Mattress Running Marriott


Are you close to earning Marriott Platinum or Titanium status?  Many people are very close, even if they didn’t stay in Marriott hotels at all this year because Marriott added bonus elite nights to many accounts.  I covered this topic in-depth previously here: Marriott Bonvoy: 7 nights to Platinum. What to do?

Relaxing on our balcony at the Inn at Bay Harbor. Thanks to having Marriott Platinum status or above (I had Titanium status at the time), on this stay we were upgraded to a full lake-view room and enjoyed free table-service breakfast every day.

Now, there’s an opportunity to earn Marriott elite nights cheaply through mattress running (checking into hotels to earn elite nights even if you don’t want to stay).  To get in on this opportunity, you have to be in the right place at the right time, and you must book your stay by October 15th.

The key to earning Marriott elite nights cheaply right now is by taking advantage of a new Marriott promotion: Free nights for “up to 33% less.”  Through the end of November, most Marriott hotels are priced off-peak for award stays — as long as you book by Thursday October 15th.  This means that category 1 hotels which cost 7,500 points standard will cost only 5,000 points per night.  And, of course, you can take advantage of Marriott’s 5th Night Free Awards (Stay for 5, Pay for 4).  In other words, those with access to a category 1 Marriott, can book 5 nights for only 20,000 points for a total cost of only 4,000 points per night.

Finding Category 1

The above map shows Marriott category 1 hotels in the United States.  You can find a live version of this map by going to Marriott’s Hotel Search page and then filtering to category 1.

There are currently 43 category 1 Marriott hotels in the United States with a whopping 18 in Texas:

To find category 1 hotels, go to Marriott’s Hotel Search page and then filter to category 1.

Booking Category 1

Once you find a category 1 hotel of interest, the next trick is to find free night availability.  One option is to do a flexible date search like this:

The problem with this approach is that Marriott’s technology often fails.  Often, the above search incorrectly results in “Not Available for Check-in” as shown below:

I believe that Marriott’s website frequently gets confused by its own browser cookies.  After switching to a fresh browser, I got correct results by running the exact same search as above:

Book a 5 night stay (or a multiple of 5 nights) in order to get the best value thanks to get 1 out of every 5 nights for free:

Is it worth it?

Don’t even consider doing this to earn Marriott Silver or Gold status.  Platinum or Titanium status is where the action is at.  Here’s a summary of the key benefits you get with each status level:

Elite Status Level Requirements Per Year Key Benefits
Silver Elite 10 Nights Late checkout, 10% point bonus
Gold Elite 25 Nights 2PM late checkout; 25% point bonus; welcome gift (points only); room upgrade; enhanced internet
Platinum Elite 50 Nights 4PM late checkout; 50% point bonus; welcome gift w/ breakfast option; room upgrade includes suites; lounge access; Choice benefit (such as 5 suite night awards) when you achieve 50 nights.
Titanium Elite 75 Nights All of the above, plus: 75% point bonus; United Silver Premier status via RewardsPlus; Ritz-Carlton suite upgrades; Additional Choice Benefit (such as 40K free night certificate) when you achieve 75 nights.
Ambassador Elite 100 Nights + $20K Spend All of the above, plus: Ambassador Service (dedicated Marriott agent); Your24 (Choose the 24 hours of your stay. For example, choose to check in at 9am after an overnight flight).

50 Night Platinum status means getting free breakfast at most Marriott hotels, a chance of a suite upgrade, and more.  75 Night Titanium status adds free United Silver status, a Choice Benefit of a free 40K night, and more.  For those within 5 days of Platinum or Titanium status, I think that most people will find that it’s well worth spending 20K points to get to that level.  Even if you’re 10 nights away from the next level, it may be worth pursuing, especially if you think you’re likely to stay at some nice Marriott hotels next year where you’d get good benefits from your status.  Unfortunately, not all Marriott brands offer elite perks so it’s a good idea to do your homework ahead of time.  For example, I’ll frequently Google a hotel along with the words “platinum status” to see what others have reported as perks for their stays.

Up to 30 additional nights

Having a Marriott consumer credit card gives you 15 elite nights each year automatically.  Similarly, having a Marriott business credit card gives you another 15 elite nights each year.  In other words, you can get 30 elite nights each year just by having two credit cards.  Note though that having more than one consumer card or more than one business card does not help.

Important: Marriott imposes strict rules as to who is eligible for each credit card. Before applying for a new card, please see this post: Are you eligible for a new Marriott card?

Consumer cards available for new signups

If you don’t already have a Marriott consumer card, you can sign up for any one of these to get 15 elite nights added to your account:

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
5 Free Nights
Earn 5 50K free night certificates after $5K spend in 3 months
(Offer Expires 10/28/2020)

$95 Annual Fee

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
125K points + Platinum Status
125K points + Platinum Status: 100K points after $5K spend in the first 3 months + Platinum status for 2021 membership year (2/1/21 to 1-31-22) + 25K points after first anniversary. Terms apply.
(Offer Expires 1/13/2021)

$450 Annual Fee

Business card available for new signups

If you don’t already have a Marriott business card, you can sign up for this card to get 15 elite nights added to your account:

Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
100K Points + Platinum Status + up to $150 statement credit
100K points after $5K spend in the first 3 months + Complimentary Platinum Status for 2021 membership year (2/1/21 to 1-31-22) + up to $150 in statement credits for eligible purchases on U.S. Advertising in select media in first 6 months. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)
(Offer Expires 1/13/2021)

$125 Annual Fee

Mattress Running Q&A

Q: What are elite nights?

With many hotel chains, you can earn elite status by acquiring a number of elite qualifying nights each year. For example, Marriott requires earning 50 elite nights per year to achieve Platinum Elite status, or 75 elite nights for Titanium status.  Once you reach a status level, status last for the remainder of the current calendar year, all of the next year, and through February of the year after that.

Q: Do I have to physically go to the hotel to check in?

Usually yes.  Most mattress runs involve physically checking into the hotel.  That said, if you’re lucky you may be able to find a hotel manager willing to process your check-in remotely.  If so, you may have to fax them a photo of your ID and credit card.

Q: Should I speak with a hotel manager about my plans?

Yes!  If you don’t speak with a hotel manager, they may find your room unoccupied and check you out early. If you’re not planning to actually stay at the hotel, then I think it’s critical to explain to hotel management what you want to accomplish and why.

Q: Do I have to physically go to the hotel to check out?

No.  You can check out with the Marriott app or you can simply ignore it and the hotel will automatically check you out.

Q: Does the free night on 5th Night Free awards earn an elite night?


Q: Do I have to book directly with Marriott to earn elite nights?

Usually, yes.  Stays booked through 3rd party online travel agencies (Expedia,, etc.) or through rewards portals (such as Chase Ultimate Rewards) do not earn points or elite nights for those stays.  There are exceptions.  For example, stays booked through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts do earn points and elite nights.

More Info

For more info about Marriott Bonvoy, please see our Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide, which includes the following sections:

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