Have you ever thought about booking a hotel room for someone else?
Perhaps you were trying to make their travels easier or you want to allow someone else to experience elite hotel benefits.
Or maybe you have award points or free night certificates that you want to use for someone else?
If you’re wondering if this can be done then you you’ve landed on the right article.
Can you book a hotel room for someone else?
Yes, you can book a hotel room for someone else but there are a few considerations you want to think about before doing so. Keep reading below for some helpful tips and recommendations so that you can avoid some potential pitfalls.
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The easiest way to book a hotel for someone else
The absolute easiest way to book a hotel for someone else is to: 1) use their credit/debit card for the transaction (preferably a card that they will have on their person when they check in) and 2) book everything solely in their name.
- If they have a loyalty account with that hotel program, make the booking through that account.
- If they have an account with an online travel agency like Expedia, make the booking through that account.
Most people are aware that is the easiest method and things only get complicated when you start introducing things like different loyalty accounts, credit cards that don’t match the guest’s name, award travel, and sometimes pre-paid bookings.
So let’s take a look at those situations and see how they could play out.
Booking hotels from your loyalty account for other people
If you want to book a hotel for someone else using your loyalty account you can book them in two different ways.
The first way would be to create a reservation where your name is NOT anywhere on the reservation (you may have to call to do this).
For most programs, you will not earn loyalty points, elite night credits, and the individual will likely not receive any elite benefits. (Hilton confirmed that you could still earn points in this scenario.)
Then there is the method of adding someone to a reservation that is in your name.
You can add their name to the reservation at the time of booking or you can call after you book and request for the hotel to add their name to the reservation.
This should allow the other person to check in whenever they arrive even if you are not physically present at the hotel.
If that individual is asked about why the primary guest is not there, simply telling them that the primary guest is still on a flight or coming in later is often a sufficient explanation.
Even better, contact the hotel proactively and let them know what to expect.
You might also be able to utilize the mobile app to make things easier.
For example, if the reservation is in your name you (the primary guest) can use the app to check in and then the other guest can simply request a key for the room (assuming they just can’t use a digital key by logging in with your credentials).
Why would you want to book a hotel for other people like this and not simply book the hotel room solely in their name?
A major benefit of booking hotels for other people like this is that you can sometimes receive award points and elite night credits for the stay.
Also, the guest might be able to receive your elite benefits that they otherwise would not receive.
And finally, sometimes hotels or online travel agencies may want the reservation name to match the name on the credit card paying for the booking.
If you’re paying for other people with your credit card, then your name might have to be somewhere on the reservation.
Dealing with incidentals
An important question when booking rooms for others is how the hotel will handle the incidentals charge.
Whenever you check into a hotel, most hotels are going to ask you to submit a credit card that they can use for incidentals.
They then put a temporary hold on the credit card that essentially guarantees them a way to cover any charges that you might run up like mini-bar purchases, room service, etc. It could also cover potential damage or theft.
If you check in with the hotel’s mobile app, then the hotel may just use the credit card you have on file with them to cover incidentals.
But in other cases, the guest arriving at the hotel may need to provide a credit card in their name to cover incidentals.
If the guest checking in is not able to provide a credit card for incidentals you may be able to authorize your own credit card to cover the incidentals.
This is usually done by securely faxing a form and authorizing your credit card to be charged up to a certain amount or for certain types of charges.
You can authorize the card you have on file or a new card.
Cash can sometimes be used as an incidental deposit although not every hotel is okay with doing that.
Award stays are not quite as straightforward as paid stays.
That’s because you might be dealing with more restrictions found in the terms and conditions.
Typically, you would either be using points to cover the stay or something like a free night certificate and the restrictions can vary based on what you are using and whether you choose to do things the official or unofficial way.
The official way would involve abiding by the terms and conditions set forth by that program.
You can look up the terms and try to figure them out or just call and allow an agent to work you through the terms.
For example, Hyatt makes it clear that you can gift free night awards:
Members may request that certain awards be issued to another person. Free Night Awards, certain Room Upgrade Awards, and Points + Cash Awards are currently eligible to be gifted
Marriott makes it clear you can gift award redemptions although they state some restrictions for free night awards:
A Member may request an Award Redemption Stay to be issued to another person and where the Member will not be present for the stay […] only when booking the Award Redemption Stay reservation through Member Support. All Award Redemption Stay Types listed under Section 3.3 are eligible to be gifted to another person, except for Free Night Awards.
Going the official route may mean missing out on elite credits and elite benefits depending on the program.
The “unofficial” route would involve simply making an award booking for yourself and then calling to add the guest to the reservation.
You may have to also utilize mobile check-in if you are not going to be there when the guest arrives and will need to think through how you want to handle the incidental credit card hold (see above).
This unofficial approach is bit of a “grey-area” loophole for some programs so keep that in mind.
Check out some of the policies from major hotel chains below for some non-official guidance on how they allow award bookings for people other than yourself.
Just remember a few things:
- In all situations, the guests will need to be an additional guest/secondary person on the reservation.
- If they don’t have a credit card for incidentals you may need to send over authorization to cover that.
- Relying on the mobile check-in method may not always be guaranteed or kosher.
|Chain||Points||Free Night Certificates|
|Hilton||Yes||Yes, but need to use mobile check-in|
|Hyatt||Yes, but need to call to make reservation||Yes, but need to call to make reservation|
|Marriott||Yes||Yes, but need to use mobile check-in|
Remember: A lot of programs also allow you to transfer your points to other people so that they can book the room through their own account.
Another area where booking a hotel for someone else gets tricky is when it comes to elite benefits.
If you have elite status and are hoping that the other guest will receive elite benefits that might not always be the case. That is because some hotels require the person holding the elite status to be physically present in order for them to provide elite benefits.
So for example in order to receive a breakfast voucher or get your key card coded for lounge access the person with the gold or platinum status may have to be present at check-in (or eventually come down to the front desk).
Other benefits like upgrades may still be dished out because those could be triggered after checking in on the mobile app but those may also be less likely.
When it comes to earning elite nights and credits for stays where you are not physically present, you’ll probably need to eventually show up to the property in order to be in compliance with the hotel’s terms and conditions.
It’s not a good idea to try to abuse the “loophole” of booking hotels for other people in order to receive elite benefits/credits/points because it eventually could catch up with you and result in an account closure.
I don’t think it would be very difficult for a hotel program to pick up on someone who is constantly booking reservations with other people and having them check in.
So remember: pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered, etc.
A prepaid stay is a stay that you pay for before you arrive at the hotel.
It’s also known as an “advance purchase rate.” These are typically cheaper rates but come with less flexibility making them nonrefundable.
Sometimes the hotel will charge you as soon as you make the booking but other times they may wait — it all just depends on the property. (Read: When Do Hotels Charge Your Credit Card?)
When you book a prepaid stay for someone else, you need to be very careful about the check-in requirements of the hotel.
Some hotels may allow you to use your credit card to book a prepaid stay for another guest and allow them to check in no problem as long as they have a credit card for incidentals.
But sometimes hotels are worried about fraud and they want someone checking in with an ID that matches the credit card used to pay for the prepaid stay.
The best way to get around this would be to call the hotel and inquire about any restrictions well before the guest arrives.
Sometimes you can send a note to the hotel letting them know that somebody will be checking in that has a different name from you (the cardholder) who paid for the stay.
Also, if the person checking in does not have a credit card for incidentals then you can also authorize your own credit card for incidentals.
If the person checking in does have a credit card, then simply ask them for their credit card details when you make the booking for them and you can avoid the situation altogether.
Booking a hotel for someone else is definitely possible.
It’s always a good idea to add their name to the reservation and to utilize mobile check in if you are not physically present when they arrive at the hotel.
They might be able to receive full elite benefits but sometimes the elite member will have to be present to trigger those.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.