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Sunday, March 13, 2016

How I got elite status in 3 hotel programs without any stays

While developing a plan of action to get to where you want to go may just be half the battle, the next issue to tackle is where you're going to stay once you get to your target destination. That's why having top tier elite status in multiple hotel loyalty programs becomes essential as any frequent traveler knows. It's not just the base point bonus or convenience of having guaranteed room availability and late checkout that makes these programs valuable but the elite benefits of many hotel programs can translate into literally hundreds of dollars in savings, especially when you start talking about suite upgrades, free internet/breakfast, lounge access, and free award nights.

I currently have elite status with Hilton, Hyatt, and Starwood and haven't stayed a single night in any of these hotels yet this year. I accomplished this through various methods by employing credit card benefits and status matches which I'll discuss here briefly. One of the first credit cards I signed up for a year ago when I initially started following the points and miles game was the American Express Platinum card which automatically comes with SPG Gold status and recently Hilton HHonors Gold status as well. There are also several other credit cards that grant Hilton HHonors status including the Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature card and the Hilton HHonors American Express card which are both no annual fee cards that come with automatic Silver status. You could also opt for the Citi Hilton Reserve card which has an annual fee of $95 and the Hilton HHonors Surpass American Express card which has an annual fee of $75 and both come with automatic Gold status.

I then took advantage of when Hyatt was status matching back in November 2015 to try and steal SPG elites worried about the upcoming Marriott merger and was able to get in early enough to match into Hyatt Diamond using my SPG Gold status. As many of you can remember the response to this status match was overwhelming to say the least and Hyatt quickly tightened the reigns on who they were accepting into their top tier ranks. Hilton followed suit shortly thereafter and started accepting status matches into their program so I then used my Hyatt Diamond status to upgrade my Hilton Gold status which I already had through my AMEX Platinum card up to HHonors Diamond status.

Bottom Line

So needless to say I currently have top tier elite status with both Hilton and Hyatt and near top tier status with Starwood until next year without any hotel stays yet this year for the most part. It's nice to have multiple options to chose from since while I tend to prefer Hyatt and Starwood for my stays, Hilton definitely has a larger global footprint and is often the only choice in some locations. Will I likely obtain enough stays this year to maintain my current status in all these programs for next year - probably not. But that is why status matching can be a quick and easy shortcut to the top. You can stay up to date on the latest programs offering matches/challenges at

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