Mattress Runs: Earn Hotel Status with Ease

mattress run guide featured image

Hotel elite status is a major plus when traveling as it can bring significant benefits such as late check-out, suite upgrades, and the ever-popular complimentary breakfast. Not only can these benefits improve your stay, but they can also cut costs which is a major plus when it comes to managing an overall travel budget.

However, the hardest part of earning hotel loyalty program status is staying the required amount of nights to earn the status. Many of us are just regular people with a few weeks of vacation per year, so staying the 50 required nights for Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status can feel daunting. However, there are workarounds that allow you to still earn hotel loyalty status without needing to become a business traveler or spending an excessive amount of nights in a hotel each year.

Let’s take a look at the concept of ‘mattress runs’ and how you can implement them to earn status in your hotel loyalty program of choice.

What is a Mattress Run?

A mattress run is where a guest books a room solely for the purpose of “staying nights” to earn status within a hotel loyalty program. They may or may not actually stay in the room after checking in as they are only interested in the elite night credits.

It might seem a bit silly to spend money or points to book a hotel stay that you don’t intend on actually utilizing, but it makes sense when you take a step back and realize the end goal is to achieve hotel elite status at the lowest price point possible.

The Goal of Mattress Running

The ultimate goal of employing mattress running as a strategy is to earn the desired level of hotel program loyalty status while spending less in cash or points than the value that you would derive from that level of status for the remainder of the time you hold it.

This means you need to think about your travel plans for the future and the frequency with which you could reasonably implement the perks earned from your status. Consider the value received, such as Nightly Upgrade Awards or the complimentary daily breakfast. Don’t ever just earn status just because everyone else is doing it, think about if it will add value to your vacation plans.

For example, if you are planning on a big Asia trip with your significant other and will be staying at a number of Marriott Bonvoy properties, such as the W Bangkok and the W Koh Samui, it would absolutely be worth it to hold Platinum Elite status for the daily complimentary breakfast for two as you will be saving a significant amount of money daily and receiving an excellent breakfast buffet in return.

w koh samui kitchen breakfast options

For example, I think mattress running to earn Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status is absolutely worth it as this is the most impactful status level within the program. 

However, if you find yourself at 50 elite qualifying nights, it would most likely not be worth it to mattress run an additional 25 nights to earn Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite status as the additional benefits are not as impactful compared to what the additional nights would cost you in cash or points. As with anything in this hobby, think about the total value versus the cost before you implement any strategy like this.

The Optimal Mattress Running Strategy

The goal of mattress running is to get the most “nights” for the least amount of money or points. If you are mattress running with points, ensure you are taking advantage of any loyalty program’s unique features, such as Hilton Honors “5th Night Free” in which if you stay four nights consecutively with points, you will receive the 5th night free.

On the other hand, if you are looking to mattress run with cash, start out by finding the lowest nightly rate possible. This might mean that you need to see if there are any corporate codes that you would be eligible for, industry rates, or consider purchasing a low-cost CAA membership to access special rates. This is imperative as you want to start with the lowest possible cost basis before looking for additional discounts.

For example, Marriott Bonvoy seems to offer at least one promotion per year for double elite night credits with additional bonus points. This means if you were to complete a three-night paid stay, you would earn an additional 3,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (on top of what you earn from your stay) and a total of six elite qualifying nights. This promotion effectively cuts your mattress running needs in half.

marriott bonvoy double elite qualifying nights promotion with bonus points

Finally, look to see if there are any credit card offers or external promotions that can further lower your cost basis.

Finding the optimal path may require some thinking outside of the box, but that is common in the world of miles and points. This is another great example of the importance of building a network and sharing tips with others to improve your own knowledge. With that in mind, let’s take a look at an example that pulls this all together to earn elite qualifying nights at a very low cost.

Josh’s Optimal Mattress Running Example

While I currently hold Marriott Titanium Elite status, I am only interested in re-earning Marriott Platinum Elite status for the year ahead based on my travel plans. I’m currently at 44 nights thanks to a combination of stays and elite qualifying night benefits from credit cards, so I planned to do one three-night stay and take advantage of the double elite qualifying night promotion that Marriott is currently running.

I booked a three-night stay at the cheapest Marriott property in Edmonton through the “Stay Edmonton” promotion using a CAA/AMA rate for a two queen bed room (cheaper than a king bed). For those in Alberta, AMA membership can be had for $6 per month and can be canceled afterward. Depending on the hotel, they might not even validate that you have a membership, but YMMV.

ama community membership with price
$6 a month can save you way more than that on a mattress run

Booking through the “Stay Edmonton” promotion allows users to choose a reward for making a three-night reservation through them, which includes a $225 virtual Mastercard. Once booked through “Stay Edmonton”, you can reach out to the hotel to have them add your Marriott Bonvoy number to the stay so you can earn elite qualifying nights and points on the booking.

Additionally, I also took advantage of a US American Express Offer on one of my cards that offered 20% back on any purchases at a Marriott Bonvoy property as a statement credit, up to $60 USD. Again, we are always looking for any method possible to lower our cost basis when mattress running.

Putting all of these together, let’s take a look at the math (all figures in Canadian dollars):

  • $336 total cost for a three-night stay via CAA/AMA rates
  • Minus $225 for the gift card that was received from booking the stay through the current “Stay Edmonton” promotion (this is delivered as a virtual Mastercard and can be liquidated through various methods)
  • Minus $67 via a 20% back on a Marriott hotel stay (via Amex Offers on a US credit card)

This leaves us with a remaining total cost of $44 for 6 elite qualifying nights, plus 3,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, plus the Marriott Bonvoy points earned from the stay, plus the points earned on the credit card the room was paid with. This works out to an effective $7.33 CAD per elite qualifying night which is insane.

Mattress Running Tips & Tricks

If you are considering a mattress run as part of your hotel loyalty program status strategy, there are a few tips and tricks you can utilize to ensure you are maximizing your next mattress run.

Second Guest Trick

The “Second Guest” trick involves having someone else check in to your hotel room on your behalf to take advantage of a low rate or promotion when you physically cannot be in that city.

In practice, what this looks like is the loyalty program account holder would reach out to the hotel in advance and notify them that a “second guest” will be arriving at the hotel prior to the account holder and that they will be checking in on their behalf. The second guest completes the check-in and then the account holder never needs to show up to the hotel, let alone be in the same city or country.

There is some risk with this method, so be cautious. You need to ensure whoever is checking in for you is someone you trust. You also need to be wary that depending on the hotel, they may have issues with a second guest checking in on your behalf. I would recommend finding a property that is good with this set-up and using them consistently for your mattress running needs if you decide to go down this path.

Combine Mattress Running with Credit Card Benefits

There are a number of credit cards that offer elite night credits as part of their benefits. These represent an easy way to chip away towards the nights required for status and make it well worth paying the annual fee on these credit cards year over year, as there really isn’t a way to earn status nights any cheaper.

In Canada, both the American Express Marriott Bonvoy card and the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business card offer 15 elite qualifying nights annually as a benefit, moving you that much closer towards annual status and Marriott Bonvoy Lifetime Status. These nights do not stack, meaning at most you can receive 15 elite night credits annually from this benefit.

In the United States, Marriott Bonvoy elite night credits do stack if you hold the right set of cards. This means that if a customer holds a co-branded Marriott Bonvoy personal card in combination with a Marriott Bonvoy business card, they will be eligible to receive the elite night credits from both cards together.

This means that if you hold the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business credit card (US) which offers 15 elite qualifying nights annually and the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant credit card (US) which offers 25 elite qualifying nights annually, you will receive 40 elite night credits on January 1st every new calendar year. This is a massive advantage in getting on the path to earning status.

marriott bonvoy nights earned from credit card benefits

Alternatively, mattress running may not even be necessary for certain hotel loyalty programs. There are a number of credit cards that straight up grant status, without ever needing to step foot on a property operated by that specific hotel chain.

For example, Hilton Honors Gold status can be earned by holding either the American Express Platinum card or the American Express Business Platinum card in Canada. If you have access to US credit cards, the American Express Hilton Honors Surpass card (US) or the American Express Hilton Honors Business card (US) are also valid options.

American Express Platinum Card

The American Express Platinum card earns Membership Rewards and offers cardholders a variety of benefits including an annual $200 travel credit, complimentary airport lounge access, an annual $200 dining credit, and instant elite status with many hotel loyalty programs.

In 2024, we awarded this card as the Best Credit Card for Airport Lounge Access.

BONUS
100,000 Membership Rewards
MINSPEND
$10,000
NET VALUE
$1,401+
ANNUAL FEE
$799
FOREX FEES
Yes
EXPIRY

The even more desirable Hilton Honors Diamond status can also be earned simply by holding the premium American Express Hilton Honors Aspire credit card (US). In these situations where you can earn hotel status without even needing to stay, don’t even bother with mattress running. Take the path of least resistance and sign up for the card that offers the desired level of status as a benefit.

Shifting back to Marriott, the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card (US) offers complimentary Platinum Elite status. This means that you can earn the most impactful level of Marriott elite status and the only real work you need to do is to apply for a credit card and be ok with paying a high annual fee.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card (US)

The American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card (US) offers cardholders complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status, an annual $300 restaurant credit, an annual free night, 25 elite qualifying night credits annually, and Priority Pass Select membership.

Check out our American Express Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card (US) review for more details.

BONUS
95,000 Marriott Bonvoy
MINSPEND
$6,000
NET VALUE
$205+
ANNUAL FEE
$650
FOREX FEES
No
EXPIRY

If you are new to the idea of US credit cards, learn how you can access US credit cards as a Canadian.

Use the Right Credit Card to Pay For Your Stay

When mattress running, you want to minimize your cost and maximize your value as much as possible. This also means using the right credit card to pay for your stay. This can take two forms and depends on the credit cards and offers you have available at the time of your mattress run.

For example, if you are mattress running at a Marriott Bonvoy property, consider using the American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card or American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business credit card to earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy points for every dollar spent on your stay. This will allow you to increase your Marriott Bonvoy balance even further for your next redemption which is always a plus!

American Express Marriott Bonvoy Card

The American Express Marriott Bonvoy card earns Bonvoy points and offers cardholders benefits including an annual free night and 15 qualifying nights towards elite status.

Check out our American Express Marriott Bonvoy card review for more details.

BONUS
50,000 Marriott Bonvoy
MINSPEND
$1,500
NET VALUE
$330+
ANNUAL FEE
$120
FOREX FEES
Yes
EXPIRY

On the other hand, sometimes using a different card that has an offer tied to it is a better play. For example, sometimes there are American Express Offers that can reduce the cost of your next stay through a statement credit after spending a set amount of money or receiving a statement credit back as a percentage of your purchase.

marriott bonvoy american express offer

Let’s take a look at the math. If I completed a three-night mattress run at a property that cost me $300 in total, I would earn 1,500 Marriott Bonvoy points using one of the American Express cards identified above. However, if I used a credit card that had the above offer, I would earn $60 as a statement credit. A $60 statement credit is worth far more than 1,500 Marriott Bonvoy points, so actually using the co-branded credit card in this situation is the less optimal choice.

Needless to say, always run the math before deciding which credit card to use to pay for your next mattress run.

Conclusion

The concept of mattress running, similar to positioning flights, is a strong piece of knowledge to have in your miles and points toolkit. For those of us who love to travel but don’t ever stay enough nights to earn meaningful status, implementing this strategy means you can reap the benefits of status for your next vacation and beyond to significantly improve the quality of your vacation.

Frequently Asked Questions

A mattress run is a tool that miles and points enthusiasts use to earn hotel status. Essentially, a guest books a room solely to earn status with a hotel loyalty program. The guest may or may not stay in the room during the mattress run.

Yes, mattress running is worth it if you are close to the next hotel elite status level and know you will derive value from those earned benefits. If you are going to mattress run, have an overall strategy in mind as to how status will play into your travel plans and goals.

Josh Bandura

Josh Bandura

Co-Founder at Frugal Flyer
Josh has been involved in the miles and points game since 2015 but has scaled up his knowledge and points earning potential in recent years. With a consistent attitude of "min-maxing" in many aspects of his life, Josh has transferred this mindset over to the miles and points game. Always looking for the next big opportunity, he aims to share content on a variety of topics including his travels, miles and points, and most importantly, how to get the most out of your credit cards

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