In a bizarre state of irony, 2021 is shaping up to be the year of the mattress run. Hyatt kicked things off with their ludicrously easy path to top-tier Hyatt Globalist status. Really, they kicked it off last year when they announced the current promotion and then they extended the promotion to make it even harder to resist. Then Hilton reduced elite qualification requirements for 2021 to just 15 stays to make Hilton Diamond status — and then launched a status match that only requires nine nights. Then yesterday, Marriott surprised me with how easy they made it to attain or maintain status in 2021. Here’s how you could end up with top-tier status in at least 6 different hotel programs in less than two months. Keep in mind that you may not want to complete every status match included as some may only be valid once within a specified time frame, but the fun here is what’s possible rather than what’s practical.
What is mattress running?
First, a brief note for the uninitiated: a mattress run is when you check into a hotel for the sole purpose of earning points / elite credit / promotions / etc. One would only consider doing a mattress run when the benefit provided from the points / promotion / etc is greater than the cost of any associated nights. I am assuming someone is going after status by looking for the lowest-cost award or paid nights rather than focusing on hotels where they actually want to stay. If you have planned nights at hotels where you actually need to stay, all the better for you.
Start with Hyatt Globalist (15 nights)
We have discussed this opportunity extensively. If you have any interest in hotel elite status, you don’t want to miss this chance to get top-tier Hyatt Globalist elite status from just 15 nights. Those 15 nights could be had for 75K Chase Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Hyatt for Category 1 stays. Then, given the current promotion (for which you must register by January 15th!), you would get at least 15% of those points back for a net cost of only 63,750 Hyatt points for two years of Globalist status (and a Category 1-4 free night certificate). And that might not be the cheapest way to do it! See: Ludicrously easy path to Hyatt top-tier Globalist status for more info. The key takeaway is that you can get the best top-tier hotel elite status on the market for 15 nights by the end of February.
Next up: Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status (23 nights)
Easiest path to meaningful status: Until 1/13/21, keep in mind that the easiest path to meaningful Marriott elite status is via a single credit card. That’s because either of the currently-available Amex Marriott cards are offering 2021 Marriott Platinum status as part of the welcome bonus. That is potentially great since Platinum status means free breakfast or lounge access at most Marriott properties. Given that Marriott has brought back its elite status guarantees, Platinum status has gotten a boost in value in the past 24hrs.
Reduced path to top-tier Marriott status
Marriott’s top-tier status is Titanium and ordinarily requires 75 nights to attain (note that there is also an “Ambassador” level that requires 100 nights and $20K annual spend at Marriott hotels, though the required spend there makes it unattainable via creative means).
If you are starting at zero, the easiest path to top-tier Titanium status would begin by attaining one business and one personal Marriott credit card. Because of the mystifying rules of the Marriott Bonvoy credit card eligibility matrix, the easiest way to achieve this from scratch is to open both the Amex Bonvoy Business credit card and the Amex Bonvoy Brilliant consumer credit card. Each card would give you 15 elite night credits toward status (Note that elite nights from personal credit cards do not stack. You get 15 total elite nights from having any number of Marriott Bonvoy consumer credit cards and 15 total elite nights from having any number of Marriott Bonvoy business credit cards). The combination of one business and one personal card would give you 30 elite nights to start, putting you 45 nights short of Titanium status.
With Marriott’s latest promotion, stays of 2 nights or longer between February 16th and April 27, 2021 will earn double elite night credit provided at least one night is paid. Remember that Marriott lets you book a stay using a mix of paid and award nights. See: Bet You Didn’t Know: Maximizing Marriott’s 5th Night Free on longer stays. Note that if you had any elite status with Marriott last year, your path to Titanium status gets even easier. You can reduce the number of nights you need based on how many elite night credits Marriott is gifting you in February. For example, if you earned Marriott Platinum status last year, you’ll get 25 elite night credits this year. Combine that with 30 nights from credit cards and you’ll have 55 elite nights from the get-go and be just 20 nights short of Titanium status, cutting my example requirements below by more than half. See Greg’s post for more info on Marriott’s reduced elite night requirements and elite night credits coming in February.
In the worst case scenario for a new member who had no status last year and who picks up a business and personal credit card this year, one would then need 23 nights during the promotional period in order to earn top-tier Marriott status (30 nights from credit cards plus 46 nights from stays (23 nights doubled) = 76 elite nights).
Given the current reduction in off-peak rates, the play here would be finding a cheap off-peak Marriott Category 1 property with five consecutive off-peak nights.
The reason I say that you’d want to find a cheap property is because you’ll want to tag a paid night before or after in order to trigger double elite night credit (paid rates at my example hotel above are too high!). Your total cost to mattress run Titanium elite status will be 4 paid nights plus 72,000 points assuming you get the two credit cards as noted above. Here’s how that works out:
- 4,500 points (Cat 1 off-peak) x 4 = 18K points for a 5-night award stay at Category 1 off-peak
- For the promotion, you need at least 1 paid night on your reservation, so on each reservation you’ll want to pair 1 paid night plus 5 award nights for to earn 12 elite nights after double credit
- Do the above 4 times = 48 elite nights
- Add 30 elite nights from the credit cards
- Total = 78 elite nights, Titanium status
Why overshoot the goal by 3 elite nights? You don’t have to, but it won’t cost you any less to do it differently. If you do 1 paid + 5 award nights three times, that’s 36 elite nights after doubling. Combined with 30 nights from credit cards, you’d be 9 nights short. You’ll need to stay 5 more doubled nights (or 4 doubled nights and 1 night that isn’t). Assuming you’re following the same strategy as above to pick up those 5 doubled nights, you would need to be paying for at least 1 night and using points for the next four nights. Since the 5th night is free on award stays, those four award nights cost the same as 5 award nights, meaning that you may as well book 1 paid night and 5 award nights provided you’re getting all of your nights at the same off-peak rate.
It would be cheaper yet if you could find a property using off-peak saver rates as that would only cost a total of 57,600 points with the same technique as what is shown above, but I haven’t found an opportunity for a 5-night stay at off-peak point saver pricing.
Match to Hilton Honors Diamond Elite Status (9 nights)
Easiest path to meaningful status: The Hilton Honors Surpass card from American Express offers Hilton Gold status. That gives you free breakfast / lounge access at almost every Hilton property in the world. That in turn diminishes interest in Hilton Diamond status, though you can also get Hilton Diamond status via a credit card with the Hilton Honors Aspire card.
Status match to top-tier Diamond elite status
However, if you’d rather get Hilton status without a credit card, your next step would be to match either Hyatt Globalist or Marriott Titanium to Hilton Diamond status via the latest Hilton status match opportunity (See: Get Hilton Diamond Status After 9 Nights With Status Match (Good Through March 2023). That status match will give you Hilton Gold status with the ability to earn Gold through March 2023 by staying 5 nights within 90 days of registering or Diamond through March 2023 by staying 9 nights within 90 days of registering. Note that these nights must be paid nights – award stays do not count.
Status match to Choice Privileges Diamond (1 night)
Choice Privileges offers a status match program that you can find here. You should be able to match your Hyatt Globalist, Marriott Titanium, or Hilton Diamond status to the highest level that Choice Privileges offers via status match. However, if I remember correctly, I believe that Choice Privileges ordinarily does not match to its top-tier Diamond status but rather only to the next-level-down Platinum status.
However, I see that they are currently offering a “Diamond Elite Status Jump” whereby you provide proof of elite status with another chain and stay one night at any Cambria hotel and get Choice Privileges Diamond status (you can find that promotion, pictured above, at this link. Note that you may want to hold off a bit on this one: if you match between January and June, your elite status is only good for the current membership year. If you match between July and December, your matched status is good for the current and following calendar year. That means that if you match in July, you could have eighteen months of Choice Privileges Diamond status. I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath after that gasp of excitement.
Status match to Best Western (0 nights)
Best Western offers its “Status Match No Catch”, which is the easiest hotel elite status match. You’ll get the equivalent tier from Best Western, which I expect would be Diamond Select if matching from Hyatt, Marriott, or Hilton (not sure about Choice Privileges). You don’t need to stay to earn this status match, just fill out the form on this landing page.
Status match to Sonesta Travel Pass top-tier Elite status (0 nights)
Sonesta is a program that hasn’t gotten much press in the points and miles world (I think the only thing we’ve ever written about it was Greg’s lazy review of their credit card). However, I see that they offer a status match to their top tier “Travel Pass Elite” status. Find more information on the Travel Pass FAQ page.
When the pandemic began, Greg and I expected that we would eventually see incredible promotions to bring people back into travel. Frankly, I expected to see opportunities to earn additional elite credits faster last year. However, we instead saw most programs easily grant loyalty status extensions. I think it isn’t impossible that we will again see extensions given that travel hasn’t recovered yet and the pandemic is still wreaking havoc in many corners of the country. However, as the vaccine continues to roll out (and hopefully remains effective), I’m sure that we will see a tide change. It makes sense to register for things like Hyatt Bonus Journeys and the Marriott double elite night credits (whenever we have a registration link – it hasn’t been released yet) even if you’re not sure that you’ll go after these opportunities. Personally, I don’t see myself staying at hotels during the first quarter of 2021, but I can definitely see checking in for some mattress runs given the current opportunities. Keep in mind that when you earn elite status this year, that status is good for all of next year and into the beginning of the following year (end date varies from one program to the next but can be as late as March of 2023 in some cases). If you have any faith of your travel recovering by the end of 2022, don’t ignore these opportunities to pick up easy elite status. While we’ll surely continue to see promotions, it is hard to imagine a year in which it would be easier to achieve top-tier status in one program after another with very inexpensive stays. You’ve got to strike while the iron is hot, and the heat is on at the moment.