Are Hotel Mattress Runs a Good Way to Earn Elite Status?

Dec 13, 2015

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TPG reader David sent me a message on Facebook to ask about hotel elite status:

“I’m four nights away from earning IHG Platinum Elite status. I have no stays planned for the rest of the year; is it worth paying for four nights that I don’t need just to reach Platinum Elite?”

Elite benefits can be lucrative enough that, in some cases, it’s worth paying for flights or hotel rooms solely to boost your status. Earlier this year, TPG Intern Kevin Song went on a 72-hour mileage run to requalify for AAdvantage Executive Platinum status and came away with more than 140,000 redeemable AAdvantage miles in the process. The same idea can be applied to hotels, where mattress runs can be used to increase your total number of elite nights or stays. However, while mattress runs are a helpful strategy in general, I’d advise David not to pursue one in this case.

For starters, IHG Platinum Elite status is pretty unimpressive. You’ll get basic benefits like late check-out and dedicated customer service, but the main benefits above Gold status are room upgrades and a 50% bonus on base points. That falls short of other mid-level elite status like Hilton HHonors Gold, which offers complimentary breakfast at full-service properties. IHG Platinum Elite feels more like a lower-tier status, and I don’t think you’d get enough value out of it to justify the cost of four nights in a hotel room you don’t plan to use.

There’s an even simpler reason why mattress running isn’t worthwhile in this scenario: Instead of qualifying for Platinum Elite by spending 40 nights or earning 40,000 points with IHG, you can get it automatically as a benefit of the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card. Even better, you can get a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first three months, plus an annual free night on your account anniversary. That easily offsets the $49 annual fee and saves you the hassle of tracking down an inexpensive IHG property in your area.

IHG made an effort to step up its elite program by adding the new top-tier Spire Elite status earlier this year. However, I don’t think that compares to other top-tier status like Hyatt Diamond and SPG Platinum. Unless you often stay at the more upscale brands like Intercontinental or Crowne Plaza (where upgrades could make a meaningful difference in your hotel experience), I don’t think it’s worth the effort to earn IHG Rewards status the hard way.

For more on mattress runs, mileage runs and elite status, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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