Which Hotel Programs count award stays for elite membership?

There have been so many changes to hotel loyalty programs in the past three years that I needed to check again to see which hotel programs count award stays for elite membership.

Redeeming points for award stays while earning elite membership credit comes in handy when you are trying to reach 25 to 30 stays or 60 to 75 nights in your favorite hotel chain in a calendar year.

Hotel Stays and/or Nights completed in a calendar year qualification for high hotel loyalty program elite membership.

Best Western Rewards Diamond = 30 nights (award stays do not count).

Choice Privileges Diamond = 40 nights (all award stays count).

Club Carlson Concierge = 30 stays or 75 nights (all award stays count).

Hilton HHonors Diamond = 30 stays or 60 nights (all award stays count).

Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond = 25 stays or 50 nights.

IHG Rewards Club Platinum = 50 nights or 3 IHG brands and 40 nights (All award stays count).

Marriott Rewards Platinum = Qualification only via 75 nights. Marriott Rewards award stays do not earn elite qualifying credit.

Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum = 25 stays or 50 nights (all SPG award stays count).

Wyndham Rewards Gold = 20 nights (award stays do not count).

Hotel Chains counting award stays for elite qualification:

  • Choice Privileges
  • Club Carlson
  • Hilton HHonors
  • Hyatt Gold Passport (only Points + Cash stays count).
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Starwood Preferred Guest

Hotels Chains that do not count award stays for elite membership.

  • Best Western Rewards
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Wyndham Rewards

Earning elite qualifying credit is a major benefit in the quest for hotel loyalty high elite status. Marriott Rewards members are at a disadvantage with only nights counted for Platinum elite and award nights ineligible for elite credit.

Hyatt Gold Passport members needing more stays and nights to qualify for Hyatt Diamond should look at Points + Cash stays whenever possible to earn elite qualifying credit rather than Standard Award nights.

The good news is Club Carlson, Hyatt Gold Passport and IHG Rewards Club started counting award nights as elite qualifying only in the past year.

Marriott Rewards may soon find it needs to begin counting award nights as elite qualifying to remain competitive as the scales have tipped across the major hotel programs to count award stays for elite membership.


Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

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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.

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  1. You might want to make separate mention of IC Royal Ambassador — award stays do NOT count.

  2. Could you expand the analysis to promotions and award nights? Do any of the chains mentioned count award stays towards promotion credit? For example, Reel Summer or Stay X Get Y credit for awards stays?

  3. @Roddy – Simple answer. No.

    It is very rare for award nights to count for bonus points promotions.

    The objective of hotel promotions is generally to drive new bookings. Award stays do not meet that objective.

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