Escaping Marriott With a Status Match — Reader Success Story

May 17, 2019

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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Jeff, who took a roundabout path to Hyatt status:

I am a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite member with lifetime status, and like other readers, have become increasingly frustrated with the poor customer service, points devaluation and other issues surrounding the Marriott/SPG merger. I wanted to move more of my business to Hyatt, but was struggling to do so because the World of Hyatt program wasn’t offering any sort of status match. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of spending 30 nights in a hotel before receiving any benefits that matter to me, but I was able to find a workaround to help me earn elevated status more quickly.

Wyndham offered to match other hotel statuses even up to the highest tier, so I matched my Marriott Titanium status to Wyndham Rewards Diamond status.  Thanks to Wyndham’s partnership with Caesars, my new Wyndham status also gave me Total Rewards Diamond status. I then used that Diamond status to match at a local MGM casino to M life Gold. Since M life has a partnership with Hyatt, I was able to finally match to Hyatt Explorist status. I know this seems like a lot of work, but most of it was easily done online with the exception of the one casino visit. It was worth the effort, because now I can receive elite benefits at Hyatt while I’m earning status this year. 

I’m happy I made the switch, because I’ve found Hyatt treats it mid-tier Explorist guests better than Marriott has been treating Titanium guests. I will still continue to use Marriott for convenience because Hyatt is a smaller brand and doesn’t have a presence in every market, but Hyatt has become my preferred hotel chain for a variety of reasons (like great resort options, better value from Chase transfers and more).

A status match or challenge is a great way to test the waters with another program (or switch your loyalty entirely), but if you can’t initiate one directly, other shortcuts may be available. Hyatt doesn’t offer a status match apart from M life (at least not publicly), but Jeff was still able to leverage his Marriott status indirectly through a series of other established partnerships and match opportunities. When you can’t string those together, another option is to contact the program you’re interested in and request a status match privately. Email customer service with proof of your current status and point out any upcoming stays you’ve booked. There’s no guarantee your request will be honored, but there’s little harm in asking — despite Marriott’s reports of recent growth, many dissatisfied Bonvoy members are jumping ship, and other hotel programs are eager to scoop them up.

If you’re ditching Marriott but haven’t qualified for high-level elite status, consider jumping off the status hamster wheel entirely and giving your loyalty to Hotels.com instead. You generally won’t earn points for stays booked through a third party, but you can still get good value from Hotels.com Rewards, which offers one free night after every ten paid nights you book. You can boost that return further by taking advantage of the partnership with Capital One, or by purchasing discounted Hotels.com gift cards. Going this route means giving up benefits like upgrades and late check-out, but you’ll gain flexibility in booking since you won’t be attached to any one program.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Jeff a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to info@thepointsguy.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published, we’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured photo courtesy of Orlando World Center Marriott.

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