If you aren’t familiar with the story about Kyle MacDonald, you should do yourself a favor and read the very brief Wikipedia article about his fascinating story. In short, over a series of 14 online trades, Kyle was able to turn a single red paperclip into a two-storey farmhouse.
I often think about Kyle’s story when I look at all the statuses that I have “earned” over a short period of time and I wanted to share with you how you can do it as well.
I will caveat this by saying that you really do need to be up to date as to the current offerings of the major hotel chains and airlines if you want to be able to leverage this strategy but I’ll give you the resources to do that.
How I Started
To be honest, I never really gave status much of a though when I traveled for business so while I did collected points and stays, for the longest time I never looked for the most efficient way to do it. This explains why I didn’t have status for a long, long time.
Back about 6-7 year ago, after many years of traveling for business, I decided to concentrate my hotel stays at Hilton’s chain of hotels. The main reason for choosing Hilton was that they had a lot of hotels in the area of town I often visited in Houston. I can’t remember how but I was turned onto Loyalty Lobby, a blog site that primarily focuses on hotel promotions, but there was a “secret” link that allowed people to register for an accelerated way to Gold Status. Typically to get Gold Status, you would need 20 stays or 40 nights but with the “secret” link, you could register to get Gold status in as little as 3 stays. I registered just before an upcoming business trip and moved to 3 separate Hilton hotels during my week in Houston.
Sure, it was a bit of a pain to pack up and move but it was a small price to pay to earn Gold status.
By the way, the look of envy your co-workers give you when you get upgraded to a suite and they don’t … it’s awesome 🙂
Luckily, Hilton is currently offering a similar Fast Track to Gold where you can earn Gold status with 4 stays in 90 days of registration. If you have upcoming hotel stays, I would recommend that you register for this offer and use Hilton hotels for your hotels, if you can.
What I Did Next
Some of how I leveraged my status was a bit of “right place, right time” in that I happened to have Hilton Gold Status when Marriott purchased SPG. When the initial acquisition was announced, Hyatt pounced. In an effort to bring over highly coveted SPG status members, Hyatt offered a straight status match with any major hotel chain, including Hilton. Typically they provide a status challenge where you would have to have something like 7-9 stays within 90 days in order to earn status. With an easy email and a couple of screenshots, I was able to leverage my Hilton Gold Status to Hyatt Platinum Status. From the Hyatt Platinum, I was able to match with SPG and received SPG Gold Status.
In short, you are trading one status for another and encouraging each program to entice you to become their loyal member.
Great, How Do I Do It?
As I mentioned earlier, you need to be up to date with the offers that are out there for hotels and airlines so you know when to leverage your status. An easy way to do that is to use Feedly, an RSS aggregator. I cover Feedly and how to use in my a previous blog article How to Keep Up To Date With Travel Hacking News. You can also read my previous article on a similar subject, How to Leverage Your Status with a Status Match.
Earning your first status is often the most difficult step, which is why I encourage people that don’t travel that much but still want status for their stays, to apply for the American Express Platinum Card. The reason for this is that with the American Express Platinum, you receive the following statuses:
- SPG Gold
- Marriot Gold (as a result of the reciprocal benefits of SPG status)
- Hilton Gold
- Club Carlson Gold
- Fairmont Platinum (when you charge 5 nights to your Platinum card)
As you can imagine, with these statuses in your back pocket, you can much more easily leverage your status so you can get to the top tiers of these program with a Status Challenge or match your status with other hotel chains.
For an understanding of which hotel and airline chains match status, please refer to StatusMatcher.
Can You Do This With Airlines?
Absolutely. In fact, I have been able to earn Gold Status with WestJet and then leverage that status to Alaska MVP Gold (which is amazing). I have just recently leveraged the MVP Gold Status for a chance to earn Delta Gold Status through a Status Challenge. I will need to fly 12,500 or 15 segments with Delta to retain my status but during the challenge period, I receive the same benefits as a Gold Member. meaning free upgrades to Delta Comfort+ and upgrades to First/Business Class when there is availability.
Status provides you many benefits including room upgrades, free breakfast, access to Club Lounges, upgrades to First Class, and there’s no disputing that you are given much better treatment as a status member than as an infrequent guest. All you have to do to unlock this world is to achieve your first status and leverage it like Kyle MacDonald did with his single red paperclip.