My mattress running strategy for 2020, and why it’s never too early

by Anshul
a courtyard with a pool and trees

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I am finally getting ready to start my travels for 2020, with trips to New York City, New Orleans, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Toronto and Niagara Falls over the next few weeks. As I continue to visualize the number of elite nights and points that come along with these bookings, mattress running strategy and elite re-qualification is also on my mind.

What is Mattress Running

In its purest sense, mattress running involves booking and paying for hotel night/s only to earn elite nights towards status, with no intention of physically staying at the property. Mattress running is often undertaken by frequent travellers to meet Elite hotel status requirements or to earn points towards the next award redemption.

My Mattress Running Strategy

  • While most people mattress run for elite nights and hotel status, mattress running can bring tremendous value during certain hotel promotions. Think IHG accelerate or Marriott’s Double Take promotion – my household accounts have seen multiple offers where mattress running for $200 has raked in enough points for high end award redemptions, worth a lot more. I find myself mattress running on lucrative promotions more than to earn elite nights or status.
  • Conventional wisdom dictates that mattress running is an activity undertaken closer to the end of the year, to meet or re-qualify for Elite status. However, I argue that it’s best to calculate the potential shortfall and plan the entire travel year accordingly. Yes, in rare cases I may end up with more travel than expected, but spreading mattress runs across the year gives me enough time to plan and target cities that may offer the best value.
  • Booking mattress runs around real travel. I like to scan my travel location for the lowest category properties (for award redemption) or the cheapest cash rate available around the dates of my actual stay. I have often checked out of a property and checked into another on my way to the airport. Mobile check-outs have made mattress running a lot more efficient.
  • Leveraging ‘additional night free’ benefits is something I am always on a lookout for. Be it ‘5th night free’ on award stays with Marriott/Hilton or ‘3rd Night free’ perks with Amex FHR bookings, they make for an easy way to achieve an additional elite qualifying night.
  • Don’t forget your own backyard (not the literal one), often the best mattress running strategy can be closest to home, like this $99 crash pad in Manhattan. Since most people don’t dig for deals in their own cities, these can be easily missed. I am always on the lookout for local mistake rates, category 1-2 properties, multi-night deals, off-season promotions or simply a nice staycation. Mattress runs don’t have to be a lonely and “meaningless” endeavour.

Final thoughts

Much like buying points, mattress running (or status chasing) is not for everyone. It should be undertaken only after a thorough assessment of time/money and opportunity cost.

Will you be mattress running in 2020, what’s your strategy? Share with a comment below.


Frequent Flying: Game Over - Being: Peter Kim March 5, 2021 - 8:05 am

[…] be clear, I’ve never been so hooked that I’ve gone on for a mattress run or would pay for a flight to nowhere. But I’ve definitely rationalized away the risks of frequent […]

Jay February 26, 2020 - 1:42 am

Great photo of the Jaisalmer Marriott, it’s a wonderful property. My strategy for 2020 is simply staying 60 nights (all real travel as you say), planned in time before the 2020 annual category changes.

Anshul February 26, 2020 - 4:25 am

Neat – Nothing like organic travel to meet elite requirements! Enjoy your Travels and status qualification, cheers!


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