Frequently Made Mistakes – Hotel Travel Hacks that Will NOT Work (Usually)

Many readers do not have the time or the inclination to study the fine print of hotel chain loyalty programs. But you probably DO have some interest in qualifying for elite status, or at least earning points when staying at a chain hotel. Sometimes this leads people to make some common mistakes which frequently lead to frustration. So here’s a list of strategies that simply WON’T work…

Earning Points

I booked my hotel stay with an Online Travel Agency. Can I earn points?

No. You must book direct with the hotel chain (or via certain corporate travel agency arrangements) to earn points.

But that’s not fair. The OTA is offering a lower rate than what I can book direct.

In that case, you could attempt a Best Rate Guarantee claim. But there’s simply no way to earn points on an Online Travel Agency booking.

My friend / family member doesn’t collect points. Can they use my account number so that I can receive the points instead?

Not usually. If you are staying at the same time, most hotel chains allow you to earn points for more than one room, but these must be booked in the name of the member hoping to earn the points.

Some people attempt the “named second guest” trick. You book the hotel room in your own name/account, and put a note on the reservation saying that Person X will be arriving earlier than you. (your plan is to not show up at all) This trick can work fine in hotels with relatively lax I.D. requirements, but certain countries / hotels will insist on the primary guest being present at the time of check-in (or at least to pass by the front desk at some point during the stay).

My parents want to use their credit card to pay for our family vacation, but I want to earn the points.

The fine print of most, if not all, hotel loyalty programs say that the member must actually PAY for their stay in order to earn points. Some hotels enforce this, others do not. If you want to ensure that you earn points for your hotel stays, pay for them yourself and arrange to be reimbursed some other way.

Earning Elite Status

I need a few nights to reach elite status. Can I just prepay a cheap hotel halfway around the world and not show up?

No. Physically checking into the hotel is absolutely required if you want your stay to be credited to your account.

But what if I use the hotel chain’s App to check-in?

Still shouldn’t work. (but occasionally does)  The hotel can easily check to see whether you have used your cellphone / tablet / watch / etc. to enter your room. If you never enter the room, then the hotel can decide that you are a no-show. (this saves the hotel money, so they are incentivized to check…)

I’m staying one night at a really cheap hotel. Can I book three rooms and get three elite night credits?

No. All of the major hotel chains limit members to one elite night credit per calendar night.

How about if I book two different hotels for the same night?

Won’t usually work. Members can only earn one elite night credit per calendar night.

But what if I’m legitimately needing two hotels for the same night, for example if crossing the International Date line or am flying a red-eye and want to check-out late from one hotel and check-in early to another?

It’s usually a better idea to use two different hotel chains. It is sometimes possible to convince a customer service agent to give you two nights of elite credit, but you can never rely on this happening.

I can become a Hilton Diamond member in 2021 with just 15 stays. I have a week’s vacation coming up. Can I book seven consecutive one-night stays at the same hotel and generate 7 “stays”?

No. A “stay” is always defined as any number of consecutive nights at the same hotel, regardless of whether you check out and check back in. IT systems are designed to ensure that any consecutive nights are merged into one “stay”. You can, of course, switch hotels every night – sometimes two different brands are located in the same building or nearby – but you cannot generate elite “stays” from a multiple-night stay at a single hotel. (unless you are travelling with your partner and want to alternate the registered guest nightly, often requiring a room change to avoid mix-ups)

Enjoying Elite Status

I have elite status and am booking several rooms for a family vacation. Will all of the rooms enjoy my elite benefits (breakfast, etc.)?

It depends. Elite status benefits are usually only available for the room occupied by the member with elite status. But some hotels are more generous and can be found by researching Flyertalk, Tripadvisor, etc.

I have no status but am travelling with my partner who is a Hyatt Globalist. Can I book the room in my name but still enjoy my partner’s elite benefits?

Not usually. The person with elite status usually needs to be the main registered guest. Some hotels will provide benefits if the secondary guest shows their elite status card, but this is rare.

My friend has Hilton Gold status. Can they book a room for me? I’d get the free breakfast and they’d get the points. Win-win, right?

Some people do use the “second named guest” trick to do this, and sometimes it works fine. Get caught, though, and your friend could lose their status and accumulated points.

With the exception of Hyatt’s Guest of Honor for Globalist members spending points, elite benefits are only available when the elite status member is personally and physically occupying the room.


Can I book a preferred room (or suite) for one night, then use points for additional nights (standard room) and just keep my preferred room?

Nice try! The hotel will probably make you change rooms after the first night.  That said, if you have a high level of elite status and the hotel is less-than-full, the hotel may allow you to stay in the same room. (although they quite possibly would have upgraded you for free in the first place…)

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