Money at 30: How I Status Matched My Way Into $100 Off Dinner in Vegas
For someone who doesn’t drink and hardly gambles, my enjoyment of Las Vegas is understandably perplexing to some. However, while many of the attractions and themeing that made Vegas like a Disneyland with nudity in the 90s have since been removed, I still love exploring the Strip’s hotels and casinos when I can — I just need a good excuse to do so. Well, this year’s CES provided me that opportunity this past week and, as luck would have it, I also got to try out something else I’ve been pondering: status matching.
So what is status matching and how did it manage to save me money on my latest Vegas adventure? Let’s dive into the details of what I did — including the benefits I used and others I should have — but first, let’s take a look at what the term even means.
In case you couldn’t guess from the name, the process of status matching involves taking the status you may have with one brand and matching it to another brand. Why would companies be open to such schemes? Well, there are a couple of possibilities. For one, it may be part of an arrangement between complementary brands as a way to add value for their customers. Alternatively, status matching can also be a way for businesses to try to poach loyalists from their competitors and lure them over to their side. For these types of plays, those applying for matching may only keep their status for a short time unless they complete “challenges” to retain it.
Today we’ll actually be looking at both types of status matching and how you can benefit from them — especially on a trip to Las Vegas.
Turning My Amex Platinum into Caesars Diamond
Step 1: Register your Hilton and Marriot status
Like I said, with your American Express Platinum card, you’ll be entitled to complimentary gold status at Hilton and Marriott. However you will need to activate this first and set up accounts with both. An easy way to do this is by visiting the “Benefits” section of the Amex site when you’re logged in and scroll down to the Hilton and Marriott Bonvoy sections. In my experience, applying gold status to my already-existent Hilton Honors account was instant while opening a new Bonvoy account and applying the status took a couple of business days.
Step 2: Head to Wyndham
The next step in your status match journey is to visit Wyndham’s website. On this particular page, you can enter your Hilton account information and request to be upgraded to Wyndham Diamond. Yes, due to how Wyndham Rewards is structured, your Gold status with Hilton equates to Diamond on Wyndham I’ve seen varying reports on how long it takes for this process to be approved by, for me, it was only a few days.
It’s super important to note that matching your status to Wyndham won’t keep you Diamond forever. In fact, the company utilizes the aforementioned “challenge” approach, requiring you to stay a certain number of nights at their properties within three months in order to hold your status for the year. Therefore, unless you plan on doing a few mattress runs, you’ll want to time your matching to ensure you can complete the other steps before your deadline arrives.
Step 3: Match your Wyndham to Caesars
Now that you’re a (temporary) Wyndham Diamond member, you can take advantage of the brand’s partnership with Ceasars Entertainment. By visiting Caesars status matching portal, you can provide them with your Wyndham info in order to gain Diamond status with them as well. Again, this can take a few business days.
What’s great is that, even if your Wyndham challenge expires, your Caesars status should remain through January 31st of the following year. Of course, with my trip falling in early January (thanks, CES), I ended up matching right at the end of the year, meaning my status will expire in just a few weeks. Not to get ahead of ourselves but I have seen conflicting reports on whether you can match Wyndham to Caesars again, so I guess I’ll find out.
Step 4: Pick up your card and enjoy the benefits
Even after you match to Caesars Diamond, you still won’t have a physical card just yet. To get that, you’ll need to visit one of the Caesars Rewards desks at various Caesars properties. When I did this, all I needed to do was show my ID. The agent I talked to did say it could take a day or two for the “celebration dinner” (more on that in a minute) to show up, but mine was actually already there. With that, I was ready to live it up.
Caesars Diamond Status Perks
$100 celebration dinner
When I was researching status matching on Reddit and other forums, this was the perk I was most looking forward to. After all, who doesn’t want $100 in free food?!
As a Caesars Diamond member, you’ll be able to enjoy a $100 “celebration dinner” in Vegas. You can find a list of all the applicable restaurants where you can redeem this credit online or pick one up at the Rewards desk. Keep in mind that some of these places apparently require you to pick up a voucher from the desk ahead of time while others can simply access your account using your card instead. Also, this $100 perk can only be used in one fell swoop — so make sure you spend the full amount or you’ll forfeit the rest.
Of course, with Las Vegas pricing, you shouldn’t have much trouble spending $100. More likely, you’ll probably struggle to stay near that target. For example, we decided to do our celebration dinner at Ruth’s Chris (located at Harrah’s) and our bill neared $200 before the credit was applied.
Speaking of that $195 bill, it actually came down to $86 after the discount instead of the $95 you might expect. That’s because your $100 credit is exempt from tax, so the total lowers even more. That said, make sure that you still tip your waitstaff based on the total before the discount was applied!
No resort or parking fees
As excited as I was about that $100 dinner, there’s no question that this next perk could really is worth even more. You know those pesky “resort fees” that hotels like to tack on to make their room rates seem cheaper when you’re browsing online? Well, Caesars Diamond status holders don’t need to pay them! They’re also exempt from paying parking fees as well (sidenote: remember when all of the casinos in Vegas had free parking?).
Sadly, I was unable to take advantage of this benefit this time around as I had already booked a room at the MGM-owned Luxor long before I discovered status matching or even had my Amex card. However, if I do manage to get Diamond for another year, I will certainly consider staying at a Caesars because of this.
Free show tickets
Another perk I didn’t try out during my visit involves free show tickets. From magic acts to comedians and variety shows and, well, you know — those with Caesars Diamond are able to obtain two free tickets to select shows each month. Of course, it was just my luck (we were staying in room 13013 at Luxor, after all) that Penn & Teller, Piff the Magic Dragon, and other performers we wanted to see were dark the week we visited. So, once again, trying this benefit on for size is now tops on my to-do list.
While walking around the Strip, I noticed that there were several places where those with Caesars Platinum, Diamond, or Seven Stars status had priority lines. This makes sense for the hotel check-in desk, cashier, rewards desk, and even the buffet but I had to laugh when even some spots in the Caesars Palace food court had special lanes. Needless to say, if you want to feel important, then this will help in that pursuit.
Beyond Las Vegas, it seems that those with Diamond status can enjoy some other crazy perks. Rather than me reciting things I’ve read, I’d advise you to check out the Caesars site instead.
I’ll admit that, when I first heard about status matching, I was a bit skeptical. Alas, as Han Solo said, “It’s true; all of it.” Well — I should say it’s all true for now. It’s always possible that one or all of these companies will change their policies without notice. But, in the meantime, I’m happy to have discovered this hidden perk of my American Express Platinum card and recommend other Vegas-bound travelers try status matching for themselves.
Also published on Medium.