The 9 airline and hotel loyalty programs that let you give the gift of elite status
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From free breakfast at hotels to first-class upgrades on flights, elite travelers get to share many of their perks when traveling with companions. But what if your family or friends are traveling alone?
With the exception of Hyatt’s Guest of Honor program, you typically cannot share your elite benefits with others when you aren’t traveling with them. Fortunately, though, several loyalty programs allow you to gift elite status to someone of your choosing.
This benefit is typically only available to top-tier elites who meet certain thresholds. However, in recent months, several programs made this benefit more widely available.
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Alaska lets its top-tier elites gift Mileage Plan elite status. When you unlock MVP Gold 75K status, you can gift MVP status to a friend or family member. This is even available to those who earned their status through a status match. All you need to do is fill out this form on Alaska’s website to nominate a recipient. Once approved, they’ll have the status through the end of the calendar year.
Perks of MVP status include a 50% mileage bonus, checked bag fee waiver, preferred seats at the time of booking (including emergency exit rows) and upgrades to premium and first class within 48 hours of departure.
American gives its most frequent flyers several opportunities to gift AAdvantage status.
As of this year, Executive Platinum members can choose to gift Gold status as a part of their new annual elite choice rewards. Additionally, reports suggest that select invitation-only Concierge Key members have been offered to gift Executive Platinum status to others.
You can also gift status through American Airlines’ Business Extra program. The program allows you to redeem 3,200 points ($16,000 of flight spending) for AAdvantage Gold status.
When you qualify for Platinum and Diamond Medallion status, you get to select “Choice Benefits” as a reward for hitting those tiers. While the Global and Regional Upgrade Certificates tend to be the top picks, among the other rewards are the opportunity to gift status. Platinum members can gift Silver status, while Diamonds can gift Gold. If you choose to take this route, you’ll want to make your selection as soon as possible as the gifted status goes into effect right away and expires on Jan. 31 of the following year, regardless of when you make the selection.
Keep in mind that Delta has extended all members’ 2020 elite status through Jan. 31, 2022. Delta will be giving eligible members a second set of Choice Benefits this year for the extended year of status.
Like American, Delta has the SkyBonus business program, which is separate from the SkyMiles program for individuals. Companies earn between 1-10 points per dollar spent on employee airfare and 120,000 points can be redeemed for Silver Medallion status. Just note that, unlike regular status, this one is valid for only 12 months from the date of issue.
Hertz Gold Rewards is currently running a promotion that lets you gift your equivalent status to a friend, family member or colleague for a year. There is no restriction on which elites can gift status.
To designate a recipient, simply enter their name, email and state on this form on the Hertz website. The recipient will have complimentary status from Jan. 31, 2021, to Jan. 31, 2022 and will have access to all of the same benefits that you have.
Hilton Honors offers the opportunity to gift mid-tier Gold status and top-tier Diamond status.
Typically, you can gift Gold status after spending 60 with the chain in a calendar year and Diamond status after spending 100 or more nights. However, for 2021, these thresholds have been lowered to just 30 nights to gift Gold and 60 nights to gift Diamond. If you have already gifted status before staying 60 nights, that person would be upgraded to Diamond once you hit that mark — you wouldn’t be able to gift Diamond to someone else.
As a part of a promotion, now through Jan. 31, 2021, all Hilton Diamond and Lifetime Diamond have an additional opportunity to gift elite status, regardless of how many nights you completed this year. Diamond members can gift mid-tier Gold status, while Lifetime Diamond members can gift top-tier Diamond status. Instructions on how to redeem this gift have been sent via email. Recipients will need to head to this link to redeem their gifted Gold status or this link for Diamond status and then enter their custom claim code.
Gifted status is good for 365 days from the gift date — it doesn’t follow the program year.
Didn’t meet the threshold, but still want to share the benefits of Hilton Honors status? Remind your friend or family member that Hilton Gold status comes as an automatic benefit of the following credit cards:
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
Or, they can get automatic Diamon status with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.
World of Hyatt doesn’t let you gift status outright. However, as previously mentioned, it offers something that’s potentially even better than gifting status.
As a part of the Hyatt Guest of Honor program, Hyatt Globalists can use their points to book an award stay for someone else and share all of the in-hotel benefits the Globalist would normally enjoy (i.e., free breakfast, waived fees and suite upgrade eligibility). You can book a stay for a different individual every time, but the stay must always be booked using points — there’s no such thing as a Guest of Honor paid stay.
One of the benefits of hitting IHG Rewards Club‘s top-tier Spire Elite status is a choice benefit of either 25,000 IHG Rewards Club points or the chance to gift Platinum Elite status to a friend or family member.
To gift the status, your recipient must be a member of the IHG Rewards Club but can’t currently have Platinum status. You’ll need to provide the last name and member number of the recipient. Benefits include bonus points on paid stays, room upgrades, late check-out and early check-in.
Before you decide which choice benefit you’re going to go with, remember that getting IHG Platinum elite status is easy, even without spending a single night at an IHG property. That’s because IHG Platinum status is an automatic benefit of the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, which has a low annual fee of $89.
Related: IHG Spire Elite Choice benefit guide
In addition to reducing the elite-qualifying criteria, this year, JetBlue is incentivizing flyers who over-qualify for Mosaic status with additional perks. Among them is the opportunity to gift status to someone else.
When you earn 20,000 Mosaic qualifying points, you’ll be able to fit Mosaic status to someone of your choosing. The gifted status will be valid through 2022.
On top of that, Mosaics can bring a companion for free for every paid flight booked and flown between Jan. 1 and May 20, 2021, including in Mint. Many of your Mosaic benefits, such as complimentary extra-legroom Even More Space seating on the day of departure, will extend to your companion. The companion doesn’t have to be the same person for each flight.
Once you reach 50 and 75 elite nights in a calendar year, you’re eligible for annual choice benefits. Although the Suite Night Awards tend to be the most popular picks, you can also choose to gift status to a family member, friend, or colleague.
When reaching 50 elite nights, you can gift Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status. Silver status is an automatic benefit on several cobranded Marriott credit cards and includes perks like a 10% points bonus on paid stays and priority late checkout.
After hitting the 75-night threshold, you get to gift Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status. Although it’s better than Silver, it’s still relatively easy to obtain via credit cards, so you might want to go with one of the other reward options.
When you have something as valuable as airline or hotel elite status, it’s natural to want to share the perks with others. Luckily, many loyalty programs allow their top customers to gift status to a person of their choosing.
Featured image by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy
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