Getting Your Kids Started With Hotel Programs (Sort Of)

Grand Hyatt Kauai pool area

Our kids are now 23 and 21. By next summer, both will be working full-time and done with school. The oldest already has a full-time professional position while she finishes grad school part-time, and the youngest will graduate in May 2024 with no immediate plans to continue with grad school.

At this point, they are ready to start earning their own hotel points and status, but how best to get them started? Some programs are better than others for getting started earning your own points and some are better for continuing to lean on the old man for his status benefits. I’ll briefly run through the major programs and what we do for the kids when they are booked to stay somewhere without us.

Marriott: My older daughter stays at a few Marriott properties each year for conventions. I usually book these stays for her under my Marriott number and add her name to the room reservation. For the local convention here in Atlanta, I can check in for her in-person. For the non-Atlanta stays, I just message the hotel and let them know she’ll be arriving first. The benefit of continuing to book under my Lifetime Platinum status is that she gets free breakfast/lounge access and I earn a decent number of points while getting reimbursed by her and her friends for the stays. At some point, she will start using her own Marriott number and perhaps she will skip ahead by getting the new Marriott Brilliant Amex card that will provide her with Platinum status just for owning the card.

Hyatt: Hyatt is a bit trickier as you cannot add a second person’s name online and they are more strict about Globalist benefits not being active unless the account holder physically checks in. There is a great (and legal) workaround called Guest of Honor. I just book a room for one of my daughters under their Hyatt number using my points through my Hyatt concierge naming them as Guest of Honor. This way, they will get all the Globalist benefits (free breakfast, free parking, possible upgrade, 4pm checkout, etc.). Obviously, I’m out the points (or free night certificate) in this scenario so it’s not one I will use unless there’s a good reason. For example, my older daughter is taking her boyfriend to NYC for the night in March and I had an expiring Category 1-7 free night certificate, so I booked her at the Thompson Central Park for the night. They will get a nice room, free breakfast and free parking. This coming weekend, my younger daughter and her friend are meeting us for a night in New York at the Andaz 5th Avenue. While I could have had them squeeze into our suite for the one night they are there (we already used a Suite Upgrade Award for our stay), it will be more comfortable to have separate rooms (and bathrooms), so I booked her a Guest of Honor stay.

Hilton: For this one, it makes more sense for the kids to book their own stays under their own Hilton numbers, even if I’m paying. Why? For now, they have Hilton Gold status as Amex Platinum authorized users on my account. There’s not that much difference between Gold and Diamond Hilton status – both are eligible for upgrades, a food and beverage credit and other benefits. They may as well earn some Hilton points toward their own free nights, especially if we’re booking multiple rooms for family events and I can’t earn points on more than two rooms anyway.

IHG: We don’t stay at IHG properties much. I usually make sure to use my free night certificates from the two Chase IHG credit cards I hold, but that’s about it. I had one expiring free night certificate on 12/31/2022, and I was resigned to losing it (or begging IHG for some points or an extension), but at the last minute, my older daughter needed an extra night in Orlando prior to a convention. I was able to book a Disney Springs Holiday Inn with my certificate and add her name to the reservation. IHG, like Marriott, allows you to add a second name to the room reservation at booking, which just makes life easier when you have this type of reservation.

I’m sure this strategy will evolve as the kids get older and start focusing on their own points and miles accumulation and use. For now, this works for us across the major hotel chains.

If you have questions, let me know in the comments or send me an email at If you are thinking about opening a new credit card, please use one of my links.

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