Boundaries of Maximizing Loyalty Program Promotions

Signing up for a promotion that was not directly targeted to me is something I have done many times in the past.


I have earned tens of thousands of points and miles over the years signing up for offers that were not necessarily meant for me, yet allowed me to register. Even when I thought there was a slim possibility I would qualify for the bonus I sometimes registered for offers.


There have also been many bonus offers over the years that never posted to my accounts. That is what I expected for some offers I signed up to earn.


The hotel or airline loyalty program may choose to include me with the target audience or reject me as not part of the target audience and deny me the promotion bonus. All I can do is make an attempt to earn bonuses when I see offers and believe I might qualify. Terms and conditions are often not clear or misleading for loyalty promotion bonuses.


The decision to award the bonus is up to the hotel or airline loyalty program.


In the past ten years I have seen a number of promotional offers that were extended to loyalty members who registered and were not part of the intended or specified target audience for the bonus. Sometimes the rules were subsequently clarified, altered, restricted, or expanded.  Other times the rules were plainly vague.


Several times the saying “early bird gets the worm” applied when I registered for a promotion that was later made more restrictive in its eligibility. Those of us who registered before rule changes or term clarifications received the original bonus offer for which we were not the actual targeted members or the bonus was not represented correctly in the original terms.


An example of rules changes after the fact was a United Mileage Plus triple miles bonus in 2004 that actually was worded in the original terms and conditions to read a bonus of triple base miles.


Mileage Plus rewrote the terms of the promotion to the effect the promotion was triple miles including the base miles. The change of wording came after many members had already registered and booked flights.


Those of us who registered early received the original offer of four times miles from Mileage Plus. As a 1K member at the time I received some 85,000 redeemable miles, 5x miles, as a United 1K flyer with a 100% elite miles bonus on top of the promotion bonus on a single $550 ticket to Bangkok. I flew my wife to Europe in Business Class two weeks later on an award ticket.


In my experience there is no major downside to signing up for every conceivable promotion that you are allowed to register your account number.


5,000 United Airlines Mileage Plus Miles per Hyatt Stay for United 1K


Hyatt Gold Passport United 1K bonus for stays from September 1 – October 31 was a targeted promotion for United 1K members.

The promotion announcement reads:

“United Airlines Mileage Plus 1K members are invited to join the Hyatt Gold Passport Global loyalty program and earn 5,000 Mileage Plus bonus miles per stay at any Hyatt worldwide.”


The terms and conditions of the offer state:

To participate in this promotion you must join Hyatt Gold Passport via url www.goldpassport.com/united1K and stay between September 1, 2009 and October 31, 2009 at any Hyatt Hotel & Resort™, Hyatt Place™, Hyatt Summerfield Suites™ or Andaz™ worldwide.”


The United Airlines Mileage Plus 5,000 miles per Hyatt stay promotion registration page, along with the terms and conditions page, indicate this promotion targeted Mileage Plus 1K members who register as new members of Hyatt Gold Passport.

This promotion may not have been meant to actually apply to United Airlines Mileage Plus 1K members who were already members of Hyatt Gold Passport.


As it turned out Mileage Plus 1K members who are existing members of Hyatt Gold Passport Plus and registered on the promotion page earned 5,000 miles bonus per stay.


I signed up for the promotion. I am not a United Mileage Plus 1K member.

I simply entered my Gold Passport number in the registration box and I received a registration confirmation.


I have not heard of any Mileage Plus members receiving the 5,000 Mileage Plus bonus miles who are not Mileage Plus 1K members.



Is it wrong that I signed up for this promotion when I am not a United Mileage Plus 1K member?


In my opinion it is up to Hyatt Gold Passport and United Airlines Mileage Plus to decide who deserves the promotion. The rules do not explicitly state a Mileage Plus 1K member who is already a Gold Passport member is eligible for the 5,000 miles per stay bonus. The promotion terms do not state a United Mileage Plus member who is not a 1K member is excluded from earning the bonus.


Website registration only asks for a Hyatt Gold Passport number to register. There is not even a place to enter a Mileage Plus frequent flyer number when registering for this promotion.


No harm in trying and see if the promotion is extended to Mileage Plus members who are not 1K members.


Then, wait and see which bonuses are actually applied to the account.


To repeat: I have not seen any anecdotes of people who were not Mileage Plus 1K members earning the 5,000 miles per stay in September and October. It seems like a simple enough process for Mileage Plus to verify member status in their frequent flyer program before awarding miles to the Mileage Plus member’s account.

October 12 Update: The terms and conditions for this promotion have been changed and now there is an additional statement “United Mileage Plus 1K membership will be validated to receive the bonus.” 


United 5,000 Miles per Stay Promotion link

Hyatt Gold Passport has a 2,500 bonus miles per every 2 nights promotion with a variety of airline travel partners through December 31, 2009 with registration open to all frequent flyer program members in more than a dozen airlines. Loyalty Traveler post link for 2,500 Airline Miles with Hyatt.

There is a tutorial for Getting Hyatt Points by SanDiego1K on FlyerTalk for members who are new to Hyatt Gold Passport or not entirely familiar with the program. This is a good tutorial for members looking at earning miles over the next few months or seeking to maximize Gold Passport points.


Loyalty Program Fraudulent Behavior


Last month I wrote about signing up my wife as a new member of the Accor A-Club hotel loyalty program to receive 2,000 bonus points during their 1 year Happy Birthday promotion in September. I don’t think I had even read about this offer on FlyerTalk yet (although it had already been posted there) when I first wrote about the offer on Loyalty Traveler.


I saw the offer on the Accor website and I knew that 2,000 points is sufficient for a US$60 hotel voucher that works like cash credit. And I knew these certificates are combinable. I had just written about the A-Club loyalty program for a column in InsideFlyer October 2009.


Then, Friday Oct. 9 on Lucky’s One Mile at a Time blog post I read about people who registered for numerous new member accounts. I read the FlyerTalk thread where someone stated opening up 300 new member accounts. There was a reference in the thread about A-Club vouchers appearing on e-bay. When I searched the net I found an Australian website that had posted this A-Club voucher offer more than a week before I wrote about it and some greedy behavior was exhibited there. This was a viral offer that was overused in Europe, Australia, and the USA.


Accor A-Club ended the Happy Birthday promotion early.


The final thought I’d like to leave with readers is your loyalty program behavior is up to you.

I have lines I don’t cross. I avoid posting hotel Best Rate Guarantee fares I find. If I happen to get a deal when I am actively searching hotel rates that is great for me and within the rationale for having a BRG offer from hotel chains. My one discounted room rate should not really be much of a burden on a hotel. If a hotel is booked out by hundreds of people costing the hotel substantial lost revenue then that is a business hardship I don’t want to be a party to creating for the hotel.

My boundaries fall between signing up for loyalty program promotions that were not necessarily targeted to me, but may possibly include me if I am accepted by the loyalty program as an eligible member for a bonus.

The line I don’t cross is to lie when filling out forms or assume multiple identities to earn rewards that I do not deserve by the published rules or the application of the rules for the loyalty promotion.

There are grey areas in the loyalty program world we run into when playing this game and it is up to each member to decide the appropriate steps and boundaries for your actions and activity.







About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »


  1. It appears that “United® Mileage Plus 1K membership will be validated to receive the bonus” has been ADDED to the terms and conditions of the promotion.

  2. Sure enough. The terms have been amended with a 1K validation statement. That 1K validation clause wasn’t there in my screenshot of the terms and conditions.

    The simple statement clarifies the extent of promotion eligibility.

    Good addition to the terms for clarity.

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