When you’re traveling and trying to get to your destination, sometimes it can be a little stressful. Having elite status with an airline or hotel can make all the difference. Having elite status can turn stressful traveling into a relaxing journey, but what happens when it’s gone. Thanks to status match and status challenge you don’t have to start at the bottom to get elite status if you want to use a different brand. And if you already have a ton of miles accumulated or expecting to have some upcoming miles accumulation, a status match can also help keep your travel points and miles from expiring and help you keep traveling the world for free with your points!
We will go over what status challenges are and what status match means and how it can help you to maintain an elite status when traveling.
What Exactly is Status Match?
So, status match or status challenges are essentially shortcuts to opportunities to obtain airline or hotel elite status with another brand that you don’t already have status with.
Let’s say for example that you have American Airlines Gold Status but you plan to start flying with Delta Airlines due to relocation. You can request to see if Delta will match your Gold status. If so, they’ll match your status to let you try their status benefits in comparison.
Trial period duration typically lasts only a few months. Trials can be extended though by completing the specified travel requirements, like completing a number of flights for example. Make note that doing this does not require that you transfer or end your elite status with your current brand. What’s happening is that you’re basically getting an additional organization’s elite status benefits through the status match or challenge.
The Benefits Of Status Match
You might be wondering if you already have elite status, why would you try to join a different one. There are a number of reasons for being interested in a status match or status challenge with a brand you don’t currently have.
There’s nothing wrong with having dual elite status just because you can but, another good reason for this is relocating. Changing locations can sometimes be a drag if you no longer have easy access to travel using your elite status. It’s important to remember that not all airlines are in every airport. With that in mind, after relocation, it makes sense to switch to an organization that you can easily use if you need to.
Another reason you might want to try a status match is if your current airline or hotel chain has altered its elite program. Perhaps you’re unhappy with the changes or new requirements and you won’t qualify. Taking advantage of a status match, allows you to try out another elite status benefits prior to committing.
Sometimes, though not very often, hotels and airlines can and do go out of business. They can even fall victim to mergers. When this happens, it can sometimes lead to changes in an organization’s structure and even its policies, like those regarding elite status. In the off chance that you experience this, looking into a status match may prove to be more beneficial.
Regardless of your reasoning, a status match or challenge remains a lesser-known option that can help make a difference when you’re travel.
Status Match vs. Status Challenges
Although the two terms, status match and status challenge refer to the same thing, they are in truth slightly different. When approaching an airline to inquire about a status match, there are four types of response that you could potentially receive after applying.
1. Status Match
The first and most sought-after response type is an approval to instantly match your current elite status. Once you are granted instant status there are no more requirements, no questions asked. You now have an additional elite status for the specified time period.
2. Status Challenge
The second response type would be to offer a challenge to complete some requirements in order to receive a matching status. For this type, only after completing the challenges will you be awarded elite status. For example, they may deny your status until you have flown a certain number of miles or spend a certain amount of money with them.
3. Match Challenge Combination
The third type of response would be a combination of instant approval of elite status match and challenges. How this works can sometimes be a little confusing. The elite status might only be valid for a few months unless you fly a certain number of miles, take so many flights, or even spend a specified number of dollars with their organization. Otherwise, once you hit the time limit, your elite status will have come to its end.
The last response type given unfortunately is most likely not what you were looking for and is a denial of a status match. Just because you got denied or your status expired, it doesn’t mean you’re plain out of luck. Depending on which organization that you’re trying, you might be able to re-apply. However, be aware that most organizations limit the number of times that you can do this to once in a lifetime up to once every 3 to 5 years. With that in mind, it’s always important to read through all the terms and conditions so you’re aware of these types of things.
There is actually one other method for trying to get elite status match and that is by paying for it. There are companies like American Airlines that’ll let you pay for a status challenge in order to gain elite status. The fee varies depending on what elite status level you’re aiming for.
Although the status match and status challenges are available to nearly everyone, there some restrictions regarding eligibility worth noting. Each airline or hotel has its own set of rules and regulations regarding its elite status and how to obtain it. There are also circumstances where frequent fliers may not be eligible, however, generally anyone with currently active elite status can apply.
Some instances that may result in a person being ineligible for a status match or status challenge could be for any of the following reasons.
If you received your elite status from a promotion like a credit card or possibly through another status match, you are not eligible. In the event that your elite status has expired, you are not eligible. Also if you do not reside in an eligible country or aren’t with certain airlines, you won’t be eligible either. Other than that you should have a good chance at qualifying, it certainly doesn’t hurt to try. After all, you’ll never be approved if you never ask.
Status Match Offerings
There are a number of airlines and hotel chains offering a status match or status challenges. Below are some examples of some of the more popular options, however, this is just a sample and there are a lot more offers available upon researching.
Airline Status Match
There is a huge and growing number of airlines that offer status match and status challenges. A simple google search will yield multiple pages of viable results. The only question is which organization will work best for you and the places you travel. Below you can see a few examples.
1. American Airlines
In order to satisfy AA’s status challenge requirements, you need to earn both qualifying miles as well as qualifying dollars. The challenge is publicly available for both Gold and Platinum status, however, has an upfront fee of $200. Instant Gold status costs a total of $400 and Platinum goes for a total of $500 if you are willing to pay.
2. Southwest Airlines
In contrast to American Airlines, Southwest doesn’t have a fee to apply. As long as you have current elite status elsewhere, you are free to apply for Southwest’s status match and challenge. Southwest will match you to a promotional A-List status for 90 days. During that time you are required to complete your qualifying miles, otherwise your A-List status will stop at the end of 90 days. Southwest also offers the famous companion pass that allows your friends or families to travel free with you for up to two years!
Hotel Status Match
1. Best Western
As a rather well-known hotel chain, Best Western has a ‘Status Match No Catch’ program that you can join by simply completing a form. They will match your status no questions asked once you provide the needed information. They don’t necessarily have a large number of amenities, however, you can still save a great deal of money
Hilton also offers a status match and challenge program that you can take advantage of. After completing the challenge you’ll have an elite status for at least 12 months. Once you have elite status with Hilton, you’ll find there are lots of other chains that you’ll be able to status match up to Hilton Diamond status.
Marriott and Starwood hotels offer a very simple challenge for people interested in obtaining status with them. You will be granted Gold or Platinum status upon completing 8 nights for Gold and 16 nights for Platinum. You have 90 days to complete the challenge and it won’t become active until you complete the requirements.
Deciding to try for a status match or taking a status challenge can make a lot of sense depending on your travel habits and area. Not only can it help you to decide the best fit for your travel style, but it can also help to save money. At times of relocation, status anniversary, or prior to status expiration, you might want to look into possible options to switch or try out a competitor’s benefits. Regardless of your reasoning, a status match is a great way to help keep your traveling flexible and stress-free.