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Back in April 2022, IHG completely overhauled its award program, IHG One Rewards. More recently, the program terms changed. Some of these changes aren't great, like excluding certain free breakfast items and taking away the elite check-in line. However, there is one big benefit that is a positive thing: gifting award stays to other members.
According to One Reward's terms and conditions, “any guest listed as a second guest on a Reward Night reservation may stay on the Reward Night reservation without the member staying.” This applies to any property outside of the greater China area (mainland, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan), and the guest must be over 18 years of age.
Conveniently, it's super easy to gift an award stay. The only thing you need to do is add the person's name as a second guest when you make the reservation. Nothing further is required.
But IHG One Rewards isn't the only program that allows you to gift an award stay (on points or free night certificates) to someone else. Here's what the various programs offer.
Rules to Gift an Award Stay
You can gift a free night stay to immediate family members, which Best Western counts as a “spouse, partner, children, parents, in-laws, siblings” per the terms and conditions. It's important to note that awards issued as a gift in someone else's name can't be transferred to someone else's name later.
Related: Current Best Western Promotions
Choice Privileges allows you to book an award stay for immediate family members. According to the terms, this includes your spouse, partner, children, parents, in-laws, and siblings. The Choice Privileges member is not required to be present for the stay.
You have two options for booking this stay, and both are quite easy. First, call Choice Hotels customer service to make a reservation. During the call, inform the agent that you are booking the award stay for someone else and would like to have their name listed in the registration notes.
Secondly, you can make the reservation online and include the person's name in the “special request” field. Luckily, it's very simple and straightforward to gift an award stay with Choice.
Hilton's terms say an award redemption “may be issued to the Hilton Honors Member, or to any other person, as directed by the Member. Once issued, the Reward is not transferable and may be used only by the individual named on the Reward. If a person other than the individual named on the Reward documentation attempts to redeem the Reward, the Reward will be deemed void and accommodations and/or transportation will be denied.”
You can accomplish this in two ways.
First, book the room yourself and add the person's name to the reservation. It's important to make the reservation for two people. Then, as you go through the checkout process, add their name as the second person. This will allow them to be able to check into the room without you present. You can call the hotel ahead of time to confirm that the second name on the reservation will be the person checking in.
Second, you can pool Hilton Honors points, which would allow the other person to make an award redemption and avoid any possible issues at check-in.
IHG One Rewards
IHG allows you to gift an award redemption to anyone, so long as you list their name on the reservation for check-in. The person checking in must be at least 18 years old, and you cannot gift award stays in the greater China region.
Marriott allows you to book an award stay for another member up to five times per calendar year. According to Marriott, you can gift all award redemption types except for Free Night Awards.
To make this booking, you will need to call Marriott's customer support line. You will need to have your member number handy. Once on the phone, give the agent your name and member number, along with the name of the person who will be staying on the reservation.
Alternatively, you can make the reservation online. In this case, however, you still need to call customer support and have the person's name added to the reservation. All gifted reservations must be done through customer service, not the specific hotel.
There are a few things you should be aware of when booking an award stay for a friend or family member:
- Neither person will receive elite night credit, qualifying nights, or qualifying stays.
- Neither person will receive points for the stay.
- The recipient will not receive any elite benefits as part of their gifted stay.
World of Hyatt
Hyatt may have the best policy for anyone who wants to gift an award stay. Unfortunately, it's only available to members who have Globalist elite status. Globalists can make a Guest of Honor booking in one of three ways:
- Call the World of Hyatt reservation line at (800) 544-9288.
- Email their Hyatt Concierge, which is a dedicated person assigned to Globalist accounts.
- Contact @hyattconcierge on Twitter.
What sets Hyatt Guest of Honor bookings apart from other programs' gifted award stays is the fact that the person receiving the stay also receives all of the same benefits as the Globalist member. These include things like free breakfast, club lounge access, room upgrades, late check-out, waived resort fees, and more.
There are two additional ways to gift an award stay with World of Hyatt for those without Globalist status.
First, the terms state that you can gift “Free Night Awards, certain Room Upgrade Awards, and Points + Cash Awards” but not “Club Lounge Access Awards…Complimentary Suite Upgrade Awards…and non-stay awards (such as Dining, Spa and More Awards).” If you gift a stay to someone else, they must be named on the reservation (done through customer service) and must show photo ID at check-in. This person won't receive any elite status perks during their stay, and neither of you will earn anything from the stay.
Second, you can combine points in World of Hyatt. In this way, the other person can make an award redemption from their own account. This is beneficial if they have any status perks or want to receive credit for their stay.
Programs Where You Can't Gift an Award Stay
Accor Live Limitless
You cannot gift award stays with Accor Live Limitless (ALL). That's because the terms (warning: PDF) state that “Members must be present at the hotel for the duration of the stay.”
According to Wyndham, “Members may not transfer, sell, barter or otherwise conduct any distribution of any reward or other item received in exchange for the redemption of Wyndham Rewards points (including, without limitation, any and all types of Go Free and Go Fast awards).” Thus, you can't gift awards and also can't pool points with other members to help them redeem on award from their own account.
Whether you earn free hotel nights through hotel stays or credit cards, they're an incredible perk to have. Even better, the ability to gift an award stay to someone can be a great benefit. Thankfully, most of the big hotel brands make this possible for everyone.
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