Can You Earn Hotel Points and Elite Status Credit Without Actually Staying?

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When the calendar turns to November or December, some travel hackers start thinking about “mattress runs” as a way of renewing or upgrading their elite status with their preferred hotel chain(s).

A mattress run is essentially a hotel stay that is completely unnecessary, but is done to earn elite status credit or reward points. The most extreme example of a mattress run is checking into a hotel and immediately leaving, but some people stretch the definition of a mattress run to include other types of not-quite-necessary hotel stays.

Mattress runs are worthy of their own in-depth article, but the crucial element to highlight about any mattress run is that you must actually check into the hotel (you cannot book a cheap hotel halfway around the world and simply not show up).

Planned mattress runs aside, what happens if your plans genuinely change at the last minute and your booking conditions do not allow you to cancel your hotel stay?  Your money is usually gone… but it is legitimate to want to at least earn some points and receive the elite status credit.  Here’s something you can try…

(to be completely transparent, this probably breaks the Terms & Conditions of the loyalty programmes of the major hotel chains, but in a way that I believe to be rarely punished)

Use the App to check in

Although many hotel chains were already moving in the direction of “contactless” check-in and room keys on your phone or watch, the pandemic has provided additional impetus in that direction.

So for a recent Hilton Honors stay where my plans genuinely changed at the last minute, I decided to check in nonetheless, using my phone.

I clicked on the Check In logo…

I was then asked what time I expected to arrive…


To my chagrin, the hotel had decided (this one time when I can’t actually make the stay) to upgrade me to a suite:

And finally… the App on my phone was issued with a Digital Key.

Was I lucky?

Again, let me make this point clear – the hotel is completely within its rights to check whether you actually used your Digital Key to access your assigned room, and to mark you as a “no-show” if you didn’t.

But in this case, I was lucky. I checked out the next morning, again using the App, and a day or two later I received a few points and the valuable elite stay / night credit I had been hoping for…



Your Mileage May Vary as we like to say…  Will this work every time? No!  Should you plan late December mattress runs with the intention of doing an App check-in? Not at all!

But if your plans change and the hotel won’t allow you to cancel, you might just want to try checking in via the App and seeing what happens…

How about you – have you ever done a successful mattress run without actually entering the hotel?  Let us know in the comments section.

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