How opening one credit card can give you elite status in 5+ hotel programs

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The idea of hotel elite status is great. You get preferential treatment like upgraded rooms and free breakfast. You earn more points for your stay than less savvy travelers. In some cases, you’ll get annoying fees like daily parking waived.

But earning elite status, particularly top-tier status, isn’t always easy. Elite status also handcuffs you to one specific hotel chain if you want to reap the benefits of your status. That stinks, because sometimes other hotel chains offer better prices in better locations for your upcoming trip.

What if you could earn elite status with one chain and turn it into status with a whole bunch of hotel brands? It’s actually quite easy to do. In fact, you could simply open a hotel credit card that offers automatic elite status and parlay that into multiple elite statuses. I’ll show you how.

Marriott Platinum elite status gives you free breakfast at many top-notch hotels — it saved us nearly $700 in the Maldives. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets)

How to status match elite status

The hotel industry is cutthroat. Hotels continually devise strategies to poach your business from their competitors. One famous strategy is offering customers with elite status in a rival program the opportunity to freely receive elite status in their own program.

For example, if you tell Hilton that you have Marriott Bonvoy Platinum status, they know you must stay at hotels frequently. They might be (and probably are) willing to give you their top-tier Hilton Honors Diamond status to woo you away from Marriott and spend your money with them, instead.

I booked a hotel in Oregon for later this year. I later realized the hotel brand is under the Best Western umbrella. I immediately sent a message to Best Western letting them know I have Marriott Platinum status, and I’d like to status match. Within hours they had emailed me back confirming I now have their highest elite status, which normally requires 50 nights or 40 stays at Best Western property to achieve.

There’s a very helpful site called StatusMatcher. This site crowdsources data points from travelers who share the results of their status match attempts, and provide details that help you to status match, yourself.

You can apply for status matches through the below links or by sending an email to the below addresses:

Below are the four biggest hotel loyalty programs, along with helpful data points from StatusMatcher from the past few years.

Marriott Bonvoy

Status you haveStatus you can earn through a status match
Marriott SilverNo data points
Marriott Gold– Hilton Gold
– IHG Platinum
– Radisson Rewards Silver
Marriott Platinum– Hilton Diamond
– MGM Mlife Platinum
– Best Western Diamond Select
Marriott TitaniumNo data points

Hilton Honors

Status you haveStatus you can earn through a status match
Hilton Silver– La Quinta Returns Gold
– Sonesta Travel Pass Elite
Hilton Gold– Radisson Rewards Silver
– Best Western Diamond
– Wyndham Diamond
Hilton Diamond– Caesars Rewards Diamond
– Choice Privileges Platinum

Hyatt

Status you haveStatus you can earn through a status match
Hyatt Discoverist– Hilton Gold
Hyatt Explorist– MGM Mlife Gold
– Radisson Rewards Gold
– Hilton Gold
– Best Western Diamond
Hyatt Globalist– Hilton Diamond
– MGM Mlife Platinum

IHG

Status you haveStatus you can earn through a status match
IHG Gold– Radisson Rewards Gold
– Hilton Gold
IHG Platinum– Choice Privileges Platinum
– Radisson Rewards Gold
– Hilton Diamond (multiple data points confirm, but I wouldn’t count on it)
– Wyndham Diamond
IHG Spire– Hilton Diamond
– Best Western Rewards Diamond Select

How would this work in practice?

With just a single elite status, you can scoop up quite a few statuses in other programs. It’s a snowball effect.

For example, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card comes with automatic Marriott Gold elite status. According to the above charts:

  • You should be able to match that to Hilton Gold and IHG Platinum
  • You can then match Hilton Gold status to Best Western Diamond and Wyndham Diamond
  • You can match IHG Platinum with Choice Privileges Platinum, La Quinta Returns Elite, Radisson Rewards Gold, and possibly Hilton Diamond
  • If you manage to match to Hilton Diamond, you can then match to Caesars Rewards Diamond

Poof! You’ve got varying levels of elite status with up to eight different programs — just from opening one credit card. Without status matching or hotel credit cards, you’d have to stay a total of 244 nights to earn all these statuses:

  • Marriott Gold – earned after 25 nights
  • Hilton Gold – earned after 40 nights
  • IHG Platinum – earned after 40 nights
  • Best Western Diamond – earned after 50 nights
  • Wyndham Diamond – earned after 24 nights
  • Choice Privileges Platinum – earned after 15 nights
  • Radisson Rewards Gold – earned after 30 nights

Again, your results may vary, and the above strategy isn’t guaranteed. Hotel programs are occasionally unwilling to extend any kind of “free” status. Other times you may be offered a status challenge, which provides you temporary elite status with the opportunity to keep it if you complete a certain amount of stays in a specific time frame.

Note that you may have to provide proof of recent stays to finalize some status matches, meaning the credit card route might not always work.

Credit cards that offer hotel elite status

You can become an elite with a handful of programs just from opening one credit card! Below are some cards that come with automatic elite status which will get the snowball rolling on your elite status match strategy:

Bottom line

Status matching allows you to reap elite status benefits with just about any hotel chain without the need to stay loyal to one rewards program. You can pick the hotel that best fits your travel plans instead of pigeon-holing yourself into staying with one brand.

Let us know if you have any good data points from status matching! We’ll add it to the above tables if we missed one. And subscribe to our newsletter for more travel tricks like this delivered to your inbox once per day.

Featured image by Joseph Hostetler/Million Mile Secrets

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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