In my series on hotel elite status, I covered the following programmes:
- Club Carlson
- Hilton HHonors
- Hyatt Gold Passport
- IHG Rewards Club
- Le Club Accor
- Marriott Rewards
- Starwood Preferred Guest
My personal opinion, supplemented by comments on Flyertalk and elsewhere, is that Hyatt Gold Passport and Starwood Preferred Guest are probably the standout programmes in terms of elite status recognition, followed closely by Hilton HHonors and Marriott Rewards. Club Carlson and Le Club Accor have poor elite status recognition. IHG Rewards Club is a bit of a special case as it historically was poor in terms of elite benefits, because it was so easy to achieve elite status (by buying points for example). But, having changed this policy during 2013, it remains to be seen whether they can reach the level of Hilton and Marriott…
More importantly, however, you might wonder how to leverage status in one programme into status with others. You don’t necessarily even have to have status to begin with, if you follow this process:
Step 1 – Get Instant Platinum status somehow with Le Club Accor
Loyalty Lobby is often a good source for instant platinum codes.
Step 3 – Request a Status Match from Best Western to IHG Rewards Club Platinum status
I suspect this link might not last forever, particularly since IHG Rewards Club are trying to tighten up the rules for platinum membership. Email this address asking for a status match: email@example.com, using your new Best Western Rewards DIamond Elite status.
Step 4 – Do Some Stays with IHG Rewards Club
To be able to use IHG Rewards Club Platinum status elsewhere, you need to show some real activity in your account. Use a bunch of the bonus codes I wrote about (and will write about when new ones become available), do 4-5 separate 1-night stays at your nearest, cheapest Holiday Inn Express and you will earn IHG points that probably are worth more than the cost of your nights. You will also have an active IHG account that will allow you to:
Step 5A – Do a Hyatt Diamond Challenge
Contact Hyatt at their web form: http://www.hyatt.com/hyatt/customer-service/contact-hyatt/email.jsp and request a Diamond Challenge, using a screenshot of your IHG Platinum status, which now should have a few stays on it.
At the moment, you would instantly receive Diamond trial status, which you would keep (for the rest of the year and potentially the next) by completing 12 nights within 60 days. You would also receive 1,000 bonus points per night for the first 6 nights.
I mention Hyatt first because, if you have an upcoming stay at a nice Hyatt hotel, you get to trial Diamond benefits during your challenge, so even if you don’t intend to complete all 12 nights, you might get some benefit anyhow.
Step 5B – Do a Hilton HHonors Gold or Diamond Challenge
Contact Hilton HHonors on firstname.lastname@example.org and request a Gold or Diamond Challenge, using your IHG Rewards Club screenshot (status plus recent stays).
Gold challenges usually involve 5 stays or 10 nights over 90 days.
Diamond challenges usually involve 21 nights over 90 days.
You should be able to match your IHG Rewards Club platinum to Club Carlson gold status with little difficulty by emailing email@example.com.
Starwood Preferred Guest don’t require proof of competing status. In my opinion, their challenge is potentially harder than qualifying normally anyhow. A Gold challenge involves 8 paid nights over 3 months and a Platinum challenge involves 18 paid nights over 3 months. Contrast that with 10 stays in a year for Gold – paid or redemption, which if split into 1-night stays gets you Gold in 10 nights over a much longer period. Platinum requires 25 stays (or 50 nights) in a year – more hassle if split into 1 night stays so a long holiday or business stay might make the challenge more attractive.
Marriott Rewards don’t do status matches or challenges at this time.
If you’re interested in status matches, this website is for you: www.statusmatcher.com. It is a great resource for people to submit recent successes and failures in terms of requesting status matches from airline and hotel loyalty programmes. I encourage you to enter your experiences if you choose to follow some of my above advice.
Also, you need to be aware that many status matches are one time only affairs. So, although it might be nice to have a wallet full of shiny loyalty cards, if you aren’t really going to take advantage of the status and/or travel sufficiently to requalify for some level of elite status, you should pass on many matches / challenges. You never know when you might really want a certain hotel chain status in the future, but would be denied a challenge because you’ve already wasted your one chance…