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With less than three months to go, members of travel reward programs are paying close attention to their 2014 airline and hotel status.  As every road warrior knows, life is a whole lot easier when enjoying the perks and comforts of elite status.

Yet remarkably, every year thousands of frequent flyers are left kicking themselves for coming up short on the status requirements set by rewards programs. It most cases it comes down to not knowing program details and a limited knowledge of the various options available.  As someone who tracks and reports on the bonus offers issued by every major global travel reward program, I’ve become intimately familiar with the rules and requirements of these programs.

Here are five tips to help ensure frequent travellers get the ‘royal treatment’ each time they take to the friendly skies:

1. Stay True to Your Main Program – Make sure you funnel all your flights and hotel bookings into your primary frequent flyer and frequent hotel guest program. If you spread yourself too thin across multiple programs you will never reach an elite status.

2. Check the Fine Print – Always confirm your flight and hotel stays earn elite status rewards. Seems simple enough but many frequent travelers make the mistake of booking hotels through third party sites such as Expedia which typically do not count towards elite status.

3. Mileage & Mattress Running – This technique involves booking a flight(s) or hotel stay(s) strictly for more elite qualifying points/miles. Sure, on the surface it may seem like a foolish way to spend your hard earned money. But consider the benefits of forking out a few hundred dollars on a same day flight if it means elite status and thousands of dollars of free upgrades, lounge access and more for 2014.

4. Total Bonus! A great way to ensure you qualify for elite status is to take advantage of qualifying bonus offers. Many airline and hotel programs run bonus promotions throughout the year that count towards your elite status. Bonus point gurus track the elite status bonus offers of all major reward programs at:

5. Match Maker – One of the easier ways to reach elite status with another program is when you already have it with your primary program.  This is called status matching. Status matching can be immediate (many hotel programs match automatically) while many airlines have a ‘challenge’ period where they offer elite status for a specific period provided you fly enough with them.  Meet their criteria and you will earn elite status for the following year.

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