Do I Need to Check-In & Check-Out for a Mattress Run?

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Million Mile Secrets reader Jason emailed:

I’m doing an IHG (Candlewood Suites) mattress run tonight, my first one.  I know that I need to actually show up at the hotel and physically check in in order to get the points.

Do I need to collect the keys?  Do I need to go into the room?

Do I need to come back again the next day to check out?  Hopefully not.  If not, what do I do with the key card?

Do they care about what I’m doing?

Do I Need To Check-In & Check-Out For A Mattress Run

Booking a Hotel Room Which you Won’t Stay in Could be Worth it for the Extra Points!

What is a Mattress Run?

A “mattress run” is when you make a cheap booking at a hotel not because you need a place to stay for the night!

But because you need to get credit in a hotel’s loyalty program to keep your hotel elite status or to earn extra hotel points or to complete a promotion which requires you to stay a certain number of nights in a hotel.

Sometimes folks will stay the night during a mattress run, but usually someone just checks in and leaves.

If you’re just 1 or 2 nights away from getting a lot of extra points or renewing your hotel elite status (which gets you benefits like free internet or suite upgrades), it could be worth it to pay for a cheap hotel room even if you don’t plan on staying the night in the room.

For example, if a $70 hotel stay will get you 1 more year of free breakfast or internet or $200 in extra hotel points, it could be worth it.

You don’t have to stay in the hotel for a mattress run, but you could make it a fun trip for the family and let the kids enjoy the pool and eat the free breakfast the next day.

Jason could be mattress running to get extra points from IHG hotel’s The Big Win Promotion.

IHG The Big Win Promotion

Link:  IHG The Big Win Promotion

The IHG Big Win promotion for Fall 2013 ends on December 31, 2013, but there’s another Big Win promotion starting on January 1, 2014.

When Jason registered for the IHG fall 2013 Big Win promotion, he got a personalized offer based on his IHG stay history.

Do I Need To Check-In & Check-Out For A Mattress Run

The Big Win Promotion Offers Multiple Ways to Earn Points

Jason could earn a maximum of 50,000 points if he completed all the offers and earned the 25,000 point bonus.

So it could make sense for Jason to pay for 1 night in a hotel room he doesn’t plan on using if it will help him get the bonus points through the Big Win promotion.

Mattress Running Logistics

Jason has to physically check-in to the hotel, to earn credit in the hotel loyalty program for his mattress run.  He can’t just book the room and NOT show up to check-in because he won’t get credit for the stay otherwise.

However, Jason could also have someone else check in the hotel for him if he adds someone else’s name to the hotel reservation.  Jason could do this online or by calling the hotel.

Some hotels let you check-in via automatic machines in the lobby which are perfect for mattress runs!

Do I Need To Check-In & Check-Out For A Mattress Run

Mattress Running Made Easier!

Some folks say that all you need to do is get the key card from the front desk to get credit for your stay.  And other folks say that you have to at least enter the room with the key card to activate the card.

I usually go back to my car after getting my key and don’t go up to the room when I mattress run.  And I’ve always got the hotel stay credit.

You don’t have to return the key to the front desk if you leave immediately.  If you go up to your room, you could leave the keys in the room and then leave.

Usually most hotels in the US do not require you to physically check-out.  So Jason doesn’t have to come back the next day to check out.  He can just leave the hotel after checking-in and should get the stay credit posted to his account.

Do I Need To Check-In & Check-Out For A Mattress Run

You Don’t Have to Sleep in the Room if You Don’t Want to

Outside the US, hotels tend to be fussier and want you to physically check-out at the front desk.  But I’m sure that many guests (such as yours truly) get up late and rush to the airport or business meetings without checking-out at the front desk!

Most hotels are franchised and the franchise owner is happy with the extra revenue and doesn’t really care that you don’t want to stay in the room at night.

And if you have a favorite hotel in town which you often use for mattress running, it helps to establish a relationship with the staff.  You may even find a manger who lets you check-in over the phone without having to go the hotel once he or she understands why you’re mattress running!

Bottom Line

You almost always have to go to the hotel and check-in for a mattress run and get your hotel room key.

But in the US, you don’t have to check-out of your room.  You could just take the room key and go back to your car and drive home!

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17 responses to “Do I Need to Check-In & Check-Out for a Mattress Run?

  1. If someone else checks in how do I ensure the hotel will charge my credit card if I dont show up. Also I stayed in Denver and Chicago in October and have not gotten credit for the Big Win promo yet. I have called numerous times. May have to go back again or have someone check in for me.

  2. I did a a mattress run a few months ago for the BIG WIN promotion, and called to check-in. The girl at the front desk laughed when I explained that I had booked at her hotel just for the promo. I explained that I didn’t plan on showing up at all. She checked me in, and since she was working the next day, checked me out. I never even set foot on the property. Got my BIG WIN completed, and my bonus!

  3. I just completed The Big Win last month and for the few that I needed, I checked in, and left the area having never checked out. Good luck with your Big Win

  4. could you do an analysis of the Big Win from IHG promotion that requires 4 nights stay with two IC booking. is it worth it for 80k in my targeted profile. I can acquire points at .07 cent but havent done the math for this. Thanks

  5. I’ll be doing my first mattress run Saturday 12/28. I need one more Saturday night to get 60K points for the IHG Win Often, Win Big promotion. $77 Crowne Plaza about 8 miles away. There’s a few nice restaurants near by so my wife and I are going to make a mini-vacation out of it :-)

  6. Does anyone know of a source to locate people willing to do mattress run check-ins for various cities? I need a 1 night stay in one of the Big Win cities (other than Chicago) to complete my promo. Would also be willing to check-in for someone else needing a night in a Chicago area property.
    Anyone else have experience with telephone check-ins ala Jeremy? I didn’t think that was likely to work.

  7. @MIKE- in my experience, the best places to meet people who can help with check-ins etc is at frequent flyer face to face get togethers (FTU, Chicago Seminars etc).

  8. @Greg – If it is a prepaid room, your card will have already been charged. Also, you can ask the hotel to charge the card with which the reservation was held.

    @choi – It depends. There are likely very few InterContinental hotels with rates low enough for this to make sense if you will be mattress running for all 4 nights.

    @Diotallevi – Mini vacations are the best way to do mattress runs!

  9. @MIKE – If you need a WA check-in, contact me soosiechan@yahoo.com (my SPAM account that can be closed quickly in case anyone gets any funny ideas…)

  10. Whether I’m mattress running to actually staying at a hotel, I never leave the room key behind when I’m done. Always take it with me and run it through the shredder when I get home. The magnetic strip contains your personal info that anyone with a card reader can access.

  11. Alex (@NoviceFlyer)

    I got a targeted offer from hilton/usairways for 5 stays for 25k usair miles by the end of this month. I found a couple of hilton locations for under $80. Probably going to do that bc they will change into AA miles :)

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  14. I’ve never used an automatic check-in kiosk at a hotel before, but when using one do you still have to present your ID? I thought hotels were required to see a passport/driver’s license for check-in, and if so, even if you were claiming not to be be showing up at the hotel, might make a telephone check-in at some hotels improbable. In Asia, where I live, most countries require hotels to make a copy of your ID.

  15. @annie – The kiosks do require a copy of your ID and it is tougher in Asia!

  16. Any news on whether they’re running a new promotion after the end of April?

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