In this post I wanted to talk about mattress runs. If you know what I’m talking about, great. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry, it’s not as dirty as it sounds. 😉
What is a mattress run?
Mattress running is to hotels as mileage running is to airlines. Essentially a mattress run is when you check into a hotel exclusively for the loyalty program related perks that it offers. When you mattress run you have to physically check into the hotel. Whether or not you choose to spend the night is up to you.
It could be that you’re making an extra hotel stay to qualify for the next elite tier, or it could be that there’s a promotion offering so many bonus points that it makes sense to stay for that reason alone.
This all comes down to how lucrative hotel loyalty programs can be:
- Hotel loyalty programs offer all kinds of valuable perks for elite members, like suite upgrades and more; those perks vary based on the status you have, though, whether it’s Hilton Honors Diamond, IHG One Rewards Diamond, Marriott Bonvoy Platinum, World of Hyatt Globalist, etc.
- Often hotel points pricing isn’t proportional to how much a stay would cost in cash, meaning there can be some amazing deals when redeeming points
It’s not the “good old days” of mattress running anymore
Let me start by acknowledging that mattress running generally isn’t as lucrative as it once was, and demonstrating that in the form of an example. Going back a decade, the Hyatt Gold Passport program (which has since been rebranded as World of Hyatt) consistently offered the “Faster Free Nights” promotion. With this, you’d earn a free night at any Hyatt in the world after completing two stays at any Hyatt in the world (yes, it was that amazing).
When this promotion was active, I’d typically check into the Grand Hyatt Tampa twice every weekend for one night — once on Friday, once on Sunday, and I’d spend Saturday night at home. The rate was typically $80 per night, meaning I’d spend $160 per weekend. For that I’d earn:
- One free night anywhere in the world (through the Faster Free Nights promotion)
- 5,000 bonus points (Hyatt Gold Passport used to offer 2,500 bonus points per stay when the club lounge was closed, and this hotel closed its club lounge on weekends)
- 3,000 bonus points (at the time Hyatt Gold Passport had a “G3” promotion, where you’d earn 1,500 bonus points per stay)
- 2,000 bonus points (Hyatt Gold Passport used to offer Diamond members a 1,000 point welcome amenity)
- 1,000 base points (Hyatt Gold Passport members would earn 6.5x points per dollar spent)
So $160 got me a free night at any Hyatt in the world, plus 11,000 points. At the time Hyatt’s top hotels cost just 18,000 points per night (nowadays they cost up to 45,000 points per night — talk about inflation!). On top of that, these stays helped me earn Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond status at the time, which offered all kinds of amazing perks.
I had some amazing Park Hyatt stays thanks to this promotion, ranging from stays at the Park Hyatt Sydney, to the Park Hyatt Tokyo, to the Park Hyatt Zurich….
It was a no brainer at the time, though those days are long gone!
Why the economics of mattress running have changed
Like so many things in the miles & points world, the opportunities to get outsized value with mattress running have decreased over time. This comes down to a variety of factors:
- As “travel hacking” became more mainstream over the years, companies also had to be a bit more strategic about the promotions they offered, as more people take advantage of sweet spots
- Over the years we’ve seen a huge increase in room rates for lower end hotels, which makes mattress running more expensive; nowadays you see plenty of Hyatt Place properties that regularly retail for over $200 per night
- We’ve increasingly seen hotel loyalty programs adopt dynamic award pricing and increase award costs, which limits the opportunities for getting an outsized return with your points
Can mattress runs still make sense?
Generally speaking, mattress running isn’t going to be worth it. A decade ago during a “Faster Free Nights” promotion I would’ve said “all y’all should go check into a Hyatt this weekend,” but those days are long gone.
While I think mattress running in general doesn’t make sense anymore, there are situations where it could be worthwhile, especially at the margins. Let’s discuss some of those scenarios.
Mattress runs make sense for status at the margins
The most obvious situation where it makes sense to mattress run is if you’re just short of qualifying for a certain elite status tier. For example, say you’re loyal to World of Hyatt, and end the year with 59 elite nights.
World of Hyatt Globalist requires 60 elite nights, and offers all kinds of amazing perks. It could totally be worth checking into a hotel for a night in order to earn Globalist status. Similarly, there’s the Hyatt Milestone Rewards program, where you get extra perks for every 10 elite nights you earn.
For example, if you end the year with 69 elite nights, staying one more night would get you your choice of either 10,000 World of Hyatt bonus points or an extra suite upgrade award. Either of those could potentially be worth mattress running for.
Mattress runs can make sense with amazing promos
This is an extreme example, but I want to be thorough. Say you have a lot of hotel stays planned for next year, and would really benefit from World of Hyatt Globalist status.
Through October 6, 2022, there’s a promotion with the World of Hyatt Business Card (review), where you earn double elite nights through the end of 2022 if you’re approved. In other words, you could earn Globalist status with just 30 nights in a Hyatt.
Say you have an easy opportunity to check into a cheap Hyatt (there are some in Mexico, the Middle East, parts of Europe, etc.). Let’s use the Hyatt Place Aguascalientes as an example, as the hotel is retailing for $40 per night plus tax.
You could complete a 30 night stay including all taxes and fees for under $1,400.
That could be well worth it not only for Globalist status and the points you’d earn, but for all the Milestone Rewards you’d pick up, like four suite upgrade awards, two free night certificates, a $100 Hyatt gift card, and more.
Again, this is an extreme example, since it doesn’t factor in positioning costs and takes an all or nothing approach, but I did just want to throw that out there.
Consider a hybrid mini-vacation & mattress run
Rather than making hotel stays exclusively a “mattress run,” maybe instead turn it into a mini-vacation. If you value the perks at a certain amount, maybe be willing to pay a bit more to travel some place you’d actually like to go to, rather than just checking into your local hotel. It might not be ideal for the economics, but it’ll almost certainly be more fun.
Nowadays you can “mattress run” with credit cards
Another major change to hotel loyalty programs over the years is that you don’t need to check into hotels anymore to earn elite status — you can now typically earn hotel elite status with credit cards. The major hotel loyalty programs have pathways to this:
- Hilton Honors offers Diamond status just for having the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express (review)
- IHG One Rewards offers Platinum status just for having the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card (review) or IHG® Rewards Premier Business Credit Card (review), and Diamond status if you spend $40,000 on either card in a calendar year
- Marriott Bonvoy lets you earn up to 30 elite nights per year just for having co-branded credit cards, like the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card (review) or Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card (review)
- World of Hyatt lets you earn elite nights with both the World of Hyatt Credit Card (review) and World of Hyatt Business Credit Card (review)
Mattress running is when you check into a hotel exclusively for the loyalty program related perks, whether you’re pursuing elite status, points toward free nights, or both. Unfortunately this isn’t as rewarding as it used to be, since promotions aren’t as generous as they once were, and award redemptions also aren’t as good of a value as back in the day.
At the margins it could still be worth mattress running, though. For example, if you’re really close to a valuable elite tier, it could be worth checking into an affordable hotel to get over that threshold.
Fortunately for those who value hotel elite status, nowadays there are all kinds of ways to earn status with credit cards, which is another good opportunity.
What’s your take on hotel mattress running? Have you done it, and if so, under what circumstances?
Oh wow Lucky! Long time lurker, The Tampa Grand Hyatt is only 15mins from my home growing up and I can't imagine those rates nowadays with the explosion in the Tampa Market & hotels all around the US. I only wish I had taken advantage of those rates a decade ago (altho as a poor undergrad I probably still wouldn't have taken advantage during that time haha).
Also congrats on the new addition of Miles to your family!
What’s your thoughts about this
The problem with your article is you are biased. Only discussing it with Hyatt and are probably paid by them in this article. Your example with Hyatt is much like if you had 49 nights with Marriott. However, there is one point I would like to add. It may also be worth doing a mattress run during a double nights double points promotion, then it could be worth it. Say you get 30 nights from...
The problem with your article is you are biased. Only discussing it with Hyatt and are probably paid by them in this article. Your example with Hyatt is much like if you had 49 nights with Marriott. However, there is one point I would like to add. It may also be worth doing a mattress run during a double nights double points promotion, then it could be worth it. Say you get 30 nights from Marriott credit cards. If that promotion is on you could stay for 10 nights to get Platinum and if you're planning to go somewhere anyway and the time does not really matter then it's perfect. Overall, I agree it is not as lucrative as it used to be.
@Ben - regarding that 30 night stay for globalist. Is that assuming the business woh credit card being used? Or am I missing something?
I don't know if this is actually a mattress run, but if you're going for AA status if might be worthwhile to book hotels through Rocket Miles or through American's site (using booking.com).
Thinking about booking those $29 Excalibur week nights to retain globalist. Going to be ~10 nights short. Anyone know if there is mobile check in for Excalibur? or do I have to actually be there?
Mobile check in and check out work. If you have MGM gold there are no resort fees. Stays over 3 nights require housekeeping. I’m in the middle of doing this myself :)
It’s my understanding that to get the resort fee waived, you have to book (and use) the MGM site (not Hyatt) and use their gold account, vs. booking on Hyatt and getting credit with the WOH program. I’m a Globalist and booked a reward/point stay and customer service confirmed that I DO have to pay resort fees b/c they are MGM hotels and not Hyatt. If you made a paid direct booking with MGM, your...
It’s my understanding that to get the resort fee waived, you have to book (and use) the MGM site (not Hyatt) and use their gold account, vs. booking on Hyatt and getting credit with the WOH program. I’m a Globalist and booked a reward/point stay and customer service confirmed that I DO have to pay resort fees b/c they are MGM hotels and not Hyatt. If you made a paid direct booking with MGM, your Gold status gets RF waived….but then I believe you don’t/can’t earn WOH points. It’s one or the other.
Great point, so if I have a lengthy stay of more than three days and only want to check in, can I do this and check out over the mobile app, or will that not be allowed because housekeeping will see no one staying in the room?
From data points, if you have never connect your MGM profile to Hyatt at a MGM member desk, then it becomes very YMMV for SNP to correctly post.
Still remember Marriott conference booking and getting 10 nights for that...
if marriott would offer 2X elite night it could make sense to do a mattress run. Europe based so no credit card options. They did one beginning of tyhe year however much restrictions due to COVID-19 at that time....
Just remember most stays have to be completed by 12/31 so a NYE stay counts for the next year not the current. Almost came up one short last year for globalist and had to check into two hotels on 12/30 to secure the status.
I used to fly the 90 minute flights to and from PHX on free Sundays just to get more miles, segments, and reach Platinum Pro faster. Is that the same as a "mattress run"?
You had some amazing hotel stays back in the day, as opposed to now, where you frequently stay at the Four Seasons.
I guess my wink emoji didn't make it
Best Western just this month ended one of their occasional Hyatt-style Faster Free Nights-type promotion. I stay at a couple of cheapies, then redeem my free Best Western night at a swanky localtion. Outsized value!
I thought nothing beats $25 Excalibur night, boy was I wrong.
Good to know the old days.
I've seen those run down old Vegas places go for $10.
It's always nice to get the $50 resort fee waived and use their game against them.
How do you get the resort fee waived?
I tried at the MGM recently but it didn't work.
Right now, I stand at 58 confirmed nights at Hyatt and 46 confirmed nights at Marriott (pending last minute travel changes, but these reservations have booked flights attached to them). I wouldn't be surprised if I use points at some low-cost chain hotel in December to get me over at least the Hyatt threshold and renew Globalist!
With mobile key options, there have been a few hilton properties I've been able to use where you don't even have to show up.
Since you can't RUN like you used to now, maybe it would be interesting to share some old time mattress tun stories.