, you can’t redeem the award unless you stay at the hotel too.
One important point to mention: if you get GHA Black status through the World Elite Mastercard route, you will not get a Local Experience straight away. You will however be able to earn one by either staying in a new brand for the first time (which means you’ll earn one after your second stay, assuming it’s at a different brand from the first), or after doing 30 nights at DISCOVERY hotels in one year.
In addition to supposedly better Local Experiences, GHA Black status also grants you some additional benefits during your stay such as room upgrades, early check-in and late check-out.
Which Singapore-issued cards are World Elite Mastercards?
The Citi Prestige card is an obvious candidate here, with its $120,000 annual income requirement and $535 annual fee. You can read a detailed listing of the card’s benefits here.
Applying for a Citi Prestige card via the links on this landing page will get you $50 of Grab/Taka/NTUC vouchers if you’re an existing Citi customer, and $200 of vouchers if you’re not.
UOB Lady’s Solitaire Metal Card
The UOB Lady’s Solitaire metal card has an income requirement of $120,000 and an annual fee of $588. Unlike the gender egalitarian DBS Woman’s World card, the UOB Lady’s Solitaire is ladies only. Don’t sweat it though, the benefits aren’t anything to shout about.
Even if you think you’ll have no value for GHA Black status because you don’t stay at affiliated hotels, you should still consider getting membership because you can match it to a program you will value. I’ve seen some data points on the Telegram Group of people getting GHA Black matched to a Hilton Diamond status challenge, so that’s definitely worth a shot.
We’ve going to cover hotel tips and hacks like this in more detail during this Wednesday and Thursday’s Hotel Hacks webinar. If you’ve not signed up yet, here are the links to register for Part 1 and Part 2.