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Airline and hotel status matching is a very popular topic within the travel community. Getting status with a specific hotel or airline can often mean additional benefits and perks. In this post and video, I want to show you how to get a status match on another hotel or airline, and review some tips and tools that you can use.

Why do a status match

When I used to travel frequently for work, I would primarily stay at Hilton hotels and fly on United Airlines. It made sense at the time since my employer had a partnership with Hilton hotels, and United offered a direct flight from my home airport to my client’s city. I was on that project for about a year and a half and flew almost every week. This allowed me to earn a lot of United and Hilton points, as well as loyalty status on both.

I then found myself on a completely different project in another state. Ironically, I started flying on Delta and staying at a local Marriott hotel since it was more convenient and cost-effective. I was torn though! I didn’t want to start over to earn status with these companies. So instead, I used a status match with both Marriott and Delta to receive immediate status upgrades with these companies. This meant that I got priority boarding during flights and a better room at the hotel.

That was years ago, but the concept remains the same. If you happen to have status with a hotel, airline, car rental, or any travel-related program, you can often ask a competing company if they will match the status.

Why companies want to give you elite status

You might be wondering why would a company want to match your status? These companies know that if you have loyalty status with them, you’re more likely to use their services over the competition. When the cost between two hotels, airlines, or car rental services is similar, having loyalty status can sway a customer. These companies want you to feel connected to their program in hopes that you spend more money using their services.

How to do a status match?

Suppose you have status with an airline, hotel, or car rental service, and you want to see if a competitor will honor the status. Where do you start? A good place to begin is StatusMatcher. This website is a community-driven site where people share their experiences requesting a status match. Most of the posts follow the same format showing you what program they were using to establish the status match. The site shows the statistics of how many reported posts were a match, challenge, or denial.

StatusMatcher statistics for Aloft Hotels
Statistics from StatusMatcher for Aloft Hotels

A match basically means that the company matched the status or even provided a higher one without requiring any additional qualifying actions.

A challenge means that the company requires that you complete some kind of action with a specified time period to be granted a full match. This is intended to confirm that you’re serious and committed to changing loyalty programs. This may include:

  • Flying X number of flights
  • Flying X number of  segments within a certain time period
  • Spending X amount of dollars

What I like about StatusMatcher is that they also mark companies that are likely to offer a match or challenge. This can save you quite a bit of time! Rather than applying for each one individually and blindly, you can be more strategic with your approach. The site allows you to see how others in your exact situation fared and whether they have any tips to share.

StatusMatcher marking airlines with high probability of a Match or Challenge
StatusMatcher marks companies with a high likelihood of a Match or Challenge

What you’ll need to provide

If a company asks you to provide proof, you may have to send a photo of a status card or a screenshot of your account. You may also have to provide justification of why you would like to have status with their company, as well as your recent travel history.

Additional tips and considerations

If you’re looking to do a status match, here are some tips to keep in mind.

1. Consider requesting a status match before a big trip:

An upcoming trip with an airline and/or hotel where you don’t status might be an opportunity to earn a status match, especially if you need to complete a challenge. Also, perks like priority boarding, lounge access, extra baggage allowance, and free breakfast can make a difference and enhance your trip.

2. Status matches are usually granted only once:

One thing to keep in mind is that companies will only grant a status match once. There are a few exceptions to this rule. However, you generally cannot request a status match over and over again with the same company.

Going back to our first point, you may want to be strategic about when you ask for a status match. You’ll want to do it when you have a chance to travel with that company and potentially meet any challenge requirements.

3. Don’t fake your status:

When providing proof, do NOT send it any altered or photoshopped images or screenshots. This might have worked in the past, but the airlines have become savvier when it comes to cross-checking your status. My advice is to avoid any deception. Just like with credit cards, it’s not worth damaging a relationship, especially when you may want to use a company or service in the future.

4. Apply for a status match during the second half of the year:

If you’re granted status during the second half of the year, it usually carries over to the following calendar year. If you get it earlier in the year, you’ll likely only have the status until the end of the current calendar year.

5. Understand the difference between EQMs, EQDs, and EQSs:

These stand for:

  • EQM: Elite Qualifying Miles
  • EQD: Elite Qualifying Dollars
  • EQS: Elite Qualifying Segments

I won’t go into a detailed explanation of each, but know that each airline has different guidelines and qualifications. In the last few years, status has become much more complicated. Even if you fly a lot of miles with a specific airline (e.g., via points or discount fares), you might not earn status. This may be due to insufficient segments or spending on fares. Also, to make things even more complicated, sometimes the points or spend from an airline credit card doesn’t qualify as an EQM or EQD.

In summary, it comes down to the airline. You’ll need to dig into the rules to understand what does and does not count toward status.

6. Look for mergers and acquisitions:

The travel industry is constantly evolving. Airlines get purchased by other airlines and the same happens with hotels. Two recent examples are Alaska Airlines acquiring Virgin America and Marriott acquiring Starwood. These mergers and acquisitions can be stressful when it comes to valuing your point currencies. However, you can often use these situations to get an easy status match.

7. Get status via a credit card:

If your work situation is similar to mine, then you’re not traveling much for work. This means that a status match is not an option for you. Though an easy way to get a bump in status is by getting a co-branded or premium travel credit card. Some cards, like the American Express Platinum Card, provide elite status for several programs as part of their membership benefits.

If you’re uncomfortable with the annual fee of a premium card, then you can always go with a co-branded hotel or airline card. These cards usually provide some level of status or perks as part of your membership at a lower annual fee. For example, I keep my United Explorer card since it lets me board before the general boarding call and gives me more award seat availability.

Chase United Explorer and Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus airline credit cards
Airline credit cards that I keep purely for the perks!

I also have a few hotel cards that often make me eligible for additional benefits. Some even include a free night every year, which is worth more than the annual fee of the card.

Hyatt, IHG Rewards Club, and Club Carlson hotel credit cards
Hotel credit cards are a great way to get status and other perks (like a free annual night)

Have you ever done a status match? If so, let us know in the comment section below. Also, let us know if you have any tips for others looking to do the same.

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