4 Travel Hacks to Unlock Access Elite Travel Status

Free checked bags? Late check-outs? Room and flight upgrades? All that and more is possible if you know how to work the system. I’ve rounded up my top travel hacks so you can gain coveted “elite” travel status and the perks that come with it.

1. Book Separate Nights. When staying in a hotel for more than one night, booking more than one night can elevate you to elite status pretty quickly. Book each night separately, if possible. Doing this may make it easier to meet the requirements to gain the perks of hotel elite status, like free stays and luxury treatment. For example, to earn elite status with Starwood hotel you need to spend 25 nights or 10 stays. Booking a three-day trip separately could count for three nights instead of one stay. Be careful because the hotel receptionist may ask some questions, some acceptable answers are that the rooms need to be booked separately for business clients who you will be billing separately.

2. Stat-Matching Programs: Loyalty does bring its rewards. And if you’re loyal enough to one brand you can get elite status with other brands through stat-matching programs, which can be found on rewards tracking websites like RewardExpert.com. For example, those with elite status with Marriott, Starwood, Hyatt, Choice Hotels or IHG programs can get the same elite membership tier and it’s perks at Hilton Honors until 2018, as part of a special promotion.

3. Use the Right Card. Some credit cards come with ‘elite status’ perks already built in, like the Hyatt credit card from Chase. If approved, you’re welcomed to a world of luxury travel through automatic Platinum elite status. With Platinum elite status you can get two free nights at a Hyatt Hotel if you make $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of opening the card. When trying to achieve elite status its best to pick one of these types of reward credit cards, rather than a generic travel rewards credit card as it won’t give you access to the same rewards. Credit card churners, be careful, cancelling the credit card prematurely or having your account closed could cause you to lose your elite status.

4. Take The Challenge. Major airlines like American Airlines, United and Delta run status challenges which requires people to fill a minimum spending requirement to gain elite status. For example, those who earn 7,000 elite-qualifying miles in 90 days will receive the perks of Gold Membership on American Airlines. Those who acquire 12,500 miles will achieve platinum status. Be careful, once you gain access you have to pay $120 for Gold status and $200 for Platinum. Normally, you would have to earn 25,000 elite-qualifying miles for Gold status, which means that you can skip out on earning the 18,000 remaining miles and dish out $120.