How I Missed $250 of Elite Benefits — Reader Mistake Story

Dec 14, 2017

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We often publish stories from readers that illustrate how points and miles can help you get where you want to go. However, it’s important to learn from our mistakes as well as our successes, so I’m calling on you to send us your most epic travel failure stories. Email them to and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls. If we publish your story, we’ll send you a gift to help jump-start your next adventure!

Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Naveen, who neglected some of his benefits following a status match. Here’s what he had to say:

I use United Airlines for most of my travel, and I am a SPG Platinum member. I also became a Platinum member with Marriott Rewards when Starwood and Marriott began matching elite status last year, but given that I don’t stay with Marriott often, I wasn’t familiar with all the benefits. I didn’t realize that I could get United Premier Silver status through the RewardsPlus program, which ended up costing me a few opportunities.

Based on my travel with United just in the last six months, I missed out on around 7,000 miles that I would have earned with the Silver mileage bonus — that’s worth $98 based on your valuations. I’ve also paid $150 in checked bag fees that I could have avoided. This totals $248 of value lost, and doesn’t account for intangible benefits like priority access and upgrades.

I thought I’d share this so hopefully others will check for benefits they might not know about after completing a status match.

Starwood Preferred Guest status can also get you elite benefits from Delta Air Lines.


Frequent flyers sometimes go to great lengths to qualify for airline status, but you can also get there without having to meet the normal mileage and spending requirements. Shortcuts like credit card perks and status matches offer paths to elite benefits with no flight activity whatsoever. You only have to know what opportunities are available to you and remember to take advantage of them. Now that Naveen is more familiar with his Marriott benefits, he’ll be able to save on fees and earn more miles when he flies with United, and hopefully his story will help others do the same.

Marriott Rewards and United MileagePlus aren’t the only loyalty programs to offer mutual benefits. The Crossover Rewards program gives Delta and Starwood elites bonus rewards and perks like free checked bags and late check-out. Starwood offers similar benefits with China Eastern, and Wyndham Rewards and Total Rewards launched a partnership that offers reciprocal status and the ability to transfer points between the two programs. Keep an eye out for these and other opportunities to push the boundaries of your existing elite benefits.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Naveen for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels.

I’d like to do the same for you! If you’ve ever arrived at the airport without ID, booked a hotel room in the wrong city, missed out on a credit card sign-up bonus or made another memorable travel or rewards mistake, I want to hear about it. Please indulge me and the whole TPG team by sending us your own stories (see instructions above). I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured image courtesy of Tom Merton via Getty Images.

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