For the Love of the Game: My 12-Hour Cross-Border Status Matching Trip

Most of the time, earning points doesn’t require too much effort. That’s the beauty of being able to do so many things online nowadays, from credit card and status match applications to checking in for mattress runs and using online shopping portals.

Sometimes, however, a little extra effort is needed – but the rewards can be well worth it.

Back in November, I found myself weighing the benefit vs. cost of making a 12-hour journey across the border to Detroit purely to complete some of our Miles & Points tasks.

In the end, we went, and it was a more of an adventure than we had bargained for, but still worth it. So let’s start at the beginning of how it all transpired. 

Atlantis Bahamas with Ceasars Diamond Status

As someone always looking for a deal, when there is an opportunity for an almost free vacation, you’ve got my attention.

One of these deals is the complimentary four-night stay at Atlantis Bahamas that comes annually with having Caesars Diamond status.

It’s not totally free, as you still need to pay resort fees (US$55.94 per night plus US$10 gratuity) and additional charges for guests over the age of 12 if above double occupancy.

Still, looking at the cost of Atlantis next spring, where rooms can go from US$210 to over US$500 per night, the savings can be quite substantial considering you would also be saving the 23.2% in taxes that are tacked onto the rack room rate. Even looking at the redemption rates, you would come out ahead.

My husband already has Caesars Diamond status since almost two years ago, obtained through status matching his Marriott Titanium Elite status to Wyndham Diamond status, which then matched to Caesars Diamond. 

We had the intent of going to the Bahamas, but, with so many other international destinations to choose from, Atlantis kept getting bumped from the top of our list. And then of course, the pandemic hit.

With the pandemic continuing to loom on, travelling within North America with the kids is in many ways simpler. Thus, the Bahamas has just become even more appealing.

I’ve heard good things and bad things about the Atlantis resort, but with the recent renovations, beautiful warm weather, and a massive waterpark, I’m sure my kids wouldn’t notice or be bothered by any deficiencies.

And if I’m only paying resort fees, then I’ll be happy to let some minor things slide. Food prices can be high as well, but you can eat cheaper off resort.

Why Go for Two Statuses?

Now comes the regret of not having done the same status match earlier for myself. 

The complimentary package gives you a standard room, which can typically fit up to four guests. At the time my husband obtained his Caesars Diamond, my third child was only a toddler, and most hotels are willing to accommodate an additional an infant or toddler into a standard room.

Now that she’s no longer a toddler and will require a wristband to enter the waterpark, it’ll be harder to sneak her in.

I had also been banking on the hope that since Atlantis is a Marriott property, we could take advantage of an elite room upgrade to something that could accommodate the five of us. Unfortunately, I recently found out that Bonvoy elite benefits often are not consistently honoured with these complimentary stays.

Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas

What can be done for bigger families is book two rooms and request for them to be interconnecting if possible. I always appreciate more space when travelling with my kids, so if I have Caesars Diamond too, both my husband and I could each book a room and comfortably fit the five of us.

Caesars Diamond also comes with other annual perks (see below), which are valuable if you have any trips to Vegas or Atlantic City coming up, and we possibly have two in the coming year.

  • Benefits at Caesars properties: No resort fees, complimentary parking, discounts on hotel rooms, and priority lines for casinos, hotels and restaurants
  • $100 Celebration Dinner dining credit (can be used at almost any Caesars dining venue)
  • Two complimentary tickets to select shows

Now to Get My Status…

In the past, obtaining Caesars Diamond was quite simple.

Caesars has a unique partnership with Wyndham Rewards, whereby they allow reciprocal tier matching between their two programs. Wyndham Rewards Diamond status would automatically grant you Caesars Diamond. 

Meanwhile, Wyndham Rewards Diamond could be easily obtained through status matching from other hotel programs, like Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite and above.

However, during the pandemic, Wyndham decided to discontinue the status match program until further notice.

Another option is to sign up for the FoundersCard, which comes with complimentary Caesars Diamond status. Although the FoundersCard has many great travel benefits, the annual fee can be as high as $595 per year (although they commonly offer discounts on this) with a $95 initiation fee, which makes me not too keen on going this route. 

Then, through a conversation with a Prince of Travel member on Discord, I discovered yet another method of obtaining the Caesars Diamond – and that’s through casino status matching.

Caesars is currently running a casino status match promotion until the end of the year. They will match only to select casino competitors that vary by location.

The only Caesars property in Canada is in Windsor, Ontario. It happened to be allowing matches to MLife, MGM’s loyalty program, as their closest competitor is the MGM Grand in Detroit across the border from them. Gambling’s not really my thing, so normally, this promotion would have had no bearing on me.

However, MGM MLife has its own reciprocal tier-matching program with World of Hyatt, so that you would qualify for MLife Gold if you held Hyatt Explorist or Globalist status.

I had obtained Globalist status thanks to Hyatt reducing elite requirements and offering a lucrative year-end promotion last year, and so this would be my ticket to Caesars Diamond.

Now comes the fun part. To match my MLife Gold to Caesars Diamond would require a visit to the MGM Grand in Detroit to pick up my player’s card, and then cross back into Windsor to present it to the Caesars there in order to qualify for the status match.

Showing my MLife status on my iPhone app wouldn’t have sufficed. Doesn’t sound too bad since the casinos are across the border from each other, right? Well, except that I live a four-hour drive away.

Hiccups at the Border

Driving to Detroit in the late evening was a breeze, with little to no traffic. We had done a RT-PCR test in Canada before travelling, so that the 72-hour validity of the test would allow us entry into the United States and also to come back into Canada on the same test.

When we got to the border, the agent asked why we were entering the States, and my honest husband chose the worst answer out of all the things we had planned to do on this quick trip: that we were going to open a US bank account.

At that moment, the agent starting asking more questions and we were sent for secondary investigation, likely for money laundering concerns.

The inspection set us back an hour, but we made it across and headed to MGM Grand at the lovely hour of 1am. I got my MLife player’s card and checked into the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center on a Free Night Award for the night.

Maximizing My 12-Hour Cross-Border Trip

Now, if I’m going to drive four hours across the border, I want to make it worthwhile. So I started making a list of things I wanted to accomplish while I was there:

  • Claim the US$50 Saks bi-annual credit on Jon’s Amex US Platinum Card
  • Claim the US$15 Uber monthly credit on Jon’s Amex US Platinum Card
  • Claim the US$15 Uber monthly credit on my Amex US Gold Card
  • Claim the “Spend US$200, Get US$50 on Marriott” statement credit on my Amex US Bonvoy Brilliant (I could do this in Canada, but buying the gift cards in USD makes for a better exchange rate when using the gift cards internationally)
  • Set up my Google-Fi account for international travel purposes
  • Set up another US bank account to hopefully simplify the application process for some American credit cards in the future

The difficulty is that we only had 12 hours. We found a sitter for the night for the kids. We left after dinner, hence crossing the border at midnight.

We needed to be home to pick up the kids from school the next day, which meant we had to leave by noon the following day. Such is the life of a Miles & Points enthusiast with kids. 😉

Now, partly due to time constraints and partly due to poor planning on my part, we were only able to hit 50% of that above list. Lesson learned.

  • ❌ Saks didn’t open until 10am the next day. I tried placing an online order two nights before, but nothing I wanted was showing up available in-store. An in-store visit would be much better, but we were short on time.
  • ✅ The Uber credits were easy to hit to cover our lunch.
  • ❌ I called three different Marriott hotels near the Detroit border, and none of them sold gift cards.
  • ✅ Google-Fi was successfully set-up.
  • ❌ We walked into a Chase branch, and unfortunately they had no appointments for the day. She called another nearby branch who could see us, but not until later that afternoon, which was too late for us. Next time, I’ll book an appointment beforehand.

As an added bonus, we were able to claim compensation for a Marriott Bonvoy elite guarantee not being fulfilled, giving us 15,000 Bonvoy points. 

But most importantly, what I did accomplish was match my MLife Gold to Caesars Diamond status! And now that I have, I can pretty much maintain it for life, as long as they maintain their partnership with Wyndham Rewards. 

Conclusion

With a bit of effort and planning, a short trip to the US can be quite fruitful when it comes to the status-matching or fast-track opportunities that come your way. It may be with a program that may not seem all too useful or interesting at first, but you never know what doors it may open later on. 

I hopped onto last year’s Hyatt Globalist fast-track promotion on a bit of impulse and also out of general curiosity about the program itself. Who would have known it would then also allow me match my way to Caesars Diamond, albeit with a little more effort. 

Now that my husband and I have our Caesars Diamond status, we’re ready to hit Vegas this year and plan our family trip to Atlantis. 

We also have US$300 worth of Caesars dining credit between the two of us that needs to be used before January 31, 2022… and I heard their Neros Steakhouse in Windsor isn’t too bad.

And while we’re at it, we may as well go back to Detroit to finish off what I had initially planned – and maybe even match Jon’s Caesars Diamond status to MLife Gold so he can get his Hyatt Explorist. 😉

30 Comments
  1. Alex YYZ

    Hi Amy,
    Re “Spend US$200, Get US$50 on Marriott” statement credit on my Amex US Bonvoy Brilliant – I will be down at Detroit next week.
    Do you just go into a Marriott property front desk and buy those GC for $250 USD (assuming they have those in stock)?
    Is it that simple – or there are more hoops to jump through?

    1. Amy YYZ

      Hey Alex, you only need to spend $200 usd to get the $50 credit. Also, call the properties first to see if they carry gift cards. FYI I was able to use gift cards purchased in Canadian funds without a loss in the exchange rate at a couple of properties overseas 😉

      1. Alex YYZ

        Interesting – so I could potentially buy the GC here in Canada with my US AMEX Bonvoy business card? If so – I guess I need to make sure the CAD equivalent is not less than $200USD (or just ask then to bill me in USD).
        There are several Marriott properties north of Toronto I pass by fairly regularly.

  2. Sally

    Hi Amy! Was it a problem that you did your PCR test in Canada and not the US? I want to go to Buffalo for the day, but it says the PcR has to be outside of Canada which would be virtually impossible for a day trip!

  3. Yasin P.

    Do you have a guide on getting Google-Fi set-up?

  4. Mer

    Funny posts! Loved it! We’ve booked our free nights at Atlantis for 2 years now (since Ricky’s article). Kept postponing from Xmas to Summer to Xmas to Summer 2022. Good thing is that you get the Royal rooms now instead of the Beach rooms.
    @Amy, can you elaborate on getting MLife if you have Caesar Diamond? Without going to Detroit? Also, how were you able to get $300 of dinning credits? By just visiting the casinos?

    1. Amy YYZ

      The $300 credit is because Caesars extended the dining credit from last year into this year so husband has $200 and now I’ve got another $100 😁

      1. Mer

        Great! That means I have $200 as well. Have to be used by Dec 31?
        Do you think we can use the free show tix at the Windsor property? Avril is there in May 22!

    2. Amy YYZ

      MLife is allowing status matching right now and Caesars Diamond will get u MLife Gold.

  5. Dan

    Great post Amy which reminded me to check my Wyndham and Caesars status which I had completely forgot about. I also wasn’t aware that Wyndham had discontinued the status match program. Myself and P2 did this in February 2020 but never used it. We still both have Wyndham Diamond, but I assume this will expire at the end of this year?
    Our Caesars Diamond status says valid until January 31st 2022. I assume that there is no way for us to keep this alive now that we can no longer match from Caesars Diamond to Wyndham Diamond on January 1st when our Wyndham Diamond expires?

    There is also the Wyndham Rewards Earner Business Card which comes with Wyndham Diamond, although I don’t know how easy it is to get as a Canadian

    1. Amy YYZ

      Hey Dan, this is my reminder to self:
      Match Caesars to Wyndham after Jan 1
      (Wyndham expires Dec 31)
      Match Wyndham to Caesars after Feb 1
      (Caesars expires Jan 31)
      Hope that’s useful.

      1. Dan

        Thanks Amy, added to calendar.

  6. Neil

    You mention retaining Diamond status long term…trying to figure this angle out as I made use of the status match between Wyndham and Caesars but the casino status was only valid for the year?

    1. Amy YYZ

      Because of Caesar’s’ special partnership with Wyndham, you can still status match between the two every year, but you have to time it right (you just can’t status match any other program to Wyndham right now).

  7. Steve

    Seems like a lot of effort, to each their own, but I’d never do all of that. Enjoy the benefits though…

  8. Mike

    I really hope you ethically paid for your 2 RT-PCR tests instead of using Jayce’s “trick” to leave Ontario taxpayers with the bill for your little journey. Assuming you did, the cost of 2 of those tests + baby sitter + other costs is probably close to the discounted cost of the Founder’s Card…maybe that would have been the better way to go. The things this hobby can make people do lol

    1. Jared

      Mike,
      Just to mention – Amy is also an Ontario taxpayer.
      I don’t see any ethical issue with using her own paid taxes to subsidize the PCR test.
      Unfortunately, the government (both provincial and Federal) abuses our hard-earned clawed tax money by spending it on a myriad of failed endeavors.
      You might see it as unethical – it is your right.
      But keep in mind that others have different opinions about so-called ethics (grey zone in general) – so you being aggressive and disrespectful to Amy isn’t helping…
      Just my 5c – don’t bother to reply because this conversation is over on my end.

    2. Sam

      Mike, you do realize PCR tests are no longer needed for US trips less than 72 hours, right?

      1. Mike

        She stated she did PCR tests before crossing over. Given the declining ethics of this blog (see Ricky’s latest post about delaying a flight so he could go from one first class product to another), I just can’t imagine her paying for 2 expensive tests out of pocket, especially when you consider all the petty US cc credits she made sure to use up. Notice how she didn’t speak to it in her reply to my comment either.

        1. Amy YYZ

          Hey Mike, I appreciate your ethical concerns but I what I do not appreciate are your accusations. I did not address your accusation because I do not feel the need to. Before you make accusations, please take into consideration that some of us are willing to pay for tests and there are cheap options ($85 per test) and that some people legitimately require tests in certain situations and in their line of work. My main goal was to get my Caesars Diamond status and not use up ‘petty’ cc credits, which I may as well make use of if I have the opportunity to.

    3. Amy YYZ

      Childcare was free so that helps 🙂

  9. Oz

    The Pot team are trailblazers chopping down the weeds – pun intended. I learned 1. Get family so big need 2 suites. 2. Get double the diamond status. 3. Funnier to tell border patrol – because of Uber statement credit 😳

  10. WT

    Was initially excited with this post….but just reading that status match doesn’t seem to be happening right now with anyone. Booooo

    1. Amy YYZ

      It’s happening but you may have to do some digging. Casinos are offering status matching. Car rental companies are as well. Frontier airlines currently has an interesting status match opportunity as well 😉

      1. Sam

        Amy, can you expand more on this? How does car rental status help get mlife or caesar diamond status?

        1. Amy YYZ

          Sorry, I was referring to status matching opportunities in general. For the Caesars Diamond, you’ll specifically need either another top tier status with another casino, Wyndham status or Hyatt status. If u’ve got none, sign up for emails from FoundersCard and wait for a good sign-up offer with them to get Caesars Diamond.

      2. WT

        Ok thx Amy. Any direction is appreciated. I’m Titanium Bonvoy but website said matching not currently happenning.

  11. Mr. Christmas YYZ

    You could’ve saved yourself the trip to the MGM. Windsor took my MLife info from logging into the MLife website. But glad you knocked a few other things off your to-do list!

    1. Amy YYZ

      Lucky! Although the 2 casinos are so close it didn’t make a big difference to me since I had to go all the way to windsor anyway. I called them and they said no, couldn’t match from the app. And it was also in the T&C of the status match.

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