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9 airline and hotel loyalty programs that let you give the gift of elite status

The Points Guy logo The Points Guy 12/18/2021 Benji Stawski
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

From free breakfast at hotels to first-class upgrades on flights, elite travelers get to share many of their perks with companions when traveling. But what if your family or friends are traveling without you?

Except for Hyatt’s Guest of Honor program and Air Canada’s Status Pass, 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, several programs have made this benefit more widely available over the last year and a half.

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In This Post

Air Canada

Aeroplan 50K and Aeroplan 75K elites can choose Status Pass as one of their select benefits, while Super Elites automatically receive two passes each year. Plain and simple, status passes let elite members share their benefits with friends or family members when they’re not traveling together. Specifically, the friend or family member will receive:

  • Priority check-in.
  • Three checked bags, including priority handling.
  • Priority security screening.
  • Maple Leaf Lounge access.
  • Priority airport standby.
  • Priority boarding.

Each Status Pass covers an entire Air Canada reservation, including award flights, for up to nine travel companions booked together. The one major restriction is that Status Pass does not include Star Alliance Gold perks — the benefits only apply to Air Canada flights.

An Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge. (Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy An Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge. (Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)

In addition to Status Pass, Air Canada allows select elites to gift status to others outright. Aeroplan 75K elites can choose to give someone Aeroplan 35K status as one of their select benefits, while Super Elites can choose to gift Aeroplan 50K status as one of their select benefits.

Related: The best ways to maximize Air Canada’s Aeroplan program

Alaska Airlines

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 name a recipient.

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 seats within 48 hours of departure. As of now, there’s no word if the airline’s forthcoming MVP Gold 100K tier will be able to gift a higher level of status.

Related: What is Alaska Airlines elite status worth?

American Airlines

American gives its most frequent flyers several opportunities to gift AAdvantage status.

Executive Platinum members can gift Gold status as a part of their annual elite choice rewards. Additionally, reports suggest that select invitation-only Concierge Key members can gift Executive Platinum status to others.

American Airlines status can help you score an upgrade to first class. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy American Airlines status can help you score an upgrade to first class. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

You can also gift status through American Airlines’ Business Extra program. The program allows you to redeem 3,200 points for AAdvantage Gold status or 6,600 points for AAdvantage Platinum status.

Related: What is American Airlines elite status worth?

Delta

When you qualify for Platinum and Diamond Medallion status, you get to select Delta Choice Benefits as a reward for hitting those tiers. While 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 give 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.


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Keep in mind that Delta has extended all members’ current elite status through Jan. 31, 2023. However, only those who earn their status through the published requirements can select Choice Benefits.

Like American, Delta has the SkyBonus business program, which is separate from the SkyMiles program for individuals. Companies can redeem 120,000 points for Silver Medallion status. But, unlike regular status, this status is valid for only 12 months from the date of issue.

Related: What is Delta Air Lines elite status worth?

Delta elites get priority check-in. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy Delta elites get priority check-in. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Hilton

Hilton Honors offers the opportunity to gift mid-tier Hilton Gold status and top-tier Hilton Diamond status.

Typically, you can gift Gold status after spending 60 nights with the chain in a calendar year and Diamond status after 100 or more nights. However, for 2021, these thresholds have been lowered to 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.

Gifted status is good for 365 days from the gift date — it doesn’t follow the program year. You have until Jan. 31 of the year following the calendar year in which you stayed the required number of nights to gift status.

Related: What is Hilton Honors elite status worth?

Hilton Gold and Diamond members get complimentary breakfast. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy Hilton Gold and Diamond members get complimentary breakfast. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

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 when you enroll with the following credit cards:

  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card.
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card.
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express.
  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.

Or, they can get automatic Diamond status with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Hilton further extends elite status, points expiration and sets new status requirements for 2022

Hyatt

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 who will receive all of the in-hotel benefits the Globalist would usually enjoy (i.e., free breakfast, waived fees and suite upgrade eligibility). You can book a stay for a different individual every time, but you must book the stay using points — there’s no such thing as a Guest of Honor paid stay.

Related: These are the current World of Hyatt promotions

IHG

One of the benefits of hitting IHG Rewards’s top-tier Spire Elite status is a choice benefit of either 25,000 IHG Rewards 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 IHG Rewards but can’t currently have Platinum Elite status. You’ll need to provide the recipient’s last name and member number. Benefits include bonus points on paid stays, room upgrades, late checkout and early check-in.

Before you decide which Spire Elite choice benefit you’re going to go with, remember that getting IHG Platinum Elite status is easy. That’s because IHG Platinum Elite status is an automatic benefit of the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, which has a low annual fee of $89. So, opting for points is usually the more valuable option.

Related: What is IHG Rewards elite status worth?

JetBlue

In addition to reducing the elite-qualifying criteria, JetBlue is incentivizing flyers who over-qualify for Mosaic status with additional perks this year. Among them is the opportunity to gift status to someone else.

When you earn 20,000 Mosaic qualifying points in 2021, you’ll be able to gift Mosaic status to someone of your choosing. The gifted status will be valid through 2022.

Business-class seat on JetBlue. (Photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy) © The Points Guy Business-class seat on JetBlue. (Photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy)

Marriott

Once you reach 50 and 75 elite nights in a calendar year, you’re eligible for annual choice benefits. Although Suite Night Awards tend to be the most popular picks, you can also gift status to another member.

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 can gift Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status. Although Gold Elite status is better than Silver Elite status, it’s still relatively easy to obtain Gold Elite status via hotel credit cards, so you might want to go with one of the other reward options.

Related: Big changes ahead for Marriott as Bonvoy ditches its award chart; book your stays now

Bottom line

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. So, if you’re looking for a nontraditional holiday gift, consider the gift of elite status.

Featured image by Summer Hull/The Points Guy.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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