Mattress runs to earn and maintain hotel elite status

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It’s December, which means that the window to earn or maintain airline and hotel elite status is closing soon. U.S.-based programs work on a calendar year for status qualification.  That means your elite status is based on the flights you take or the hotel stays you complete between January 1 and December 31.

We recently covered the concept of mileage runs, taking flights just to earn elite qualifying miles for airline status.  The hotel equivalent is mattress runs, stays you complete just for the qualifying nights to earn or maintain elite status with a hotel loyalty program.

Sound crazy?  Here are just a few of the benefits of the Gold and Platinum levels of the Starwood Preferred Guest program, my hotel program of choice:

  • One extra point per dollar spent at Starwood properties
  • 4:00 pm late checkout
  • Welcome gifts when checking in to Starwood hotels (the bonus points are usually the best choice)

If you’re staying in hotels more than a few nights per year, those benefits are extremely valuable.  And the more you stay, the more value you receive.

While I wouldn’t recommend ten mattress runs just to earn elite status, doing a few to earn/maintain status or advance to a higher level can be a worthwhile proposition. But before you book, here are two important tips:

  1. Stays are counted equally across brands in a group, so go with the least expensive (e.g. a Four Points Sheraton instead of a Westin).
  2. Complete your mattress runs during a promotion period to maximize point earnings.  Most year-end bonus point promotions end in mid-December because of strong demand over the holidays, so don’t wait until the last two weeks of the year.

For more about mattress runs, see this piece in the New York Times featuring my comments.

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Ryan has been a travel expert for more than ten years. His journeys have taken him to all six inhabited continents, including living in the Middle East and backpacking across Australia, Asia and Europe.

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