Status Matching is the holy grail of the points and miles and loyalty game. Successful status matches let you leverage your elite status with one program for status with another with almost no initial interaction at all.
This ability offers you huge savings since you no longer have to show commitment to two programs to earn status. You can skip the earning process and go straight to enjoying the perks and benefits of status. So, how does status matching work, and how can you make it work for you?
Why Do Loyalty Programs Offer Status Matches
The simple answer is to overcome customer inertia. Ultimately, a finite number of frequent travelers will earn elite status with any program. In addition, these individuals tend to stick with the program they have status with since they are treated well and rewarded for their loyalty, so why should they switch?
This is where status matches come in. The matching airline knows that the individual is a frequent traveler. By virtue of already holding status with a competitor. So, the matching airline is trying to tempt the individual over with free status in the hope of impressing them with the quality of their product. Once done, the airline or hotel, now that they can get the person to switch loyalty, has acquired one of the best travelers around. Ultimately, from the program perspective, status matching is the program trying to pick the pockets of other loyalty programs and stealing their best, most loyal customers. This is why status match offerings tend to be the most lucrative around.
How Status Matches Work
Status matches are relatively straightforward. Generally, you need to submit a specified set of information to your matching program for them to grant you status. As a rule of thumb, you need to submit the following information.
- Credentials of your current program should include your name and status.
- The details of your membership to the program you are matching to.
- Any other required information like a government-issued ID.
Remember that many airlines are very strict about your name matching exactly on both programs. So it is worth your while ensuring you always use the same name format for all our loyalty memberships. For instance, if your name with one program is John E. Smith, make sure it is always that, and you don’t accidentally use John Smith for one program since you will find it difficult to status match from that to the program with the initial included in the name.
Status Matching: When Should You Do It?
Deciding when the time is right to status match can be tricky since there are many variables, and you don’t want to waste your match. That said, the first and most obvious time to status match Is when you have a bunch of travel planned with that carrier or suitable partner or hotel program.
So, if you have many flights coming up with United or Delta this year, you may choose to match to either program or a partner. This way, at the end of the year of busy travel, you will have had the chance to complete the status challenge or will have earned status by meeting the requirements. At the end of the day, you should always keep your powder dry and only choose to status match to any program when your travel plans mean you will make maximum use of this new status.
Partner Matches Can Make More Sense
One thing to remember is that sometimes you have to be tactical with your status match, depending on your travel plans. Take, for instance, a situation where you regularly fly United on domestic routes. Matching to Star Alliance Gold level on United will not help you much with lounge access on these domestic flights.
In this situation, you are better off matching your existing status to a program like Air Canada Aeroplan or any other major Star Alliance carrier. Unfortunately, one of the quirks of the points and miles world is that, in some cases, programs treat partner better than their own members. As a Star Alliance Gold member from a partner airline, you can access United Clubs when traveling domestically. However, if you were a United Star Alliance Gold member, you would not be able to access those same lounges!
The above scenario is one of the main reasons many travelers choose to pursue status with a program other than the one they travel with regularly.
One of the best-hidden secrets of the points and miles world is the website Statusmatcher.com. Here, many people submit the results of their status-matching attempts. The results are collated and updated in real-time. This allows you to know at any time whether a program will likely offer a status match.
Furthermore, you can use the site search feature to see the results of matches between specific programs. This lets you dial in and target your matches and stops you from wasting time in a trial-and-error process.
The site covers airline, hotel, and other loyalty programs and has many contributors, so it is well worth your while checking out before attempting a match. Remember that if you attempt to status match, post the results of your efforts since it may help someone else in the community.
Hotel Status Matching Is A Great Option
When you first think about status matching, the first thing that springs to mind is airline loyalty programs. However, that is only half of the picture since, more often than not, hotels also play a part in the status-matching game. Not only can you match the status between hotel programs, but in many cases, you can match your hotel status to an airline program and vice versa.
What is even more appealing is that hotel programs seem more generous with their status matches than airline programs. A quick glance at the statusmatcher.com hotel’s page makes clear that far more hotels are happy to status match than airlines. This gives you many more options to leverage your status; it is often easier to match status from an airline to a hotel program. Not to mention, in many cases, mid-tier status with an airline can provide top or close to top-tier status with a hotel program.
Hotel Elite Status through Credit Cards
Considering the relative ease of status matching to and from hotels, Co-brand credit cards are your best friend. Consider that, in many cases, co-brand credit cards provide either complimentary elite status or a shortcut to achieving it.
This means you can apply for a credit, which will give you elite status with one hotel brand. You can then leverage this status for a new match with another airline or hotel program. This makes co-brand credit cards more valuable than ever and a powerful tool in any travel rewards strategy.
One thing worth noting is you will need to pay close attention to the fine print of any status challenge or status match. In some cases, you are asked to provide documentation showing that you earned your status the “proper” way, not via credit card membership. Similar to the recent Delta Status Challenge, this is designed to close this loophole and prevent you from leveraging complementary status for even more perks and benefits.
Beware Status Matching For the Sake of Matching
One of the biggest pitfalls of status matching is ending up status matching for the sake of status matching. You get excited, realizing that you can have elite status in multiple programs, so you sign up and match.
Unfortunately, you only then use the status once or twice, if any, before it expires and is used up. Reading the small print, most matches restrict how many times you can match in several years. So, by matching and not making the most of your match, you are burning your bridges with the program. So if things change in a couple of years and you want to status match, then you will find you have lost your shot.
It is much better to sit on the ability to status match until you are certain that you will make the most of it and maximize its perks and benefits. After all, when it comes to travel rewards, your aim should always be to maximize the rewards to yourself with the minimum cost in terms of opportunities and cash!
Status matching is one of the hidden gems of the points and miles world. Being strategic and leveraging your status with one program for another can provide excellent value. It allows you to significantly boost the value of your status and maximize its returns.
Bear in mind that this is much more valuable than alliance partners. Say, for instance, receiving lounge access when flying American as a BA Executive Club member. Leveraging status matches means you can use your BA Gold status with virtually every airline worldwide as long as you are strategic and plan ahead.
To get the most out of your travel rewards strategy, you should always keep an eye out for smart status matches. Triggering them at the right time can give you plenty of value!