The Benefits of Hotel Hopping
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There are many “destructive” activities that come along with obsessive mileage and point collecting, like buying coins, mileage running and opening up tons of credit cards. I put destructive in quotes, because what may be destructive to one person is fun and lucrative to another.
While I try to think I’m mainstream in pursuing my points “hobby,” I’m definitely guilty of several types of weird behavior. One of them is hotel hopping, which is the act of switching hotels in order to maximize points and elite status.
Most hotel programs allow qualification by either stays or nights. In my case, I qualify for Hyatt Diamond by stays every year, so I need to “stay” 25 times per year. A stay is at least one night at a property. Qualifying by nights is simple – it doesn’t matter how many times you stay at a property, you just need to clock a certain number of nights, which is 50 for Hyatt Diamond.
So, clearly the easy way to maximize this system is by simply “staying” 25 one night stays. However, what happens when you want to stay for more than one night? A sneaky newbie might think, “Oh, let me just make two separate one night stays and check in and out in order to get two stays!” Wrong. Most hotel chains have caught onto this maneuver and will merge your reservations so you only get one stay credit.
So, how can you work around this? The most secure way of doing it is simply to go to another property in the same city, hence the “hopping” concept. While its a little annoying to pack your things up and check into another hotel, it’s easier in some cities than others. I don’t mind hotel hopping on business stays, since I’m barely in my hotel room anyway.
1) Earn elite status quicker. In most programs earning status with one night stays is twice as fast as qualifying by nights (for example 25 stays or 50 nights)
2) Maximize point amenities. A lot of chains give point amenities for each stay for top tier elites. For example, Hyatt gives me 1,000 points for each domestic stay and Starwood offers 500 points. I stay at least 25 times a year, which equals 25,000 Hyatt points. That’s more than enough for one free night at a top property, like my favorite Park Hyatt Paris Vendome. A pretty sweet deal if you ask me.
3) and potentially a better chance for suite upgrades (specifically for Starwood). Suite upgrades depend on availability, so if you are staying for a week, the suite has to be available for a week in order for you to get it. So, as reason would dictate, chances on snagging that upgrade are better if you are only staying one night.
1) If staying for business, doing expenses is more challenging. Having multiple folios is confusing, though companies like Hyatt make it easy when you can access folio PDFs online automatically after your stay. Other hotel chains (ahem Starwood) need to get on this. I can’t imagine the technology is so difficult to implement at your corporate level.
2) There can be a gap between check-out and check-in. Most hotels make you check-out by 11am or 12pm, while check-in is usually 3pm or 4pm. But, having elite status can remedy this by using your late check-out privileges to close the time gap.
3) A lot of the current hotel promos like Hilton and Starwood actually encourage multiple night stays by awarding higher point multipliers for each night you stay.
Like most lucrative points deals, hotel hopping takes a little bit of effort, but it definitely has its benefits if done properly. With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.