If I book a hotel on 31 December, what year will my stay count toward?

Nov 13, 2019

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With just weeks left in 2019, travellers are beginning to lock down their plans to requalify for hotel elite status for 2020. Hopefully you’ll be able to get there through organic travel alone, but some people might be considering taking a “mattress run” to requalify. TPG reader Hailey wants to know if a hotel stay from 31 December to 1 January will count towards this year or next year …

After accounting for all my work travel I’m going to be one night short of Marriott Platinum status this year. If I book an award stay over New Year’s Eve, would that count towards 2019 (when I check in) or 2020 (when I check out)?

TPG READER HAILEY

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One of the reasons I’ve always found it much easier to qualify for elite status with hotels than with airlines is because award stays at major chains count towards hotel elite status, while airlines don’t let you accrue elite qualifying miles on award tickets.

In terms of Hailey’s actual question, there’s a short answer and a long answer here. The short answer is that the three major hotel chains, Marriott, Hyatt and Hilton all credit stays from 31 December to 1 January to the previous year. That means if Hailey books a one-night stay over New Year’s, it would push her over the threshold to earn Marriott Platinum elite status for 2020.

Things start to get a little more confusing if Hailey were to book a longer stay, for example checking in on 31 December and checking out on 3 January. Again, I spoke to representatives from the three major hotel chains and they all stated that the official policy is that the nights would split — so the night of 31 December would count towards Hailey’s 2019 qualification year and the subsequent nights in January would count towards her 2020 qualification year.

The Hyatt agent I spoke to said that the default setting is for all nights to post to 2020, but if you call in they have a process to manually adjust it. The first Marriott agent I spoke to tried to tell me that the system would credit the entire reservation to 2019, which didn’t make sense, so I hung up and called back and got an agent who seemed much more confident in her answer that the nights would split.

When Hailey posed this question in the TPG Lounge, a number of readers commented that in their previous experiences the entire stay had posted to the later year, or 2020. It’s important to understand that the stay might not post correctly on its own, but Hyatt at least is aware of this problem and has a system in place to manually adjust your account. Given that both Hilton and Marriott follow the same policy, where the elite night credits post to the year that they occurred in, regardless of your check-in/check-out date, they should be able to help correct your account as well if there are any problems.

Bottom line

It’s risky to leave requalifying for status until the very last day possible, especially given how big of a gap there is in benefits between Marriott Gold and Marriott Platinum status. That being said, Hailey will be able to earn her last elite qualifying night on 31 December, even if her stay stretches into January of the following year. If you’re planning on using New Year’s travel to requalify for hotel elite status, make sure to keep an eye on your account for the first week of January to make sure your stay credits the way you expect it to.

Featured photo courtesy of Rene Bernal.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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