Mattress running for Hyatt stays and bonus points

Pure mattress running for hotel elite status rarely makes sense: you only receive status benefits for nights you stay, so the further away from elite status you are, the less worthwhile a potential mattress run towards status will be.

At the same time, mattress running for bonus points during promotions rarely makes sense because travel hacking makes hotel stays so cheap that any bonus points earned are unlikely to buy you much hotel than you can purchase any day of the week by simply manufacturing spend.

As a new Hyatt Diamond, I decided to see whether the current Stay More Play More promotion may make mattress running make sense for the combination of elite-qualifying stays towards renewing my status, and the bonus points earned.

How much does a mattress run cost?

To calculate the cost of a mattress run, I take the cost of a paid stay and, in the case of a Points + Cash stay, the cost of any points redeemed, then subtract the value of any points earned on the stay. Here are some sample calculations I scratched out last week, based on nightly rates at my local Hyatt property.

In words, I can pay $50.38 (after buying a gift card at an 18% discount) and 2,642 Hyatt Gold Passport points (4,000 minus the 1358 points earned on the cash portion of the stay), or I can pay $122.84 and earn a total of 1,872 points. A valuation of 1.61 cents per Hyatt Gold Passport point makes the two options a wash. If I value Hyatt Gold Passport points more highly than that, I should book an all-cash stay, and at a lower valuation, I should book a Points + Cash stay for my mattress run.

The question is, it possible for the Stay More Play More promotion to make mattress running cheap, or even free? The answer, it turns out, is yes — for a certain definition of free.

Stay More Play More makes mattress runs cheaper the more nights you stay

Stay More Play More is really 5 distinct promotions, and it's essential to grasp that to make any sense of this calculation:

  • one promotion offering 5,000 points on your 5th eligible night;
  • one offering 10,000 points on your 10th night;
  • one offering 15,000 points on your 15th night;
  • one offering 20,000 points on your 20th night;
  • one offering 25,000 points on your 25th night.

Keep in mind that no other nights are bonused in any way under this promotion: only these multiple-of-five eligible nights between April 1 and June 30, 2016, earn any bonus points at all.

The first promotion may be marginally worth a mattress run if you have access to a Category 1 Hyatt property. You'll earn 5,000 bonus points plus, as a Diamond, 6.5 points per dollar on the cash portion of your stay, plus 500 bonus points (at Hyatt Place and Hyatt House properties) or 1,000 bonus points (at other Hyatt properties).

A Points + Cash stay at a Category 1 property will thus cost $50 plus tax and earn a net of 3,325 Hyatt Gold Passport points, or 1.5 cents per Hyatt Gold Passport point at Hyatt Place and Hyatt House properties or 3,825 points (1.31 cents per point) at other Hyatt properties.

If you value Hyatt Gold Passport points at 1 cent each (when transferred from Ultimate Rewards), that's like paying $11.75 or $16.75 for a stay credit, which may be worth doing if needed to secure Diamond elite status the following year.

The promotion for later nights shifts the balance even more in your favor. Booking your 10th night on a Points + Cash stay in Category 1 gives a net cost of 0.6 cents per point and at Category 2 a net cost of 0.8 cents per point.

The deeper you get into the promotion, the more lucrative it becomes. If your 25th night happens to be at a Category 7 Park Hyatt on a Points + Cash stay, you'll pay 15,000 and $300 for the night — then get 27,950 points back, leaving you out of pocket just $170.50 for your Category 7 night.

Think twice before mattress running unbonused nights

The flip side of the structure of this promotion is that unbonused nights (all but the 5 bonused nights) make little sense for mattress running. Even at the very top of the promotion earning 5,000 bonus points per night leaves you paying 1.5 cents per point at Category 1 properties, which is 50% more than you would pay simply transferring in Ultimate Rewards points.

But even more importantly, if you are staying that many nights in a single 3-month period you're unlikely to need the elite-qualifying stays at all — you'll probably requalify for Diamond status on the stays you'll naturally book during the calendar year.