The Starter’s Guide to Travel Hacking Hotel Elite Status

The main goal of travel hacking hotel elite status is to get consistent room upgrades, free breakfast and other perks without having to spend thousands of dollars to get that privilages. Regardless on how many times I’ve received a room upgrade, it never stops being awesome. In this guide, you will learn the fundamentals when it comes to obtaining hotel elite status.

I will be updating this blog post over time as things change or opportunities arise in the hotel elite status world.

As of writing this blog post, I have earned the following hotel elite status:

  • Marriott Hotel Gold Status
  • Best Western Platinum Status
  • Fairmont Hotel Premier Status
  • Hilton Hotel Silver Status


For some weird reason, Hilton never mailed me a Silver Status Card

Hotel Elite Status Cards


Benefits I’ve received so far from having hotel elite status:

  • Room upgrade from Marriott
  • Room upgrade from Best Western
  • Free lounge access at Delta Hotels (recently merged with Marriott)
  • Free breakfast from Marriott
  • Late checkout from Marriott

Benefits that some of my friends have received from having hotel elite status:

  • Deluxe King room upgrade at Fairmont
  • Free bike rental at Fairmont
  • Free Rebook shoes rental at Fairmont
  • Free $50 dinner voucher at Fairmont

Now that you have an idea what some of the perks that comes with having hotel elite status, let’s get started on how to obtain them!

Here are the topics we will cover in this article:

  • The Slow Way of Earning Hotel Status
  • Instant Hotel Status
  • Elite Status Fast Track: Status Match
  • Elite Status Fast Track: Challenge
  • Mattress Runs
  • Hotel Status Guides


The Slow Way of Earning Hotel Status

Traditionally, people earned hotel status by staying many nights per year at a specific hotel brand. To get Gold status with Marriott hotel, for example, you will need to stay 50 nights. In Canada (and most parts of USA), it cost at least $125 (after tax) for one night stay at a Marriott property. This means you’d have to spend at least $6,250 to get gold status.

Later in this article, you will learn how to instantly get status or fast track your way so you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to obtain elite hotel status.

Hotel Requirements to Earn Elite Status

The difference between nights and stays:

Nights mean the number of time you stay over night at a hotel property. For example, if you book three nights at a specific hotel, you will get three night credit towards elite status. If you book three consecutive nights at one specific hotel, that counts as one stay. I know it sounds a little confusing but hopefully with the examples provided in this article, everything will make sense.

Here is a reference guide you can use to see the requirements to obtain elite status the slow way:






Best Western:

In the next section, we will cover how to get instant hotel elite status.


Instant Elite Hotel Status

In Canada, we have one option use to get instant elite hotel status and that is to get specific credit cards.. Here is a list of some of the hotel groups and which credit card you need to get instant elite hotel status:





Elite Status Fast Track: Status Match

To do a status match, you must already have elite status at one of the major hotel groups. For example, I used my Premier status with Fairmont to do a Platinum status match with Best Western.

Use one of the credit cards above to get yourself an instant elite hotel status. Afterwards, take a screenshot with evidence that you have elite status. For example, when I did a status match to Best Western, I went in my email and took a screenshot of my Premier Status with Fairmont. I then emailed Best Western the Premier status email screenshot and requested a status match to their program. Best Western then gave me Platinum status a few days later.

Below is a list of some of the major hotel group’s email, webform or phone number you can use to contact them and request a status match.

Status Match Contact List:

  • Marriott Rewards – 1.800.321.7396 or
  • Starwood Preferred Guest –
  • Hilton HHonors – or webform
  • Hyatt Gold Passport –
  • IHG Rewards Club –
  • Best Western Rewards – or webform

There is also a status matcher website with records of successful and failed status match attempts. Use this guide to give you an idea what is currently working and what is not.

Sometimes, when you try to status match, the hotel brand will offer to give you a status fast track challenge instead. In the next section, you’ll learn how to request for an elite status fast track challenge.

Elite Status Fast Track: Challenge

Below is a quick guide on how to initiate a fast track challenge with major hotel groups: 


Use AMEX Platinum promo code: PLAT5 if you are new to the program or PLATIN5 if you are an existing Fairmont President’s club member. Click on this link to initiate the platinum status challenge.


Contact and request the Platinum challenge. After staying 18 nights within 90 days, they will award you with Platinum Elite Status. You must not have had Platinum in the last five years to qualify for this challenge.


Contact and request for the Taste of Gold challenge. Here is a thorough article I wrote on how to initiate and complete the challenge and receive Gold Status. The Taste of Gold challenge is only available between January 2nd to April 30th every year. If you missed the Taste of Gold challenge time frame, use this other guide instead.

Use the mattress run technique below to save money when you’re trying to complete the fast track to elite status challenge.

Mattress Runs

Doing a “Mattress Runs” is when you purposely stay at hotels in order to obtain elite status. The goal of doing a mattress runs is to stay at the cheapest hotel possible to maximize your savings when attempting to complete a fast track to elite status challenge.

Cheapest Hotels in the World

There is a website called “The Cheapest Hotels Worldwide” that is starting to become popular in helping people find the cheapest hotels available in every hotel brand. Use this website to find the cheapest hotels possible then stay at those properties to fullfill the fast track to elite status challenge. By staying at the cheapest hotel, you will also save a ton of money in the process of obtaining elite status at your chosen hotel group.

Combine the mattress run strategy with travel hacking flights and you can easily travel the world, earn elite status, and maximize your savings. Then use your points to stay at your favorite hotels and have the added bonus of getting the best service, perks and room upgrades.


Travel Hacking Hotel Elite Status Conclusion

Since August 2015 of last year, I’ve received four hotel elite status. If you simply follow the guide above, you will be able to fast track your way to getting the coveted room upgrades, free breakfast and other cool perks.

It’s nice knowing that when I get up in the morning when I stay at a hotel, I can get free breakfast. I don’t have to wander around the city to find a place to eat.

If you are the type that likes to sleep in or do some work while staying at a hotel, that late checkout definitely comes in handy.

Start planning which hotel groups you want to earn hotel elite status and use the guide above to help you achieve your goal.

In Part 5 of the Starter’s Guide to Canadian Travel Hacking series, I will be providing a quick guide to travel hacking relocation vehicles.

Here are the previous travel hacking starter guides if you missed them:

Canadian Online Travel Course – From Economy to Luxury: The Ultimate Guide To Saving Money On Travel For Canadians 


Need additional help with earning lots of points and miles in Canada to travel to your favourite international destinations for around $100? Or perhaps you just want to learn how to travel cheaper and better as a Canadian? Check out the Canadian travel course – From Economy to Luxury: The Ultimate Guide To Saving Money On Travel For Canadians.

You’ll get 60% off your first purchase with Travel and Live Free if you use the link above.

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