Stays Versus Nights for Hotel Elite Status

Dec 12, 2012

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I’ve had a few posts recently that have mentioned going for hotel elite status, and as a result I have been getting emails and comments with questions about stays versus nights in terms of hotel elite status.  This is one of those concepts that is second nature for those who have been in the miles and points world for a while, but is a totally new and foreign concept for those newer to this great hobby, so I am happy to try and help clear up some questions.  Essentially, most hotel chains allow you to qualify for elite status based on either nights or stays (and in some cases based on $ spent on hotel stays and/or via having a rewards credit card).

For example, with both Hyatt and Starwood you can qualify for top tier status by having 25 stays or 50 nights in a calendar year (though SPG has some new benefits for those with 50, 75, or 100 annual nights).  I like to qualify based on stays instead of nights as it is easier for me to have 25 stays in a calendar year rather than 50 nights.  Let me try to explain why, with some simple questions and answers.

What is a hotel stay as opposed to a night?

Generally a visit to a hotel will result in both a stay and a night (or nights) if it is on a qualified rate.  This varies from chain to chain as some hotels count award nights toward elite status and some don’t, but in general most paid reservations that earn points are eligible across the board.  If I stayed at a hotel for four straight nights the visit will count both as one stay and four nights toward status.  If I stayed at a hotel for one night it would count as both one stay and one night toward elite status.

Do I have to tell the hotel if I want a night or stay credit?

No, you will earn both night and stay credits for your eligible stays.  No need to specify – once you have either enough nights or stays for the elite status you seek, it will automatically be granted.

Why would you want to qualify on stays vs. nights?

I like to qualify based on stays because it is easier for me.  I can have 25 one-night stays and qualify for top tier Hyatt status.  If I were qualifying based on nights, it would take me twice as long since I would need 50 nights instead of effectively needing just 25 nights.

Can I just check in and out at the same hotel every night on a multi-day stay to get more stay credits?

Nope, sadly that usually won’t work as it would still count as just one stay if you are there several nights in a row at the same hotel under the same name.  Technically, if you are traveling with a companion you could each make one-night reservations and switch each night.  That way a four night stay could result in two stay credits for each person if you each make alternating one-night reservations each night.  Some hotels may frown on this, but it often would work.  Be nice and work with the front desk if you go this route.

How can I rack up more stays if I can’t alternate reservations with a partner?

Many who go for elite status based on stays “hotel hop”.  For example, when my husband is in Austin for work trips he will often switch hotels each night going from Hyatt Place Arboretum to Hyatt House Arboretum or the Hyatt Regency each night.  In his case, it really isn’t too much extra work since two of those hotels are very close to each other, and it isn’t that hard packing stuff up as a single traveler who has a car to store stuff in during the day.  It is much harder if the whole family is there, so we don’t hotel hop that much on family trips.  However, short trips by ourselves do often result in hopping while we are going for status.  There is no need to hop if you are going to have plenty of trips in the year, but if you are going to be cutting it close for elite status then it can be a worthy endeavor if you have the ability to hop.

Is all this extra work of hopping worth it?

Only you can make that decision, but it is very much worth it for my family.  Here is a post detailing why some extra work pays off for us.  You need to look at the benefits you will get and decide for yourself if it is worth it for your family.  For some, the hotel elite status you can get just by having a co-branded credit card makes more sense.

When should I start going for elite status?

If you want to go for elite status with a hotel, I recommend starting as early in the calendar year as possible since you typically have Jan – December to qualify.  Starting early in the year gives you as much time as possible to reach the required number of nights or stays.  In other words, don’t start right now in December (unless you are already very close).  The exception would be if you are trying to qualify for a status under a challenge that has a different time frame.

I hope this helps answer some of the questions that people may have about the basics of nights vs. stays, but feel free to ask more questions in the comments section and I will be happy to answer.


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