A few days ago, Loyalty Lobby told us that Le Club Accor was providing yet another promotion for top-tier Platinum status at their hotels. Similar offers were available during the winter, which I took advantage of at the time. Now that it’s back, you should jump on it, and I’m going to see if I can use it to extend the duration of my current Platinum status.
But when am I going to stay at an Accor hotel? The Sofitel brand is nice, sure, though I’m more likely to stay at a nearby Hyatt or Starwood properties to add to already large point balances and more generous elite benefits. Other Accor brands are, well, cheap. That’s about all they have going for them because when elite status is given away for free, it sometimes means it wasn’t worth much in the first place.
Status Matches Multiply Like Rabbits
You should take advantage of this opportunity anyway because of the potential benefits of an elite status match with another loyalty program. Recall Monday’s post on my mid-year progress toward elite status with different airlines and hotels. American gave me an outright match to their Executive Platinum tier because I was a Premier 1K with United.
Other times it is not truly a status match but rather a status challenge. Hyatt wanted to see proof of my elite status with another hotel chain before it would give me an expedited opportunity to earn Diamond status with only 12 nights instead of 50.
In my limited experience, hotels are typically more generous with matches and challenges. Matches still exist, and even a challenge will at least put you at a similar tier as your old program. You might even be able to get a challenge without pre-existing status at another chain.
Airlines, however, rarely give matches, and American’s offer to me was exceptional. More often you will be offered one tier below your existing status (so an Executive Platinum at American might only be offered Premier Platinum or Premier Gold at United), and this still comes with a challenge component. You might have to pay a fee to be eligible for a challenge. Car rental agencies, however, can be some of the easiest.
Every program has its own rules about which tiers at which other programs it will match to its own tiers. The terms can and do change, and temporary promotions sometimes exist. I originally thought this was the case with American’s offer, but for now it seems to be an ongoing strategy to poach high-value customers. As you qualify for each one, you will have yet another tool to continue your domination across the map of elite airline and hotel programs.
Improve Your Odds
Having elite status with one program doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a match or challenge with another program. They might want to see evidence that you actually earned that status. This is not difficult. I was able to use my Hilton HHonors Gold VIP status and a copy of a nine-month old folio plus a Priority Club Platinum account statement with only one night listed to qualify for my Hyatt Diamond challenge. If you want to improve your chances of using free status to qualify for elite privileges with another company, it might be worthwhile to book a cheap hotel or flight just to have something on your account statement when they ask to see it.
As with all travel hacking, there is a range of ethical dilemmas. Using free status and a single hotel night isn’t exactly the same as earning that status the hard way. But if it works, it works.
Status (What Is It Good For?)
Well, definitely not nothing. I found a site called StatusMatcher.com that will help you figure out what programs match to what other programs and the various tiers within them. It’s not perfect because it relies on user submissions, but you might find it easier to use than searching the endless forums on FlyerTalk and MilePoint.
In fact, Best Western has a standing offer to match just about any elite status program, so you don’t need to take advantage of Accor’s promotion if you already have something else. I don’t stay at these cheaper chains quite as often, but status is good to have if you find yourself on a road trip or in less urban areas.
InsideFlyer magazine also had a good article on this same topic in February. It covers a few details I didn’t bother to mention here, and at the bottom it includes a cheat sheet for matching between different major loyalty programs. A warning you’ll find there and here is that you should choose your elite status matches carefully! Some programs only allow one lifetime match or challenge, while others place similar but less restrictive limits. Of course, any match is up to the discretion of the program–rules are made to be broken–but you shouldn’t apply for everything under the sun unless you think you might be able to use it. That’s why I’ve held off so far on a Starwood Platinum challenge.
The final word? Yon’t need to settle for an average experience on your next trip. Even a graduate student like me can obtain mid- or top-tier status with several major chains thanks to matches! 😀