Quick Elite Status

2016-07-14

The Idea

  • Hotel chains offer status matches and status challenges in order to entice customers away from rival chains
  • Status matches grant elite status outright upon showing proof of status with a competing chain. Status challenges require the challengee to complete a certain number of nights in a specified time period before granting status, usually a reduction in the normal requirement
  • Apart from status matches and challenges, certain chains have other special paths to elite membership
    • Hilton– Get Hilton Gold status with 4 stays within 90 days
    • Starwood–  World Mastercard holders get SPG Gold status with 1 stay in any Asia Pacific property
    • Accorhotels LeClub– Get LeClub Gold for 90 Euros/ year when you sign up for the ibis Business Card (EDIT: Thanks to Athen I’ve learned that this is 75 Euros if you’re not subject to VAT in the EU)
    • IHG– offers fast track to Gold or Platinum Elite with 10 nights & stays at 3 different IHG brands or 40 nights and stays at 3 different IHG brands

The Details

Why do you want elite status? It seems like a pretty silly question to ask, but you should be aware of what you’re entitled to as an elite member in a loyalty program. In general, elite members get things like room upgrades, free breakfast, free premium internet (now that more and more chains are moving towards offering internet for free) and late checkout.  This can translate into real savings- imagine saving $10-15 per day on breakfast in some of the more expensive cities.

You might think that earning elite status takes forever. That’s sort of true, but as with everything in the miles and points game, there are workarounds.

Hotel chains realized that one of the main barriers to switching loyalty was the fact that if someone loyal to Chain A switched to Chain B, he’d have to build his status with Chain B all the way from scratch. To lower this barrier, Chain B offers to match that person’s Chain A status with the equivalent level in Chain B’s loyalty program. This is known as status matching- it’s instantaneous and this person can enjoy a similar tier of privileges from his first stay in Chain B.

Status matching used to be common practice, but as more and more credit cards started offering free mid-tier status (eg SPG Gold with World Mastercard, Hilton Gold with Visa Infinite cards), chains realized they needed to filter out those who were serious about obtaining and maintaining status from those who just intended to use the status for a one time holiday and then nothing more

Therefore they introduced status challenges-  the opportunity to obtain elite status with a lower number of nights stayed in a shorter period of time. For example, Starwood normally requires 25 stays / 50 nights within 12 months to qualify for Platinum status. But through their status challenge you can do this with 18 nights in 3 months.

Before we begin, a quick warning- you typically can only do a status match or challenge once in your account’s life time. Meaning that if you get status through a challenge/match and subsequently lose it, you can’t request to do it again (you could create a new account though, but I’ve not tried that before)

Let’s look at the major chains and what status matching/challenge opportunities they offer

 Starwood

spg

Starwood offers 2 types of challenges- gold and platinum.

Gold Platinum
Normally requires 10 stays/ 25 nights in calendar year 25 stays/ 50 nights in calendar year
Challenge requires 9 nights in 90 days 18 nights in 90 days
Requires proof of status with rival chain? No

No

Do note that if you have a World Mastercard (and if you hold a DBS Women’s Card, Citibank Dividend Card or Standard Chartered Manhattan Card you do) you are able to attain SPG Gold status with a single night stay in any Asia Pacific property  

To request a challenge, email platinum.liaison@starwoodhotels.com with your SPG number, requested 90 day period with the subject line “platinum/gold challenge”

Hyatt

hyatt

Until recently, Hyatt had one the most generous status challenge opportunities in the industry. If you were able to show them proof of status in a rival hotel chain, you would be eligible for a Diamond status challenge (12 nights in 60 days). This challenge gave you Diamond status upfront to enjoy for the 60 days, plus you earned 1,000 bonus points for each of the first 6 nights you stayed , plus you’d get 4 guaranteed suite certificates, each redeemable for up to a 7 night stay. So naturally everyone went to abuse this until Hyatt decided to revamp their program (this is why we can’t have nice things)

The revised challenge is still 12 nights in 60 days, only this time instead of getting Diamond status upfront you get Platinum status instead. Platinum status isn’t the worst thing that could happen- you get 15% bonus points, free internet and upgrades to “preferred” rooms (not including suites).

Platinum Diamond
Normally requires 5 stays/ 15 nights in a calendar year 25 stays/ 50 nights in a calendar year
Challenge requires 6 nights in 60 days 12 nights in 60 days
Requires proof of status with rival chain? No

No

To request a status challenge, email goldpassport@hyatt.com requesting a status challenge, include your current Hyatt Gold passport number.

Hilton

hilton

Hilton only officially offers a fast track to Gold which is 4 stays in 90 days. Technically this offer is only open to members of a sports organisation called MVP, but this has become one of the worst kept secrets online and many people have registered and completed the challenge successfully without membership in that organisation.

Another similar offer for HHonors Gold exists for Carlson Wagonlit employees, but again anyone can leverage this.

EDIT: Visa Infinite cardholders have a special offer valid till 31 Dec 2016 where they can get Hilton Gold with 2 stays. See this link for more details

As for Diamond- it’s not official policy to offer HHonors Diamond challenges. You may be asked to submit your stay history with a rival chain, and awarding of the challenge is at HHonor’s discretion. If you are given a challenge, you’ll get instant Gold status to enjoy  during the challenge period.

Gold Diamond*
Normally requires 20 stays/40 nights/ 75,000 base points in calendar year 30 stays/60 nights/ 120,000 base points in calendar year
Challenge requires 4 stays in 90 days 21 nights in 60 days
Requires proof of status with rival chain? No

Possibly

* Not official policy to offer, YMMV

IHG

ihg

IHG offers a fast track to gold elite and platinum elite membership. However, the “discount” you get on nights required isn’t that significant- you still need to do 2/3 of the regular nights for Gold Elite and 80% of the regular nights for Platinum Elite. Let the good times roll.

Gold Elite Platinum Elite
Normally requires 15 nights in calendar year 50 nights in calendar year
Challenge requires 10 nights + 3 IHG brands 40 nights + 3 IHG brands (for members in Asia)
Requires proof of status with rival chain? No No

Marriott

marriott

Marriott used to offer status challenges called “Taste of Gold” and “Taste of Platinum”. Too many people were tasting without serious intentions, however, so they stopped the challenge sometime in 2014.

For now you’ll need to email customer service and try your luck. These are the challenges that people online have reported receiving

Silver Gold Platinum
Normally requires 10 nights per calendar year 50 nights per calendar year 75 nights per calendar year
Challenge requires 6 nights within 3 months 12 nights within 3 months 18 nights within 3 months
Requires proof of status with rival chain? Yes Yes Yes

Email elite.member@marriott.com with your Marriott Rewards number, screenshot of status with a rival chain and a request for a status match.

LeClub Accor Hotels

ihg

There used to be a sign up link for free LeClub platinum status that went floating around the interwebs every few months. This link was ostensibly targeted at certain groups of people, but ended up getting publicised anyway. Through this link, many people (including me) got free LeClub status, much to the chagrin of members who earned their platinum status the hard way

These links don’t pop up anymore (and all the old ones don’t work anymore), so your best bet if you need status with LeClub is to pay 90 Euros and sign up for the ibis Business Card, which comes with instant LeClub Gold status (though one wonders if mid-tier status in a chain not really known for recognising elites is worth much)

(EDIT: Thanks to Athen I’ve learned that this is 75 Euros if you’re not subject to VAT in the EU)

Club Carlson

club carlson

Club Carlson offers direct matches to their silver and gold tiers (their top tier, Concierge, is not match-able sadly)

As with all matches, this requires you to have status with a rival chain.  Email statusmatch@carlson.com with your Club Carlson number, a screenshot of your current elite status with a rival chain and the subject line “status match request”

 

I hope you’ve found this guide useful- let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment

17 thoughts on “Quick Elite Status”

  1. Hi Aaron, love the site and all of your work here.

    Just wanted to inform you that, from 1 January to 31 December 2016, Visa Infinite cards are enabling a fast-track to HHonors Gold with 2 stays or 4 nights within 90 days of offer registration.

      1. VI offer allows you to make it in 2 stays vs the public 4… I do think it’s worth listing, especially since you’re also listing the MasterCard SPG option?

          1. Ming>> if it’s at the same hotel and for consecutive nights, then they’ll usually end up counting it as just one stay.

            If you change hotels, or have a break between the two nights, it should count as two stays.

    1. apologies i totally misread your post. didn’t see the 2 stays bit, only the 4 nights. i’ve updated the article accordingly

  2. Does this mean if i use my DBS woman’s world card to book an SPG stay via the SPG site, i won’t get my 4 miles/$1? Seems to me i can reserve but have to pay at checkout (thereby getting only 0.4 miles/$1). In this case, would it be worth forgoing the SPG gold status and booking online via Expedia/Kaligo using DBS Altitude instead?

    1. yes that’s right. don’t use dbs woman’s world for your spg stays. depends whether you think you’ll display enough loyalty to SPG to make gold status worth it. if you really only see yourself staying one time and are generally brand agnostic then kaligo would be a good call.

  3. I have 2 upcoming stays with Hilton properties which I have already booked and paid. If I were to go and apply for a Visa Infinite card now, can I still participate in the fast track to Hilton gold?

    1. i don’t think they have any way of tracking whether you did make your payment via a visa infinite card. at least that was my experience with the starwood spg gold / world MC promotion. there were people who were signing up (by googling any old world mc card number) and making payments with other cards who were still reporting success. is that a 100% guarantee? no. do i think it will still be ok? yes.

  4. what happens after the first year?

    Would Visa still do a challenge?

    i know spg wouldnt as they mention once per account

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