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Airline and hotel elite status matches are an easy way for travelers to switch loyalties without starting over from scratch in a new program. Did you know you can also use your current elite status to get perks on cruises? It might just take a few steps.
For instance, Marriott elites can get United elite status (and vice versa) and World of Hyatt elites can get MGM Rewards elite status. Those are a good start, but keep in mind that you don't have to stop after just one status match. By completing two status matches, you may be able to turn your hotel elite status into an offer for a $100 Carnival cruise — perhaps even a balcony room on a week-plus voyage.
Here's how you can leverage hotel elite status to get a heavily discounted cruise.
Get elite status
Before you can begin any elite status match merry-go-round, you'll need to have elite status. Specifically for this Carnival promotion, casino status is required. The higher the tier, the better.
No worries if you're not a gambler. You can score casino status by matching from certain hotel elite statuses — such as matching Wyndham Rewards to Caesars Rewards or World of Hyatt to MGM Rewards.
Even if you don't already have elite status in Wyndham or Hyatt, you're not out of luck. Here are some shortcuts to getting either one.
Travelers can secure Wyndham Rewards elite status with just one credit card. Small-business owners can open the Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Business Credit Card. For a $95 annual fee, you'll get automatic top-tier Diamond elite status. If you don't have a small business, open the Wyndham Rewards Earner® Plus Card for a $75 annual fee to get Wyndham Platinum elite status.
Alternatively, you can status match to Wyndham Rewards from another hotel loyalty program.
World of Hyatt
Hyatt doesn't offer an easy credit card shortcut to World of Hyatt elite status. The World of Hyatt Credit Card only offers cardholders entry-level Discoverist elite status. You can generate higher status by using the card: Cardholders start with a five elite-qualifying night boost and earn two elite qualifying nights per $5,000 spent in a calendar year.
The best way to get World of Hyatt elite status may be through a World of Hyatt status match.
Alternatively, you can bypass the need to generate hotel elite status by getting a FoundersCard. One of the many perks of the FoundersCard is Caesars Diamond elite status. However, signing up for a FoundersCard costs $595 — although you can save a bit by clicking through certain referral links.
Still, consider this method only if you'd benefit from the other FoundersCard perks.
» Learn more: The best hotel credit cards right now
Status match to casino loyalty programs
The next step is to match your hotel elite status to a casino loyalty program. As noted above, Wyndham partners with Caesars and Hyatt partners with MGM. So your next step depends on which hotel elite status you have.
If you have both Wyndham Rewards and World of Hyatt elite status, we recommend matching both. After all, the process only takes a few minutes.
Matching Wyndham to Caesars Rewards
To match your Wyndham elite status to Caesars, start by clicking this link. If you already have a Caesars Rewards account, log in to begin the match process. Otherwise, create a new Caesars Rewards account.
Enter your Wyndham Rewards number and click "request matching status." The confirmation page will likely indicate it takes seven business days for the match to go through.
Once your status match is finished, you'll need your Caesars Rewards membership card to match to Carnival. Unfortunately, a digital membership card isn't available on the Caesars Rewards website. Instead, you'll have to install the Caesars Rewards app to get a digital card.
Matching Hyatt to MGM Rewards
Start your match from Hyatt to MGM Rewards by logging into your World of Hyatt account. Then, go to Hyatt's MGM match page and click "opt in."
When prompted, log into your MGM Rewards account to complete the match process. It may still take up to 24 hours for your new status to reflect in your account.
Once you've completed your match, get a copy of your digital card. You get this in your MGM Rewards account dashboard by clicking the "MGM Rewards" card logo.
Status match to Carnival
Once you have elite status in a casino rewards program, it's time for the final status match. Start your Carnival Players Club Fun Match Program here.
If you've cruised on Carnival before, enter your Very Important Fun Person (VIFP) Club number and email to shortcut entering your personal information. Otherwise, enter your name, date of birth, phone number and address.
Before you scroll down to click "register," this is where you show off your newly-minted casino elite status.
Upload images of the front and back of your card to the Carnival Players Club Fun Match application. If you have elite status with multiple casino loyalty programs, click "Add another loyalty card. Have other offers?" and upload photos of those loyalty cards as well.
» Learn more: Are cruises all-inclusive?
Wait for the right Carnival cruise offer
After all of that, I'm sure you're ready to finally get that discounted cruise offer. However, the key to this promotion is patience. Throughout this process, if an offer doesn't look appealing enough, just ignore it and wait for the next offer.
For example, you might get a disappointing offer to start — such as a free cruise in an interior room or a cash bonus for spending in an onboard casino, like the example below.
Be patient and you'll likely get a follow-up email from the Carnival Player Club with a much better offer — such as a "free" balcony room (before deposit, taxes and fees). This email is typically sent a few days after the first one.
Don't let the deadlines scare you into booking a cruise that you aren't excited about. Since my wife matched her Caesars Diamond elite status in January 2022, she's gotten a new offer each month. A few days after one promotion expires, Carnival Players Club sends her another one.
» Learn more: Cruises where you don’t need a passport
Book your discounted Carnival cruise
Once you get the right offer, here's where all of that work pays off with a heavily discounted cruise. Click the personalized link in your email to see a list of all of the cruises that are currently on offer.
Depending on when you search, free cruise offers can vary from two-night cruises to the Bahamas to three-week repositioning cruises across the Pacific.
Just like the discount offers, these options ebb and flow. If you see an offer that looks good to you, don't drag your feet on booking it.
Keep in mind that "free" offers aren't actually free. You'll generally pay $100 per person — which you typically get back as an onboard credit — plus taxes, fees and port expenses. Also make sure to factor in gratuities for the onboard staff, which can add up on longer sailings.
Still, you can get an incredible deal. For example, a six-night balcony cruise for two passengers costs a total of $720, including prepaid gratuities — and you'll get $200 back as onboard credits.
If you have schedule flexibility, you can take off on a multi-week repositioning cruise. For example, this 22-day cruise from Brisbane, Australia, to Seattle, costs a total of just $1,236 (including gratuities) in a Cloud 9 Spa Balcony room.
If you're looking for a cheap Carnival cruise
The Carnival Players Club is clearly investing heavily in marketing to attract gamblers to take Carnival cruises.
Many travelers who have mid- to high-tier elite status with a major casino loyalty program are receiving enticing offers for Carnival cruises. And you don't actually need to be a gambler to get casino elite status thanks to a few partnerships with hotel loyalty programs.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card