How to buy elite status (for cheap)

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South Korea unveiled a two-year digital nomad visa from January 1, requiring a $66,000 yearly income, no local job-seeking, and health insurance of $100 million, allowing spouses and children under 18 to join. The best part – they have K-pop fans in mind. Read more about it here 

It's been over 72 hours since this Newsletter was published, so some info and links might be out of date or expired.

South Korea unveiled a two-year digital nomad visa from January 1, requiring a $66,000 yearly income, no local job-seeking, and health insurance of $100 million, allowing spouses and children under 18 to join. The best part – they have K-pop fans in mind. Read more about it here 

Good morning from the bustling Indonesian capital city of Jakarta!

I’m having a fun hotel-hopping adventure this week, so I thought I’d share some epic hotel hacks and news today:

🥂 How to buy hotel elite status (no credit card required)

Elite status is one of the best perks in the biz when it comes to hotels and flights. As we kick off the new year, many of us have our eye on the various programs we want to chase status with.

But not everyone has the luxury of traveling enough to earn meaningful elite status.

Thankfully, there’s a way you can simply BUY elite status - and you don’t even need a credit card, so this is open to ANYONE.

A screenshot from IHG's website highlighting the Intercontinental Ambassador program

Intercontinental, one of the major premium brands of IHG, has its own mini-loyalty program on top of IHG's loyalty program. It's like a loyalty program within a loyalty program. The official term is Loyaltyprogramception (not really).

It’s called Intercontinental Ambassador, and earning it is pretty simple: either pay $200 cash or 40,000 IHG points per year.

That's right. No need to spend dozens of nights at hotels to try and earn status; you just sign up on their website, pay a fee, and reap the benefits.

But what are the benefits?

Essentially, you get some sweet elite-like perks when you stay at Intercontinental Hotels.

But there's one perk that puts the rest to shame... A “one perk to rule them all,” if you will. That perk is a Free Weekend Night Certificate for every year that you have this status.

If you play your cards right, using this free night can completely offset the cost of holding the status.

For example, if you wanted to have a quick weekend getaway to Chicago and booked this Intercontinental Hotel, you’re already coming out $30 ahead on this deal since you only paid $200 to get the status and certificate.

A screenshot from IHG's website showing an Intercontinental property in Chicago fr a cash cost of $230

That’s all well and good, but who the heck stays at only Intercontinentals, am I right?

Well, that doesn’t matter at all because Intercontinental Ambassador status also gives you IHG Platinum Elite status as well.

Having this status will earn you the following benefits at ALL IHG hotels worldwide:

  • 60% Bonus Points on paid stays

  • Complementary Upgrades (including suites)

  • Points or Drink/Snack Welcome Amenity

  • Reward Night Discounts

  • Early Check-In (based on availability)

A screenshot from IHG's website showing the various benefits of Platinum elite status

IHG Platinum benefits

Overall, it’s not difficult to justify the cost of this status if you stay (or want to stay) at some IHG hotels throughout the year.

However, if you already have Platinum status (like many of you do from signing up for this credit card), then make sure the Intercontinental-specific perks (like the free night certificate) can justify the $200 price tag.

So, if you want some easy (and relatively cheap) elite status without any of the hassles, I’d recommend looking into this for the year!

🏨 Marriott and MGM announce the details of their new partnership

You may or may not remember how Hyatt and MGM broke up last September…

But now, MGM has a shiny new love interest, and her name is Marriott Bonvoy 🔥

There are a handful of things happening with this new partnership, so let’s break ‘em down:

Launch of the MGM Collection with Marriott Bonvoy

The Las Vegas Skyline with text overlay that says "Introducing MGM Collection with Marriott Bonvoy"

This will happen sometime early this year and will include 17 properties, primarily in Vegas, but also in other cities across the U.S. 🙌

So not only are a handful of MGM resorts in Vegas joining forces with Marriott, but we’ll also see five other MGM properties tag along. These are located in New Jersey, Mississippi, Michigan, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

This is DOPE news for all you domestic travelers and weekend warriors 💪

Reciprocal benefits between MGM and Marriott

Perks, perks, PERKS.

A big part of this agreement includes reciprocal elite recognition, points-earning options, and redemption opportunities.

For Marriott elites, we just don’t have the space to list out all the perks and benefits for each tier level.

But you can see a snapshot of some of those perks below—like various bonus point percentages and welcome gifts for Marriott members who stay at a participating MGM property 👇

Marriott elite member perks with MGM

There is a whole long list beyond what is shown here, so I’d suggest peeking at the official page for all the deets.

💡It’s important to note that Marriott members will still need to book directly through Marriott (if staying at a partner MGM property) in order to enjoy your perks and advantages. Those perks won’t render if you book through MGM.

Now if you’re an MGM Rewards member, you’ll get a tasty little tier-matching perk from this match up:

  • MGM Rewards Gold members will receive Marriott Silver Elite status

  • MGM Rewards Platinum members will receive Marriott Gold Elite status

  • MGM Rewards Noir members will receive Marriott Ambassador Elite status

Transfer points between Marriott and MGM

Neon arrows showing a reciprocating relationship

YES, this will be possible! We just don’t know when yet, what the transfer ratio will be, or what (if any) other restrictions might be put in place.

But, the ability to move Marriott points over in order to book a seriously fancy-ass resort in MGM’s portfolio… will be awesome 👌

Overall, Hyatt (MGM’s former partner) is an awesome brand (and I really freaking love Hyatt), but it’s obvious that Marriott has a much larger, global reach.

So I think a lot more people with varying levels of Marriott elite status will be able to benefit from this partnership.

AND it’s super cool that there will also be a handful of properties outside of Vegas that are also participating!

So yeah, those of you who prefer domestic travel and have a history with either Marriott or MGM… this is a cool development and a chance to double-dip and get additional perks 😎

One of my favorite ways to learn about new travel hacks is in our very own Daily Drop Lounge, an online community of DD fans and travel hackers.

Here’s a look at a post from this past week if you want a taste of what other Daily Drop travelers are doing and learning. Honestly, I found this trip super exciting to read about!

That’s gonna do it for this week, friends! I hope you enjoyed today’s dose of travel hacking hotel goodness!

Take care, have a great weekend, and I’ll see you bright and early Monday morning. ❤️

Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

6.1944° S, 106.8229° E

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