Using Your Hotel Elite Status For Others?

I’m often asked about the limits of “extending” hotel status to friends and family. For example, reader Scott recently asked me the following question on the Ask Lucky page of the blog:

Lucky – I’m interested in doing the Hyatt Diamond challenge soon as we have stays upcoming at the Park Hyatt Vendome and Park Hyatt Tokyo in July and the Hyatt Regency Churchill in London in October.

We generally travel only a few times a year but having Platinum status while staying at those properties could be worth a lot of extra benefits. I have Hilton Gold to match.

My questions is this…Rather than do a mattress run myself as I can’t see myself reaching those 12 paid nights in 60 days, my parents happen to be visiting us for the summer and they are in an extended stay (can’t remember the name). I looked into moving them into a Hyatt House not too far from us for at least the 12 nights required for the challenge. Have you heard of people booking rooms for other people to meet the challenge? It would cost $55/night + 4k points but they are paying about $90/night at the place they are in now and are not super happy. We could kill two birds with one stone doing this. I could easily check in for them. Does this violate all sorts of rules? Will we get caught? Do the hotels care? What are your thoughts? Thanks in advance for your insight

In other words, if you have hotel status, can you:

  • Make a booking for a family member so that they can receive your elite benefits
  • Make a booking for a family member so that you can earn elite qualifying nights/stays and points for their stays

Park-Hyatt-Zurich-Breakfast
Complimentary Diamond breakfast at Park Hyatt Zurich — one of my favorite elite perks

Since I live in hotels full time as it is and don’t really need any extra hotel nights, this isn’t something I have much firsthand experience with. 😉

To answer Scott’s question specifically, as well as the “bigger picture” question:

Technically you have to stay to earn points

As you might expect, technically you have to be staying at a hotel in order to earn points. In other words, you can’t make a booking for a third party and earn points… technically.

For example, here are the relevant terms for Hyatt’s Gold Passport program (bolding mine):

In order for a Hyatt Gold Passport member to receive Hyatt Gold Passport points, the bill for charges must be in that member’s name and member must personally pay for all charges. A member’s membership number cannot be used by anyone else in order to accrue Hyatt Gold Passport points, benefits, promotion credits or upgraded membership status.

Hyatt-Terms

And the rules of most programs say the same, whereby you have to be paying for charges and actually present in order to earn points and stay credits.

Best route to go if you want to chance it

If you do want to go the route of trying to make a booking for someone else using your status (either so they get elite benefits, so you get points, or both), the best strategy is simply to make a booking in your name, and add the person that’s actually staying as the second guest.

Additional-Hotel-Guest

Then when the second guest checks in they should just be able to say they’re on the reservation and have no problems checking in. I know a lot of people will say “oh, [member’s name] has a flight arriving really late,” though whether or not you want to do that is up to you.

This does get a bit tricky if there are actually multiple people staying. In other words, if Person A (elite member) makes a reservation and lists Person B as the secondary guest, when it reality Person B and Person C are staying. In those instances I would recommend that the second guest not go to check-in and kind of “hang out” outside to avoid any further issues.

After all, if the room is booked for two people and two people show up (neither being the elite member), that’s what would raise a red flag.

US hotels generally care least

You shouldn’t have an issue with this at most hotels, though especially at US hotels. They seem to care least about the “letter of the law” across the board. It’s a bit trickier at foreign hotels, since they’ll often want to scan your passport.

Still, it’s perfectly legitimate to have an additional guest check in before the primary guest, though they may claim that the primary guest should stop by the front desk upon their arrival.

Checking someone else in

Scott’s situation is unique, and I think potentially actually totally legitimate. If his parents are visiting, he pays the charges on his card, and is actually present at check-in and check-out, I think even per the terms and conditions of the program that would be fine. So I wouldn’t be worried in Scott’s situation.

Most programs will let you make points bookings for others

On a different note, most hotel programs will let you make reward night bookings for others. The catch is that technically elite benefits don’t apply in those instances, since it’s the status of the person staying that counts.

There are different ways to go about making these bookings. Programs like Hilton HHonors will actually officially let you make a booking in someone else’s name, while with IHG Rewards Club you’d simply list yourself as the primary guest, and add the “real” guest as the additional guest. Then you’d have them notate the reservation to explain what you’re doing.

If the goal is simply to redeem points for someone else, that should generally be possible. The question is whether you want to be safe and just make a booking for them where they don’t get elite benefits, or whether you want to chance it in hopes of them getting benefits.

Bottom line

Generally you wont have an issue making a booking in your name, adding an additional guest, and then still earning points and having elite benefits honored. At the same time, most programs prohibit making bookings for others where you have no intention of staying, so I wouldn’t make a habit of it.

If you’ve ever made a booking for someone else using your elite status, what has been your experience?

Comments

  1. I did this a few years back with spg. My parents were visiting from overseas I booked their rooms using my account, checked them in using my father’s credit card and had no issues at all. Not once in the 4 times we did it at different properties did anyone for the hotel ask. I would have racked up more stays if Dad hadn’t insisted in getting his own spg account. Doh! IIs possible, I’m proof of that but just be careful and have a coupe of ‘reasons’ handy if you’re challenged by hotel staff.

  2. The catch is that technically elite benefits don’t apply in those instances, since it’s the status of the person staying that counts.

    Interesting. I’ve given away some of my stays and to my knowledge they were all granted Diamond status when traveling on my award. But, that could be just something they do to be nice not a formal policy.

  3. curious as to why on nearly every hotel post you mention (and highlight) that you live in hotels full time. i’d think your readers would get it by now (and its something that drew from travelisfree.com has been doing for a few years now)

  4. You do run a small risk of not getting credit if the points don’t post automatically and the guest info and credit card used to pay don’t match yours.

  5. I have booked rooms numerous times using Hilton hHonors points for my wife and daughter. I do it over the phone and when the confirmation comes through in my wife’s name for two people, it always highlights the Diamond status and benefits that come with it. Recently they spent 6 nights in Hawaii in a Hilton and received the in-room internet free and access to the Executive Lounge. So I am guessing it is pretty standard that your guests receive your benefits with Hilton.

  6. Never hurts to ask. Here’s a slightly different situation.

    Girlfriend was staying at the Hilton Midtown NYC for a conference, work-paid. Reservation in her name. I joined for the duration and had an additional reservation for more nights post-conference.

    The fact I was there obviously helped, but they kindly allowed us to use my Diamond benefits during her reservation period, while she earned the points and paid that bill. Didn’t get an upgrade, but of course that’s Hilton for you, and it was likely fully booked for multiple conferences going on anyway.

  7. @ Todd — Yep, in that case definitely just the hotel being nice or an oversight on their part, at least technically.

  8. @ james — I appreciate the feedback. A large percentage of my traffic comes from Google, so while long time readers may be familiar with it, those visiting from Google may not be.

  9. Hi Lucky,
    My wife needs to book a room at Grand Hyatt for a conference in Seattle. She will be reimbursed, hence the room needs to be booked and payed by her. If I’d stay with her, will I be able to apply the benefits from the Hyatt diamond challenge, such as suite upgrade, free breakfast etc., if I’ll be listed as an additional guest in the room?
    Thanks

  10. @ Adam — Technically not, unfortunately. The room has to be in your name in order to earn benefits/points. However, if the hotel is feeling generous they may still grant you benefits. Not an entitlement, though.

    Enjoy your stay!

  11. Been thinking about this for GH bali on a diamond challenge.. Sister is going for honeymoon and rather rack up the nights on a challenge I’ll be doing later that month.. Risky for earning credit?

  12. When you make a Starwood award booking, it has to be in your name. You can call the hotel and ask them to add the name of a second guest. But, in my experience, that doesn’t always work – poorly trained desk clerks may not be able to find the info, and refuse to check the second guest in. The workaround is to be available by phone when the second guest tries to check in, so the hotel can call you to confirm.

  13. @ E — A bit risky (that was the whole point of this post :p), but fairly likely to work.

  14. This is horrible advice as it CLEARLY is against the T&C of Hyatt (your example). Encouraging abuse only ruins it for those of us who play by the rules. Come on, Lucky! We expect better!

    A better way to address the title of your post (which is different from the question posed) would be to advise calling the hotel directly and being HONEST and asking for for benefits to be extended to those staying at the property. Most often, the hotel is more than happy to accommodate.

  15. Data point:

    A few years ago after a terrible storm, I booked my partner and myself into a Marriott very quickly, as I knew power would be out for awhile and we were having a heatwave, and hotels would fill up fast. My neighbor had a newborn and asked me to make a reservation for her, because her mobile was out of power. I booked her at a different Marriott property, and held the reservation with my credit card attached to my Marriott Rewards number. When she checked out a couple of days later, she told me that they offered her the amenity or points (I was a platinum at the time), and I ended up getting the two earned nights and points (about which she didn’t care, she didn’t participate in Marriott and just wanted the room). She paid the hotel directly with her own card upon check in.

    I’m not sure this is “policy” or coincidence, but that’s how it worked for me with Marriott once (I know, it’s not Hyatt, be we’re here to *educate* each other, right?) 🙂

  16. I had a similar experience as TravelinWilly: My parents booked a stay at a Marriott property in Florida and inadvertently had my rewards number attached to the res (It was stored in their browser cache). When my dad checked in, he told the front desk that it was a mistake, and that I was not actually staying there. The desk agent told him that he was just going to leave it in there so that my parents could get my benefits (platinum) and I would eventually get the points (my parents don’t collect). Very unexpected but very nice of that agent to do that. I guess it would vary from property to property, but one of the reasons I am loyal to Marriott. I was not trying to game the system intentionally, but they still gave me the point.

  17. This is a very dangerous game that I wouldn’t recommend.

    I understand this is the basis of Starwood introducing a rule that to earn points, the guest must book, check-in and use a credit card with their own name to pay for the reservation to earn points.

    I have a contact who was caught flaunting the system of a major chain. He received a very terse email stating that he was in breach of the program’s terms and conditions. He was warned that if it happened again, it would be within their rights to cancel his membership. In my humble opinion, fair is fair 🙂

  18. I guess it all depends on the hotel. Booked at doubletree beijing with points for me and my mom. Her name was on the reservation and I called the hotel to let them know she will be checking in before me. They did let her check in but would not give her the upgraded room they blocked for me as a gold elite or use the lounge. Only when I got there did they let us use the upgraded room. It was a bit silly since they had to move my mom and clean the room that she just used for a couple of hours.

  19. My friend stays in India while his brother who is a platinum SPG member stays in Canada. My friend regularly logs into the SPG account of his Bro and books the nights on points for his stays in SPG properties around India and then adds his name in the reservation. Never he has been questioned at check in regarding this and he also avails all the elite status benefits like suite upgrade amenity or points lounge access and late check out though his bro who is the member has never once stayed with my friend. His brother hardly uses the SPG points as in US and Canada the redemption points are relatively high on SPG properties when compared to India where it is a min of 3000 points per night. Hence my friend here uses up the points on his stays.

  20. @ TravelinWilly – it’s interesting that Marriott gave you credits for multiple hotels at the same time; at SPG you aren’t allowed to credit multiple hotels on the same date but can get credit for up to 3 rooms per [same] hotel. FWIW, I was given credit for two rooms by Marriott for a recent stay but I paid for both of them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *