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Hotel status is for more than just dropping a DYKWIA when things don’t go your way. Status can get you things like: increased award booking windows, better rooms, additional bonus points when paying for stays, free Internet access, breakfast and lounge access, etc.
Typically a hotel will give out status for STAYING at the hotel. However, now there are a few other (easier) ways to earn status, e.g. credit cards. Also, once you have status with one hotel chain, it’s like your part of the secret “club” (thank you, Seinfeld!) Now that you’re “in” you can use your status to match to a DIFFERENT hotel chain, granting you status there as well.
Hotel status match vs. challenge
Depending on the chain, and depending on your status at the competing chain, you may be outright given status, or you may be given a challenge. With a challenge, you’re not just given the status – instead, they will say something like:
Stay X nights within the next 90 (or so) days, and you’ll be given status.
Some places (Hyatt) will give you the status upfront on a provisional basis, while others (Starwood) don’t grant it to you until after you complete the challenge.
Status matching with Hyatt
Hyatt currently offers a Diamond status challenge. To take the challenge, you will need to show proof of status from Hilton Gold and Diamond, Starwood Platinum, Priority Club Platinum or Marriott Gold and Platinum. To complete the status challenge, you need to stay 12 nights in 60 days.
As mentioned earlier, you DO get the Hyatt Diamond status at the beginning of the challenge, as well as 1,000 bonus points for each of your first 6 stays, AND 4 confirmed suite upgrades to use. Even better, the suite upgrades stay in your account, even if you don’t complete the challenge.
Another nice thing about the Hyatt Diamond challenge is that Points + Cash bookings count towards meeting your 12 nights, so that can be a way to defray some of the costs of staying the 12 nights.
(EDIT: Literally a DAY after I wrote this post, Hyatt announced that as of 10/31/2014, they would no longer be offering Diamond status challenges)
Hotel status match at Hilton
Hilton is one of the trickiest chains to get elite status for (without, you know, actually STAYING there!) They have no set policy but you just have to email email@example.com. It’s pretty hard to get anything but the mid-tier Gold status, but there are reports of getting a Diamond challenge with something along the lines of needing to stay 21 nights out of the next 90. The other thing is that generally speaking, not only do you need to give Hilton proof of your competing status, but they also want to see your stay history over the past 12 months. The idea there is that they want to weed out people who just got their status for free from a credit card or other offer (like me!!)
The one nice thing is that you can get instant Hilton Gold status with the Hilton Reserve credit card, and there are also sometimes promotions where you can get it – that’s how I got mine.
The other nice thing is that Hilton Gold is probably the best mid-tier status out there.
Hotel status match at Best Western
Best Western is probably the easiest chain to do a hotel status match. Unlike other chains where it can be difficult to even find how to do a hotel status match or if you qualify for one, Best Western has a separate page set up with the details. Best Western will match from Priority Club, Marriott, Choice, Hilton, La Quinta, Starwood, Hyatt or Radisson (Club Carlson), and it’s generally as easy as emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with proof of your status at the competing chain.
I used the Hilton Gold status I got for free to become an instant Best Western Diamond member (their top tier). The only downside is that Best Western’s elite benefits are weaker than other chains – I didn’t even get my 1000 amenity points last time I stayed there!!!.
Club Carlson status match
Club Carlson has a pretty straight-forward status match program. If you have status with Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club, or Starwood, you can email proof of status to email@example.com to get Club Carlson status. Generally speaking, top levels are matched to Club Carlson Gold, and mid-tier levels are matched to Club Carlson Silver status.
I wouldn’t really bother with this, sicne Club Carlson mid-tier (Gold) status also comes with the Club Carlson Visa, which is one of the best credit cards to own long-term, since with every award stay, you get the last night free.
Hotel status match with IHG / Priority Club
IHG / Priority Club discontinued their hotel status match program earlier in 2014. You do earn Platinum Elite status with the IHG credit card, which is another good card to have, since it comes with 1 free night to ANY Intercontinental brand hotel each night. Just make sure you sign up for the 80,000 point link – my wife and I signed up for them at the same time – find out why!
Marriott status match
Marriott does not have an official status match program, though if you email firstname.lastname@example.org, you may be offered a status challenge.
Starwood (SPG) status match
Starwood does not status match, but is currently offering a Platinum Status Challenge. To do it, you must not have had Platinum status at any point during the past 5 years, and you must have NEVER done a Platinum challenge with Starwood before (so it’s a once in a lifetime thing). To enter, email email@example.com and request the Platinum Challenge
You then have to stay 18 nights out of the next 3 months to be granted Platinum status. Note that with the Starwood Platinum Challenge, you do NOT get the status upfront, AND Points + Cash stays do NOT count towards the challenge. One advantage is that you can credit up to 3 rooms a night towards the status.
Choice status match
Choice Privileges does do status matches – just e-mail Member_Resolution@choicehotels.com with a copy of your membership card and a screenshot of your account. I could not find a comprehensive list of which programs they match, but I’d imagine that they would match most of the other chains.