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 privileges. 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 Bonvoy Hotel Platinum Status
  • Best Western Diamond Status

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

  • Room upgrade from Marriott
  • Room upgrade from Best Western (Presidential Suite in Kuala Lumpur!)
  • Free lounge access at Delta Hotels (recently merged with Marriott)
  • Free breakfast from Marriott
  • Late checkout from Marriott
  • Free dinner from Marriott

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:

Marriott:

Hilton:

Hyatt:

IHG:

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:

Marriott Bonvoy:

Hilton:

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 American Express Gold Status (now Platinum) to do a Diamond 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 Marriott Gold Status. I then emailed Best Western the Premier status email screenshot and requested a status match to their program. Best Western then gave me Diamond 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 elite.member@marriott-service.com
  • Hilton HHonors – HHonorMyStatus@hilton.com or webform
  • Hyatt Gold Passport – goldpassport@hyatt.com
  • IHG Rewards Club – ihgrewardsclub@ihg.com
  • Best Western Rewards – StatusMatch@bestwestern.com 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: 

Marriott:

Call Marriott Rewards customer service at 801-468-4000 or send an email to elite.member@marriott-service.com and request for the Gold or Platinum challenge. To complete the Gold challenge, you need to stay 8 nights. And, to complete the Platinum challenge, you need to stay 16 nights. In order to qualify for the Platinum challenge, you must have Gold Status already with Marriott which you automatically get if you have one of the Platinum American Express credit cards.

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

Hilton:

To start a Hilton status challenge, you can request a status match challenge here.

Here’s the information that you’ll need to provide Hilton to start the challenge:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Hilton Honors account number
  • Your status from another hotel loyalty program that you want Hilton Honors to match
  • Your current status with the hotel loyalty program you want to match from
  • Proof of status with the hotel loyalty program you want to match – take a screenshot of your current account status or your current and active membership card
  • Proof of stay in the last 12 months with the hotel loyalty program you want to match from – take a screenshot of your previous reservations or hotel receipt and make sure it has your name and membership number

If you want to do the Diamond Status challenge, you’ll need Platinum Status with Marriott first to qualify for this challenge. And if you want your stays to last until March 31, 2021, you’ll need to complete 8 stays in 90 days.

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:

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  • Learn how to fly to your favourite international destinations on economy for as little as $20-$200
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  • Learn how to stay at hotels for free
  • Learn how to get free accommodations
  • Learn how to get free or fast track to hotel elite status
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  • Learn how tips on how to rent relocation vehicles for $1-$25 per day

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