How to Get Elite Status at a Hotel Fast Through Matches, Challenges and Credit Cards

How to Get Elite Status at a Hotel Fast Through Matches, Challenges and Credit Cards

Do you want to enjoy all the benefits of elite status at your favorite hotel, including complimentary room upgrades, discounts, club access and more? There are a number of ways you can earn status quickly.

If you’re already an elite, you can request a status match or take part in a status challenge with another hotel loyalty program. If you don’t have status, getting the right co-branded hotel credit card can make you an elite fast.

Many hotels don’t make their status match information public. On top of that, many will only grant status or offer challenges on a case-by-case basis. Keeping their policies secret gives them more leeway to change the rules and further restrict who they allow to participate.

We’ve done our best to put together a list of the current offers given the available information. Keep in mind as you read through the list that there’s no guarantee that you’ll be offered a challenge or match even if you meet the requirements spelled out below.

You have nothing to lose, though, so give it a try if you think you’ll qualify. If it doesn’t work out, you can always get a hotel credit card. Many of them offer immediate status to cardholders.

Starwood Preferred Guest

Thanks to last year’s merger, you can now match Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards status. Just link your SPG and Marriott accounts and your status will instantly be matched. Note that accounts can be linked but not combined. Points can be transferred between programs, but not at a 1:1 ratio. The points transfer from Marriott to SPG at a ratio of 3:1.

starwood preferred guest
Starwood Preferred Guest has merged with Marriott and is offering reciprocal elite status

Starwood does not match status with any another hotel. However, they will typically offer applicants a status challenge. Just send them an email at platinum.liason@starwoodhotels.com. You don’t have to have status at another hotel to qualify. To receive Gold status, you must complete nine paid nights, and Platinum takes 18 nights. The challenge period is three months, with the option to include the month before you apply.

SPG will not offer you the challenge if you were Gold or Platinum status holder within the last five years, and only one challenge is allowed per account. Paid nights qualify, but award nights, cash & points nights and any other complimentary stays do not count.

If the challenge doesn’t work out, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express comes with an annual credit of five nights and two stays toward elite status. It also offers a 25,000-points sign-up bonus and access to the most flexible rewards program available. Starpoints can be transferred to over 30 different frequent flyer programs, and nearly all of them offer 1:1 transfer rates. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
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Earn 25,000 Starpoints® after spending $3,000 within 3 months

Alternatively, the Platinum Card® from American Express comes with Gold status for both SPG and Hilton Honors. While it has a hefty Annual Fee of $550. annual fee, you’ll also get a 60,000-point sign-up bonus, quintuple points for airfare, a $200 airline fee credit, a $100 Global Entry credit and access to a wide variety of lounges, including Centurion lounges, Delta Sky Clubs, Airspace Lounges and Priority Pass lounges.

Marriott Rewards

Since Marriott Rewards and SPG will remain separate programs until at least 2018, it’s worth reviewing Marriott’s policies as well. Marriott does not offer a straight match with any program other than SPG, but they do frequently offer challenges to those who request them. Call 801-468-8000 to apply.

Be aware that Marriott does not publish any information on status challenges, so it’s a bit difficult to know what callers will be offered. Typically challenges are three months long and require three stays for Silver, six stays for Gold and nine stays for Platinum. Note that, unlike SPG, Marriott’s challenge is based on stays not nights.

If you can’t complete the challenge, the Marriott Rewards Visa Signature card offers a shortcut to elite status. It includes a 15-night credit every year you have the card, which is enough for Silver status. You’ll also get an additional night that counts toward Gold status for every $3,000 you spend. It has an 85,000-point sign-up bonus, plus a free night annually. The card’s $85 annual fee is not waived the first year.

Hilton Honors

Hilton currently offers a somewhat unusual mix of a status match and challenge. They will match your status with another hotel for 90 days, with the opportunity to retain that status until 2019. You must complete four stays to retain Gold and eight stays for Diamond within that three-month period.

You can apply for the match/challenge here. You’re required to upload both proof of status with another hotel and proof that you’ve stayed at that hotel within the last 12 months.

hilton cards
Hilton has cards with a number of issuers so you can apply for more than one and get multiple sign-up bonuses and elite status

Hilton offers cards issued by both American Express and Citi. All of them include elite status. The no-fee options—Citi Hilton Honors Visa Signature and the Hilton Honors card from Amex—include Silver status. The pay cards—Citi Hilton Honors Reserve and Hilton Honors Surpass from Amex—include Gold status. As mentioned above, the premium Platinum card from Amex also includes Hilton Gold status.

Hyatt Gold Passport

Hyatt will periodically offer a status match or challenge, though it does not currently have any offers. Last year Hyatt offered both a match and a challenge. The challenge consisted of staying six nights in two months for Platinum and 12 nights in two months for Diamond. It was open to anyone, even if you didn’t have status.

If you’re an optimist, you can request a match or challenge by emailing goldpassport@hyatt.com. It’s always possible that they’ll give it to you even though they don’t currently have a published offer.

The foolproof way to get status with Hyatt is to get the Hyatt Visa from Chase. It includes Platinum status; two free nights; triple points at Hyatt; double points for dining out, airfare and car rentals; and one free night every year. It has a $75 annual fee.

Club Carlson

Club Carlson, which is the loyalty program for a variety of brands including Carlson Rezidor, Country Inn & Suites, Park Inn and Radisson, will typically match your status. If you’re a top-tier elite at another hotel, you’ll get Gold. Mid-tier status gets Silver.

You cannot match to Concierge, which is Club Carlson’s highest elite status. It has to be earned the hard way. Each Club Carlson account is allowed only one status match, so you can’t keep applying if you lose status.

To apply, send proof of your current status and your Club Carlson account information to statusmatch@goldpointsplus.com.

Club Carlson’s two pay credit cards include elite status. The top-of-the-line Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature card has a $75 annual fee and comes with Gold status, an 85,000-point sign-up bonus and a free night. The Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature card has a $50 fee and includes Silver status, 60,000 points and a free night.

IHG

The last time IHG matched elite status from other hotel programs was back in 2015. That isn’t a good sign. You never know, though, they could always come out with another offer.

In the meantime, the IHG Rewards Club Select credit card comes with Platinum status. You’ll also get a 60,000-point sign-up bonus, a free night every year, five points per dollar spent with IHG and double points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants. The card’s $49 annual fee is waived for the first year.

Get Status

Having elite status at a hotel is worth the hassle. You’ll get access to a variety of perks like upgrades, free nights, discounts and more. If you need status, consider getting the right co-branded credit card. If you already have status at one hotel, see if others will match it. You have nothing to lose.